HARLEY EDISON WAS born, quite by accident, in Kansas City, Missouri.
His parents had driven there for the 1972 convention of National Insurance Brokers. William Henry Edison had worked as an underwriter for Illinois Mutual Life since getting back from overseas. The convention was his focal point of year, outstripping Christmas by miles. Carol was eight-months pregnant and in no state to take the road trip to Kansas, but Henry would not hear about it.
“You’ll be fine,” Henry told her, sailing oblivious over his wife’s nerves and worry. “I know doctors all the way along the route.” An insurance man knows everyone.
The convention center was on Hill Street, on the Kansas side of Kansas City, but when Carol’s water broke, just as they arrived, they rushed to the St. Luke’s on the Missouri side since it was the fastest. 20 minutes later, Harley was born. Interstate, they called it, neither in Kansas nor Missouri.
They middle-named him Addison, after tradition and his great grandfather, and Harley after Carol Simeon’s father. His real name was “Yavor,” but the registrar convinced Henry Edison to anglicize the Bulgarian name. It meant maple tree. Harley sounded better to the two men. They decided over a cigarette.
After his first few days, the couple brought H. Addison Edison back home to Peoria, Illinois. Both his parents preferred calling him Addison, or just Addi. They thought it was softer.
Here in Peoria he first walked, first spoke, first had an awkward date with Stacey Schroeder at the West Diner, just outside of town on the road to Germantown Hills. She called him by his full name all evening: Addison Edison. Thank you, Addison Edison. Not on a first date, Addison Edison. Well, all right, Addison Edison.
It was an odd sounding name. Too many syllables. By middle school, he had started asking people to call him by his actual first name, Harley, instead. He even changed his signature and got Lincoln High to amend the entry in their books. Henry Edison was befuddled by this and never stopped calling him Addi. His mother eventually came around to the “new” name, but when she was alone with Henry, he was till their Addison: their interstate son who rechristened himself despite the unyielding will of his father. Nothing was the same after that.
It was only years later, after the accident and in the cold days following, that his father broke down and called him Harley, grasping and holding tight to his son as they stood in front of his mother’s draped casket at Mount Hawley. Henry Edison was not in the car with her when the horse bounded into the middle of the I-74, sending Carol Simeon Edison across an open ditch and into that tortuously gnarled black pine. She was killed instantly, the coroners said. The horse had to be put down, and Henry began to die slowly from that day. Harley’s brother Ryan came with the family from out east. He drove 16 hours from Matapeake, Kent Island, Maryland, almost without stopping. He had been closer to his mother than Harley, and a silence had grown between them since Ryan left home. But Harley was the elder, and reconciliation descended on them as they mourned. It was not by choice.
Henry lost his wife. Harley was not sure what he lost.
Peas and carrots look more like toys than food. Mom was always trying to take his toys out of his mouth. You can mash up the peas and carrot, so that’s ok to eat. You can’t mash up your toys.
His big name was Harley Addison Edison, but when they cooed at him they called him “Addi.” It felt imprecise.
He was not what could be called a difficult child. He was slow to react, to cry out in indignation, to cry for about anything unless it really hurt. A lot of kids cry as strategy. Billy Newman did it all the time and his mother ignored him. It can’t be a very good strategy if it doesn’t work for Billy who is so good at doing it. Addi got most of what he wanted by asking for it. First with pointing and indecipherable words – the grownups never really understood him even though it was perfectly clear what he was saying. Sometimes he would ask so much that he got tired and would fall asleep. Usually though Mom would provide. She was both good and useful. Billy thought his mother was against him. Maybe she was.
In those early times, when the only person who understood him was himself, he would try to make up stories that explained the strangeness around him. He was in bed most of the time. They lifted him out and onto the floor, on his stomach, and kept looking at him. They waited for him to do something. Legs pumping and arms waving at his sides, Harley tried to please them. He put on a show for them. Later he realized that he had mastered Swimming there on the floor, and it came in handy when he began to grow more.
They wanted him to move. They said things like “c’mon.” They said that to the dog, and he moved. Sometimes the dog moved to Addi’s face and licked it until the grownups stopped laughing and pushed him away. The dog looked at him, directly in the eyes, and cocked his head inquisitively. Why don’t you move, like me?
I can’t. I’m stuck.
Your legs are in the wrong place. Look.
The dog lay flat on the floor, tongue out. He then pulled all four feet toward himself and pushed his body into the air, looking down over Harley. See? Now you…
It was several more weeks and a lot of false starts later that Harley realized that he could manipulate his arms and legs into a crawl, like the dog, and not so long after onto his hind legs only. The dog was well-meaning, but he wasn’t much of a teacher. Harley loved the dog. He was always nearby when placed on the floor. He even liked to sleep next to him sometimes. The dog had his own smell. It wasn’t a bad smell, but it was different from Mom’s. She smelled glad to see him.
In his view, there was Harley, Mom, the dog, and the world. The world was everywhere around him that he knew was there but could see only small parts of it. Most of the stories, the primary ontologies, started once he was placed on the floor. He took this as an invitation to join the rest of the world. But the earliest versions were about him, looking up at the large white space above, cluttered with some hanging objects that moved around with the wind. The wind was also important to those stories. It would steal across him, stinging his cheek, horripilating the skin on his forearms, leaving him a little colder, but there was nothing he could do but endure it. He could not move at first and was at the mercy of the wind, the white space, and the reaching arms of course. Not all reaching arms were attached to Mom. That was confusing. The early stories that Harley used to explain his place in the universe were often existentially bleak.
As time went by and Harley acquired the skill of Walking, the tone of his stories improved as well, became more upbeat and livelier, as he explored the confines of what became known to him as his Room and then his House. This was a much wider world than he could have ever imagined, and the images of being flipped on his back and immobile as a stuck turtle began to fade quickly. The dog was a constant companion in these times, a steadfast friend and fellow adventurer. The dog cared about him, and Addi felt it. The love of a canine for a human. But the dog wasn’t progressing as fast as Addi needed him to.
What are we doing here, in this Room? Is there more?
I want to see more and experience the rest of the House. How do we open the door?
Their conversations were becoming decidedly one-sided. As far as Addi could assess, he seemed to be a Person (different from a dog, not only in smell) of some importance to the grownups, Mom in particular. She would not leave him in here alone very often, but would sit with him, on the floor, and talk to him. She was a little condescending to him, even if he could not understand all of her words. She glossed over new phonemes like “business trip” and “gallivanting.” There was another grownup, a Dad, that he saw occasionally, but he was rarely around for long. He was often associated with the new words.
Addi loved his time on the floor with his mother. She lived only for him and making him happy and laugh and learn. The dog would stay on the other side of the room when Mom was there with him. They were learning and growing; the dog couldn’t share in that. Addi felt a deep sadness for the limitations of the dog. He did not even know its name. Dog. Not a Cat. He learned that from the illustrations in his book. Cats were smaller. They didn’t look friendly either.
Their house from the outside was mottled gray. It was supposed to be white, and Henry Edison grumbled something about it every time he pulled into the driveway. It was a slightly swollen medium-sized house compared to the rest of East Bluff. When Henry Edison’s grandfather built this house, it was a beautiful spot. The Glen Oak Pavilion had recently been put up, and a lot of well-to-do families were doing exactly as the Edisons did. Or rather, Grandpa Edison was doing what they were doing. East Bluff was going to be for a better class of merchants. Never a rich family, they did skirt the edges of it, and Grandpa always seemed to be able to stretch his skinny leg stealthily into the tightly sealed ranks of the City Fathers, the most revered and respected Peoria families.
This year I’m gonna paint this place. God, it needs it! This year.
Henry always felt a little out of place around his grandfather. He was meant to smile and “look cute,” but no one ever told him how to do that, especially in the floppy culottes they made him wear. His grandfather wanted him to be someone else. Not himself. Just for now, Henry. You see those nice people in the fancy hats? They want to like you. But if they don’t like you, they could hurt you. You don’t want that, do you? Now just listen to me and stay here and be cute Henry. That’s it.
By the time Henry was born, most of his grandfather’s plans and ambitions had already had their day. Appearances, however, must be upheld. That’s how he remembered the elder Edison. After his grandfather was moved out of the house to a care facility in Springfield (don’t call it an old folks’ home!), the Edisons’ social reach contracted quite a bit. They purposefully withdrew their toeholds from the various clubs and societies and charities which Grandpa Edison fought so hard to get into. The era of playacting had passed. The era of getting on with life was about to begin. Henry would not miss the culottes. Life was going to be good!
As Henry grew up and they stayed on in the old house at 1717 North Atlantic, the paint began to wear thin and the country’s prospects grew thinner around it. By the time Henry had saved up enough money for college, getting the green light for a student loan from Fondulac State Bank in East Peoria, he got a letter from the draft board. College students were not being sent into action, but Henry had not even applied yet. He was hoping for the Porter Agribusiness Grant from Iowa State, but he would have settled for Illinois and general business. Instead, he was combat-trained at Fort Benning and airlifted to Da Nang, letting his hopes of college drop into the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Hawaii and Guam.
Henry Edison never talked much about his experience of the war. He wasn’t wounded. He got sent home (honorably discharged) after one tour of duty and then wasn’t recalled. A tour should have lasted a year at the most. He would sometimes joke that a government year was 15 months long. More if they needed it. He saw action, sure. But to return intact, untouched and unscarred, made him something of a mystery. Carol never asked. No one did.
When Addi was accidentally born in Kansas City, they all still lived on North Atlantic Avenue in Peoria. His mother would take him for strolls in the Glen Oak park. She bundled him up and took him to see a lot of other mothers where they talked about plastic containers. Tupperthings. Sounded like “supper.” They were waiting for Henry to come back. For there to be a Dad. When he finally boarded a C-141 at Tan Son Nhut Air Base outside Saigon and headed home, Addi had begun to think that Sgt. William Henry Edison was just another story that Mom would tell him.
In the meantime, East Bluff’s fortunes were dwindling. What started out as a nice neighborhood was slowly getting more and more run-down. Over the course of two summers, the city fathers had moved away and settled in Peoria Heights on the lakeshore, and East Bluff houses started to get sold to more and more working-class families. Several of their friends’ homes had been repossessed by the bank. Economist invented the name “working poor.”
Addi changed schools more than once. Carol pleaded to get him enrolled in West Elementary, away from this neighborhood where no one seemed to care. West kids would then go on to Lincoln High, and Lincoln High graduates almost all when to college. Henry Edison’s eyes went dark, remembering his own plans. When he got back from Vietnam, he found he was no longer interested in going to school. All he wanted to do was work and make money and give Carol and Addi a normal life. He signed up with Illinois Mutual Life and got a fast training as a life insurance broker. He didn’t have the background or basic education needed for underwriting. But he hoped to switch up later on. Henry wanted Addi to have a bigger choice.
Henry Edison drove his son to West Elementary every morning from then on.
The school day was never the problem. Getting there by the big yellow bus, now that Mom and Dad couldn’t drive him anymore, was a daily ordeal. The bus was miles long, and he walked solemnly as far down as he could, eyes surveying furtively, until he could get a seat by himself. Along the way, he suffered the jeers, wet scarves, and more than one fist that all new kids withstood. Some didn’t make it and disappeared from the bus’s harrowing ecosystem. Doug Templeton was one.
Doug Templeton sat behind him in Mr. Claverack’s class. His head was always tilted slightly forward, forcing him to look up to anyone talking to him. Smaller-boned than Addi, he was afraid of everything around him, gripping his bookbag and hot-lunch card for dear life from the moment he climbed up onto the bus. His steps were tentative and unsure.
Addi got on before Doug Templeton, and often he would scoot over on the darkly stained green vinyl seat, long rips in the vinyl unsuccessfully repaired with silver duct tape, to let him share the bench with him. But to reach that salutary safe haven, he had to run the gauntlet. As the bus pulled up to Doug Templeton’s stop, the hazers began to rumble like a mounting storm, eyes alight with smoldering flames as their prey wobbled up to the cranked open door. Most mornings he was crying before he slid in next to Harley. The tears for as much from relief – the bigger Addi made him feel safe – as from the ritual humiliation. But Addi knew the indignity of that walk too. He used to cry, but now, somehow, he had developed a nearly aseptic forbearance for the passage. As if it were happening in real time to another person, not him. He noted the hands and pencils and sneakers as they would make contact with him, but, in his mind, he was already securely on the green vinyl, looking out the filmy window onto the street. It was a game. Addi dreaded the bus every bit as much as Doug Templeton must have as he pulled on his jacket and readied himself for battle.
Not so much of a battle. More of an assault.
Since he started at West Elementary, he had been aware of Doug Templeton lingering on the periphery most of the time. He was a nice kid. He could smile and crack a joke – sometimes dirty ones even. But he buckled in terror if any of the bigger kids would roll around. They weren’t exactly bullies. They were like apprentice bullies, as if they knew a few of the moves but had not really been able to stretch out into full bully stature yet. No one was ever really hurt by them in any serious way. They were more dangerous to your self-worth and dignity. Maybe that was why Addi managed to compartmentalize them on the school bus.
But Doug Templeton had no way to filter his manic fears. As soon as any of them would draw near (and it was always in groups), the laughing and happy Doug Templeton would go dark and be washed away under a wave of abject horror. Sometimes he actually screamed. Usually Addi would step between Doug Templeton and the apprentice-bullies, putting his back to them and trying to contain the smaller boy’s unbridled terror.
“What’s with your friend? Does he think something’s gonna happen?”
Without answering, Addi slowly started moving the collected mass of himself and Doug Templeton away, incrementally, imperceptibly. That didn’t always work. A hand on the shoulder pulled him around. With an unambiguous push from Addi, Doug Templeton took off running.
Bullies were not a physical threat, if they stayed bullies that is. A bully’s main thrill comes in putting the littler kid down, maybe pushing him around a bit, and generally making him a laughing stock. Bullies like to laugh at weaker kids. The ones who take the step further and start landing fists on you, they are no longer bullies and get classified as “delinquents” and “aggressors” or just fighters. The teachers and principal get wind of these types right away and call them in. It was possible that you get beat up on the playground. It happened. But the aggressors got dealt with. Bullies, on the other hand, roamed free and untouchable. It was hard to tell them apart until the moment of transition.
Addi looked at the two elementary-school apes. Dan Dixon, whose father ran a feed shop off the I-74 before Kickapoo, was nearly a head taller than Addi, but was skinny and birdlike in his disposition. Bob Walter, on the other hand, was built like a small refrigerator. Square jaw, square shoulders, and an austolipithicine square forehead. Addi didn’t know anything about Bob Walter except that he was always in the middle of anything unpleasant. Dixon seemed to have real friends and, it appeared, sometimes, was not just picking on the weak. Addi did not like the combination or his chances.
Look at you! Is Dougy your girlfriend?
Where’s your girlfriend now?
There is a moment that you never feel when it happens. A moment when you decide to act or duck or run or shriek (as Doug Templeton was wont). The decision hovered over the gossamer edges of consciousness, and it was expressed with only the slightest of physical movements, movements that were at once irrevocable but at the same time intoxicating, signaling the brain to flood the system with adrenaline and dopamine, altering you every bit as much as Bruce Banner morphing into the Hulk. Only no one saw the green.
Thus did Addi Edison bring his right foot into alignment with his left and stand.
Doug Templeton was swinging widely around corners and wild-running down the empty corridors, flailing feet, arms, and legs, toward the office of Principal George R. Pulasky. He had never been in the office before, in fact he had never been very close to the principal before at all, but he had to tell him, he had to make sure the cavalry came to Harley’s rescue. He came up to the door. It was closed.
He looked around, lost. What do I do? Do I knock on the door like a house? Was there a doorbell? Can anyone help me? Doug Templeton reached a tentative hand out to the knob when a shadow darkened the frosted glass behind the principal’s name. The door opened and a very tall, very old man (in his thirties) in horn-rimmed glasses and a blue striped tie began to loom over Doug Templeton. He fainted.
“Young man?” Principal Pulasky grabbed Doug Templeton under the arms and pulled him to his feet. The eyes opened again. “What’s your name? What’s the deal?”
“Mr. Pulsky, please,” Doug Templeton was gasping and trying to cram words into the breaths as they heaved out of him. “Addi’s getting it. They’re gonna kill him.”
“PulASKy, please. Are you talking about Addison Edison?” Principal Pulasky couldn’t help smiling inwardly at the ridiculous consonance his parents had built into his name. Addison Edison, please take your medicine! But he spoke seriously to the boy: “Where is he NOW?”
Doug Templeton was frightened of the principal; he was frightened of the boys about to beat up his friend; he was frightened that they would come for him next. He was shaking and his eyes started rolling back and up. Pulasky grabbed his arm firmly before he swooned again, but he spoke gently this time. “Take me to them, please?”
It was a standoff.
Addi looked across at Dixon and Walters and had no idea what was supposed to happen now. He knew about schoolyard fights, but he had never really seen one before. On TV, they always imply the violence, so you don’t see how it is initiated. Suddenly it was just happening. But now, who draws first? He stood perfectly still. He couldn’t be sure that he wasn’t also holding his breath.
Dixon and Walter were quiet. For once. They stared down at Addi. They snarled their upper lips in the same way at him. The playground was eerily silent as a wide ring of children were surrounding them, not moving, waiting to see the action. A few in the back started to chant fight, fight, fight, but they got shushed down.
It started to be clear that NO ONE knew what the next move was. If it was to be a fight, a first punch had to fly. If a first punch flew, it had to be somehow provoked. But Addi held his ground. Nothing aggressive about his stance, but he stood and faced the two bigger boys. They had the advantage of him in size, and in age as well – both were in 6th grade while Addi and Doug Templeton were still in Mr. Claverack’s 5th grade class.
Bob Walter’s square brain started smoking. He shouldered ahead of Dixon and was about to do… something… either yell or windup into a haymaker. Addi flinched, but held steady. He was not going to hit anyone first. Then suddenly a huge hand pushed him off to the right. Addi almost overbalanced into the ring of watchers, but then he saw. Principal George Pulasky stood in his place, wide stance, blue striped tie askew, towering over Walters and Dixon and staring down.
Somewhere in the background, Addi heard a small voice say, “YES!”
What happened next was by the book. People said things, people yelled, people pleaded, people were marched away and parents were called and people were taken home. Addi had not moved much since recovering his balance. All the gawkers went back to their games. A few stayed and cheered for Addi who stood up to the bullies! Who didn’t back down! Who was stronger than they were anyway! But the fact was that no one knew if Addi could have stood his ground or not. The principal raided the game, pulled in by Doug Templeton. And if Addi was grateful to Doug for doing that, he was also aware that he wanted to know how it might have ended. Can you stand up to aggression and stare it down? Can you make an enemy balk by not running when they think you will? It was unresolved on this day. And it would happen again.
Doug Templeton was happy, though. He had saved his friend. He was a hero.
Addi never minded school that much. In fact he rather liked it, even if you can’t go around telling people that you like school. It just wasn’t done. School, though, was an arena in which he knew he could excel, be better than his classmates. He worked hard, not because he liked working, but because most of the time he was interested in the subjects. He loved how words and sentences worked and could be arranged and rearranged to mean hundreds of different things. He loved the unimaginable number of words in the dictionary and wanted to know them all. 49,000 definitions in the big Webster’s. 273,000 headwords in the Oxford English Dictionary. But he also loved science and chemistry and biology. He loved exploring the Mayan and Aztec civilizations in social studies. Math was a little harder for him, but he pushed himself and got A’s nevertheless. School was his turf. The playground never was.
He wasn’t involved in any further altercations that year. Doug Templeton stopped taking the school bus completely and would just magically appear in the classroom every morning. He waved, but they stopped talking as much. Doug Templeton had made other friends and did not need Addi’s protection on the bus anymore. The recess periods were empty time for Addi. He stayed a lot by himself. He would walk around the perimeter and watch what was happening without trying to be part of it. Often he had little rhymes or jingles in his head, helping him keep pace. The jingles remained unspoken and unsung forever, but every now and then he would remember.
A layer of warmth permeated the late September breeze, flowing over the campus grounds and among the float-builders on the afternoon that Doug Templeton died. It had been a time of new beginnings and inexplicable happiness for Addi. Until it wasn’t.
Doug Templeton lived across the street and on the other side of the block from Addi’s house. They lived in a narrow, clapboard house with grey trim that faced East Archer and opened up into a backyard that led through the block, down a graveled alleyway, to Addi’s place. In the summer, he often scuffed along that alley to find Doug Templeton playing in the backyard. By himself.
He usually kept his eyes on the ground, looking for treasures that passersby would let fall. A nickel, a ring, and once he found a five-dollar bill! Henry Edison confiscated it saying it belonged to someone else. Addi never understood how his father found the owner.
Passing along the alley and looking up, he saw newness in the scene. Splotches and splashes of white light over yellows and greens. A lot of green, yes. Lawns that seem to open out to the edges of forever. Grass that lightly grips and tickles the bare feet skimming across its surface. It is nice not to wear shoes. Summer is nice. And across the block, facing tree-lined Archer Avenue, the narrow home of Doug Templeton awaited. His friend from the neighborhood, even though he was a year younger. Once his ward and apostle on the bus and in the playground, now he was allied with people Addi didn’t know, but he was safe. In the neighborhood, however, that world was far away. Here it was all the same as ever.
Doug Templeton had a rabbit hutch behind his house. He named one of the rabbits something strange and made-up. Varnickens. Addi thought he should be called “Bun,” and this was a joke between the two friends. They played war in the backyard with Doug Templeton’s army of plastic soldiers. Dirt clods got lobbed on their positions, and the same blasting sound deafened the battlefield each time:
Doug Templeton did it by filling one cheek with air and forcing the sound out through his throat, releasing the air in his cheek on the second vocable. Addi learned how to do it in about 37 seconds and then the explosions began to multiply! The battles were joined. At least until dinner and running back across the dew-damp lawn.
The college student on the ten-speed could not have seen Doug Templeton if he wanted to. The campus grounds were covered with different groups, each building white and green and red floats, lined with bunting, scrawled elegantly (and not) with cries of spirit and inspiration. A lot of them had “Go” at the beginning. Both a warm and cool September afternoon. Addi had his jean jacket on over his t-shirt and jeans instead of shorts. The seasons were drifting over each other.
Doug Templeton had been brought over with his mother to see the building for the Homecoming parade, a fixture in Peoria for as long as anyone could remember. He ran up to Addi who had been drifting around the grounds by himself. Henry and Carol had come to speak to one of their friends and left Addi to his own devices. It wasn’t like the playground, when he circumnavigated other kids’ fun and kept himself at bay from possible humiliation; here, Addi was mesmerized. The college float-builders were so tall, and they looked like they were so happy. The floats themselves were incomprehensible. He could see the flatbed trailers under some of them, where the petal paper or floral sheeting had not yet been wrapped. He liked to look without trying to figure them out. They were slow-moving street-bound leviathans that appeared on this campus lawn and were set out on progress around their realm.
“They never make one like a dragon,” Doug Templeton sighed.
“Where’s your mom?”
“Around here. She said I could come find you.”
The campus was too far to walk from East Bluff. It was a happy coincidence that they should both be here – neither the Templetons nor the Edisons had anything to do with Eureka College. The Homecoming parade was only a few days away and the atmosphere was electric. Both Addi and Doug Templeton coursed with it. It bounced them a little more than usual. And truthfully, Addi liked hanging out with Doug Templeton. He missed having him around at school, not having a lot of other friends to fill the void left when his services as Paladin of the Yellow Bus had been dispensed with. It was like being a knight errant, a rōnin, wandering around unfamiliar landscapes on one picaresque adventure after another.
Some kids always looked like they had a lot of friends. Usually they were just clowns or performers of some kind. The marble shooters had been that way when they were younger, especially the ones who were bussed in from the rural routes and brought huge “steelies,” tractor ball bearings, that could decimate even the largest cat’s-eye shooter. The onlookers would gather around the champions as the recess bell rang, and the rest of the players were counting their losses. Addi figured that they weren’t really true friends, just hangers-on, even if he envied them in that hollow part of his core where he was so often alone, so often lonely, without really knowing why.
He had had a big score one day during a kickball game, sending the awkward rubber ball galumphing through the air and into left field. He rounded all the bases! He was a hero! They all rushed out to celebrate his glory! But next time up he flubbed. Then again. The glory was gone, the crowd forgot about him again.
But that had been a day…
Doug Templeton was a real friend though. He trusted Doug Templeton implicitly. His intentions were always good. His follow-through sometimes faltered though. Addi wandered over to where one of the floats was nearly finished. It was an Iwo-Jima-style configuration of football players, not planting a flag but a football to score. The details of the float made it seem as though it were real only moments before, that it had somehow shifted into a register of pop art with vivid colors and sharp contours. Almost live. He turned to call Doug. You have to see this!
The front tire of the bicycle hit Doug Templeton full on the back as he suddenly pivoted to see where Addi was. Reflexively, the rider then jammed the handlebars left, ostensibly trying too late to get out of the way and succeeding in impacting with Doug Templeton’s head, thrown backwards from the initial impact.
As though frozen, Addi could only watch, unable to help, unable to look away. He saw the approaching ten-speed only instants before it hit.
There was no time to yell out. He might have yelled anyway; Addi couldn’t remember.
Doug Templeton was silent.
The movements which sent him sprawling head first onto a cinderblock that held up part of a marquis were a combination of responses. Wild thrashing as his small legs sought any kind of foothold. Windmilling arms wanting to make contact with a solid target. It happened, fast, unstoppable, inexorable. He looked at Doug Templeton but he no longer saw. He looked and saw him flying again and again.
Everything stopped, except when he closed his eyes.
Copyright © 2022, Chris Farmer
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