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Neighbor Boy

by Benjamin Cruzan
Up in the corner of the second story bedroom, near the ceiling, perched the neighbor boy, a gargoyle. This is not a metaphor. His head was outsized, his nose wrinkled, skin grayish, ears pointed. He had bat wings. He crouched with shoulders hunched and head dipped low, which could have been the way a gargoyle would sit anywhere, or it could have been because his roost in the corner of their son's bunk-bed was very close to the ceiling. He would not leave. The mother of the house tried with chocolate. He ate the first handful, but at the second, sprinkled on the carpet, he shook his head, eyes round, looking down, teeth clicking slowly on M&M shells. The father negotiated: I'm glad you like it here. We like you too. You can come back next Tuesday. After a few hours they were at wits end. The mother grabbed a broom and brushed at him lightly at first. He flinched because the bristles scratched, but he did not come down. She tried to push him with it, but he was eight years old and heavy. She tapped, then harder. He took flight. His wings were too wide for the doorway, and his attempt to tilt failed. His right wing caught the frame loudly and sent him rolling down the stairs onto the wooden floor of the foyer. He sprung up and ran to the kitchen. Do you think he's hurt, the mother asked. He was on the breakfast bar now, licking a scrape on his arm. He looked at them. She was carrying the broom, and he was more firm this time: It's time for you to go. He went outside, walked across their lawn slowly to the street dragging his wings behind. It was dark out. Crickets had begun. They were glad it was warm. He would not catch a chill.