I’m watching him play tennis. He trots up to the net and punches the ball forward with his racket held upright, the way the coach has instructed. It’s a solid hit and he runs to the back of the line, serious and stiff. I watch him leap from the couch to the love seat, and then suddenly he is under the love seat. He springs from the school bus and turns to make faces at his friend who is still on the bus. He sticks his tongue out, and she sticks her tongue out. He holds his mouth open in an “O”, and she holds her mouth open in an “O”. Now I see him lifted by gloved hands and lowered onto a cold metal scale: he is seven pounds, fourteen ounces. He is naked except for a thin cotton cap. He asks me to play cards, and every few minutes he invents a new rule. I tell him to stop yelling in the house, to stop chasing the cat, to stop ignoring what I say. When I send him to his room, he shoots daggers at me and brandishes a tight fist. I stoop and run behind his bicycle. When I let go he wobbles and falls. I stoop and run behind his bicycle, and when I let go he wobbles and falls. I stoop and run behind his bicycle, and when I let go he wobbles forward and pedals and suddenly he is riding down the narrow asphalt path behind the junior high school, framed by short green grass on either side. He recedes from me down the black line of the path, legs pumping, past the aluminum bleachers, around the baseball diamond. I run at full speed behind him, hooting and yelping until my chest burns. He tells me about Saturn’s rings. He describes the Mariana Trench. He shows me his painting of an explosion. He plays me a song he’s written on the ukulele. He has something stuck in his eye and he holds still while I get it out. At midnight I find him lying sideways in his bed, his head and one arm hanging precariously over the edge. He snorts when I lift him back into position and cover him with his sheets and blankets. I watch him sleep.
Ken Cormier is the author of Balance Act (Insomniac Press) and The Tragedy in My Neighborhood (Dead Academics Press). His live, multi-media performances have been described as “a William Burroughs exorcism through a karaoke machine.” Ken also makes radio fiction and documentary pieces, many of which have aired on public-radio affiliates around the US and on the BBC. He teaches Creative Writing at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. www.kencormier.com
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