‘cause he got webbed feet. kids won’t let buddy forget
he slow but we figure he probly a good swimmer. we ain’t never
seen buddy’s parents. we ain’t sure he got none
since don’t nobody sign ‘is permission slips for field trips.
but some kids think he live next to the johnsons
where mrs johnson hit mr johnson upside the head with a bat
and left ‘im face in the grass with ‘is legs on the porch steps.
don’t nobody know for sure but some think ‘is house between them
and the smiths where james smith beat the shit
outta ‘is older brother melvin cause he caught ‘im in bed
with a man, shouted keep that gay shit out my house nigga
as he kicked melvin in the head and dick while melvin’s boyfriend
ran butt-naked down the street.
____________________________but buddy don’t come out the house.
buddy ain’t got no friends. mike told buddy once
that buddy should kill hisself but he told us he was sure
buddy ain’t have the balls to use a knife. er’body knew
buddy was tired of mike’s shit.
____________________________after school buddy hid
behind a bush. i saw ‘im knelt down all small-like
holding a knife by ‘is face. he looked right at me.
he put the knife over ‘is lips and whispered shhhh.
when mike walked past buddy jumped out. he chased
mike. you shoulda seen mike’s face—we ain’t seen buddy
swim before but we seen ‘im run and mike knew he ain’t
stand a chance against those feet. buddy grabbed onto mike’s coat
and mike jumped out it like that time michelle tried to grab the fish
out the fishtank and it slipped out her hand and into the sink.
buddy punched the knife into the coat and mike kept on running.
he stabbed the coat again and again
and again and again until the coat was just black shreds
and buddy fell down on ‘is hans and knees.

but i know buddy knew the knife wanted skin. he pulled off ‘is shoes.

Marlin M. Jenkins