With every decision, we turn a corner.

The Corner: Kyle

Little cute boy in headphones with eyes closed enjoying musicNo one got Kyle.

He was different. Everyone knew it. A few even said it out loud, viagra usa cialis in front of him, cialis sale as if his brain didn’t work or he couldn’t hear. Kyle wasn’t deaf. He was just different. What saved Kyle’s butt was that the jocks liked him. He could do things they couldn’t, like hit a home run with his eyes closed. The nerds liked him because he could fix their computers in the dark. Truthfully, Kyle didn’t like the jocks. He didn’t fit in with the nerds. Most everyone else just avoided him.

That was okay with Kyle. It kept the clutter at a minimum. Clutter that only he could see – the energy in everything. Red streaks of friction from a ball passing through air or the blue electrical current as it raced over the surface of a wire. Sometimes, all he had to do was close his eyes and the tingling energy would come to him in a swirling embrace and pass through him.

No one understood Kyle except for his mom or sometimes his brother Lucas. Everyone else just tolerated, what Lucas called, his quirky side.

Kyle’s quirky side was pretty much 24/7.

Kyle’s best friend was his bike. He could ride for hours and hours, only he’d lose track of where he was going and become confused about where he ended up. It was the energy. The buzz proved deafening at first but he’d learned to tune it out with headphones. Things stayed inside his head when he wore them. If he took them off, it was like the energy tried to suck his thoughts out and he couldn’t hold onto them long enough to think straight.

It was a warm summer day when Uncle Joe came back. Kyle pulled his bike behind a bush the second he heard his uncle’s truck radio playing that loud music that hurts Kyle’s ears. He didn’t notice Kyle when he drove by and stopped in front of their house, his muddy truck sputtering and spitting out the pipe in the back. Uncle Joe got out and grabbed a jacket from the seat then slammed the truck door a couple of times till it stayed shut. He walked into the house. Uncle Joe never knocked or used the doorbell, but he used most everything else.

The air buzzed with a new kind of energy that trailed behind Uncle Joe’s truck, a bright orange streak that picked up speed at the end of the block. Kyle followed the energy that brought Uncle Joe. It eventually faded then disappeared and he found himself on a concrete path next to a stream. Time was hard for Kyle to keep track of and he wasn’t sure how far he’d gone.

He turned his bike up the ramp that led away from the path and stopped at the top where one street sign said Thirteenth and the other one Speer. Kyle watched the traffic speed past while the pounding in his chest threatened to split it apart. The handlebars felt hot when he wrapped his fingers tight around them, concentrating on the heat, anything to avoid counting the cars as they passed. If he started he wouldn’t be able to stop until another something snagged his attention.

The thoughts in Kyle’s head didn’t like being lost. He had to fix it – but wasn’t sure how.

“Gotta bit of change you can spare?”

The dirty man looked at Kyle with sad eyes from behind stubble that reminded him of Uncle Joe when he’d come back from a hunting trip. Uncle Joe would rub his face against Kyle’s cheek and laugh. Kyle didn’t know what was funny.

Kyle didn’t answer the man because he wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, but it was really because of the sandpaper hair on his face.

When Kyle didn’t respond, the man turned away and went back to his concrete wall overlooking the path below them. The man tugged on his filthy sleeves and wiped his mouth on one of them. Kyle pressed his lips together as if the dirt from the man’s sleeve might find his own lips. When he was little, Uncle Joe made Kyle eat some dirt. Kyle didn’t like dirt after that. He’d change his clothes if even a little bit got on them for fear it’d find its way to his mouth and down his throat. Mom stopped asking why and would just wash whatever he threw on the floor.

If Kyle talked to the man, would he hug Kyle and rub his face on him? Would the man’s dirt get on his clothes and in his mouth? Kyle didn’t know the answers. Not knowing kept his mouth shut tight.

Not knowing answers made Kyle dance. That’s what Lucas called his rocking from one foot to the other – back and forth – back and forth. He might do it all night long. He didn’t want to do it all night long. He wanted to go home.

Mom was going to be mad and yell for not following the rules and riding beyond the end of the block but Kyle would keep his headphones on and watch her energy. Mom’s energy used to look like a rainbow catching fire. Only her energy hardly ever got red anymore, no matter how mad she got. Most of the time it turned from yellow to blue and sometimes purple. Her fire was gone. He hadn’t seen it in a long time. Most times, she cried. Kyle wanted her fire to come back. He didn’t like the colors of crying. The tears made her face wet and sticky and when she sniffed it sounded gross. Kyle always got her a tissue from the bathroom. Sometimes he’d have to get her the whole box.

The dirty man stared at Kyle. Kyle stared back. He wanted to win the contest because he never won when he played with Uncle Joe. His uncle would tickle Kyle or rush at him or slug him in the arm. Uncle Joe didn’t play fair or follow the rules. Kyle tried to follow the rules. He really did – except like today, when he forgot.

The dirty man straightened up and took a couple of steps toward Kyle. He cocked his head to the side like maybe Kyle was standing crooked and wanted to see him straight but when Kyle looked he was standing as straight as the lamppost next to him. Maybe the man needed to look at the world crooked, Kyle thought. He tilted his head to the side and looked at the man crooked but got dizzy and stopped.

“You’re different, aren’t you?” The man whispered it, like it was a secret. Kyle could have told him that it wasn’t a secret he was different, but he liked the idea of pretending that it was.

The man stared some more at Kyle. Kyle played along but soon got bored with the staring game. The man didn’t have any color. That was curious since most everyone had some kind. Kyle looked at the hair on the man’s face while wondering why.

“Are you lost?”

“I need to get un-lost,” Kyle said but wheeled his bike backwards a bit and gripped the handlebars in case the man came at him with his face. The man rubbed his face with his hand. Kyle breathed a sigh of relief and let go of the handlebars. He liked the man. He kept things to himself. Kyle could tell.

“Do you have a cell phone?” the man said and glanced at Kyle’s jacket.

“I can’t use them because of the energy,” Kyle answered truthfully. They made Kyle’s hand and head buzz worse than that time he kicked a beehive at grandma and grandpa’s farm.

“Where do you live?”

The man took a step toward him. Kyle wasn’t afraid and he didn’t roll his bike back like before. Kyle recited his address without pausing. Mom made him practice a lot.

“You rode that bike a long way,” the man said and patted himself the same way Uncle Joe did when he was going outside to smoke. Uncle Joe’s breath and clothes always smelled bad. “I don’t have a cell phone either,” the man said and grunted deep and rough. “If we can find someone with a phone, do you know your number?” he asked.

Kyle nodded. “I can push the buttons myself.” He hoped the man wouldn’t make him say the numbers. Kyle liked pushing the buttons then hand it to mom, or Lucas – never to Uncle Joe.

The man looked up and down the street. “Hold on,” he said and walked past Kyle. A couple minutes later, the man stepped to the edge of the sidewalk and started to wave.

Kyle looked where he was looking. A police car slowed down when it entered the intersection then pulled next to the curb. A man in a uniform rolled down the window.

“What’s up, Eddie?” The policeman smiled at the dirty man like they were friends.

“This kid is lost,” Eddie said and pointed at Kyle. “He knows his address and claims to know his phone number but doesn’t have a cell on him.”

The policeman looked at Kyle. “You’re old enough to get yourself home,” the man said. “Are you really lost or are you giving Eddie a hard time?”

Kyle didn’t know what a hard time meant and didn’t answer the policeman though mom said it would be okay to talk to them. He didn’t want to give the wrong answer.

“I think he’s a little different,” Eddie said and tapped the side of his head. He didn’t look at Kyle when he said it. Kyle had seen the gesture many times, but it hurt to see Eddie do it. He gave away their secret.

The policeman turned off the car’s engine but the blue and red lights kept swirling on top of his car. Colorful bursts of energy shot from it like an exploding kaleidoscope. The silence of the flashing lights kept Kyle’s buzz at a minimum and he stared at the light show, mesmerized.

The officer approached Kyle and gestured to his headphones. “Take those off and let’s talk.”

Kyle pretended not to hear the officer. He gripped his handlebars and rolled the bike backwards.

“Come on kid. Take them off so I can get some information.”

Kyle pressed his hands against the headphones and hummed loud to make the noise go away.

The officer halted and scrunched his face like he had a tummy ache. Kyle backed the bike up some more in case the man puked. He didn’t want it to get on his bike.

Eddie stepped past the officer and stood next to Kyle. Kyle stopped humming and clucked his tongue for a moment then stopped but kept his hands on his headphones.

“You can leave those on. They help don’t they?” Eddie said. Kyle nodded. He reached out toward the policeman. “Give me a pen.”

The man hesitated then reached into his pocket and pulled one out. He handed it to Eddie without asking why. Kyle wondered why and wished the officer had asked.

Eddie drew something on the palm of his hand. When he got to his feet and held it up, it had numbers, like on a phone. “You’re going to push the numbers to call your mom.”

Kyle laughed. “Silly, that’s not a phone.”

“We’re pretending,” Eddie said. “The policeman can’t let you use his. But you can use mine.” He pushed his numbered palm toward Kyle. “You told me you knew your phone number and like to push the buttons.”

Kyle didn’t want to touch Eddie’s dirty hand, but he wanted the officer to go away and to go home. Mom would make the officer go away then take Kyle home. He quickly tapped the phone number out on the man’s palm while making the beeping button noises like on their home phone.

Eddie recited the number and the officer got in his car but left the door wide open. He grabbed a black box and talked into it. Afterwards, the officer looked at Eddie. “Nice job getting his cooperation.”

Eddie gave Kyle a big smile. “I had a brother like you, growing up.”

Kyle was going to ask his mom if Eddie could come home with them and sleep in the extra bedroom instead of Uncle Joe. Eddie got Kyle.


One Response to “With every decision, we turn a corner.

  • “Uncle Joe never knocked or used the doorbell, but he used most everything else.” Hi, Sue. That sentence was brilliant. I liked this story. 8) KVNoble

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