In the picture he is smiling as always. His detergent-colored eyes look straight at the lens and his blond curls caress the gentle curves of his cheekbones. His pupils are wide but only with affection. He told me he was eighteen years. I took him for seventeen, but fifteen is what it says here.
He started looking at me before I started looking at him, but that’s the one thing I can say in my defense. Well, there’s more thing I can say: I’m a pussy-assed motherfucker. No way I coulda resisted. I mean, I can tell a lad to piss off when I need to, but that boy was different. He was, like.. Fuck. Iunno. Hope? I was living my bad trip of a life, getting curbstomped daily by demons – sometimes not even the met’phorical kind – and into it walks a right fucking angel. Shit, it’s even his name. I think sometimes I really thought he could save me. Even quit doing glass for a while. I shoulda worn my jacket more, my fishnets less. Shoulda found a different overpass to hang at. But fuck, how do you turn down a go at redemption?
I fucked him behind the convenience store and I think after I thought we’d made love. I don’t know what he thought we’d done. Something mature and important I guess. Something to brag about to his friends at school. After that day, he’d sneak out at night to meet me. He brought a portable speaker in his Tony Hawk backpack and he’d play all these hip hop bands for me and whenever he glanced at my face I made sure to look impressed. He would lie with his skinny chest pale in the moonlight and when he asked to bum joints I let him. Then he bummed beers and smokes and I shoulda said no because that’s where the filth starts seeping into your soul. Weed is pure, like the morning fog. Beer is the piss on the subway wall and smokes the fags on the sidewalk turning toxic the rain.
Then one day I woke and could tell from the sun it was noon and he was still sitting beside me, solemnly watching my cleavage. I told him to get his ass back to school and he thought I was joking.
I think I coulda quit him then but it wouldn’ta mattered. It was too late. I’d broken him. Infected him with the shit leaking out of me. I don’t mean the drinking and ditching school, lots of blokes do that and end up ok. But there was something new in his smile. Something knowing. Something reserved and cynical where he used to be all earnest-like. But fuck if I ever been one to stop playing with broken toys. And the boy was still the one thing keeping my shit together. For a month I only went into the Dark Place like once, maybe twice a day. I was in there when I did it, but really, I’d do it all over. His eyes had gone milky and hollow by then. It was all I could do to give some part of the angel back to the world. And although I wanted to kiss his slender throat I restrained myself as not to remember it smeared with blood.
His smile is plastered all around town now. His real smile. And when the old ladies walk by they can say to themselves what a sweet boy and hope that someday he’ll be found.