Bodies In the Sandbox I: The Mutant Boy

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The Mutant Boy

Tommy Gillespie fought hard but couldn’t break away. He was tangled in the grasp of George Turnboat, a 6-foot meaty giant, who flashed a grin that could make grown men buckle to their knees and the Stitcherton High girls swoon. At first glance, Tommy appeared courageous, a superhero standing up to the evil villain for every other bullied fourth grader in his school, but that wasn’t the case at all. Rather, his stoic expression was the pizza rising back through his esophagus, and his puffy chest was simply severe Marfan Syndrome. In reality, Tommy was a flea against an elephant, a child against a yeti. He knew very well this wasn’t a battle he could win.

George forced Tommy against the freshly painted lockers, staining Tommy’s backpack and elbows bubbly crimson. “You scared, Mutant?” snapped George, spitting in the boy’s matted chestnut hair. As George released his grip, Tommy fell on his ass with a thud. “Stay away from my girl, or we’ll see if your insides are as red as Stitcherton red, pussy.

For the moment it took George to march out of the main hall, Tommy remained still and reserved. A stream of wet red paint streaked down his forearm and fell off his wrist. “This must be what it looks like if I slit my wrists,” he thought somberly. “Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea, after all.” He waited until the metal doors clashed shut, when he was alone with the welcoming silence, before he lost himself.

Tommy wiped the tears away, striping his cheeks crimson. Never in his life had he talked to George’s girl, Natalie. The only one he ever talked to was his brother, but not even his twin could help him in such a hopeless situation. When George Turnboat wanted to beat the living hell out of the school’s deformed weakling, nobody could stop him from doing just that.

Mrrp, mrrp.

A cellphone vibrated in one of the lockers behind Tommy’s head, reminding him to check his own. And sure enough: “Three missed calls,” Tommy blubbered. Each were from unknown callers. He sat still against the wet lockers for a few more minutes, just crying. With his cherry face, he resembled the Stitcherton Devil mascot suit — flaming red, stinky as fuck, and empty on the inside.


Tommy found his brother sitting atop the monkey bars at the playground, chewing on a wad of bubble gum. “Hey, David,” Tommy sniffed, rubbing the dark welt rising on his throat. “We can go home now.”

David hopped off the bars and landed in the soft grass, trampling the recently sprouted wildflowers. “George again?”

“Yep.”

Chuckling, David added: “In the main hall? Y’know Mr. Harris is going to be pissed when he gets back tonight to see your pack print in the lockers.”

“Fuck him,” rasped Tommy. Following his brother to the sidewalk, heading towards home. “Did you know they’re calling me Mutant?” He rubbed his nubby sixth finger on his left hand, kicking gravel into the ditch as he walked.

David beamed. “Started that one myself. Figured it was better than Titty Tommy.”

A semi raced past the duo, stirring up dust and a crumpled page of Stitcherton Daily. When the soot settled down and the boys moved farther from the dirt road, Tommy patted the dirt from his hair and whispered, “He called again.”

David stopped. “Did you answer?”

“No.”

“How many –”

“Three,” answered Tommy. “It’s not stopping like you thought it would.”

“Whatever. Let’s just get home before Mom grounds us for life.” David’s attempt at quickly changing the subject had no effect, as neither of the boys could escape the thought of what was to come should they continue to ignore the blocked calls.

“It’s going to come again,” warned Tommy.

“And when it does, we’ll be ready.” David swallowed his gum. “As long as we have a bathtub….”

Tommy hid his panic behind a quivering grin. “…We have a fighting chance.”

Space Deli

Opal and Samantha did everything together; the twin sisters even coordinated each week so that they would happen to run into each other at the grocery store or the gym. One would be incorrect in thinking they traveled together, however – both knew of the importance of distance. They made it a point not to drive the other crazy; they merely enjoyed the coincidence – albeit planned – of running into the other during their daily rounds.

Each Wednesday, after filling their silver minivans with gas – and remarkably seeing that their better half decided to conveniently do the same – they went back to Opal’s house for afternoon tea, and Samantha brought a desert of her choosing.

Opal greeted Samantha at the door. “Oh, Sam! I wasn’t expecting you today! And would you get this? I just happened to brew some earl gray; it’s on the stove now.” Opal’s smile lit the porch. “Come in, come in!”

Samantha lifted her palm. “Wait one second, dear. I’ve got a surprise for you!”

“Oh, how I love surprises! But you know that already, wouldn’t you darling?” The large woman giggled. “I bet you know more about me than I do!”

“You know it,” Samantha said, drawing a beautiful dish from the van. Amid Opal’s gasps and ooohs, the platter finally got to the kitchen.

“That croquembouche is marvelous, girl! You’ve really outdone yourself this time.”

Samantha wasn’t one to brag, but she knew her friend was right. Other times she brought pies, cakes, and even crème brulee, but neither of them amounted to the effort she put into this dessert. It had to be perfect this time, more so than ever.

The dish stood a foot tall from the table – Samantha didn’t want it to be too extravagant – and the crispy brown caramel filled the air with sugar. It also brought life to the ordinarily dull, olive room.

Opal took the first bite, her expression one of ecstasy. “Mmm! This really tickles my gullet! It’s quite literally like my taste buds just orgasmed.”

This remark caused Samantha to choke on her tea. “Whoa there, missy. Let’s not get too carried away. I haven’t even told you the good news.”

“What can be better than this?” Opal muttered through a mouthful of pastry.

Samantha slapped a sheet of paper on the table. “This!” Waiting for her friend to scan the document, she clarified: “It’s only in its preliminary stages, but I think it can change everything.”

“A space deli? Are you serious?”

“Get this: they only call for a minimum sum of $7,500 from prospective investors, and they’ll randomly select fifteen donators – those drawn will be members of the board of Nalaxia, an upcoming lunar deli!”

Opal sat puzzled. “And who the hell would it serve? And if you say alie-“

“Aliens! And astronauts should they want to make the trip from the International Space Station.”

“Sam,” she said, sighing, “this is a scam, pure and simple. Even if it ain’t, there’s no way a fucking deli would ever make it on the Moon. And if you think I’m gonna let you waste a good seven grand on this, you’re out of your mind.” She shredded the paper. “There – you can thank me later.”

“That was only your copy; I already sent my payment in.” Samantha hands her a receipt of a money transfer. “So I take it you’re not in? I know you have that divorce settlement money just sitting and rotting.”

Opal offered Samantha a plate of croquembouche and refilled her tea cup. “Naw, girl. That money is sitting safe in the trunk under the floorboard in my room, and is all going toward bills. Lord knows I’ve got tons of them.” Suddenly, she stumbles to the floor, her hands cupping her throat.

“See, they sent me another letter saying that if you send in an extra $50,000, you’ll get an automatic place on the board, and board members get to travel to the Moon and stake out the best place for the building. You know how I’ve always wanted to go into space, Opal – this is my chance.”

Opal coughed blood into her hand, suddenly seeing two Samanthas and two towering croquembouches. “Sam…” she wheezed, “what did you do?”

Grinning, Samantha walked over and placed a hand on her friend’s stomach. “I knew you would never see the goodness of this situation I’ve been blessed with. You’re too goddamned stubborn and focused on problems of today that it obscures your future thinking.” She wiped a trickle of spit and vomit from Opal’s cheek. “And I knew you would never pass a good croquembouche.
“You see? We both win; you got to taste the most delicious dessert in your life, and I get a seat on a rocket to space. Surely you forgive me?” But Opal was already gone.

“Looks like I’ll be taking that vacation after all,” Samantha uttered, hauling the trunk full of cash to her silver minivan.