The Sum of My Existence - 9

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They led me out of the factory in ice cold handcuffs. A deputy with a walkie-talkie and a high school ring asked me if I wanted to put my windbreaker—a size 40 Walker Weath-R-Bust-R—over my head. I declined his offer.

9 must have heard the ruckus, because he was off the line before the break, loitering around the soda machine with a cigarette jouncing between his lips.

“Watch this one, officer,” he said. “I’ve known him to steal communion wafers just so he could make little sandwiches for a week.”

A stone-faced lie, if ever there was one. At every communion service I’ve attended, the Body of Christ was always diced Wonderbread.

16—plain old 16 at that point—sashayed over to 9 and gave him a kiss like an Electrolux on the carpet setting. Noisy.

“We’re what you’d call an item,” she said. “Been going steady for five weeks, three-and-a-half days.” She was fooling with the Buick symbol at her throat when she said it. Smiling, too.

“That should work out nicely for everyone, then,” I said. “He can change the channels for you, and you can tie his shoes.”

9 came at me with a root beer bottle when he heard that, but the deputy and some of the Walker security boys held him back. They said things like It ain’t worth it and You’re bigger than that and Mr. Walker wouldn’t want a scene now, would he? 9 wasn’t having any of it, though.

“What do you have to say for yourself now?” he said. “I got the girl, I got my job—what do you got, peewee?”