We would run through town trying to leap to touch the
signs that were hanging under the shops. Saturday night,
but not too late, the shops all closed for the weekend.
And my brother could sometimes touch the bottom of
a sign. And my cousin would sometimes get close. But
I never got very close at all, too small, too slow, no jump.
One time, though, I was glad to be so far off. My bro
took his very best shot and hit the sign with the tips
of his fingers, it creaked on rusty hinges, whining like
a hose. And a guy walking the other way, freezing-worker
gumboots, his hood up tight, took two steps across and
booted him hard. The boot print instantly framed
on my brother’s white shorts. The guy yelled something
about fuck off kids – or maybe it was fuck off cunts? and
he carried on his way, a slight sway in time with the swigs
from out of the brown paper bag. My brother was in the
wrong place at the wrong time. And so we waited for the
adults to catch up and we told them. “Who did this?” my
father cried out, chest all puffed and ready. We pointed.
And he went straight up to an old white guy, close to 80,
very crumpled suit. “Did you just kick my son?” And boy
was he angry. We were all shaking our heads, and the old
guy was reaching to adjust his hearing aid. It was super
comical, really. Even though it probably wasn’t. So we
pointed again, to someone half that guy’s age, and twice
his size, with different skin – and everything. And my
dad paused for a minute, then told us all to head for the car.
But when we got there, dad was right along beside us,
opening the door – and telling us to forget about it all
since it was probably just a mistake.