Cruel Summer

little green plastic army men
little plastic army men

Hunched over the vat of used motor oil, Scotty and Osman watched intently as a black ant struggled to escape its unforgiving viscosity. The doomed insect slowly sank and the boys, cousins, regarded each other, their mouths describing rubbery toroids. Scotty was a bit awed by his older relative from Yonkers and Osman was grateful, happy in the July heat, to be amid the freshly mowed grass and tree forts of the Jersey suburbs. “Go get another one, wait… make it two” Osman directed “We’ll sink them together.” Later Scotty sacrificed some of his plastic army men to the crush of unsuspecting car tires along the main road that fronted his parents home. His mother chastised the boys for this, “…and your father bought you that set for Christmas,” she’d added. The boys chuckled as they inspected the maimed green figures. During a July heat wave when he was 23, a motorcycle crash took Osman’s life. Broken bits lay littered across a tarred and shimmering landscape in Westchester county. He and Scotty were never as close as during that one week when they were young and free and unencumbered; the one they spent together in New Jersey, when it was enough to simply be boys with supreme power over ants and army men.

© 2014 Michael Jones

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Cruel Summer

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