Grandpa Pabst was stuck. Stuck believing it was still the 50s, that dinosaurs were alive and well, and most importantly stuck believing Sherry was still there in the form of a tattered doll in black face. Grandpa Pabst had sole custody of Johnny when his parents, the biggest heroine dealers in our little town, took off and went missing in 1992. Johnny was alone, his only caretaker was a delirious 93-year-old man.
"You're a whore... I saw things, I saw many things. The men, oh the men you've laid with. There was that colored man. Bet you liked that. Being laid by the Symbionese Liberation Army. Life is a gas Sherry. Through it all I love you...." There was a great pause where Grandpa Pabst waited for the doll to respond. "I guess you're right. We're both whores."
I crept up on him, I felt like a snoop. I wish I hadn't heard his conversation. "Excuse me sir? Sorry to interrupt." From his fog he fell back to earth and took a chug from his can.
"Yes, son?" his elder voice asked sweetly.
"Is Johnny home?" I was almost scared of him.
"Oh yeah he's around. You can go on in I think the doors unlocked."
I starred blankly at the screen door that screamed silently at me for its end. I couldn't conceive how it would lock.
Johnny was in his room. He had just buzzed his head. He was wearing white socks and white briefs with a small blanket covering his top half. He sat there a 14-year-old golden Adonis. His room was freezing--it was January and they had no heat. He sat reading a book of H.P. Lovecraft's short stories called "Crawling Chaos". He seemed unfazed by the cold. I was shivering so much I would have wet my pants to stay warm. He had headphones on and walkman blasting so he didn't notice my entrance. I didn't want him to notice me. I just wanted to watch him. He sat, his silhouette framed in light cast in by the winter sky.
After school Johnny told me to stop by his house. I did. I like hanging out with Johnny. He's so cool. Today I farted in front of him and he didn't even care. Fuck everyone. I hope we stay friends forever.
I stood there trying not to make a sound. I could feel my stomach slush my morning breakfast of saltines. I pinched it. I held on to that fart for dear life. I would do anything not to ruin this scenic beauty soon to become an ingrained memory. Like the strained squeak of a balloon releasing its contents in a tub of warm water, I broke wind.
Interrupted, he laughed and put down he book. He rose from the bed and gave me a punch in the arm. It hurt. All I could think was "this is what boys do." We remained friends thru the fart and the weeks to come.
December 24th the snow started to blow into our town. It was like the fake snow you see in movies. Someone was tearing up a huge fancy comforter in the clouds. This was a great blizzard that would become legendary to the kids of my block. Johnny was staying at my house because his heat was turned off and it was below zero out. His broken screen door provided little comfort to Old Man Winter.
It started with a huge snowball fight. We were pelted every which way, an onslaught of teenage aggression through fist-sized balls of ice. Everyone was teaming up against us. I had warned Johnny of such a situation. We waved a white flag of defeat and surrender, but they did not accept our plea. It took one ice ball to Johnny's eye and a lot of blood to make him cry. He didn't cry the way a 13-year-old boy should cry. He held his tears tight, a subtle wet glisten rolled over his cheeks. He sighed in pain like a wounded solider. He didn't create a show.
We ran, the melee seconds behind, into my house and locked the door. They were in my front lawn.
I could hear their pubescent hate splattering my front door with every slushy thud. "I fucking hate everything!" screamed Johnny. Beauty. Johnny ran up to my room and retrieved a gun from his backpack. I stopped at my doorway in shock. In slow motion Johnny started to scream and fired two shots out my window into the front yard at the angry adolescent mob. I felt a warmth in my pants, a stream ran down my inner thigh. Johnny had turned to me "Dude fucking calm down, it's a fucking pellet gun. You pissed your pants." he said with a laugh.
Embarrassment, he could read my face. We stood there awkwardly, feelings like a fart circled the room, but no one wanting to admit. So he leaned in and licked my cheek. I wrapped my shaking arms around him and he held onto my piss soaked body. I remember white lights. All white lights and I rubbed my face along his body. Stripped down to venerability and crawled into my bed in our underwear. Two pale scrawny mice half naked bathed in the white light of my bedroom window.
Lazy eyes and sundays,
snow chilled blow-jobs,
in piss crusted undies.
I loved him and we would be together forever.
I was walking Johnny home from my house. His stay had ended and he wanted to check on his grandpa. We had never talked about what happened the day of the snowball fight, questions amassed in my mind. I was counting the houses, playing with the shit in my pockets. This walk was heightening to an explosion. "Do you like me, Johnny?" I asked and felt a fool as the words slipped over my tongue, through my clenched teeth, and breezed passed my lips. I wanted to take it back. I didn't want to know, I should have just left it.
"Sam, I'm not a fag if thats what you are asking." I was shattered, heart-broken.
Johnny wasn't gay. I never thought that he was. I didn't even consider myself gay then. When you're 12 and going through puberty, you're attracted to everything. Nonetheless I loved him and in that moment it was clear it was unrequited.
I walked Johnny to the door in silence. He wouldn't even look at me. That's when Grandpa burst through that sad screen door screaming "They're comin' for us, Johnny!" and he pulled the boy in.
I started to walk home and I stopped when I heard the sirens. "Mr. Turner this is the police. We are here peacefully if could just come out. We would like to talk." They came to take Johnny away. One of the neighbors must have informed Child Services about the condition of Johnny's caretaker.
The event lasted all day with Johnny and Grandpa in the basement. Grandpa Pabst was threatening suicide. In the end Grandpa put up a good fight but they took Johnny. I heard Grandpa's gentle cry of "Sherry, why?!" when the cops knocked the mammy doll off its chair.
I would never talk to Johnny again. Dear Johnny, whose heart are you breaking now?