The kid
Rachel B. Glaser

At the end of the summer the kid accepted a bunch of drop-offs down south. The girl went with the kid because now she lived with the kid in his basement; she lived with the kid in his life. The kid drove the speed limit and came to full stops at stop signs. The drugs were in plastic bags in the backseat seat-lining. The drop-offs were easy. The kid left the girl with the dog in the motel, flipping channels. On the last drop-off, he left the dog at the motel, but took the girl with him, even though he wasn't supposed to. He had a girl.
The kid had a mother that couldn't stop crying. The girl had a step-father she hated. Before the kid, she went out with older guys she met working at the mini mart. The kid had a freckle on his penis and always avoided girls. The summer before 12th grade, the girl kept sleeping in her car on the cul-de-sac at the end of the kid's street. They knew each other from gym class. He knocked on her window and she let him in and they chewed a whole pack of peppermint lifesavers, then he took her back to the basement which was his bedroom. Old Nintendo games littered the floor like headstones. The kid showed the girl his beagle dog, who he was in love with. The girl reached out to pet its head; the beagle stared back unimpressed. It took the dog years to fall in love. The girl could do it in about a month. There was no air conditioning in the basement; it made them weak.
It was only a little bit of drugs, the extra bag, some guy last minute. They found the apartment easy. The man answered the door without a shirt on; a few spidery hairs sticking out over his low slung pants. There was music and the man took the girl's hand and twirled her like they were dancing. She laughed and looked at the kid. The man took them inside where a woman was sprawled on the couch. The man didn't ask yet for the drugs; he took them on a tour of his small apartment. He said the name of the kid's brother. He said disgusting things about the woman on the couch. He said that the girl should live in the spare room and that the kid could keep the drugs. The kid didn't laugh, because he never fake-laughed. The girl laughed because she was nervous. There was an uneasy space where the kid was not laughing.
The kid went to the man's bathroom and there was a crystal Buddha above the toilet. The Buddha's eyes glimmered at the kid. Rubies had been used for the eyes. He looked in the mirror and checked on his pimple. Anything trapped inside to set free? He stuck his finger in his nose, the fingernail feeling for anything in there. Nothing. His hands scratched his scalp looking for the scab. He leaned against the wall. Bathrooms were the only real private time. Even in a car there were people looking from their cars. In a normal room someone can just walk in whenever. A bedroom with so many socks and sheets and things. But a bathroom is small and hard. It is for nothing. A little time with the toilet and the sink, but not even a shower in this one. The only real place. The kid looked into the rubies. What kind of moment was this, with the buddha in the bathroom. Did the buddha belong? A drip dropped. The buddha did belong; it was the bathroom, the only real private time. All the non-moments. Peaceful, anxious. The scab the kid usually scratched off wasn't there. He had neglected to scratch it and it had healed. The kid lifted the buddha into his backpack. Then he took a little of the drugs and put it in a separate bag in his pocket. The girl had always wanted to try the drug and he had never let her. Then he took a shit in the toilet and looked at it. The shit slowly moved in the water and he left it floating.
For a job, the kid drove drugs. His car was a quality one and his skin was white enough. He had a clean record and a nice face and he ran drugs and sometimes stolen things over state lines. The job had been left to him by his older brother who died two summers before. The kid and the girl had fallen into something like love. Now the boy knew it didn't matter there was a freckle on his penis. The girl liked the kid better than the men from the mini mart, because he got sweet like a baby and held her while they slept. When they awoke, there was a blissful moment of remembering about each other. The girl didn't need to listen to NIN anymore to function. She didn't need to listen to anything.
In the living room the man was showing the girl the other buddha sculptures. Some were marble, some were wood. He said they were always meditating. That some had been meditating for hundreds of years. That he won them on E-bay, sometimes for cheap, sometimes not. The kid gave the drugs and the man gave the money. The man looked over at the woman and asked, "Is this enough? How much did you say?" The woman mumbled it didn't matter and that nothing mattered. The man looked at the kid and the girl. All he had was the small apartment and now the bag of drugs. His life was missing a sort of action that used to jump it from week to week. No one had punched him out in a long time. He wanted to say something to the kids, but there wasn't anything to say. At one point there had been a string of situations. All of a sudden he'd be gunning it on a highway, the radio playing some guy playing confident, and the confidence would rub onto him. He'd be in a lumber yard with only a vague notion, but then the notion would pan out. One minute he'd be saying one thing, and the next something else. There was no looking back. Now, all there were were the buddhas. The buddhas and the woman. Mostly the buddhas. The kids had a lucky stupidness. The sex they had wasn't even sexy probably. It was simple, probably. Like making a sandwich and eating it. Their worlds were whole like little baseball stadiums. With little tiny players playing in little clean uniforms. But getting in fights too, sometimes. The little players would sometimes get in fights and get bloody noses. The woman on the couch made a sound. The man looked wildly at the kid. The kid said nothing; then it was over. The girl drove them into town and they ate at a restaurant with too much junk stuck on its walls. "Let's just keep the money and never drive back. Let's skip the whole 12th grade," the girl said with her mouth full of hamburger, "Let's live down here." The kid agreed, and then they were silent. The kid wasn't sure if he was serious. He knew she was, because she would often get a quick idea and then just do it numbly, like there had never been a choice.
Outside by the curb, young black kids wove bamboos into roses. The rain ruined blouses. The kid and the girl walked through a creepy park. Benefit flyers blew in the wind. The kid found a poster that looked like the dog. On each corner was a bent up kid trying to sell the roses. They walked past, over broken glass, cigarettes, and wet bamboo roses, flattened by sneakers, dead on the sidewalk.
Back at the motel, the dog was curled between the beds. The carpet was dark with pee. The kid fumbled with the card key, but the lock was broken. He pushed open the door easily. Giddy with affection, he spotted the dog. He pulled the sleepy beagle into his lap and cooed. The dog yelped back. The kid cooed. Yelp. Coo. Yelp. The girl watched this with hands on hips. The kid and dog held each other. "I don't get up on this," she said. The kid pulled his eyes from the dog, and smiled at the girl. The dog licked his hand, licked between his fingers. "There is something you two get that I just can't get up on." The kid smoothed the dog's ears out. The girl took off her shirt, and the dog and kid looked away. She laid on one of the beds. Its thick comforter was wrapped over, trapping the pillow. The kid left the dog on his bed and went to the girl. He pulled the bag out of his pocket. The girl was excited and they kissed. The kid thought of the Buddha and didn't want to think of it, so put his fingers in the girl. Their hands held each other's arms and hair and wanted their bodies stuck in a place, so they stuck their bodies together in a place.
Afterwards she filled the bath. The water was too hot for the both of them, but they succumbed to it, lowering their feet, burning their skin red and bigger. By the time they were up to their chests, heads resting against the sides, the water had cooked their minds empty. The surface was flaked with spider hairs and bits of dead skin. The girl's enormous thigh rose above it. In the numb heat, their top lips dried to their bottoms, nothing to say. Peace was unparalleled; boredom secured.
The dog was barking, and that got the kid moving, the water moving, but the girl ignored it and sunk into the boredom. There was a sound and the kid jumped out the tub and pulled his jeans on over his wet legs. Over his freckled penis. The knocking shook the girl's heart, but she eased herself up gracefully. Enormous thighs, reddened feet. She started dressing as the door slammed open, the doorknob wrecking a hole in the wall. The man had the kid by the neck and with him the woman stood laughing. The woman closed the door and gave the man a gun, and the man already had a gun. The woman took her gun back and aimed it at the girl. The girl backed into the bathroom and the woman pushed the gun towards her, until the gun was snug against the girl's head. The kid was holding the dog in his hands and the man held tight on the kid's neck. The girl laughed. With his other hand, the man opened the kid's jansport backpack and took out a notebook, balled-up socks, and then the Buddha. The girl stared at the Buddha. The Buddha stared back with eyes of fire. The girl had a smile inside her mouth. The Buddha had been there meditating, through their sex and their bath. The Buddha was always having a bath. The Buddha was a constant bath. She could see right through the Buddha because he was crystal. She could see through the kid too, but not the man, the dog, or the woman. She could see through herself because she was inside and outside. The man aimed his gun and shot the Buddha into pieces. The woman snickered. The bottom of the Buddha sat there, legs folded on top of legs, still meditating. The top of the Buddha had shattered across the room. One bit of the Buddha was sticking out of the girl's arm. The girl saw it but didn't move because of the gun. The Buddha had touched her. It stung.
The man put the gun against the dog's ear. The woman released the trigger guard. The girl could hear the gun against her hair. The kid was hyperventilating. The man told the kid to pick. The girl's clothes weren't on well. The dog licked at the kid's hands and didn't know about the gun. The dog licked the gun. The girl could feel the gun against her hair and her hair against her scalp and how her scalp was covering the rock of her skull. Inside her skull was where everything else was happening. She didn't want the little bullet to tear a hole in her brain. The kid was trembling on the floor. The dog had been a puppy when the kid was a kid and the dog had smooth ears. The girl was the only person the kid had ever had sex with. The girl would laugh after good orgasms. The dog liked to be inside sweatshirts. The two guns hovered and pushed. The kid wouldn't look at the girl; he kissed and kissed his dog's head. The man whispered something disgusting about the kid's choice. The kid could not choose. The dog always yelped and wagged when he saw the kid. The girl had a nice way of singing along to songs. The dog knew more words than most dogs. The girl couldn't think if there was any more a humiliating way to die. She couldn't see through the kid anymore. Only her and the Buddha were ones clear of anything
The summer used up its days, then was forced into fall. The kid was up back near home, but he didn't want to start the 12th grade. He didn't want to start his sandwich, which lay in tinfoil in front of him. He didn't want to start anything ever again. The tattoo gun's needle went in and out with a hum. The shape of a beagle head was being stabbed over his heart. Carefully, fur was added on, and whiskers, a little glimmer in the eyes that made the head come alive. It had been the girl's idea. She thought it might make the kid feel better, but now they had to get more money. The kid was crying, and he couldn't ever stop. His mind was sick on fear. The girl was bored of the crying. The tattoo man pretended not to see.