The Time We Almost Got Our Heads Mashed In

by Alec Solomita

I thought it was the end,
me and my cousin, just boys
thumbing home at three in the a.m.
tired and happy from doing nothing
all night, hanging with the gang
drinking Budweiser and Schlitz,
letting the girls sit on our jackets
to watch dense clouds of bats
swirl from tree to dark tree
against a humid blue-gray sky
when a car brakes and backs up
and a wiffle-headed teen leans out
a side-window and says, “There’s
room.” Just barely I think as David
squeezes next to three football fucks
in back, me beside two in front.
The driver clears his throat and on a
sudden wing of clarity, I think,
“Oh, shit, this is the end.”
“So, here’s the scoop, cats,” he begins
in a chatty tone (“Scoop?” I think, “Cats?”),
“If you don’t cough up some bread,
we’re gonna mash your heads in.”
Right away I begin to beg.
But badly — I was shy, a whelp
of a boy — so David steps in slick
and calm, tells them our mom’s sick
our dad’s a cop and our older
brother’s in the Marines, and we
got no bread at all, hardly a dime
between us. In just moments, following
some sort of silent Neanderthal powwow,
the bipeds choose to let us go with a final
warning, a simple “We’ll pop you if
we see you again.” The Buick stops
and they shove us out onto Storrow Drive.
(“Pop?” I think), all gladness and bruises.
“Pop?” I say to David, “Cats?” he says back
and we take off down the black highway,
shaking with laughter as we run for our lives.

Alec Solomita’s fiction has appeared in, among other publications, Litbreak, Peacock, The Mississippi ReviewSouthwest Review and Ireland’s Southword Journal. He’s published poetry in MockingHeart ReviewLiterary OrphansSilver Birch PressTurk’s Head ReviewMadHatLit, and many other venues. His poetry chapbook, DO NOT FORSAKE ME, was published by Finishing Line Press in the Fall of 2017. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, novelist Joan Chase.