Chapter no 55 – ‌‌Carvel‌


I remember seeing him for the first time in front of the Carvel on Amesfort Avenue when I was about five or six. Me and Veronica, my babysitter, were sitting on the bench outside the store with Jamie, my baby brother, who was sitting in his stroller facing us. I guess I was busy eating my ice cream cone, because I didn’t even notice the people who sat down next to us.

Then at one point I turned my head to suck the ice cream out of the bottom of my cone, and that’s when I saw him: August. He was sitting right next to me. I know it wasn’t cool, but I kind of went “Uhh!” when I saw him because I honestly got scared. I thought he was wearing a zombie mask or something. It was the kind of “uhh” you say when you’re watching a scary movie and the bad guy like jumps out of the bushes. Anyway, I know it wasn’t nice of me to do that, and though the kid didn’t hear me, I know his sister did.

“Jack! We have to go!” said Veronica. She had gotten up and was turning the stroller around because Jamie, who had obviously just noticed the kid, too, was about to say something embarrassing. So I jumped up kind of suddenly, like a bee had landed on me, and followed Veronica as she zoomed away. I could hear the kid’s mom saying softly behind us: “Okay, guys, I think it’s time to go,” and I turned around to look at them one more time. The kid was licking his ice cream cone, the mom was picking up his scooter, and the sister was glaring at me like she was going to kill me. I looked away quickly.

“Veronica, what was wrong with that kid?” I whispered.

“Hush, boy!” she said, her voice angry. I love Veronica, but when she got mad, she got mad. Meanwhile, Jamie was practically spilling out of his stroller trying to get another look as Veronica pushed him away.

“But, Vonica …,” said Jamie.

“You boys were very naughty! Very naughty!” said Veronica as soon as we were farther down the block. “Staring like that!”

“I didn’t mean to!” I said. “Vonica,” said Jamie.

“Us leaving like that,” Veronica was muttering. “Oh Lord, that poor lady. I tell you, boys. Every day we should thank the Lord for our blessings, you hear me?”


“What is it, Jamie?” “Is it Halloween?” “No, Jamie.”

“Then why was that boy wearing a mask?”

Veronica didn’t answer. Sometimes, when she was mad about something, she would do that.

“He wasn’t wearing a mask,” I explained to Jamie. “Hush, Jack!” said Veronica.

“Why are you so mad, Veronica?” I couldn’t help asking.

I thought this would make her angrier, but actually she shook her head.

“It was bad how we did that,” she said. “Just getting up like that, like we’d just seen the devil. I was scared for what Jamie was going to say, you know? I didn’t want him to say anything that would hurt that little boy’s feelings. But it was very bad, us leaving like that. The momma knew what was going on.”

“But we didn’t mean it,” I answered.

“Jack, sometimes you don’t have to mean to hurt someone to hurt someone. You understand?”

That was the first time I ever saw August in the neighborhood, at least that I remember. But I’ve seen him around ever since then: a couple of times in the playground, a few times in the park. He used to wear an astronaut helmet sometimes. But I always knew it was him underneath the helmet. All the kids in the neighborhood knew it was him. Everyone has seen August at some point or another. We all know his name, though he doesn’t know ours.

And whenever I’ve seen him, I try to remember what Veronica said. But it’s hard. It’s hard not to sneak a second look. It’s hard to act normal when you see him.

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