2. David Bloom

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2. David Bloom
Eighth Grade

A swarm of grackles shrieked in discord from the tall oak behind us. I turned to watch them; blackbirds with iridescent bodies like something born of oil spills. Texas' answer to the raven. They loved to eat garbage, and so plagued the trailer park. Cast in shadows by the daybreak, they looked just like leaves. A sudden noise startled them, and they burst in unison away from their gathering place. It was as though the sound blasted the foliage up and off the tree—all for the slamming of a trailer door. The calamity in Broadway Trailer Park even annoyed the pests.

We were early for the bus. David and I stood at the road outside the park, watching the chaos unfold. The faces, names, places—a holy mess. Big barking dogs in makeshift fences, beer guts in ripped jeans, and high drama at loud volume.

I turned and stared at the face of my best friend, who focused on what happened inside the park. David’s skin shone against low-hanging sun, wisps of curled brown hair a halo charged by the dawn’s light. Never got a haircut his mom didn’t give, so it was shoulder-length, in calm curls.

Angry almond eyes. Fourteen, two years older than me, and a foot taller. Lean. He hated watching the adults fight.

"The landlord again," I mumbled. Adults screamed like babies. A fat man in a tank top threatened to punch a woman, one of his tenants. Everyone around me acted like this was normal. Acceptable.

Except David—he looked disgusted.

The bus was always late, which always made us late, which highlighted the fact we were from a different part of town than the ‘normal’ kids. Most other kids’ parents drove them to school. I’m sure mine would’ve driven me if they could. I’d never met my mom because she died of cancer when I was two.

The bus rumbled to a stop. David and I let the other four kids from Broadway—all misfits like us—get in first. David's seat in the back was reserved, like it should be. The ride was quiet, the morning’s grim events having spoiled the mood. We peered out our respective windows as the wild forest around Broadway Trailer Park cultivated into the pristine town of Kingwood with its simple cream-colored buildings and new football stadium.

The high school and middle school were only a hundred feet apart, sharing bus routes and sports fields. Lessons were simple; everything outside the classroom was hard.

After school, I waited for David near the bus stop. Waiting there was the worst part of my day. No one rode the bus except the kids from Broadway, so I made an easy target.

Two high schoolers approached. Trouble.I recognized the pair as being some of the stupidest, meanest bullies in their grade. They sported grubby gremlin hands and cruel inquisitive eyes. Boiled chimps that stank like Corn Nuts and unwiped asses.

“Hey buddy,” the fat one said. “Make any crystal meth today?” The instigator.

“Probably got a backpack full of cold medicine and match sticks,” the tall, slim one said. The enforcer. He stepped up. Over a foot taller than me; he spun me around and gripped my backpack, holding it so I couldn't run.

“His parents probably traded him for lottery tickets,” the heavy one observed a moment before David collided with him, sending him tumbling onto the ground, fat face bouncing off the grass.

Tall and thin turned to meet this new attacker. He kicked David, shoving him back with his foot, sending the lean scrapper rolling onto the ground. My defender quickly stood and lunged at skinny with his arms swinging in a series of akimbo assaults, fists flailing like a carnival clacker.

Fat and squat lumbered up then backed away from the ferocious little Newton’s Cradle, while his companion tried to put a hand on David’s forehead to hold him back.

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