I hear footsteps approaching from behind me as I cross the field. Just when I expect the person to pass by me a t-shirt is thrown over my head and pulled tight at my throat. The man orders me to move into the woods. After minimal resistance his hands leave my throat. I immediately double over as I fear he is going for a knife with which to stab me. Then I hear his footsteps racing away. Acting on irrational instinct I begin to chase him as if to finish whatever narrative he has begun. Then I realize I have no desire to catch him.
When they assault Jim he collapses on the ground like a rag doll, a defensive strategy meant to minimize the sadistic pleasure of the confrontation. Chris begins kicking Jim in the ribs. I step up and say “okay, that’s enough.” Chris seems surprised that I am there and then more surprised when he recognizes me. “Yes,” I say. “Your mom goes to my dad’s church.” Chris, feeling exposed, leads his posse away.
She visits me when I am shirtless, nursing a bad sunburn across my chest. I visit her in the hospital following her drug overdose.