For Your Eyes Only
by Eliot Moore
Chapter 2 (August 2006)
Glyn Fleming and I were about the same size. He came across the tracks with an older boy. His companion saw Justin Holt, Nate Taylor and I and quickly scampered across the tracks to the safety of Sunnyside. Nate went after him, which made little sense as the moment he was in enemy territory the boy turned on him. Glyn was less familiar with the game and the territory. He tried to run around a thick stand of poplars. Justin and I split up and tried to trap him on the other side. He doubled back when he saw Justin beating toward him and then when he saw me he pushed his way into the trees. I followed close behind. I landed on his back as soon as he cleared the trees. Glyn fell forward into the grass and we slid to a stop near the rail embankment. He must have seen the advantage in rolling on his back because he slipped around beneath me and surprised me with a toss that sent me tumbling over his head and left me slightly winded. When I rolled over Glyn was back on his feet dancing on his toes. He had a wide grin on his face.
“That was a sweet move.” I conceded.
“Come on boy, I’ll show you a couple more.” Glyn beckoned with his fingers, daring me to come after him. I got to my knees and he danced a little closer to the track and the safety of his own side. “Come on; let me see what you’ve got.” I must have been bemused by his English accent because I simply knelt listening to him. “See if you can catch me.”
“Your shoulders touched the ground. That’s a pin.” Justin came up beside me. Glyn’s dance came to a halting end and then he frowned at Justin.
“Shite, you’re right. I forgot the rule.” He smiled at us. “Seems a bit unfair; I figure I could drag either one of you easily back on our side and pin you right.”
“Those are the rules.” Justin had a slight edge in his voice. Every once and a while a bad sport comes along who spoils the game. Glyn was not one of them.
“Ah well, next time maybe.” He grinned good-naturedly and tossed back a long shock of light brown hair. “So what now, I’m out of the game I suppose?”
“Well, you could go home if you want, but it’s still early. We might play another game. You’re our prisoner and if you go to our camp there’s a chance it will get raided and you get sprung; your choice.”
“Fair enough; I’m Glyn.”
“I’m Justin and this is Si.” Justin slapped me on the back. “You’re Si’s prisoner because he pinned you.” Glyn eyed me with a small smile. I stood up and rubbed a bit of grit out of my knee. When I straightened up Glyn held his arms out and stoically crossed his wrists in front of him.
“I yield to you sir. Do with me as you wish.” That was my first sense of the Fleming flare for the dramatic. Justin was far too grounded to appreciate it, but I liked the drama. Not to be out done, I casually approached Glyn, drew a pair of imaginary hand cuffs from behind my back and dangled them in front of Glyn’s face. To my delight, his eyes shifted back in forth following the progress of the cuff’s swing. I elaborately clasped each cuff around his wrists. Glyn was not done with me yet. He seemed to examine his bonds and then slipped one wrist free. With a raised eyebrow, he wagged the free hand in front of my face. I sighed dramatically and reattached the imaginary cuff, giving his wrist a tight squeeze so that he would know. Glyn rewarded me with a wince. I had a pretty good idea we could be friends after that.
“Jesus, you two are made for each other.” Justin sounded resigned. “So are you going to show him where to go?”
“Good, I’m going to see what happened to Nate. Nice to meet you Glyn, see you later.” With that Justin took off. Our role play finished, Glyn dropped his arms and waited for me to lead the way.
“So our prison camp is in somebody’s garage. I don’t know the guy’s name. I think he is in tenth grade. It’s over there.” Glyn pointed to a two story along Meighen Street. “I’m going into ninth grade at Central. What about you?”
“Cool, I’m going in grade nine too.” We shared a smile. There was a good chance we would have classes together. “You’re not supposed to tell me where your prison camp is. We might raid it. That’s John Gould’s place. He’s pretty cool. Camps have to be in one of the houses along the street. It isn’t fair to bury them deeper. Let me show you where ours is tonight.” I slapped Glyn on the shoulder and turned to lead him up to Robbie McDonald’s basement. We liked to use it because the McDonalds had steps going down from the back. Robbie’s mom put up with it as long as the boys stayed down stairs and didn’t raid her fridge for snacks. I had just turned my back when I was blind-sided by 70 pounds of flying boy.
As I staggered sideways into the bushes and trees I heard Glyn yell, “Pino!” I landed with a sharp pain in my thigh. Before I could check to see what had happened, a blond haired kid descended on me. I started to fend him off. My leg hurt and I wanted to see what had happened to it. The kid would not leave off, so I turned to wrestling with him. We crashed around amidst the underbrush while Glyn laughed. Even after I had the squirming kid’s shoulders flat on the ground he continued to struggle. Glyn called out to him from the edge of the stand of trees. “Pino, he has you. He pinned you fair.”
“He did?” Pino was much like his brother, thin and wiry. They shared intensely blue eyes and fair skin. Glyn had a tangled mop of fair hair. Pino’s hair was cropped short. He looked to be about a year or two younger than Glyn and I. There was a fair amount of debris on him from our brief struggle. “What if I run away?” Pino asked his brother. I was the enemy, and not to be trusted.
“Can’t Pino, those are the rules.” Pino had to think that over for a bit. He finally met my eyes. I know a person looks back and magnifies a moment’s significance into the rich tapestry of their life, but I do remember that first time our eyes connected. It was exactly like that time I pressed down on Jesse Dietrich. My stomach tingled. Pino was still breathing hard from our struggle. I remember the rise and fall of his chest as I lay draped over him
“Prisoner’s got to try to escape Glyn.”
Glyn’s voice was patient. “It’s the rules.”
Pino’s bright eyes had not left my face as he spoke to his brother. One rose coloured lip curled under the other as he bit a lip and considered his situation. I waited; my arm and side pressed into his summer hot flesh. He finally addressed me for the first time. “You best bind my hands. That way I can’t escape.” I smiled as much at the sound of his alto voice coming at me in an accent that echoed his brother’s, as at the utter seriousness of his tone. He then resumed his struggle with me until I managed to flip him onto his stomach. I had to sit on the boy’s butt to hold him down. Pino fought my every effort to draw his arms behind his back. When I finally managed to get his wrists across each other at the small of his back and held them with one hand, he collapsed. “Damn!” He was so cute. I had to sit a moment straddling him and admire my latest prize. I looked over at Glyn and shook my head. He simply grinned back at me. I guess he knew his brother better than I did at that point.
I finally stood up. “Let’s get going. You two wore me out.” I pushed through the trees out toward Glyn.
“I can’t get up.” I turned back and noticed the boy was still lying face down on the ground, his arms crossed behind him. Glyn simply smiled at my questioning look. I turned back and helped Pino to his feet. When he was settled he glanced down at himself. “Brush me off a bit?” I brushed the debris off his chest and shorts. “Thank you.” By that point, I loved to hear him talk.
The three of us walked up the gentle grade to Laurier Street. The voices of the other boys drifted in the air. The late summer sun was dipping low. I was sorry to be out of the game. It might have seemed a silly pastime to the older teenagers who had outgrown it, but we younger boys came alive as we chased each other in the dark. It was a better way to spend an evening than roaming the streets, smoking dope and breaking into houses. I didn’t go directly to the McDonald’s house. There was a good chance the Sunnyside boys knew where it was now, but I did not take a chance. I was curious about Glyn.
“So, you just moved here?”
“Yes” Glyn replied, “We moved in Tuesday. Do you play every night?”
“Not really; where did you move from?” Glyn’s accent fascinated me.
“Medicine Hat. Dad’s a professor. He was at the university. He accepted the position of Dean here in St. George.” I was impressed by this. The main campus of the University of Assiniboia was in Medicine. A smaller campus was here in St. George. My sister had spent a year at the USG before she quit. Glyn had not really answered my question, so I took a more direct approach.
“What’s with the accent?”
“Ah the accent,” Glyn exaggerated it dramatically. “We came from London, five years ago.” I nodded, my curiosity finally satisfied. “So you Heights guys seem pretty nice, what’s up with that? When I heard about this whole Sunnyside-Heights thing I thought it was gang stuff like in Medicine Hat.”
“What would be the point?” I shrugged. “I mean, we go to different elementary schools, but we end up at Central or Mother Teresa. No point at hating some guy you are going to be lab partners with in high school. There are a few dips who take it to an extreme, mostly it’s just fun. You know John Gould, the house where you guys have the prisoners?”
“He lived down the street from me last year. He’s the enemy now though.” I grinned at Glyn. I directed them down an alley and we walked in silence for a bit.
Glyn paused and nudged my arm. “My name’s Glyn Fleming and you’re Si …?”
“Simon Wallace. My friends like to call me Si.” He smiled at the invitation.
“Okay Si,” Glyn looked at me sideways to make sure he had understood correctly. I smiled back thinking we needed to exchange phone numbers or email addresses. I liked the idea of having classes with him. Glyn tossed his hair once more. “That’s Pino, he’s my kid brother.”
“What’s Pino short for?” Glyn started laughing. He stopped walking and put an arm on my shoulder. Before he could reply, his brother interrupted.
“Don’t you tell him Glyn!” I turned back to the boy and noticed he still had his hands behind his back. I could see he was flustered. “Please,” he added more quietly. I turned back to Glyn. Glyn shrugged and continued walking. I caught up to him. He did not give me an answer. I respected that. Brothers should stand together.
There were about six boys in Robbie’s unfinished basement. Two of them greeted Glyn when he came down the stairs. Two days in the neighbourhood and he already seemed to have friends. They were gathered around Robbie’s ancient Nintendo game taking turns at Super Mario 3. One of the boys tossed a can of Pepsi in Glyn’s direction. Another came aimed to me. Glyn cracked the can and observed, “They are playing Play Station on the other side.”
“I’ve got an Xbox upstairs.” Robbie replied eyes still glued to the action, “I don’t need you guys wrecking the controllers.”
Glyn took a seat where he could see the old TV. I opened my drink and then remembered Pino. He was standing against the wall near his brother. He looked at the Pepsi when I held it out to him.
“I can’t. My arms are still tied.” The drink hovered in front of him.
“So if I cut you lose do you promise to stay put?”
Pino shook his head proudly. “A prisoner of war has a duty to escape.” I nodded. After I had a few sips from the can I offered him a drink. He leaned forward a little in case he spilled and I watched his face as his lips searched for the rim of the can. “Thanks,” and we shared a smile. “Did you know you are bleeding?” I glanced down. Blood was trickling down my thigh.
“Oh shit” I examined the point where some broken branch had gouged its way through my flesh. I had forgotten about it. I held out the Pepsi can so Pino could take it from me. He shrugged apologetically and turned his back. I sighed, then took the hint and put the can in his hand. He watched me as I probed the wound with my fingers.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped you.”
“It’s okay, you didn’t know.”
“I think it needs stitches”
“No, nothing serious” I smiled to reassure him and took the can back. We shared another sip. I was bored watching the game. It was still early and it was more fun out in the park than in Robbie’s familiar basement. I might have left and joined the game. It was Robbie’s turn to sit it out. Justin and Nate were out there somewhere. I decided to go back out. Glyn was the new boy so I thought I might be able to trick him into telling me where their flag was. “Where did you guys put your flag anyway Glyn?” I said it quietly in case the other Sunnyside boys heard me.
“You’ll have to beat it out of me Si.” Glyn smiled and took a drink. He was the new boy and likely still felt like he was on the outside. I think he was also finding this aspect of flag tag a bit of a bore.
“I can do that.” I grinned at him and put my can down. I stood in front of Glyn and pretended to back hand him. Glyn snapped his head back. I followed it up with two more blows. Our little play brought a few chuckles from some of the other bored boys. We hammed it up for them a while longer. Pino’s shrill scream interrupted our performance.
“Leave my brother alone you Al-Quida bastard!” This brought an abrupt silence. The boys turned to Pino.
“Wow that’s harsh kid.” Robbie murmured.
“Yeah, you little doofous, Simon’s sister is in Afghanistan,” contributed one of the captured boys.
Pino looked horrified and he stared at me. Clearly Pino was upset with himself. His blue eyes misted over and lips drooped. Jasmine was eleven years older than me and we barely knew each other. Even so I was proud of what she did. Pino’s words didn’t bother me though. He was so miserable he almost forgot he was tied up. I smiled at him to let him know I had no hard feelings. The boys returned to their game. I played the rest of the scene for my biggest fan.
I slipped my hand into my pocket and slowly opened a virtual clasp knife. I brandished it a moment and then tested the edge against my thumb. Pino watched my movements intently and when our eyes met, I knew he understood what I was holding.
“You foul fiend!” Pino hissed at me quietly. I smiled coldly back. Glyn was having a few words with one of the boys. I think they were discussing life in Medicine Hat. When I pushed him back against the chair he obligingly suspended his conversation. He let me spread an eye open as I menaced him with my empty hand. I snarled at Pino and he quaked convincingly.
“If you open your mouth again, I will gouge your comrade’s eye out and you can watch me feed it to him.” I probed the eye and a distressed twelve-year-old shook his head violently. When I pulled back, Pino sighed with relief and shot me a convincing look of hatred. I could feel his contempt. Glyn was clearly losing interest in our game, but he obliged me by taking a few more blows.
“His name’s Glyn”
“Okay, Glyn, you want a go here?”
“Sure” Glyn flashed his brother a guilty smile, he knew he was the entertainment; he slapped my shoulder as he got up. “Be back in a minute Si.”
“Sure man, not a problem.” I turned to Glyn’s little brother. Pino looked really disappointed. I have to admit I was a little disappointed too. Pino was the youngest boy in the basement and I imagine he felt a little left out. He slumped against the wall and tried to watch the game. I noticed his hands stayed behind his back. I had forgotten I was planning to go back outside. When I wandered over to him, his eyes snapped right back to me. I lifted my knife hand and Pino backed against the wall. After a small smile directed my way, his eyes settled on the hand and the sharp blade inching hypnotically closer. I wrapped one hand around his skinny neck and lifted him up on his toes. I took a finger and traced a line along his jaw so he would know where the knife lay. “Okay Tommy, where is your secret base?”
“A nickname for a British soldier” I shrugged.
“Oh,” Pino’s eyes narrowed. He looked me in the eye and then turned his eyes away stoically. He shivered slightly as the knife traced another line across his face. I admired his bravery. I admired his loyalty. I admired his acting ability.
Pino gave a deep sigh of relief when I eased my grip from around his neck and lowered my knife. “Glyn, I’m going to beat the location of your flag out of your little brother. Is that okay?”
“Sure man, go for it. He’s pretty ticklish.”
“Glyn!” Pino protested.
“That’s good to know.” I grabbed my bound victim’s arm and hustled him around the corner to Robbie McDonald’s dad’s work bench. Pino was grinning until he saw the possibilities in all the tools. It sobered him a little. I needed a likely spot to put him. Pino was only about five feet tall. I noticed a line of coat hooks and directed him over. He allowed me to tie his hands to the wall. He understood the plan and grabbed hooks. I stepped back to think.
“I’m really sorry about the Al-Quida crack Simon. I didn’t know.”
I shrugged and smiled slightly at him. “My sister’s kind of older than me. We never talked much. Jasmine was out of the house when I was seven. Before she went over she was talking to my brother Cole. I guess he said something about the people she was going to fight, the Afghanis. She said she didn’t hate them. She said she was doing what she had to do for our country and they thought they were doing what they had to do for their country. Hating them was dangerous. If she hated them she might stop respecting them and their courage. If she did that they might get the better of her. Better to understand them she said.”
“That’s cool,” Pino answered. I liked his smile.
“I guess,” I looked at him coldly and grabbed a pair of pliers from the work bench. Pino shifted back into role. He shrank visibly as I approached him. He let me force his mouth open. His lips were soft against my fingers and I was fascinated by their warmth. I lifted the pliers to a tooth. It was a bad idea. He waited patiently while I considered the next move. I decided on my course of action. “You arrogant Ranger, how many of my Mujahidin brothers and sisters have you killed? How many innocent children do you think died today because you came to my land?”
“I’m simply doing my duty. We came to free you.”
“You and your Coke; money is your only religion.”
“Yeah, well … you treat your women badly. They have to wear those things ….”
There was a long silence after that. I think the problem with our first conversation that night was our lack of familiarity with our roles. Pino had given little thought to why Canada was fighting in Afghanistan and I knew next to nothing about the motives and habits of the people my sister fought against. I was suddenly struck by how handsome Pino was. “You are too beautiful to damage.” Pino smiled encouragingly. Perhaps he was having difficulty channelling the character of a soon-to-be mutilated person and was hoping I would not take the game there. We retreated into familiar ground. “Where is your base?” I flipped the piers in my hand so that the handle pointed toward Pino. He eyed the rubber coated ends trying to determine where I planned to take the game.
“You’ll never get it out of me.”
“I think I will. Do you see this?” I menaced him with the pliers. He was confused. I had not given him enough clues so he was not sure how he was supposed to react. “They say tazers only kill part of the time. Shall we test that theory?” Pino frowned as he considered the pliers.
“I’m pretty sure I’d get knocked out by a tazer Si.”
“Okay” I paused to manipulate the pliers. “I’ll turn down the voltage to its lowest setting.”
“Where is your base?” I jabbed him quickly in the stomach with the pliers.
Pino gasped, “Ouch!”
“I don’t think I have it turned up enough.” I fiddled and then tried it again. Pino shivered his slight frame and gritted his teeth. I was growing fascinated by Pino. His slender arms stretched out above his head. They must have been getting tired, but he seemed determined to hold them up. Occasionally his light biceps flexed as he shifted feet. His forearms had a light dusting of blond hairs. His hands were scuffed from hard play. He was wearing an oversized University of Assiniboia basketball singlet so a good portion of the skin along his sides was exposed. I was a little curious to see what he looked like. I lifted the front of the singlet up exposing a flat tummy. “Where is your flag?” I zapped him and watched him shiver for me. It was sort of exciting.
“Your accent is really cool!” That prompted a frown.
“I don’t have an accent. You have an accent. Forget that right now.” But I could not forget his voice. His inflections added to the pleasure of our little game. Glyn and Pino might find everyone’s interest tiresome, but the unfamiliar accent suited them.
I turned the pliers up a notch. Pino shivered when I ran the back of my hand up his soft skin. I could tell he was preparing himself for the pain to come. He held his breath when I reached his sternum and sucked his tummy in when I stroked down again. I noticed how his baggy shorts dropped slightly on his narrow hips. Plain white underwear clung to his tense abdomen. I could see the small knot of his navel. “I’m going to make you scream like a girl.”
“Not bloody likely.” The phrase was drenched in Pino’s best imitation of a stiff upper lip. I jammed the pliers into his hard belly and Pino strained against his bonds, doubled over and groaned quite convincingly, “Bastard, Al-Quida bastard!”
I turned up the pliers and slid the singlet higher up to expose his flat chest. His chest was two flat pans separated by a shallow groove. I could feel his heart beating through the palm of my hand. I brushed the back of my fingers against one nipple. I could feel the nub as each finger slipped by. I did it a few more times and looked at the small erect nipple. I think he bit his lip. “Have you done any drama? You know, been in a play?”
“Just last year … stop talking!” Pino closed his eyes and sighed slightly in frustration. I was growing interested in him.
“Okay, maybe this time.” When I touched his chest Pino pressed himself into the wall and screamed. His feet buckled until he must have realized his weight was bending the cheap wire coat hooks. He pulled himself up slightly and presented a fairly convincing imitation of Christ hanging from the cross. Pino was gold.
“What are you doing to my brother?” Glyn’s voice intruded on my meditations. There was silence from the room full of boys.
“He’s just torturing me Glyn, shut up and play your game.” Pino did not like to be disturbed when he was in character. That was a trait I quickly learned to accommodate. He turned his luminous eyes on me and asked, “What time is it Si?” I checked my watch and showed him the time. “Darn! I have to be home by ten.”
“Your brother is kind of weird Glyn.” One of the boys contributed.
“Simon has his moments too.” Another added. “You should see his impression of our principal.”
I ignored them and reached a hand around Pino and pulled him upright. His back was slightly damp. The gesture drew his hips against my leg. He had closed his eyes after checking the time. When I had him pressed against me he opened his eyes wide. I became very conscious of his warmth and the musty smell I took as coming from the leaves we had rolled in. Hs arm pit was wet against the side of my hand. I felt a little awkward having him so close. His groin pressed into my leg and his breath was on my body. I let him stand on his own. He watched me for a while, our game temporarily suspended. I felt the nervous tingle in my gut again and smiled at Pino to mask it. He did not smile back. “What’s your name?” I suddenly needed to know.
“Pino” he replied quietly.
“No, I mean your real name.”
He searched my face cautiously. It was the look a young boy might give a passing teenager on the sidewalk. It spoke of uncertainty. It was like when he eyed the pliers trying to understand my intent. “That’s classified,” he finally answered. There was something wistful in the response. I waggled my pliers in front of his face. Then I turned them up once more. Pino frowned. “I think that is full power.”
“I know.” I looked into his eyes. “What’s your name?”
“Please, I can’t tell you now.” My hand slipped behind him and I let it rest in the small of his back just above his butt. One of my fingers strayed beneath the band of Pino’s underwear. I dropped the weapon down to his baggy shorts and let it hover there threateningly. “Please Si, I can’t tell you.”
“But you will,” I teased gently. Then I slipped the pliers between his thighs and pressed them lightly behind is groin. Pino arched his back whispering an agonizing scream in a high falsetto that would have made me laugh, except there was something going on between us I did not understand. I dropped the pliers and Pino slumped immediately against my supporting hand. Caught in the moment, my other hand slid up his thigh and up to his arm. As I pretended to untie each wrist his weight became heavier on my arm. I shifted slightly and Pino fell forward against me. It was strange how the boy managed to make me feel guilty. Pino had decided he was unconscious so the best I could do was lower him to the floor. After that I sat beside him.
His face was peaceful. A small smile spoiled his drama. “Sorry, I should not have used it full force.”
Pino opened his eyes and smiled at me. “It’s okay; I’ve been trained handle the pain.” I studied the boy. I never paid particular attention to the kids younger than me. They were around doing their thing, just like I did mine. Pino fascinated me. He was just this neat kid who got how to play. He did not need long explanations or coaching. I imagined doing a play with him in high school. I liked acting. It was not something I had told my friends. I thought about what Trevor said, Simon has his moments too. I guess they saw me in class, or goofing off like I just had with Pino and it was just Si getting weird like he does. You could see a little of that in Glyn, I thought the two of us might become good friends, but I knew it was Pino who shared my fascination.
I decided to give Pino a shot of adrenalin like I had seen in Pulp Fiction. “I think I can revive this guy with some adrenalin. One shot in his heart and he should bolt right up.” I thumped his chest once and Pino bolted upright with a gasp.
“I saw that movie too Si. That was about the best scene in the whole thing.” He turned on me with annoyance.
“You didn’t need to explain what I was supposed to do!” Pino fell back on the cement floor and sighed. “Time to go I guess.” He started to push himself up, so I pressed him back down with my hand.
“You know Pino; I think you are too well trained to be a simple Ranger. I think you are holding out on me.”
The boy sighed. I liked the way his lips curled into an impish grin as he considered how to respond. I wondered how ticklish Pino really was. “You managed to force the secret out of me, I’m MI5.” I came to learn that that was an important element in our play together. I had to force him to divulge a secret. That he was MI5 was the first and last fabricated secret I ever forced out of him. After that they were all real. Pino saw to that.
“Just as I suspected, could it be 007?” Pino laughed. I think he would gladly have accepted the number, but Glyn spoiled it for him.
“007, I don’t think so, more like 003.” I glanced at Glyn and then back at his brother blushing furiously on the floor. I felt sorry for Pino.
“Oh I don’t know Glyn; I’d say Pino is at least 004.” Pino looked grateful.
“You know what the 0’s are don’t you Pino?” Pino blushed again. “Time to go, mum’s going to be mad.”
“Hang on a second Glyn.” I turned to Pino. “You haven’t told me your name yet.”
“Right, but you can’t get off the hook that easily.” I unscrewed the bone necklace from around my neck and held it up so Pino could see it. He knew I was up to something. He patiently waited for me to explain. I put it around his skinny neck. He touched it once and then waited for my explanation. “Hang on a second.” I fiddled with my digital watch. “There, all set. Sorry 004, that necklace is high explosive. If you try to take it off, even for a minute, it will explode and sever your head from your body. See this watch?” Pino peered at the cheep watch. “This button sets the time, this one sets the date, and if I press this one, you are dead.” I smiled at Pino. He nodded his head, suitably impressed. He touched the necklace once more as it to make sure it was in place. “We’ll just have to see how long you can hold out.” Pino’s eyes sparkled at that.
Pino trailed behind us as we walked back out. When we reached the edge of the park I noticed a few boys drifting up the slope and a congregation scattered around the picnic tables near the hoops. “Looks like someone won the game.” I observed.
“Will we start over?” Glyn asked.
“Doesn’t look like it.” I waved at Justin and Nate when they called a greeting. “So do you have to take off too or do you want to hang out for a while?” Glyn said he was good for a while so we headed down to the cluster of boys. A number of girls, observing the end of the game, had joined the group. I could see Brittany Senchuck among them. Brittany had decided we were going out around Christmas. It was cool and all, but she had a tendency to forget about it when she found it convenient.
Glyn turned back to where Pino stood in the shadows. “Tell mum I’ll be back in a bit.” Pino nodded glumly at his brother and glanced at me.
“See you later Pino.” That brought a smile to his fresh face. He stood with his hips swinging, fists jammed deep into the pockets of his shorts. I had to grin. The kid just sparkled sometimes. Pino was zoned out somewhere. He clearly wanted to stay.
“Pino, home,” That brought the boy back and he turned away and walked into the night. I watched him for a moment. He still had his hands jammed into his pockets. The oversized singlet hung down almost to his knees. Pino turned one last time. His face had drooped as if it was Christmas morning and someone had forgotten to put his new puppy under the tree. His face lit up when our eyes met. Then Pino was running across the field and up the slope. Glyn and I shared a look and turned back to the pool of light where familiar faces argued, joked and spun the evening out as late as they could. Glyn nudged me as we stood on the edge. “Thanks”
“What you did for Pino tonight; that was cool.” Glyn smiled Pino’s smile. I was glad he had found his way to St. George. “He has this wild imagination. I used to play with him all the time. I can’t keep up with him anymore.”
“Well when you get to know me you’ll find I’m a bit like that myself.” When Glyn got to know me he was going to find my imagination was at least as wild as Pino’s. “We connected I guess. I’m really quite sane Glyn, honest.”
“Pino’s sane too. You’ll get to see that side of him.” We listened to the conversation for a few minutes. It was what you might expect. School was a week away and my friends were curious about what Central would be like. Anything the older boys had to say was absorbed with a studied indifference. People shared their summers. “I could have wrung his scrawny neck when he made that Al-Quida crack, sorry.”
“Like I said, he didn’t know.” Glyn stared at me a moment and then must have decided to drop it. I didn’t mind.
“Oh you mean this.” I waved generally at my face and hair. I’m Métis. In St. George that passes for Anglo most days. The four Prairie Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Assiniboia and Manitoba are treaty lands and the Métis got shut out time after time. My mom says I got her black hair and skin tone; otherwise I’m going to be a skinny Scotsman like my dad. Till then I guess I’m just a skinny fourteen-year-old. “I don’t think Pino noticed Glyn. He was on his own track there.”
My mind drifted back to Glyn’s brother and our game together. Glyn had caught up with the friends who had brought him down to the park. His blond hair stood out in the subdued light provided by a single pole. He had an easy way with everyone I admired. His light English voice stood out amongst the flat nasal tones of the Canadian prairie. I imagined Pino was much like him, but if Glyn wandered other worlds like Pino, he didn’t show it. Glyn paused in his conversation and smiled at me. I knew one of the boys he was talking to so I wondered over. When I had a chance I asked Glyn the question that that still bugged me. “Hey Glyn, What’s Pino’s name?”
“Jim to dad and James to mum; everyone else calls him Pino.”
“Why do you call him Pino?”
“I’ll let him tell you that. He’d be angry if I did.”
Later as I was walking home, I realized the boy remained Pino to me. He had refused to tell me his name. I did not know why. In a week I could have found out for myself. The schools use a guy’s last and first names on the email. I could have easily worked it out at school. For that matter some adult was going to use his name some time. I pondered why he had withheld it from me. James Fleming did not want me to know his name and I would have to figure out why. I didn’t understand it, but I would.
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