The playfield is hot. It is hot like a booger-filled toaster pastry. I straddle the teeter-totter and the wood feels super-heated between my legs. The warmth radiates through my hips and up to my tummy, like tendrils scooping me up and carrying me above the playfield. I kick out my legs and send myself soaring into the air.
Hot pain shoots up my inner thigh, as I realize that an inch-long splinter has plunged into my pale, hairless flesh.
Susie Stringfellow is laughing at me. My face feels warm, warmer than where the splinter has entered my flesh. She always laughs at me-never with me. I love her. I lust her. She’ll show any guy her panties for a handful of brownie bites, her boobies for the whole bag, but I can’t stop thinking of her. Her laughter scalds my face. I begin to melt.
When I reach the nadir of the teeter-totter, I let my body fall backwards, sending Joe Wessel, my tottering partner, falling back to the earth with a crash. He cries out, grabbing his groin. The children laugh. I don’t feel bad. He tells anyone who will listen that he wants to be a girl when he grows up. I just helped him along. He cries out to the playground attendant, but the old dyke is too busy watching the Hunt twins going down the wide mouth slide, arms interlocked, hip to hip. I can almost see a droplet of saliva on her chin, like a dog waiting for its supper.
I pull the splinter from my leg and a squirt of blood lands on my hand. I taste it. It is salty. My leg throbs. I wonder about all the germs embedded on that splinter of wood, and picture myself in a hospital bed, dying of a mystery infection rampaging through my body.
I see David Turk near the soccer goal. He sells half caps of his Ritalin for five bucks a throw, but he has always hooked me up, because when played hospital, I let him be the doctor. He owes me and he knows it. A dose of the Rit would take the edge off the pain in my leg and maybe even drown out Suzie’s laughter for the rest of the afternoon. I have to get to him fast. The recess bell is going to ring any second, and I don’t want to get stuck snorting a pixie stick before class.