Toy Soldiers

Alex M. Pruteanu
Mikey Beyer came off the parapet of rubbish and dirt, looking like a thick fuckin’ idjit with that Legionnaire’s hat stuffed down on top of his ears.
—I was jus’ kiddin’ yis, but lookit, at least you was payin’ attention, he said and walked toward us, stupid grin on his face.
—Permission to clip him sir, Corey Boland said to the Captain.
—Denied. We can’t spare the bullet.
—Hey, you fuckin’ thick, yelled Patty Cassesse, —Come up here and I’ll peg you square in yer wooden forehead.
He pumped his BB gun and aimed.
—I was only havin’ yis on, Mikey Beyer yelled.
Patty Cassesse pumped the rifle again and closed his left eye.
—It’s the right one you close if yer left-handed Patty, said the Captain.
—Oh. Yeah.
—Lookit, said Mikey Beyer now almost dead in front of us, the firing squad. —I was only havin’ yis on, ye dumb Mick Wop.
Patty Cassesse dropped the BB rifle and made fists.
—Fuckin’ Kraut, I’ll kill ye…
The Captain got in between the two of them and coddled the boys.
—Now shake you two. Shake on it!
They clasped hands and each squeezed as hard as he could.
Then something hit Mikey Beyer and landed next to him. It was lit. It was one of our bottle rockets. Neely Murkowski had shot it from out of the bushes and pegged Mikey Beyer straight in the leg. It went off on the ground, and the three of them ducked.
—I was only havin’ yis on, yelled Neely Murkowski coming out from behind the bush.
We roared.
The Captain stomped his boot into the dusty, pebbly road.
—Fuckin’ idjits, all a you. Jeesus…good for nothin’ horseshits. Nobody ever listens to nobody. I’m goin’ home.
Just then we saw Roxy come through with a burlap sack filled with new potatoes and a bottle of milk. All of us had it for Roxy. She was blonde with short hair, cut like those flapper girls from the 20s we saw in silent films at the Scalia cinema every Saturday. We didn’t hardly ever see blonde girls in real life. The boys squeezed their lips together and made kissy-kissy sounds as she passed. She thrust her thumb in between her forefinger and middle finger, making a fist, and gave it out to all of us.
—Fuck yis all, yis hard-on gobshits.
And then all the boys laughed.
Roxy was something. She had an older sister, Andy, looked just like her but with jet black hair. The both of them swore like sailors. Fishwives, is what Corey Boland called them. We was all in love with them at various times. But mostly throughout the summer, for some reason. Before Roxy took the corner and disappeared she looked back and gave the Fuck You fist one more time.
We all laughed.
Because that’s all we could do then. We were all of ten or twelve and looked like a band of homeless hooligans, most of us with wooden rifles or sticks and truncated branches, playing up Army soldiers.
—Fuckin’ gypsies, someone yelled down to us from a balcony. —Go home to your mammies and study math!
We looked but we couldn’t see the coward. He’d ducked back into his flat.
—Surrender now, ye fuckin’ waster, Charley Swatters offered up, and launched a nasty gob of spit up toward the insult. We all ducked when the flegmy mass came down.
—Charley, you thick fuck. Dontcha know anything about gravity?
And we roared. All of us. You could hear it around corners. You could hear it over the sounds of people beating the dust out of their rugs.
Alex is author of novella Short Lean Cuts (ITG, Inc.) and Gears: a Collection (ITG, Inc.), both available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, and So & So Books (Raleigh, NC). He has published fiction in NY Arts Magazine, Guernica, [PANK], The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Prague Revue, and others. His novel The Sun Eaters is currently looking for a home with a publisher.

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