What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.
Troy’s favourite time was when the package was delivered, the party over, and they had to lay low for a while. He knew it was a question of time before they had to move again, but for now everything was calm. This time they had gone to a pair of friends that Jack had who lived on a farm far from everyone else. They used to have two children, Troy remembered them well, Dennis and Nina. Lydia who was their mother had explained him when they had arrived, that the state had taken custody of them, so they weren’t around any more. She had looked serious and sad, Troy had been saddened too, because he would be stuck here alone, with all these adults. He chose not to think too much about it, or he would drive himself crazy with the how and why’s. And just be glad that there was a room he could sleep in, so he wouldn’t have to sleep on some trash pile or worse with Lydia.
Troy reckoned they would stay for a while, when Jack had even bothered getting him a new identity. Troy took the fake birth certificate with clammy hands and looked it over, “Jacob?” He said mostly to himself, and dared a look up at Jack, “Why..”
“Quit your wining boy.” Jack mumbled cutting Troy’s question short. “Lydia said you could have all Nina’s school books. I suppose you’d like that.” the smallest of smiles made it’s way to Jack’s lips.
“Yes, thank you, Sir.” Troy nodded, knowing that arguing about it would be pointless. Not sure if he was dismissed or not, so he just stood there like an idiot, with his new identity in his hand. When Jack didn’t say anything Troy took a step towards him. “When are we leaving?”
Jack turned and looked the boy up and down, and then smiled. “I am leaving tonight, but you are going to stay here for a while.”
“Just for a short while.” Jack said, unscrewing the lid of his fourth beer that day.
Troy tried to level their eyesight, “How long is a while?” He asked with a tiny voice.
“That’s for me to know.” Jack sneered.
“Please Jack.” Troy begged, “I can’t be here.. Lydia – She..”
Jack frowned “Who called you up?”
Troy felt cold fear rush up his spine, “Please, don’t.” He didn’t think, he just reacted, reaching for Jack’s wrist. Which just earned him a slap across his face. Rubbing his cheek, he looked up at Jack with sad eyes, desperately hoping to find something that resembled empathy in Jack’s eyes, but he found none.
Jack sighed, “Just do as your are fucking well told, boy.” He took a sip of the bottle. “I gotta lay low for a while, and so do you.” He grabbed Troy’s chin and squeezed till Troy closed his eyes, half in resignation, half in humiliation. “I am coming back for you, kid. I promise you.” Opening his eyes he looked up at Jack, unable to say anything he just stood still, and waited. “I expect you to do as Hank and Lydia tells you, I don’t want to come back and hear that you are trouble.” Jack let go of Troy’s chin, “But you wouldn’t do that, would you kiddo?” He caressed Troy’s cheek gently.
“No, Sir.” Troy just mumbled looking down at the ground between his sneakers.
Jack smiled genuinely “Make me proud son.”
As they stood in the yard and watched Jack drive off, Troy wondered if Jack would ever come back, and if he had been dumped at these monsters. And in the back of his mind he wondered what prize Jack had gotten for him, after all he was neither little or cute.
Hank placed a hand on Troy’s shoulder, and squeezed gently. “Come on, Lydia is waiting for us inside.” He smiled at Troy. “It’s not polite to make a lady wait.”
“No Sir.” Troy said, trying his hardest to muster a smile.
Troy learned that nothing had changed in the Reid family, everything was exactly as he remembered it except there was tons more junk. Incredibly enough so, since he didn’t think they could fit more in the house the last time he was here. Only thing was that Nina and Dennis wasn’t there, neither was the dogs. All the things that had let him distract himself from everything else that went on. It didn’t help that he couldn’t let go of the little fear that whispered in his ear, whispered that Jack would never be back.
The sun was set as Troy walked out over the fields, they had told him that Nina’s schoolbooks were at the old shack down by the drain pond. At least he wouldn’t have to try and dig them out of squalor in the house. So he had set out to find the old shack, if nothing else then it was something to do. Most of all he just wanted to dive into the muddy looking pond and never come up again. At least he knew why Jack had left him here, Hank had told him. An undercover police agent had caught wind of Jack, and it was for Troy’s own safety he was left here, because he was an idiot to think that Jack would be the only one going down for the crimes. He knew better than to question Hank, because if he told Jack, Troy would be in a world of shit.
Troy was surprised when he found that there was someone else at the shack. A plump looking girl sitting writing in a notebook, by a candle. “Hi.” He said, startling the girl. She looked over her shoulder with large scared eyes. “Relax, I’m..” His head raced, remembering what his new name was, “Jake.” He smiled, “I’m just here for Nina’s books.”
“You know Nina?” The girl asked.
“Sorta.” Troy admitted, “Met her a couple of times.”
“My mom said that the state took her, cause her dad got her pregnant, is that true?” The girl asked.
“I don’t know.” Troy said, shrugging. “You her friend?”
“We were in the same class.” She paused, eyeing Troy “Are.. Are you some kind of creep? Sneaking around in the dark like that.”
“None of your goddamn business.” The girl said.
“Sorry.” Troy had the decency to blush weakly. “Just making conversation.”
“My name is Penny.” The girl said. “Are you like a cousin of Nina and Dennis’ or something?”
“Or something.” Troy said. And then figured that she didn’t deserve his sarcasm. “My dad is a old friend of Hank’s.” Penny nodded, it was clear that she wanted to ask something, but didn’t. “So, Penny.” Troy said, tasting her name on his lips, liking it a lot. “What are you doing up here on your own?”
Penny sighed, “Doing school work.” She put down her pen and stared at Troy in the candle light. “Nina never mentioned you.” She bit her lip, “So maybe you aren’t a creep, but you hafta admit that sneaking up on me like that is sorta creepy.”
Troy couldn’t help but to chuckle, and nodded, “I didn’t mean to sneak up on you. I didn’t think anyone would be here.”
Penny nodded, “So Jake, are you coming to school tomorrow?”
Sadly Troy shook his head, “No.” He wanted to tell her that there was nothing he rather would, be a normal kid, do normal things, make real friends.. But he didn’t, he was quite sure that if he said anything like that, she would surely think he was a creep, and run. And he sorta liked sitting here with her, doing nothing but talking, for the sake of talking. “We’re just passing through.”
“Oh.” Penny sighed.
“Yeah..” Penny answered hesitating. “Sometimes you just need some peace and quiet.” She closed her book. A car drove off in high speed down from a farm below them, and Penny stood up. “I have to go.” She straightened her back and smiled, “Are you gonna be back tomorrow?”
“Would you want me to?” Troy asked, fully aware that he shouldn’t promise her anything, but he wanted to be back tomorrow.
“That would be nice.” Penny stuck her pen behind her ear and smiled again. “It’s been kinda empty without Nina.”
“I’ll be here.” Troy said smiling back.
That night when Troy walked home, his head was full of thoughts, maybe Nina had had a pretty sweet deal? After all, she had a friend, she got to go to school, she had Dennis, she had a room. And he had never seen Hank and Lydia beat their kids. Then there was the other thing, but he could do that, he could live here, maybe he could even be happy? It had to beat being scared all the time, afraid that you served your purpose, and was expendable. Afraid to speak up because that would mean a close encounter with a fist or worse. Jack was a lot of things, but he wasn’t the most lenient man alive, he did not tolerate failure or hesitation. Hank and Lydia had asked, however deprived their act was, they had asked politely. That was more than most others Jack had left him with.