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Somewhere in the dark, I heard them hit. I heard it one, two, three, and the boy crying for them to stop, then just crying, then nothing at all. If any of them saw me there, they didn’t say.
But how could they not when the stairs fell plumb into the middle of that room, the big echo of shower stalls on one side and the rows of lockers like teeth on the other. I think what makes it stand out all these years later is the way he seemed to take it—their fists, their kicks, the saliva from their guffaws and laughter.
Lying there, the straight lines of his face going impressionistic, he looked like some strange apparition of pleasure.
Not like in the cafeteria when he sat down on a cup of chocolate pudding that made his pants look like a bomb of diarrhea, nor at recess getting pelted with a million snowballs. Here in the dark, in the deep dark, with just him and these others—no teachers to witness, no girls—I saw the smile crest on his face as he gave himself to this strange, lurid dance.
Eric Bauer is a member of the Downtown Writers Center in Syracuse, NY, and a resident artist at the Albany Barn in Albany. His work as appeared in New Pop Lit and the Blue Bonnet Review. He is currently an English and creative writing instructor at Sage College of Albany.