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  • Writer's pictureCindy Marabito

Skitz: A whiter shade of pale

from The Legend of Sky Diamond

Skitz acted like he was kind of a weird big brother to me. At first. He was younger than Gene, but he was still old. He was in his thirties. The way he copied after Gene was kind of sad. Like the rest of them, he wore a Hanes undershirt, but his drew attention to his thin white arms. He’d suffered a serious case of teenage acne which had left its mark up and down his scrawny back.

No one was going to save me. I learned that early. I tried to keep my nose down and fly under the radar. I didn’t ask too many questions about my mother. I knew she was gone for good. Funny thing is, I didn’t really blame her. I was already making plans for my own getaway and had been for some time. Skitz played a big role in that, an unintentional role.

So, what happened shouldn’t have surprised me. Skitz being my only companion, it was hard to take note of the changes in his behavior. I should have noticed. We’d always been friends, me and Skitz. More than Apache or Duck who were usually busy with Gene business. Skitz had an interest in me that I mistook. At first. Sometimes, he’d just be waiting outside for me after the bell rang. I thought it was because he didn’t have anything better to do, but when I began to develop a figure, he began looking at me different.

It was on my fourteenth birthday when it happened. Gene had never gone of his way to celebrate things like my birthday. He didn’t believe in birthdays and Christmas. That’s just how it was. So there wasn’t ever a cake or anything like that. When I got home from school, Skitz was sitting alone at the kitchen table. The others weren’t there. It was just me and Skitz.

He told me to sit down and close my eyes. I heard him strike a match and after a minute, he said I could open them.

There was a Rao’s bakery cake. It was pink. I knew it from looking in the window when I’d walk by. The place was in a big curved strip center on the corner. Bricks of every color with a Spanish tile roof. You could always smell the sweet pastries up and down Calder Avenue in the heat.

“I got you something. Happy birthday.” He handed me a Treasure City brown paper bag. In it was a copy of the Led Zeppelin record, “In Through the Out Door.” “Blow out your candles.”

He started playing “All My Love” over and over. He kept jamming on the air guitar like he was in the band. He had a six pack and made me drink one of the beers with him. He said it was okay, because I was a woman now.

And, it was the day I lost my virginity. To Skitz of all people. It hurt like all get out, but at least it didn’t last too long. The whole time I was looking at this picture on my wall. It was one of those big eye posters you used to see. Mine was this girl in a harlequin outfit holding a cat. She had black hair and blue tights. I stared and stared at the picture the whole time Skitz was thrusting himself in and out of me. It seemed like it took forever, but in reality, probably less than a minute. When the song got to the horn part, it was pretty much over. And I still can’t listen to that song.

There was blood after and I had to clean it up or there would be hell to pay. I knew that. I got rid of the picture, too. I couldn’t look at it any more. It smelled like iron all over the apartment. Mixed in with sugar, hot melted candle wax and a man’s breath. That’s what I remember.

He laid there for a minute and then said, “Some people probably won’t understand about us.” He cocked his eyes at me and I knew he meant Gene, Apache and Duck. “So’s it’s probably best we keep this between us. All right?”

I nodded. What could I say?

Then he pushed over to me and laid a rubbery kiss on my mouth. “I love you, Sky.”

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