Yeah, it was me. And so what? He deserved it. Three Christmases, RJ ran off with our gifts. Missy’s doll house, Patty’s Legos. This time, it was the baby’s stuff. Year-old Lulu. His own kid. With the same cold, almost black eyes. Like bullet holes on those shows where the bad guys always win.
I knew he would do it. That one present, that’s the one I rigged. The prettiest package, wrapped in silver and red foil, with the little stuffed kitten sticking out of the bow.
That’s the only thing I hated, about doing it. The kitten got blown up, too.
Never mind why I did it. Why’d he keep stealing our presents? Sold them, to get high. And Mom always let him. With that hopeless look she got, like when my brother Markie took another dump in his pants. And he was no baby. We were all fucked up, all five of us.
Me, I was supposed to be dumb. But at the same time, smarter than some grown-ups. How else could I build a bomb? A special kid in a special school instead of a real sixth grade class. Nobody was allowed to say why I was weird. But toy companies made special dolls for kids like me. Just for girls, I guess. The one girl in my class kept spinning around, but could recite all the presidents, backwards.
An old mousetrap, I found, in the basement. The storage area. Our building is super-old, with lots of fun shit, all over. Wouldn’t have been fun for the poor mouse, though. Glad I found the trap, first. And more fun shit, on the other end.
That weird guy upstairs, I think they were his. The shotgun shells.
All those shows, on like the true crime channels. You learn a lot. They’re so stupid to give directions. Not everybody who watches wants to blow something up. But there’s always one kid . . .
Who’s sick of the shit . . . Like his mom’s eyes all swollen, more often than not . . . Who busts out crying, when she’s nuking mac n’cheese, or wiping ass.
When the pretty foil comes off, and box opens, the bar on the trap hits the primer . . . 00 buckshot. Nine per shell . . .
A nice, big mess. . . .
You’d think Mom would be glad. But when the cops came—the lady cop looking like that weird redhead comic—Mom screamed, and screamed. Chunks of RJ mixed with chunks of the dealer, the cops said, so you couldn’t tell who’d worn the Giants cap. You couldn’t tell who was black, and who was white.
The kitchen stunk. Markie had shit his pants again. For once, the cops came with good news. But nobody but me was happy. Not even Lulu. And it was mostly for her, I did it. She looked at me all mean.
With Mom wailing in the background, and the other kids holding each other, that lady cop kept her eye on me.
The only one smiling.
I hooked my pinky around Lulu’s fingers. In her baby face, RJ’s eyes told the cops that yes, I was special: More grown-up than kid.