A place for thought.

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part thirty-five)

Most of the time being a Super Kid is something I enjoy: the look of surprise when the little guy in the crowd is the one with the right answer, the honest thanks from people who have escaped danger or had their problem solved, even a little bit of hero worship can be fun – for awhile, but being in the spotlight, being singled out, having people expect you to solve their problems gets old. After a big splash of superness I find it is best to lay low for awhile, let the rumors die down, don’t do anything that might create a snowball effect and build an image I would really rather not have.

I have a four-foot long, one-inch thick, bare branch from a walnut tree in my hand. I poke at the dirt with the stick every third step so that if anyone sees me they will know I am on a hike. But the odds are against any one seeing me. Our town is a mile away. I’ve been walking on a path made by cows for half an hour. Once in a while I do have to be careful to step over things the cows have left behind but other than that there are few decisions to make. I’ve decided to put one foot in front of the other and that seems to be working out well. A lizard runs across the path and startles me. I wave my stick at him but he’s long gone. I hate snakes and try to make enough noise to let any snakes know I’m coming. It must be working. I haven’t seen a snake yet. A tree sits on the edge of the path. Six black cows rest lying on the ground in the shade of the tree. They watch me as I approach wondering if they will be required to move or not. Under their long eyelashes their big brown eyes follow my every step. One of the cows starts to stand and then decides it’s just too much trouble and returns to chewing cud. I have to step over the legs of one cow to get to the trunk of the tree but she doesn’t seem to mind. I find myself a place to sit in the highest branch that can support my weight and watch the cloudless blue sky.


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Jimmy, Super Kid (part thirty)

I sit in the chair and look around, not moving anything – just trying to understand what Ricky’s father was doing the last time he sat in this chair. A half full coffee cup sits within easy reach. A pad of plain white paper with drawings of insects and notes I cannot understand lies next to the cup.   A keyboard is sitting space bar toward the monitor, like the monitor was typing. I tap a key on the keyboard and the monitor lights up.

“What’s that?”

Ricky leans in and looks at the monitor over my shoulder, “some bug, up close.” Next to the monitor Ricky points to a piece of equipment that looks like a photo enlarger. “It’s looking at that,” he points to a small disk near the base of the microscope.

My finger slides across the touch pad and the monitor shows different parts of bug.   The whole screen fills with a giant mouth with four lips. I pinch my fingers together and the picture includes a body like a datenut with at least eight legs, four in a row in the front and two like fingers on each side in the back, if the snout with four lips is the front.

“What part of outer space did that come from?”

Ricky just laughs, “he got that out of his eyebrow. He showed it to me a few days ago.” I rub both of my eyebrows, hoping I’ve taken care of any of the monsters that might be roaming about in them.

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part twenty-nine)

My mother and father are not acquainted with Ricky’s parents; they talk on the phone when they are looking for their kid, or to get permission to take us somewhere, they shake hands at school meetings, and wave on walks when they pass each other’s house, but they haven’t even shared first names.

“I’m Huel, this is Betty. I guess you know Jimmy?”

“I’m Jill,” Ricky’s mom shakes everyone’s hand including mine. Well she doesn’t shake Ricky’s hand that would be weird. “Have a seat,” she motions toward the kitchen table a chrome metal and yellow Formica topped table with four vinyl cushion covered matching seats. As we take our places she asks, “Coffee?” she doesn’t mean me, she knows the juice I like and puts a glass in front of me and Ricky without needing to ask. “The police called when they found the car trailer,” she tosses out the remark to make it easier for the conversation to begin.

“So you know most of the story,” my father begins.

“I’m so glad you came by.”

After about ten minutes of this chit chat I’m about to die and can’t keep quiet any longer, “Mrs. Sanchez,” I slip into a gap in the conversation. Everyone turns and looks at me. “If it’s okay to ask, what is it that Mr. Sanchez does for a living?”

“I’m not sure this is the time for personal questions,” My father instructs me.

“No, it’s fine Huel, I know a little bit about how Jimmy’s mind works. Ricky has shared some pretty amazing stories and if he needs information…” she just kind of trailed off and then focused on me, “he does research.” I just let my eyes widen a bit and wait for more. “I really don’t know much about the specifics,” she looks around the table a little embraced and then adds, “he studied entomology in college.”

“Bugs?” I blurt out.

“Jimmy!” my mother reminds me of my manners.

“Well, insects, including bugs,” she smiles at how funny it sounds. “It’s really a very serious business, insects are very important to all of us. Ricky’s dad is quite successful in his field. He’s been all over the world sharing information. And he’s totally committed, he even brings his work home and does experiments here.” She can tell I’m interested so she adds, “have you ever been in his workshop?”

I look over at Ricky who doesn’t seem to know much about this workshop ether, “can we see it?” I ask.

“Ricky, take Jimmy into the basement and show him around, just don’t touch anything.” We leave the adults and Ricky leads the way to a narrow door, he pulls a string and lights a single blub and illuminates wooden steps.

“I didn’t even know you had a basement,” I inform Ricky on the way down the steps.

“I spend very little time down here,” Ricky answers. “When my dad’s down here he usually wants to be left alone. At the base of the steps Ricky flips a light switch and fluorescent strips make the dark cellar as bright as day. The cellar is the full length and width of the house and barely has room for walking. Insects on pins fill the walls. Insects in jars fill shelves. Live insects in small cages sit on tables. A long wooden table runs the length of the basement, at the far end of the table is a single chair, a computer screen, a pile of instruments and a desk light with a gooseneck.

“This must be where all the work gets done,” I say walking up to the chair.

“This is where he is always sitting when I come down to talk him into leaving his work and coming to dinner,” Ricky’s eyes water a little when he’s reminded that his father isn’t home this evening.

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part twenty-eight)

My father starts to explain how the police operate but Ricky and I both give him looks so he changes the subject, “I’m going to stop and pick up your mother before we drop Ricky off,” he says to me. I’m sitting next to him in the front seat; Ricky is by the door looking out the side window, lost in thought.

“Good idea,” I respond. “Mom’s a lot better at the hugging and consoling.” My father is more of the manly man type. When we pull into our driveway my father waves at the back seat indicating we should get back there and then he disappears into the house. I have to give Ricky a nudge to get him moving and then he still doesn’t understand why we are at my house instead of his or why we need to change seat but he follows my lead. We sit staring ahead for several minutes; my mother must have needed to change or something.

“He’s going to be alright,” I say because it’s the right thing to say.

“You don’t know that,” Ricky sounds pretty depressed.

“No, I don’t. But it’s still true. We’re going to figure this out,” I believe what I’m saying but have no facts to back it up.

My mother hurries into the front seat, out of breath and still putting on a little bit of red lipstick, “Hi,” she turns and looks at the two of us. “I’m so sorry Ricky,” she reaches over her seat and can just tap Ricky on the shoulders with her fingers. “How are you doing?” she asks Ricky. He just hunches his shoulders so she gives him another pat and then turns around as my father backs the car out of the drive and heads for Ricky’s house.   No one says anything, everyone is thinking about Ricky’s mom and the best way to tell her her husband has been abducted. I’m pretty sure the best place for me is far away but I want to hear as much about what Ricky’s dad does for a living and what he does with his spare time so I plan to be a fly on the wall. We park in front of Ricky’s house and march toward the front door like we are being lead to a firing squad.

Ricky opens the front door and shouts, “Mom!” at the top of his lungs. I think it’s his normal greeting. And then he adds, “Ricky’s Mother and Father are with me!”