Boy by Melissa McEwen

This town is a town not found on any map. Here, in this town, the boys have nicknames meant for dogs like Buddy, Boy, Goody, and Sport and become men at ten. They learn to drive and smoke by the time they are 12. Boy started smoking Viceroy Cigarettes at 9. He doesn’t have to sneak and do it either. He smokes in front of his father and with his mother, in the kitchen, while she fries bacon, gossips, and coughs.

In this town, the boys with nicknames meant for dogs are like dogs themselves —the way they come and go as they please. Their folks just leave the door unlocked for them and go to bed.

So when Boy wasn’t at the kitchen table for breakfast one morning, his parents just figured he was still at the river fooling around with Goody and them; he’s never on time. But when Goody came over asking for him, his mother said, “He’s probably out driving Stringbean around,” and went to answer the phone. It was Stringbean asking for Boy.

“He’s not home, yet” his mother said to the girl on the phone, looking at her husband who said, “Boy’s alright,” with his mouth full. And he meant it because, here, nothing happens to anybody (good or bad). Boys don’t drown or run their trucks off the road. They die from old age, like family dogs stretched out on the front porch sleeping away their days.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Boy by Melissa McEwen

  1. Ah, you’re good at this!

  2. that sounds like my childhood. really.
    great characterizations. loved that last line–it’s a stinger.

  3. Gives new meaning to ‘it’s a dog’s life!’ :)

  4. I like this one a lot, how we never really know what did happen to Boy, even though the narrative voice assures us he’s fine (as does Dad). Still, there is warranted suspicion in that white space of “what if’s” and not every Boy can possibly be that old dog in old age. Can he?

  5. Great picture you’ve painted here, these boys, these dogs, this town… Really nice. I do want to know where Boy is though, ì’m not convinced by his Pa!

  6. Missy

    Claire, I’m not convinced by his Pa either.

    And thanks y’all for reading. I’m off to do some reading myself!

  7. Pingback: Week #26 – Animal behavior | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  8. shaneshane

    This town is a town not found on any map. Here, in this town, the boys have nicknames meant for dogs

    They die from old age, like family dogs stretched out on the front porch sleeping away their days

    love these

  9. guy

    I liked this from the start, but couldn’t come up with an appropriate comment. I’ll just say that it reminds me of a small town in Texas where i spent some of my boyhood.

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