here is a story from my upcomming novella At the Cloisters Gate.

Harold’s dog Percy liked Kennis because he smelled bad.  Harold liked Kennis because he was a wild creature.  At first, Harold thought the little boy was retarded, but as they walked he realized that he spoke very little English.  He would say, “What do you want there?” instead of “What are you looking for?”  He understood whole phrases but not individual words.  Harold thought maybe Italian, but he tried the few phrases he learned in the war and the boy cocked his head and said, “Now you close, goddamned monkey talk.”  Harold could tell that this nine-year-old understood some of the phrases and didn’t understand others.  The first time they met, he asked, “Where’s your mother.”  Kennis replied, “Sucking hobo cocks to put bread in your mouth.”  Harold believed he understood that one. He saw Kennis so often he started putting a sandwich in his pocket for him. Soon it was like clockwork, Kennis would meet him at the same time in the same place, and they would walk for an hour and a half.  He taught the boy how to make change and how to do a magic trick with a quarter.  Harold explained to Kennis that he walked the river to find people who drowned. He assumed Kennis did not understand, but then Kennis looked at him and said, “Why look for the dead?  The dead are always everywhere.”

Harold and Kennis walked the levee almost every day for eight years.  They developed a language of phrases.  Kennis would say, “Best forget that” or “That’s crazy shit,” to let him know he understood, or he would say, “Well, here we are.”  If he didn’t understand something, Harold would punctuate a story with, “Really big deal” or “Beaucoup nasty.”

Harold had never spoken about the war, not to Martha, not to anyone.  He didn’t stay in touch with his army buddies.  He didn’t go to the VFW.  But when he was old enough, he talked to Kennis.  Harold explained that he had always wanted to be a soldier. 

Why beat da fuck otta ya?” Kennis replied.  “Well, here we are.”

“The uniform I suppose, really big deal.”

“That’s crazy shit.  Percy don’t bite.”

“I was young then, beaucoup nasty beat da fuck otta ya.  I was.”

Kennis laughed. “Stop on red, go on green.”

“No joke. Other guy beaucoup crazy hobo-cock, called Nazi.  One day we came to big jail called Dachau, many-twenty Nazi hobo-cocks, hands up, say uncle. Inside, many-twenty good people, them dead, pecker out, lumpy milk, piled up like river sticks.  I say, Nazi hobo-cock mutha fucka, you do this?  Him say, ‘Well, here we are, what’s really big deal?’ I shoot him dead.  Then I shoot five more hobo-cocks.  Them Nazis no beat the fuck otta ya.  Them hands up, say uncle, but I shoot them dead.  Many-twenty good people, not dead skull heads.  I watched three prisoners take a shovel and beat this Nazi’s brains out.  I didn’t say no.”

Kennis looked at him with deep sadness.  “Harold, you good people. You no bad Percy. Best forget that.  Hobo-cocks fuck fish, then them dead.  But you no bad Percy, you good people.  I know… easy arbitro you shoot Nazi hobo-cocks dead, you are what you eat.  That’s crazy shit.  You tell Mary Dymphna and she let you go, then best forget that.  I forget things. You know, beaucoup bad crazy shit.  I just say, ‘Well, here we are.’  Let the dead go back to their houses, then you can sleep in yours.”

It was 1:35, time for Harold’s nap.  Percy was pulling on the leash. 


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