When we were seven, you proved your love for me by biting into a live catfish you caught bare handed. You used to knock me down, pull out my chair, chase me. What ever happened to you?
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Okay. I have to break ranks and go over the 37 words. Steven went to the same after school care I did in Richardson, Texas. It was the late 1970s and he had to wear these big old clunky hearing aids. They frustrated the hell out of him and more than once he flushed them down the toilet. I hope they were incredibly expensive, because I remember his mom beating the shit out of him one time at pick up when he’d done it, yet again. He ran away from her across the big field out front where the wild onions grew. We used to dig them up to protect us from vampires, and when I can smell onions on the wind coming from Salinas or Gilroy or wherever the smell floats here from, I am transported back to my childhood, complete with the swirly effects and do-da-lee-do-da-lee-do music. I’m kinda not kidding. We didn’t ever include Steven in anything, because he scared us. He used to chase me and try to kiss me with his slobbery mouth. He shoved me backwards off a picnic bench one time. Hard. Really hard. The day with the fish — we went roller skating around Bachman lake in Dallas and there were fish right at the shore. He looked me in the eye and grabbed one and then bit into it. I think. My memory is not so good for things long ago. I do remember that he had red hair. I can see his face. I know he bit the fish, but maybe it was already dead in the water.
It’s really amazing how much things have changed. If Steven were a kid now, at least in our school district, he’d have pretty great services and his mom wouldn’t get away with wacking him — at least not publicly like that. He’d have a hearing aide that wasn’t so awful and embarrassing. I can’t think of a good reason for not just hating his guts, because he really did hurt me and scare me, but I never did. I remember when he left the after school care that I was sorry to see him go in some ways.
I hope he ended up an okay adult. It’s hard to imagine that he could have, but then people are funny that way. You think someone has everything they need to be okay and they just aren’t, while the ones who should have no reason to be kind sometimes just are.