The Children and the Wolves

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Dirty Diana soaks her feet in bleach. She puts Clorox in a bucket of hot water and soaks them during Craig Ferguson.

They itch, she says. The fuckers itch.

She’s a pediatrician nurse and she says it’s okay. Nurses know science and medicine and how to kill a fungus. I never get funguses so I don’t got no worries about that. Once I got a cold but it went away cause I drank a thing of Tabasco sauce.

Dirty Diana’s one hand always twitches after she puts her feet in the water. I couldn’t tell you what her other hand is doing. It’s like that hand is always hiding something.

About the bleach she says, It’s cheaper than the sprays. The sprays and those phony powders.

She says it’s okay that there was a dead bird in the kitchen too. It was black and it had a eye like a ninja. This was like a year ago. It just appeared next to the stove like the kitchen imagined it. Sometimes the refrigerator hums like it’s thinking. I have a feeling that it dreams. If it has a nightmare it could poison all your food.

Sometimes I worry that the refrigerator will start talking to me when no one’s around. Wiggins, it’ll say. I know what you’re up to, you bad little boy. You fucking gangbanging thug.

I’m not no gangbanger but the refrigerator prolly thinks I am.

Dirty Diana’s my mom and we got the same weird eyes.

She’ll say, They gave us hazel eyes and little pygmy bladders, Wiggins.

She’s short but she ain’t no pygmy. Pygmies are nigger midgets and we ain’t no niggers, we’re white as paper.

And about Dirty Diana’s bladder:

Sometimes I can hear her on the toilet. She don’t go for a long time and sometimes she cries and turns on the shower to hide the emotions of it, but I don’t have those problems. Once I pissed longer than a TV commercial. It was a advertisement about Ford Truck Toughness and I outpissed it. Sometimes I piss the bed, specially when I’m rolling. Oxycotton can make you lazy, I’ll admit it. I’ve pissed the bed and slept in it like a derelict. When you’re rolling you’ll let yourself get away with just about anything.

Dirty Diana’s eyes are smaller than mine cause she don’t hardly sleep. Most of the time it’s like she can barely keep them open. Sometimes she’ll close them when she’s sitting at the kitchen table and they’ll start swimming around all weird under her eyelids.

I notice eyes a lot. Like the lady who drove my school bus, Ms. Herbert. Her eyes are scrunched and blue. Or the man down the hall with his little dog that looks like a rat with upside-down teeth. The man’s name is Prisby Pound and his eyes are green and they look like someone pushed them too far into his head with their thumbs. His TV’s always on the Home Shopping channel. When he turns it off it’s like he’s dead. Or like you’d open his door and there would just be black space with maybe a huge floating rock. No floors or walls or nothing.

I like drawing eyes and I like studying one and then the other one. Most people got a good and a bad eye. Or a big eye and a small eye. Or a mean eye and a nice eye.

Animals too.

About that bird in my kitchen:

It looked like someone busted it open and flinged it at the stove. You could see its heart and stomach meats. It was next to the stove for a few days and the bugs were all over it. It was scientific to watch. Flies and ants and a little white worm wiggling into its heart. Eventually Dirty Diana picked it up with salad tongs and dropped it in the trash. Then I took the trash down and put it in the dumpster.

You’re a good man, Wiggins, she said when I came back.

She was smoking and eating a purple popsicle.

My little garbage man, she said.

But Dirty Diana don’t know that before I put the bird in the dumpster I pulled its head off. It was easier than I thought, but I’m strong for my skinniness.

When I got back to the apartment I plopped the birdhead in the toilet and watched it float for a while. I kept waiting for that ninja eye to tell me something.

What? I said to it. What?

But it didn’t say shit so I flushed it.

My hands smelled like deadness and I kept smelling them for the rest of the night.

Dirty Diana cleaned the bird smears with the same bleach she uses to soak her feet.

Fucking crow in my kitchen, she said, down on her hands and knees, scrubbing.

How poetic, she said.

I’m pretty sure it flew in through her bedroom window cause she always forgets to close it and it don’t got no screen. We’ve been infested with mosquitoes all summer. She says that that’s why she sleeps on the couch now. There’s a shape in it like her body.

Fucking mosquitoes divebombing in my ears, she’ll say. After two shifts of whining kids that’s the last thing I need.

Her room looks like it got scrambled by thieves. It smells like cigarettes and her armpits. She used to read romance novels and they’re scattered on the floor. She don’t read no more, though. She mostly watches Craig Ferguson and smokes weed and claws at her hairy little troll feet.

The only thing she keeps on a hanger is her white nurse’s uniform. She’s got two of them. She washes them in the sink and hangs them on a hook on the other side of the bathroom door. You can hear them dripping on the floor all night. I imagine a animal bleeding and a puddle of blood. The floor’s always soaked in the morning.

When she wakes up, her face looks like it got punched.

Sometimes I’ll watch her sleep.

Diana, I’ll whisper. Hey, Diana.

I try and imagine being pulled out of her at the hospital. Did she reach between her legs and yank me out with her own hands or did they have to use those huge hospital tools you hear about? Like a hook or a shovel?

Sometimes I imagine myself in a pickle jar, floating in science juice. Barely alive with see-through skin. My heart like a little white raisin.

I think something happened to me when I was born. Like maybe I got bit by a spider or I slept too close to the microwave.

From my room I can hear Dirty Diana scratching her troll feet to Craig Ferguson. She’s in love with him.

His accent, she says. I just love his accent.

I think the bleach only makes the itching worse but she’s the nurse and she knows about sanitation. Once she made me wash my hair with this brown stuff.

It’s for lice, she said. Boys get lice and you’re a boy.

It smelled like go-cart fuel and burnt behind my ears.

When the scratching stops I know she’s asleep and that’s when I sneak out to feed the Frog.

Good night, Mom, I whisper. Time to feed the Frog.

We keep the Frog in Orange’s basement. Orange lives in the yellow condos, on the other side of Piano Road. He’s got a upstairs and a basement, but it’s only him and his dad living there now. His mom disappeared six months ago. Nobody knows where she is. She worked at the library and had to have one of her breasts removed and lost all her hair and had to wear a cancer wig.

Once I asked Orange where he thought she was.

Who cares, he said. Fucking one-titted freak.

There are stacks of newspapers all over their house. Newspapers and TV Guides and books about alien abduction. Orange’s dad was a mailman but something happened to his nervous system and now he’s in a wheelchair and can’t go up or down stairs, which is cool cause he’ll never find the Frog.

Hey, Mr. Merlo, I’ll say.

He’ll say hey back but he’s not all there. He’s obese and he’s usually rolling. He mostly watches NASCAR and that reality show with Flava Flav and all his ghetto bitches. I like that one, he’ll say. The one with the big butt and the teeth.

There’s some woods behind the yellow condos and these men live in them and light bomb fires. At night you can see the trees glowing. Orange says the men are part monster.

I’m like, What kind of monster?
Warlock, he’ll say. They got warlock in ’em.

But Bounce says they’re just men and she’s a registered genius in the state of Illinois.

I’ll say, I ain’t never going in them woods.
Orange’ll be like, If you do you ain’t coming back.
And Bounce’ll go, They’re just men roasting marshmallows. And then she’ll give us hellified tittie twisters.

Bounce is stronger than most boys. Last week she beat up Kenny Lockwood and he’s got a mustache.

Orange tripped him first but Bounce still beat his ass and she called him a punk-ass-bitch when she was doing it. Right in front of the Dumas Public Library.

She took one of his shoes as a souvenir. It was a gray New Balance, size seven, more old than new. She always takes a shoe after she wins a fight. Her closet is full of them.

Look at him limping home, she’ll say. Just look at him.

What she’ll do is grab two fingers with one hand and the other two with her other one and pull the fingers apart so the meat tears. She says she learnt that from watching cage matches on the Internet.

The weak spots are your friends, she’ll say.

Kenny Lockwood mostly stays in his house now.

We feed the Frog Chex cereal and Flintstones chewable vitamins with extra C. She’s got a couch and a toilet and a sink and a mini refrigerator and two pillows and a coloring book and crayons and when her underwears get dirty I wash them in the washer-dryer unit. We got a thing of Tide and a thing of Snuggle fabric softener. The washer-dryer unit vibrates a lot and if you press up against it you can get your nut off. I only do that when the Frog is asleep. You can’t get your nut off in front of a little kid. That’s how your soul gets a hole in it. That’s what I think even though Bounce says we don’t got souls.

She’ll say, There ain’t shit inside us but blood and water. Bones and blood and water. She says a soul is something made up by priests and greeting card companies.

She reads a lot and I trust her about most things, but not about souls. I imagine a soul is a little perfect crystal egg floating in your chest. Somewhere deeper than where they put your heart. Somewhere so deep inside that the doctors can’t find it with all their machines and microcameras.

Most of the time the Frog plays this video game called The Children and the Wolves. She’s really good at it even though she’s not four yet. Bounce bought the game for her.

Thematically pertinent, she said when Orange was hooking up the PlayStation 3.
Orange went, What’s pertinent?

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