4 October, 1977 / 5:49pm.
In an effort to control the flow of blood from becoming a problem, I raced across the back lawn behind the church with one hand pressed uncomfortably down the front of my pants so that I could hold a wet kitchen rag against the wound without getting getting my pants damp enough for anyone to notice the spot.
Because of the strain this put on my movement, it looked like I was crippled. A crippled kid charging by the birdbath and small fountain where I could have stopped a bit to rinse out the rag if I'd felt that I had time enough.
It took a bit more energy to hop the fence without ripping my suit or getting it dirty. But once off church property, I kept my hand out from my pants, took off the jacket and button-up so that I wore only the thin white undershirt now and I ran for the market over on the other side of the ravine. Despite the dress shoes, I crossed the moldy log without a problem. If I'd have slipped and fell into the shallow mud of the ravine, that might have been an excuse not to attend the funeral, but it would not have kept me out of trouble, and probably might make it worse. So I was persuaded to do the only thing I possibly could to preserve some kind of anonymity for the next couple hours, and I ducked into the market, swept swiftly through the aisles until I had a small black dish towel, some black thread and a needle, and I stuffed it all into my pocket and just ran for dear life out the the way I came in, through the front door.
I didn't hear a word of protest, though at least five people probably saw me running. They would have no way of knowing what I'd lifted unless they caught me, but I had no intentions of being caught. I only hoped that no one from the church had been there to spot me out.
At an even thousand miles per hour, I doubled around the corner, flew down the sidewalk bordering the store, toward the back lot. Into the small thicket of woods and toward the stump where the bundle of my overclothes were waiting. Without re-dressing I made it back across the log (again, without a single slip), paced unevenly across the lawn again.
But this time I hid in the tall circle of bushes that surrounded all but the entrance of the fountain. There, I pulled my pants off, wiped the sweat from my face with the stolen black dish rag and then tied it around the knife wound on my thigh. Satisfied that I would not be bleeding during the funeral, I then set to mending the hole in my pants where the knife had slid through and ripped it up. I'd never sewn anything up before, so this took the longest. Actually, getting the black thread through the pinhole of the needle took the longest. I pricked my finger a couple dozen times in the process.
By the time I showed up at the chapel, people were just beginning to take their seats. My face felt itchy under the quick rinsing job I'd done in the fountain, probably because of how dirty the water was and the fact that a cat or something had pissed in it.
But I looked clean, well-dressed and I'd caught my breath again.
I knew that the older kids wouldn't saying anything about the fight, at least not during the funeral, and this would all pass slowly and my leg would hurt really bad, but eventually it had to be over and I would be able to go home, put on some jeans and then pretend to go out to play, and I could come home bleeding, finally, and I could say I'd cut myself while playing and then my parents would take me to the hospital and I wouldn't be forced into ratting out the older kids.
And maybe if or when I got a little older, I would get them back later. But probably not. I'd slashed their bike tires last week for no good reason at all and although I think turning the knife on me was a little extreme, I had deserved some of it, and anyway, it could have been a lot worse if I hadn't ran. In fact, when I tried to run in the first place was how I got cut, so maybe it could or couldn't have been worse. They might not have wanted to do anything but scare me and maybe fuck up my suit. It's over now, anyway.
I only hoped that I could get through the damned funeral without anyone noticing. Or before I passed out. My leg throbbed badly by the time I took a seat at the back of the church and curled up in the pew and agonized over the pain while everyone else looked forward and cried for the dead kid in the open casket. His sisters and parents were surrounded by people and they were all being hugged and kissed and paid attention to in ways that made me feel pretty left out.
I'll see you later,