Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 34

We'd slip out at the best time, maybe during the Parade or at night while Mr. Merkin open-mouth snored and Amy happily hummed in her sleep. I had to keep an eye on Ben and exhaust him during the day. We waited for a moderate-sized town, not a small one where we'd be easily found, or a very big one that was too scary to be strangers in. Over the years, I saved up money from the change that the Parade watchers threw at us in thanks. I hid it away in a ratty shoe, so that me and Amica could live for a few weeks until I found a new job.

Before the Parade where Amica was waving wrong, she and I agreed this next town was the one we'd hide in. Because of the turmoil invading the Parade, Mr. Merkin slept even more uneasily at night, so we decided this might be our best chance. Mr. Merkin always perched on the front end of the float, down on one knee, arm rested across the other as if to portray a homey type, but it was really to make sure we cleared all the sidewalk obstacles as we took the turn. His eyes would be off us and this moment would be where Amica and I would finally gain our freedom.

In the bright cold morning, the smell of Fall, of burning wood in the air, Mr. Merkin was checking the float to make sure we had covered all the bare spots. The engine thrummed and he ordered us on to start the procession. I whispered to Amica if she was ready, and she nodded, her big blue eyes shining at me, her lips a faint smile and for the first time ever, we kissed. I knew we shouldn't. I knew I was taking a stupid chance by starting it, but it was our first kiss ever, better than how it was when I thought about it late at night.

What the fuck're you doing? Hands tore us apart. Mr. Merkin was there behind us. That's a breaking of the rules! he shouted. A severe disruption of the rules! I tried to explain to protect Amica, but he hit me across the face. It didn't hurt. It was with his open hand and he had thin arms and sharp elbows and it was more embarrassing than anything. Mr. Merkin

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