By Tom Weller
They move as a trio, BMX bikes weaving through each other’s paths in the silvery light of dusk, unconscious choreography tracing invisible threads that stitch the Scrap Boys together. Scrap Boy 1, Scrap Boy 2, Scrap Boy 3, three farmers’ tans, three crooked grins, three prepubescent mouths spitting swear words like music, one shared history that makes all the teachers mutter. The Scrap Boys, triplets by choice, a brotherhood stronger than biology.
The Scrap Boys are bound for the fair, bound for the flashing lights of the Ferris wheel and rock anthems blaring from jangly speakers. Bound for the press of bodies moving through the midway, for air thick with the smells of spun sugar and bubbling deep fat fryers, bound for the feel of the spinning of the Gravitron, wind whipping their faces, bones rattling in their chests. But first, the ride there.
They take side the side streets, the streets named after people no one remembers, Hannah Street and Brown Boulevard and Blaine Avenue, old white men, probably, nobody ever asks, nobody can recall. The side streets are wide and grey, dotted with pools of light dripping from hazy streetlamps, lined with old company houses, slouching shotgun shacks with postage stamp front yards that once were full of kids, way back when the zinc mill still ran. The stop signs are only suggestions now. Not much traffic on the side streets anymore.
The Scrap Boys pedal hard, legs pumping like pistons. Their spokes cut the air as their tires spin, a humming like a distant ripsaw. They take up the whole road. They swoop left to right and right to left, glide across the asphalt, weaving, weaving, weaving, between and among each other, three paths, intricate, erratic and joined. They ride desperate to shake the thing that pursues them. This thing that is all hungry maw, all hand scythe teeth and razor blade tongue. This thing that they never talk about. This thing that has no name. Scrap Boy 1, Scrap Boy 2, Scrap Boy 3, not one of them has ever seen it, but they all know it’s there, feel it from time to time, right behind them, fetid breath, hot and moist on the back of their necks.
A rich-fuck car, low and silver, slick and shiny as a bullet, appears behind the Scrap Boys honking, honking, honking to get the swirling pack of Scrap Boys out of the middle of the road, but the Scrap Boys just laugh. They laugh and laugh, middle fingers held aloft like torches, guiding them all, the Scrap Boys and the rich fuck in the car, away from these streets of forgotten legacies to a place of light and noise, a place of voices echoing across the night, “Step right up, right over here. Everybody’s a winner.”
Tom Weller is a former factory worker, Peace Corps volunteer, Planned Parenthood sexuality educator, and college writing instructor. His fiction has appeared recently in Pidgeonholes, Synaesthesia, The Molotov Cocktail, Booth, and Barrelhouse. He has work forthcoming in Milk Candy Review. He lives in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.