Jimmy's Story - The Short VersionMature

“Don’t worry about Jimmy,” a voice to my left tells me, “he ain’t right in the head.”

“And how do I know you two are?” I ask the two boys sauntering in my direction. The taller one is blonde and wiry, the shorter red-haired and his companion makes him look tubbier than he really is.

“Two reasons,” Tall Boy says, holding up two fingers. “One: we’re actually talking to you.” One finger retracts, leaving only the middle one standing. Blushing furiously, Tall Boy pushes on. “And two: we won’t run screaming home to mommy when we’re done here.”

“Unless you kick us in the junk,” his friend adds, his hands moving to protect his boyhood. “Please don’t.”

“I’d only do that if you deserved it,” I say with a smile.

“That’s good.” His relief is quickly swallowed by suspicion. “Wait, how do we know if we do something to deserve it?”

“Oh, I’ll let you know.” I grab my right ankle and bring it to my butt, stretching out my quad.

“Hi Alice, making friends already?” Ellen asks, returning to the car to grab more of our stuff. I don’t reply and I don’t move to help her.

“You must be Alice’s mom!” Tall Boy says, stepping forward to meet her with hand extended. “I’m Andrew and this is my best friend Greg. I live next door and he’s just around the corner thataway.”

“Very nice to meet you boys,” Ellen begins but I cut off the charade before it goes any further.

“Actually, this is Ellen and that’s Barry coming out the front door now. They’re not my parents, just my foster family. My real parents died in a car crash last month.” Everyone freezes in place. “Oh, and call me Al. I hate being called Alice.”

“Al is a boy’s name,” Greg says, just loud enough for me to hear.

“My Deserving Radar is detecting something,” I say, staring up at the clouds. Greg takes a quick step backward.

“Al, be a dear and help us unpack the car,” Ellen says, her voice strained. “Barry could use a hand with those books.”

“I’ll be there in a minute,” I say, casting a glance at the abandoned wagon across the street. After an unimpressed look she grabs a bag from the backseat and heads inside. Barry doesn’t even look at me as he hauls a box out of the trunk and follows in her wake.

“Sorry about your parents,” Andrew mumbles, one hand rubbing the back of his head.

“Yeah, me too.” Greg is studying his shoelaces as if they were a porn mag.

“Don’t worry about it. So what’s the deal with Jimmy?”

“He’s harmless,” Andrew says with a shrug. “You’ll see him around the neighbourhood lots cause he’s home schooled.”

“They try sticking him in with the rest of us every couple of years but it never lasts more than a week.” Greg still won’t look up from his shoes.

“Is that his fault,” I ask them, “or the work of the rest of the kids?”

“Sometimes Jimmy freaks out all on his own,” Andrew says with a frown, “but mostly it’s Willy Dixon and his gang that ends up teasing him off the deep end.”

“About what?”

“Uh, it’s kind of a long story.”

“So give me the short version.”

“We do that,” Greg says, “and you’ll want the long one too. Guaranteed.”

“Try me.” I cross my arms and stare them down. They exchange glances before shrugging their shoulders in unison.

“Jimmy hasn’t been the same since this thing happened when he was three,” Andrew says, his eyes on Jimmy’s wagon. “It was Halloween and his parents left him and his little sister with a sitter.”

“They were going to a costume party for adults,” Greg chips in. “Can you imagine? Abandoning your kids on the most important night of -”

“The short version please,” I remind them as Ellen emerges from the house again.

“Jimmy snuck out with his sister to go trick or treating. He came back home less than an hour later without her.”

“What happened?”

“He claims she was abducted by aliens.”

“What, like in a UFO?”

“No,” Andrew says slowly, “like in a green station wagon.”

Damn it all, they were right. I do need the full story.

The End

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