Squished kitty. Holstein kitty. She was the only one marked as she was. Calico I suppose with all the orange hid somewhere. I couldn't see. So she was a black kitty with white patches or a white kitty with black patches depending upon how you thought. First thing to greet you at 10th and Mason. How do you know when you're home? Look for the dead cat. Bam. You're home.
What they'd say to us–call out from the kitchen window–as we slung ourselves onto our bicycles and onto the tar streets: "Now, don't go gettin yourselves killed." Blasting caps is what they'd warn us about. Stay away from um. They'll kill ya. Ka-boom! Where could we get ahold of some blasting caps? The most powerful explosives I had in my pocket were a dozen Black Cats. They'd blow a plastic model of a 57 Chev to kingdom come. Great effect. We'd film it but we didn't have any cameras. Our minds were our cameras.
Tell you what, E.G. We get ourselves some M-80s and they'll blow a hole in you as big as a tree stump. Cool. Now where do we get M-80s? Which is worse? Blasting cap or an M-80? M-80 blowed Lind's mailbox to bits and all the mail in it too. Who did that? Johnny Robb. Who else? What does an M-80 look like? I've seen a cherry bomb. Blasting caps look like those fuses in the basement, I think. Here, I'll draw a picture in the dirt.
Man, we spent most of the summer trying to get ourselves killed. E.G., he thought he'd shoot the hill down Mason on his golden banana. Give yourself a kick at squished kitty, E.G., and let 'er rip. And so he did. Wheelied up a half a block, and then down the hill he went on gravity's sweet momentum, lickity split, fast as a motorbike right to the maw of Highway 5 traffic, and lo, the Fort-Des Moines 6:15 bus. "Yay! E.G.! You gonna git yerself, KILLLED!" we all screamed together. But skid, E.G. did, in the gravel, inches from the buscrunch, the driver blaring his tooter and redfaced and screaming, and E.G. barely had enough skin on his arm, and he was still alive. Woo-wee. Plunged for days in baths of epsom and blamed us all, and yes blamed us all for no good reason.
And so a whole good summer was nearly wasted and school was showing its teeth around the corner of a week, and it looked like none of us was going to get himself killed. What a waste of good green wind and lightning. We mourned our collective health until one day Nelson, the kid with the Japanese parents, said he was going to die of brain cancer. So we all gathered around Nelson, and hugged him, and took him by the hand over to the soccer field, and we tied the end of a kite string to one of his buttons. Then we let out some slack and stood there and waited for the wind to pick up. When the wind rose, we tightened the line and started chanting, "Rise above your shadow, Nelson! Rise above your shadow!" And the wind puffed and picked him up by the armpits and heels, and he floated there rising slowly, we tugging on the line as he rose higher and higher still. Up he went, getting higher and higher, and we let the line roll and roll, and pretty soon he was just a speck in the sky. By and by, as Vs of geese nibbled at his trace, we came to the end of our kite string. The sun blinked on the horizon like a gigantic search light, and we, as the anthems played from parked cars into the weeping grasses, reluctantly let Nelson go.