I used to be fearless.
They say bout me, done told me even, said,
“Boy, you gonna set the world on fire!”
I never knew, never cared, what that meant. I just saw a look in they eyes, could swear I see a heart beating in they chest. They was crazy bout me. Everything they say puff me up, make me feel like somebody. I was good stuff. I’d hear them talk I thought maybe, Chrissake, maybe I can fly. Or walk on the sun.
Then I had my accident.
That’s what they call it anyhow. Wasn’t no accident. Everyone gathered round me cause I can run fast and hit hard, wanting to be my friend they said. Shaking my hand left and right and sometimes when they slip they hand away there’s something there in my palm. Maybe it’s cash. One time it was a powder and I don’t know what for at first. But they show me. After that the cash was as good as powder soon as I get it in hand.
“That poor boy is a buffoon.”
“Didn’t he used to be somebody?”
What happened was I died.
Too much revelry, too much letting them blow me up. I pumped too much crap into me and my body called it quits for a while. Stopped breathing at a party. Passed out and fell ten or leven feet. They tell me I land on some of my head, but I don’t remember. It was months before I wake up and nobody treat me like the second coming anymore. Only look I see in they eyes after that is pity.
Even before I broke my head my own mother hate me.
I never mind. She hate everyone. She was pretty once then found out she was smart on top of it. That chapped her ass. Everyone was afraid of her after that. Small town like this full of nothing you can’t excel without drawing attention to yourself. I say she tried to fit in after that, but woman being smartest in the room all the time don’t sit right. Small town like this. And this with me before the stupid.
My pop was smart too, but had a condition. Something with his pancreas I think. Pop loved my mom and married her. She married him I guess. I don’t know that she ever but hate him too. He was 30 something when he died. I was six I think. I remember a birthday. A football maybe. I remember he had a reputation round town. When I was coming up. When they still look at me like I was something. They tell me how great he was.
“And you’re at least the athlete he was.”
Or something. That was forever ago. I walk a little funny now. It took me most a year to learn how to again. It don’t feel funny to me, but I can see plain as day sits different than everyone else walking.
But I ain’t sad.
I don’t remember ever really being happy before when everyone loved me. I only got one friend, but it’s one more than I remember from before. Everyone might have loved me, but no one really gave me much mind. They just like to watch me run and hit and score. I was as good as a racehorse. Or dog even.
My friend is the postman. He’s blind in one eye. My fault. When I was twelve playing with fireworks I stole from a neighbor. Spent the whole day shooting them at the mailbox cause I liked the sound. Like the black mark it made when it hit with a pop. It was an accident. Not like my accident. Real accident. I didn’t even see him walking up.
He hate me worst than my mom. For years. Until I got stupid and everyone start up like I was some animal to be pitied. Then he warmed up.
“I’m real sorry about your eye Jon.”
“It’s okay kid. You were too young to know any better.”
And my name is Willie. William. They called me Bill when I was something. Willie now, some reason. Me and Jon spend most evenings together. My street is the last on the route and I started having a cold drink for him. Can’t help it but everyday I say sorry for that eye and the look on his face is something strange because I can tell he’s sorrier than me. Aint’ pity though. similar. but that look everyone else gives me is short, a shock to em, then they all look down. Jon he just look at me like he wish he could make it all better.
Jon is just about the best friend a guy like me could have.
I’d give him my eye if could. Cut it out myself and hand it to him on a big down puff. I could do it too. I used to be fearless.