Chuckjd's Words

a convenient dumping ground for my writing

1978/10/08

8 October, 1978 – 4:46 pm – Nicky’s House

Nicky was in his backyard, dribbling a battered football between his knees, feet, and chest.  The fall day was crisp, and he needed long sleeves to keep the chill away.  The only sounds were the bouncing ball and the breeze through the trees.  It was peaceful, especially since his brother wasn’t around to bother him and the other boys were playing somewhere else.

He ran the length of the yard and then back again, dribbling the ball back and forth between his horribly grass-stained trainers, avoiding imaginary defensive players from every direction.  He had been at it for hours, and it was almost time for the sun to start going down.  His knobby legs were getting cold, sticking out from under his loose, green shorts.  He was covered in scrapes and bruises, just like every good nine-year-old footballer should be.

In an impressive string of moves, he turned and kicked the game-winning goal at the fence, barely missing a tear-stained Richey.  Nicky ran up to him, looking him over for any physical damage.  All he could find was a tiny bit of what looked like sick on his shirt and red eyes from crying.

“What’s the matter?  Are you okay?” Nicky asked, wondering if he should get his mom.  She always knew what to do in situations like this.

Richey shook his head a little bit and looked down at the grass, brushing his shoe over it.  He was breathing hard, as if he ran from wherever he had came from. On top of that, he was still sniffling, just as heavily, so he hadn’t finished crying that long before he found Nicky.

Richey finally looked up, his big eyes in full doe mode.  “Can I have a glass of water or something?” he asked meekly.

Nicky put his arm around his shoulder and ushered him to the back door.  “Yeah, sure, of course.  Do you want me to get my mo-”

“No, please don’t.”  He sounded worried, an obvious fear of punishment in his voice.

Nicky nodded, opening the door and letting them inside.  The house was quiet, his father at the mine, his brother out with his friends, and his mother taking a nap upstairs in her room.  Even the boys’ footsteps were quiet, padding around the kitchen.  Nicky reached into a high cabinet, pulling out a glass and filling it with water from the sink.  He handed it to Richey, who sipped at it carefully at first, and then began gulping it down.  He finished what was in the cup and set it down on the counter.

“Are you feeling better?” Nicky said, absently giving Richey a paper towel for his eyes and face.

Richey nodded, sitting down at the kitchen table, his hands folded neatly on the tabletop.  He rested his chin there, leaning his head to the side, still looking at Nicky.  Nicky followed him, pulling out a chair and sitting next to him.  He waited, knowing Richey would finally tell him what had upset him.

“I was at Brian’s house, Brian Summers from my year, with James,” said Richey, his cheek against his hands.  “His parents weren’t home, so we were running around the house, playing hide and seek while playing his brother’s Clash record really loud.  It was kinda dumb with only three of us, but the record was really cool.  But then Brian found these dirty magazines under his brother’s bed because he hid there.  Well, Brian and James were looking at them, and they really liked ’em, so they didn’t wanna play anymore, and I didn’t like looking at them.  But I tried to anyway, and I just didn’t like ’em.  So, I ran outside, because I felt sick.  So I threw up off his porch and ran here.  I felt so sick, and those pictures were awful.  They were talking about doing that stuff someday, and that’s gross.  I never wanna do that stuff.”

Nicky slumped down, mimicking Richey’s position.  “I’m sorry.”  He hooked his legs around the legs of the chair, while Richey’s swung back and forth.  They sat there in silence for a while, just blinking slowly and fidgeting quietly.

“My mom’s gonna be making dinner soon.  You wanna stay here and eat?” Nicky said, mumbling into his arm.

Richey nodded again and stretched, standing up.  “Can I borrow one of your shirts?  I don’t want to wear this on my shirt all night,” Richey said, pointing at the drying sick still on his shirt.  He smiled weakly.

“Course,” Nicky smiled back, grabbing Richey’s hand and taking him upstairs to his room.  “You’ll swim in it, though.”

They both laughed, the terror and tension of before now gone.

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