There were maps on the walls of his room. Maps of our town, the towns around us, maps of the state, maps of the country, maps of Spain, and Canada, and Germany, and Greece. I asked him about it one day and all he said was that he liked knowing that there was more out there. Fox was weird like that. I didn’t mind the maps for the most part but it was kind of strange to be making out one minute and then staring up at blue and yellow veins of the world the next minute.
Whenever we were at his house we spent our time in his room. I think he was embarrassed of his family. He had so many siblings that it was hard to keep track of all of them and I think that at some point his mom just stopped trying to. He had three older sisters, they were graduated, or had moved out, I never met them. Then there was Fox, and his four younger brothers. My conversations with Fox’s mother were always brief. She was a frazzled woman and her attention span was short. That made sneaking Fox in and out of the house easy.
Fox’s father split after he was born. Then ten years later his mother remarried to Big Barry Junior. Big Barry Junior never left the couch, until the kids started to get loud, and then he would get up, knock someone or something around a bit, and sit back down. Fox always managed to distract me from whatever was going on downstairs, but it didn’t escape me that his mother wore turtle necks in the middle of July. I only ever asked Fox about it once, we had snuck into one of the little kids windows and then crawled into Fox’s room after his mother had gone to sleep and Big Barry Junior left for the bar.
I elbowed him in the side. He had a serious inability to ever take anything serious. I took part of the blame for that. He said he couldn’t be serious because I had enough to be sad about and he couldn’t sleep when I was sad. I always rolled my eyes.
“I saw Baby Barry.” The third youngest brother. He had a black eye today.
“I see him all the time.”
“I’m being serious, is he okay?”
“The kid fell off of his bike, he’ll live.” I knew Fox was lying. He was sly and he could fool just about anybody but he couldn’t lie to me.
“You would tell me if he hurt you right?”
“Oh, so you can beat him up? I’ve seen you fight remember?” He pinched my bicep and I elbowed him again. We were laying side by side, the grin fell from his face. I told my father I was spending the weekend at Caroline’s house. We were quiet, he didn’t want to talk about it anymore and I could feel my eyes starting to get heavy.
I rolled onto my side and he rolled over to face me.
“Pinky promise?” I asked sticking out my pinkie.
“Pinky promise.” He kissed my forehead and I drifted off soon after that. That was the first, last, and only time we ever discussed that.