Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 44

44 | Psychopomp Magazine

“They’re trying to be subtle,” Salomea says. “Entice us with shiny new things.”

To impress her Heinrich says, “We could take them all to the parking lot. Set them on fire.”

Salomea frowns. “No. That would be a sin,” she says. “Ignore them. Use the old ones instead.”

On his fifteenth birthday, Jonas the First is given a car by a stranger. It arrives on a large rig, chained atop a trailer. A stocky man in a grey jumpsuit descends from the cab and hands Jonas the keys and a card that reads, “Happy 406th Birthday!”

When Jonas’ host father sees the car, sleek and black and expensive, he sucks air through his teeth and grins his approval.

Most afternoons, the future kids hang out at the loading bay of an old warehouse at the edge of town until boredom sets in. Then Jonas will beckon his favorites to his car and they will set out in search of trouble. Heinrich is never invited to come along and is too embarrassed to ask.

“Butt me,” Jonas says, leaning against the dented bay door.

Between her long, nimble fingers, Gertrude rolls a cigarette and passes it over her shoulder to Jonas.

“Let me drive today,” Niels says.

“You’ll wreck it.”

“So what? Someone will buy you another. It was your name in all the papers because you were the first. That’s the only reason they sent it to you.”

“If you feel that way, walk home,” Jonas says. He brings the cigarette to his lips and lights it. Niels says nothing and crosses his arms as Jonas, Percy Lavon, and Marie head for the car.

“Coming, Heinrich?” Jonas says without turning around.