I'm 7 years old and we are moving back into the Sunny Brae Garden Apartments in Arcata, CA. The buildings are the kind of salmon pink you get after a decade of sun wash over a bad idea. These apartments are where I would learn how to skateboard, play video games, tear the legs off of Water Striders, talk about girls in "that way", and, best of all, to form secret clubs.
There were a few other kids around. My brother, of course, two years older and always the wiser, made connections over every child's mutual love, the Nintendo Entertainment System, which we got as a joint present from our grandparents at the previous x-mas. I too used the power of gaming to join social engagements but I had a penchant for the trees and wandering around in secret or unexplored locations.
Mike and Rodney were also brothers. Rodney was the same age as my brother but Mike was a whopping 4 years my senior. Together they were like ancient sage travelers, come to impart wisdom on the unfortunate inexperienced. I made a habit of knocking on their door almost daily.
They would wander with me and we would talk about the birds and bees, and everday, it would seem, we had some new secret club, which was probably my idea after a while--always trying to create consistent patterns.
On this day, we find ourselves lurching through the rain soaked blackberry vines until we all stand staring down at a dead cat.
"Is it dead?" - Me
"I think it's dead." - Rodney
"Yeah, dude, it's fucking dead." - Mike
This is where Mike picks up the cat by the tail and whips it around like he's a human windmill, letting go right at the apex. It soars, spinning out through the sky, beyond the blackberry bushes, until nobody can see where it might land. The second it vanishes from view, someone makes a sound, "reeaooowww!" For a second I think that it was the dead cat, but I remember that thing about dead animals not being able to talk. I piss a little in my pants with a keeled over, gut-clenching cackle befitting a lunatic. This is the first time I remember letting my bladder go at a joke. I mosey on, slightly behind my friends, inspecting my zipper for wetness, embarassed and worried that my social faux pas might be spotted. As we saunter back to the apartments, I whisper, "Hey, now we're the Dead Cat Club."