james lives on fenton street down the block from the empty lot that once held the 7-11. a firehouse is going up slowly.
he’s a teenager, but you’d only know it from the library books in his backpack:
salinger, the autobiography of malcolm x, arthur c clarke. his looks would place him in elementary school, his placement test would have him in high school. but he’s trapped in the middle world, the boiling limbo of junior high.
he’s a philosopher, a deep thinker, but there is nowhere deep enough to hide him from the wrath of the terrible two. it started last year, he laughed at what he thought was a joke, and caught their undivided, humiliated attention.
he complained at first, but they learned to punch where he won’t show the bruises, and to beat him up on the way home, rather than heading to school.
james’ mother says they can’t move, her job won’t let her go, and the subject only made her agitated, keeping her up at night. so now he keeps it to himself.
instead of justice, he plots revenge. not the short term revenge of study hall and detention, but long term, a lifelong commitment, to build a monumental life that would eclipse the whole of this tired town and everyone in it, especially those talentless thugs and their endless construction jobs.
with his eyes on the prize, he takes the beatings with a taught pride. they’re winning the sprints. but this is a marathon.
“when i’m running a computer company, they’ll be draining my septic tank.” his mantra makes the fists seem farther away.