The blade was rusted, but it was sharp and drew a jagged line of blood.
When I jerked my palm away, wincing, Mickey grinned.
He sliced his own next, slowly, smirking, his eyes a pair of red hornets.
When he was done, Mickey held his hand up, as if ready to be sworn in. I did the same. Then we mashed our bloody wounds together. “It’s official,” he said. “We’re brothers for life.”
At the airport the next day, Mom said to shake hands goodbye, but when I did, Mickey squeezed so hard that the gash ripped free of its scab, my palm screaming murder.
“Blood Brothers for life,” Mickey whispered. “You’d better not forget.”
I hardly slept that night. My hand throbbed. Past events kept flashing in front of me—Mickey stealing my Dad’s meds, his liquor, Mickey rifling through my sister’s underwear drawer and stuffing pairs in his pocket. The worst, though, was the fire he’d set. The old Lederman place was abandoned, sure, but Mickey knew about the kittens inside. We’d both heard them mewling before he struck the match.
When I woke, my palm was swollen and discolored, with wide pockets of pus.
In the garage I saw the vise, tightened it around my wrist. I said a quick prayer, hoping this would rid me of any allegiance to Mickey.
I used my shoe for balance, and pulled the ripcord. The chainsaw rattled, angry and eager. I brought it down fast. I pictured fire.