- Character Name:
- Kurtis Gamble.
- He didn’t like the smell of gasoline much; it was a flaw in the eyes of his brother males probably, noticeably, but he he didn’t show signs of care, or rather understanding. It was just one more match in a book of the undefinable to a boy lost in a world inverted. He had been out of place for what he knew as forever but felt no alienation. The simplicities of a black and white composite society were unknown to most children, as they were also to him; everything was long and gray and cloudy as each day was a memoryless genesis scribed fresh by an agenda set by motions unknown. However, contemporary as his childmind was, the scrawny, rat-haired boy with the hotgreen eyes was different in almost every way a child of five years can be from any other of the same age, scant as their definables were. Smiles were rare, rare as a memory of his last. His days were spent primarily crosslegged on the carpet in hole-eyed admiration of the sharp old crooks in the television; he liked most the ones that smiled before the hero killed them.
But he didn’t like the smell of gasoline. The week-passed had been spent shyly stalking an old, dirty red plastic gasoline drum. It was familiar to the boy: boxy and red and with a curled yellow nozzle; he knew what it was without knowing or having to know. And he stalked it in the yard like an alert old cat: eyes open and honed, limbs ready at his side, knees cushy and prepared and on soundless, genius feet. The old red canister sat in a patch of yellowtipped grass desolately.
At last he abandoned his caution and entered the frayed, fangy grasses curled in-guard about it, sharptipped and coiled like concertina wire (he swiped at the offensive knives as he would a flame: quick; panicked). The boy, in old black shorts and a blue-and-white striped shirt runover by a myriad of stains in varying colors, squatted down and extended his hands. They weren’t touching the drum’s hips, they instead floated outside as if expecting it to leap into his arms. And when finally the musky old container was in his grasp, he imagined that it had done just that, had sprinted purposefully off its brown platform of flattened grass to meet with him at last, relievedly.
What he discovered he liked most, later that night, crosslegged on the lawn, was how the fire swallowed up the fumey, oily aggravation of the raw gasoline. How it ran over the solution with sharp, slick, rumbling red and white and orange tines, closing that horrid smell in tubes of coldgray smoke, thrusting it up within puffy fists of plumy clot. The glow of the burning house washed the dead lawn in red, the street in orange, and the adjacent houses in yellow. The big risen majesties, those skybound fists were pillared orange and red as they scraped and coiled off the flaming roof. The higher they became the more nondescript the colors became: brown and ashen gray and hot, visible black, all greasing the ruptures of exploding, climbing smoke. At their highest points the belfries of diminishment were noticeable to the boy only by the shape of missing stars.
The boy was fired into public circulation soon after. Speculation ran around the small, idle town like the fire that had grown it. The boy was strange and guilty in the stroke of lightning flash and the mutation of talk wound on with inexorable fury, splintering off into tales both exaggerated and completely untrue. He was never right, they began. His brothers said so, then. We saw him a lot and always alone, always smiling. I knew this would happen---knew it would, said it a hundred thousand damned times and look where we are now. His parent’s weren’t no good anyway, they said finally. You could see it--see it in his face that he was mistreated. Poor thing finally got even. Poor little bastard, yeah?
He didn’t realize how much he enjoyed the orphanage until he was told. A boy younger than him, maybe by a year or two (Gamble was nine then) said so. A vicious little thing this informant, bellicose and swearmouth imbued at an age when most children were rarely keen to the foul chants of the adult. He was lean and consistently dirtyfaced, squinty and shifty and with long, dim eyes colored yellow. Well this boy asked Gamble, asked him with mystic anger why he was so happy all the time. Why he smiled when he woke up, why he smiled when he ate, why he was smiling even then. Gamble hadn’t known; straightening out his lips and notching his head to the side queerly, he asked the boy his name. ‘Clyde’, the boy said, then bucked up his chin and interrupted Gamble’s condition with the same question.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Gamble said.
“What? Whatcha’ mean, ‘whatcha’ mean’?” the bladetongued Clyde minced. “You’re smilin’ all the time---no one else does, you like a weirdo or somethin’?”
“Yeah,” Gamble disinterestedly replied. His eyes roved over the boy to a girl that had been watching them. She wore a polished little dress and polished little shoes and had a polished face and demeanor. The conditioned line that had been his mouth widened then curved. While he was watching the girl (who was now watching back, her big chocolate eyes widening with deep and dark and doubting paroxysm, with a calico print of misunderstanding, fear and digestion) Clyde spoke but his words were fuzz in Gamble’s occupied mind.
“---all the time, every time I see ya’,” Clyde was saying. “I don’t---hey, are you listenin’?”
“Mmm. No,” Gamble said. “But hey, we should be friends. I don’t have any.”
- Date Registered:
- August 30, 2012, 11:28:31 PM
- Local Time:
- September 25, 2022, 09:03:10 PM
- Last Active:
- August 30, 2012, 11:28:59 PM