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Join date : 2010-11-22

PostSubject: THE SPY WHO GOT AWAY   Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:41 pm

The Spy Who Got Away

The Game -Oregon- 1972

My brother was fifteen when we played the game the most. Bob was three years older so he always made up the rules. I got stuck playing a Ruskie while Bob played the downed American pilot every time.
Our dad had sent us a small allowance ever since he moved out. When the latest check came, I rode my bike to the surplus store and bought a pair of old military boots.
“If you talk, you friggin’ American swine, I vill guarantee your safety back to your friends and family!” I’d say it in my best foreign accent.
“Bob Simon, 541-17-0657, Captain, United States Air Force.” His chin jutted out, strong and stiff.
Bob would rub dirt on his clean, pale face to resemble whiskers and light one of moms’ cigarettes. I marched back and forth in front of him demanding the location of troops in the area or ‘there will be hell to pay! ‘
I’d yell at him in my lousy accent and he’d yell right back at me. It was pretty slick stuff for us back then.
“All I have to do is give my name, rank and serial number. You can blow for the rest.”
A couple of times I used a slim willow branch for a whip and slapped at his arms, leaving thick welts on him. I was scared I’d hit him too hard, but he said real men could take the pain.
The best part of the game is that we kept it secret. That’s what made it so special. I liked having secrets with my brother.
Sometimes I’d lay in bed late at night wide awake and wish I were a real Russian. I pictured the American pilot, sitting in a wooden chair, a film of sweat and fear trapped on his face, watching as the willow whip slashed out at his flesh. The American’s eyes would beg me to stop . . .
Talk, spy-
You will be shot!
Whack! Whack!
Why did you leave?
whack, whack, whack
My father would scream!

* * *

Two years later Bob began to lose interest in the game. I started spending more time watching old horror movies on television, while girls, cars and beer came like a rising stone wall between us.
I bugged him so bad about playing once he threw me on the ground, breaking my glasses. Mom was pissed for two weeks when I told her I had accidentally sat on them at school.
“Sounds like something you’d do!” she had raved. “I ought to let you go blind for a while, just to teach you a lesson.” But she bought me a new pair anyway.
Later, Bob said he was sorry, but still refused to play the game. That’s when he started running around with Tinker, a black kid who lived down the block and some creepy looking guy named Mal, who had the buggiest eyes I ever seen.
They all hung out at the Gut: a two-mile strip of road where hot rods were raced, speeding tickets were handed out, and the nights were filled with an overflow of bottomless beer cans.
I wasn’t allowed to go with Bob and his buddies, so I eventually gave up on ever playing the game again.
One Saturday night, as soon as Mom went to bed, I hung out my bedroom window and stared a sliver of moon while trying to light one of Mom’s half-smoked cigarettes. I sucked the smoke in too deeply and almost choked to death trying to keep her from hearing me cough. I was attempting to light another one when I heard a strange sound coming from somewhere outside. I put on my tennis shoes and slipped quietly downstairs. My brother was sitting by the side of the garage door where a bare twenty-five watt bulb barely lit up his face.
He was crying.
I’d never seen him cry before, even when dad left. I had bawled like a baby and it was Bob who gave me a hug and said: “Let him go, kid. We can do better without him.”
He looked really bad. There were scratches on his face and drops of blood on his white T-shirt.
“Jeez, you get beat up?” I asked. He looked up and I was sure he wasn’t happy to see me. “What happened?”
“Keep your voice down, you want to wake up Mom?”
“You’ve got blood all over you . . . I just thought—“
“Just keep your mouth shut and your fat nose out of my business.” Bob’s eyes were bloodshot.
I glanced down at his feet. “You’re missing a shoe.”
He looked down and stared at his muddy sock as if it had been bitten clean off by a mad dog. “Goddamit, this is bad.” More tears dripped from his eyes.
“Tell me what’s going on,” I demanded.
“I can’t.” Bob rubbed the snot away from his nose.
“Tell me or I’ll wake up Mom, I mean it. I might be able to help.”
“Sorry dweeb, you’re too young to help this time.”
“Tell me anyway. We’ve kept lots of secrets. What’s one more?”
He stood leaning on the side of the garage for a few minutes. “I’ll show you something, but only if you promise to help me and swear never to tell anyone what happened.”
I crossed my heart and spat on the ground.
“I swear!”

* * *

At two in the morning the Gut looked like any other street in our town: abandoned and quiet. Near one side of the road was a ravine. And the air was fresh and clean again without the smell of car exhaust. We slid down the soft slant of ground and pushed past dead shrubs until we hit bottom. Bob glanced around to see if anyone was watching us.
He pointed down at a spot near my feet. “Watch where you step, kid.” He turned on the flashlight we had taken from the garage before we left. “There she is,” he whispered.
The only sound was the chirp of a lone cricket and for some reason I found myself holding my breath.
I looked in the small circle of light and saw a pair of tanned legs lying in the grass. I just stood there trying to imagine why someone would be lying at the bottom of a ravine, in the middle of the night.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the legs.
“Don’t look at her like that; just watch where you’re walking!”
Bob reached down and picked something up from the ground that had been hidden by some weeds.
A tennis shoe.
My brother’s tennis shoe.
“It was an . . . accident.” Bob choked out. “We were just goofing off; pushing at each other . . . and she just . . . slipped and fell over the side.”
“Is she dead?”
“Yes. I . . . tried to . . . breathe in her mouth but it was no good.”
“We could call Dad—“
“Screw Dad! We’re on our own on this one, and you swore you wouldn’t tell anyone, remember?” He stared through me with cruel eyes. “Remember?”
I nodded.
“All right then.”
We were silent as a dark cloud sliced off a piece of the already slim moon and I thought of a graveyard. We were left in the kind of blackness I once saw in a Boris Karloff movie where he and some other guy were ripping off corpses in the dead of night.
“You want to bury her?” I asked. He cried softly and nodded.
“We have no choice. Not now, anyway.”
“Who is she? Won’t someone come looking?”
He stood up, turned and faced me. His breath smelled like stale beer as he spoke. “ I can’t tell you everything. Just believe me, if the police find her, it’ll only be a matter of time before they find me. You don’t think they’ll believe this was an accident, do you? Help me drag her over to Cotter’s pond. No one will find her there, and by the time they do, there won’t be anything to see.”
We lifted the body from its bed of weeds, I had her feet and my brother held her by her arms. I saw the girl was practically naked. I had never seen a naked girl before so I couldn’t stop staring. She was pretty as far as I could tell in the scarce light, but she seemed kind of bloated. I asked my brother about it.
“I told you to stop looking at her like that,” He snapped back. So I kept my mouth shut during the digging and we buried her in silence.

* * *

My brother and I usually sit out on the homemade wooden porch swing we built a week after I got married and this day was no different.
Suzy, his wife, has no problem getting along with Robin. They’ll disappear into the kitchen or the den to discuss the finer points of being a woman, I guess, while we sit in the swing guzzling cold brews.
“Remember how we used to play ‘The Spy Who Got Away?’” Bob gave off a vacant smile.
“Sure,” I said. “You’d get away and I’d get knocked out.”
“Ohhh, it wasn’t that bad.” He took a big swallow of beer so I did the same.
“You were good. It was a good game.”
Bob looked right at me, a serious expression on his pale clean shaven face. “I miss it, sometimes. I think that summer you and I . . . well, I just think
we grew up too fast.”
I sat there quietly for a few minutes deciding whether or not to tell him. “They found her bones,” I finally said.
“Two days ago. I wasn’t sure if I should tell you or not.” I peeled off the label on my beer bottle.
“It wasn’t an accident, you know,” Bob looked up at the sky. “I was just trying to make her leave me alone. I know that’s not what I told you back then but there wasn’t time to explain. I didn’t need a wife and a baby I had other plans for my life.”
“I understand, you were scared.”
“You’re older now. I know I can trust you to keep secrets, you’ve proven that to me all these years.”
I smiled. It was good to know he trusted me.
“That’s why I’m telling you what got started. The new game; the game I played with Mal and Tinker after that.”
I suddenly grew cold, despite the warm sun beating down at us. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“It was called ‘The Killer Who Got Away.’ There were others after the night you helped me. Quite a few, actually.” He chugged at his beer and it ran frantically from the corners of his mouth, dripping onto the wooden floor.
The girls suddenly came in like a fresh breeze and laughed at us. “And what are you two boys talking about so quietly?”
Robin came over and plunked herself down on my lap.
“Nothing, just kid stuff,” I managed to say, but I felt my stomach turning inside out.
“Tell us,” Suzy begged.
“No way! After all, we have our secrets,” said my brother.

The End

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