Robbie slugs away from their home, blade dripping blood, legs shiftless and without care. He will bury the child’s head in a toxic heap, far away from the townspeople. It’s where the others are. It is where he is thought to be from–garbage. The tale of his emergence is a strange, sad one. It is said among the gossipy that his Mom delivered him in an alley, tore him from her womb, and threw him in the nearest dumpster.
She was not quite human, but not quite monster, either. She was this strange in-between thing and fearful of passing down her likeness to her offspring, she rid herself of it. The city trash collectors came the next day. One, a father of two girls, heard the wails of a shivering baby. He ordered his partner to help him search through the pounds of garbage, finally landing on Robbie. They stood flabbergasted, exhausted from a day’s work, but also scared to death. What was this thing? They wrapped Robbie in a soft towel kept in the truck’s bed, and transported him to the nearest convent.
Let the nuns deal with him, they thought.
Those who truly fear God are said to have ways of exposing evil and exorcizing it. After months of exorcisms and numerous Doctor’s house-calls, the sisters believed that Robbie should be sheltered, kept away from humanity, for they knew that others would fear him. From the very first time he walked, they took him to the local park and explained to him that his place was among nature. From dirt he arose, back to dirt, he would go.
And with fresh blood on his hands, Robbie hurried to his place of safety, away from the summoning calls of the neighborhood children, away from all that was normal.
Jaimie is five. She knows to eat her vegetables and to wash her hands before and after every meal, but she doesn’t know about staying away from Robbie. Robbie is the town’s secret. He lives in the park, lurks around after midnight moons, and chases things he cannot catch. Jaimie is one of those things.
She skips in her front yard, her hair looping around the air as she jumps, little girl hops, barely leaving the ground. He’s watching her, twiddling his thumbs and scratching his scruffy beard. His meds are still bleeding under his tongue. He never swallows.
The rope skips the ground, Jaimie counts to one hundred in Spanish, her plaits bouncing in unison, in sync with each number. In the bushes, Robbie settles. He counts along with her, sharpening his blade, and panting like a hurried devil. He will have his fill. His teeth form into tiny razors, his hands contort and crack as they shift. He is becoming the fire everyone escapes.