Fiction · 03/09/2011

Crush

It isn’t difficult. The pipes are stacked up beneath the underside of cement, secured eight to a pile, the ends like the eyes of four sawed-off shotguns, larger than life. Large like an oversized cardboard cutout of Jessica Alba. Like the one Sandy stole from Blockbuster last month for our eighth grade graduation. She’s propped up next to his bed. She’s still there, even after I drew the mustache on her with a Sharpie.

It isn’t difficult to climb, and up beneath the thick leg of the freeway, there’s a ledge to hook into and crouch like a monkey. Everyone tucks two bottles into the front of their pants because we need our hands. I’m afraid I’ll pull myself up wrong, slam into the ledge of concrete, break the beer open wide. If the bottles fracture and lodge into my belly, I’ll be a living kaleidoscope. I’ll fall and ruin everything.

He’s dropped his first bottle and I still haven’t settled into the groove of concrete. The undersides of my arms are bleeding because I’m clumsy. I don’t know how I’ll ever make it back down. The bottle shatters in front of a car and the car spins through, spraying invisible shards of glass everywhere. We can all hear people screaming.

There are a million things I’ve never seen. I don’t care about any of them.

Two beers aren’t enough. I wait until I finish both of mine, and then I push my arms out like a zombie; the bottles drop at the same time. The sound is prettier than church bells. This car swerves, but the tires still crush through a powder of glass.

I don’t care about Tara, who is sitting on Eduard’s lap and letting Sandy feel her up. She doesn’t notice that the palm of her right hand is grinding into a thick pile of dried pigeon shit.

The birds are moving in, eyeing my spot. Their bones are tinier than needles. Sandy whispers something in my ear and I don’t hear it and even if I did hear it, I wouldn’t listen since he still has Tara’s tit in his right hand. He kisses me on the neck.

One time Eduard told me that Tara lets him stick money up into her at the Lacey Park public restroom. She lets anyone do it. She used to be my friend and I felt sorry for her until he told me that. She deserves to be a foster kid.

Her foster brother hotwired a car for me once and we drove around the block in it, around and around for 20 minutes. It was an old blue VW and the dashboard was full of quarters. Before he let me out of the car, he pinned me to the seat and pried my mouth open. Instead of unzipping his pants, he just started stuffing quarters behind my teeth. I never talked to Tara again after that, but I have to see her all the time.

I grab Sandy’s arm and tug it.

If I dive forward, he’ll fall with me and I’ll never have to hate anyone again.

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Andrea Kneeland is the author of The Birds & The Beasts (Cow Heavy Press 2011) and a web editor for Hobart. Her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including American Letters & Commentary, PANK, Annalemma, Wigleaf, The Collagist, Smokelong Quarterly, Quick Fiction and Caketrain.