When we were six, I showed her mine and she terrified me with hers. When we were nine, we snuck into the Acorn Pub and played two games of cricket before a drunk townie called my mom. By the time we were eleven we were ready to head into the ’80s as a typical John Hughes friends-turned-sex-couple.
But then in October of ’79 it all turned to shit.
All of a sudden I had an almost-mustache and Kim had almost-boobs. The almost-boobs scared me, so I avoided her. I started hanging out with Kurt the jock, and Weed, so named because he was so skinny but two years later would earn that name all over again for other reasons.
Once we were playing baseball in Kurt’s yard when Kim came walking by. I got excited when I saw her slow her pace to watch me bat. I raised “The Mexican,” a red balsa wood stick that Weed’s dad had gotten while on a business trip, and stared ahead as Kurt hurled a tennis ball down the middle.
Fueled by love, I smacked it. As I rounded second, careful to avoid the gross wet area where the septic tank had leaked some sewage up into the lawn, I heard, “Hawkeye attack!”
Now’s a good time to talk about Rick Hunter. You know how all suburban neighborhoods have that one dude that runs around in camouflage, kills frogs, and everyone expects to eventually see on the news?
The Hunters always had a dead deer, cut open, hanging by its hind legs from a tree in their front lawn. That is to say, in the woods behind our houses, the Hunter family hunted. And to make it even better, Rick had a crow that he had trained to attack on command. The bird assassin was named Hawkeye.
So, as I rounded third, from out of nowhere, this evil crow swooped down and landed on Kim. It latched onto her hair and pecked at her skull. We all turned to Kurt but Mr. Jock was petrified. Screw it. I ran over, cocked The Mexican, raised my elbow and BAM. I hit my second homerun. But you can’t kill pure evil. Instead it flew away.
Down the hill, Rick stepped out of the woods behind our houses. Hawkeye landed on his shoulder, he smiled, before they both disappeared back into the trees.
Kim straightened her bloody hair, grabbed me, and kissed the shit out my face.
Two weeks later I was in the woods behind our house, still high from that kiss. I was at the Cheryl Tiegs tree, a dead tree that Weed had named after the model because it had two knots that looked like breasts. It was where we’d go to smoke the Pall Mall non-filters we stole from Kurt’s dad, and talk about girls.
Only this time I was smoking alone, trying to figure out why Kim ignored me every day since the kiss. That’s when I saw our neighbor, Mr. Remley, walking his ugly dog. He was about 40 feet away.
I was smushing out my cigarette in the dirt when I heard the first gun shot. Then another. When I looked up, Mr. Remley was down. I turned in the direction the sound came from and I saw Rick Hunter. He was holding a rifle and looking directly at me. He scary-smiled at me. Then winked. Then slowly walked away.
I ran home.
The next day I heard that Mr. Remley was in the hospital and messed up pretty bad. But he was gonna live. Rick told the cops he thought it was a deer and it was an accident. But it was autumn. There were no leaves on the trees. Mr. Remley was wearing an orange hunting jacket. It was no accident.
I knew I should tell someone but...if Rick could shoot Mr. Remley, he could also shoot me. And that wink was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.
Later, I went over to Kim’s to ask her what to do but when I showed up, there was a giant moving truck in front of her house. I went around back and there she was, under her deck. She had swiped two Budweisers and was waiting for me.
“The day Hawkeye attacked me, I found out that my dad got a dumb job in Virginia. We’re moving tonight.”
Three hours later, all the stuff in the truck, in front of her entire family, I kissed Kim goodbye. It was the best kiss in history. Then I just stood there and watched as they all drove away for the last time.
I never told anyone what I saw in the woods behind our houses.