"The Boys Of Gorse And Sand" by Chris Di Placito
It was Peads Malone who lit the match that burned Jimmy’s sister. No one else could bring themselves to set fire to the girl we all had a crush on in high school. Jesus Christ, Peads shouted over the crashing waves. It ain’t like they got goddamn feelings anymore. And the bottle of ‘Snake glinted in the light of the flames.
We had drank a lot of that ‘Snake in those final days. Most of the food was gone by then and drinking seemed better than leftover tinned peaches. Besides, there was no more adults to tell us what to do. We thought we had gotten through the last of them with the burning of old Bill Tremblay, and it was now just us, the sheep and the little ones.
We were cruising the north side in Hookie’s dad’s old pick-up when we came upon Jimmy and his sister. I didn’t know she had returned to the island and you could tell she had grown into a real beautiful lady—even with the change already taking place. She wore a night gown, white and translucent as her morphing skin. Her beauty flickered in and out like a lighthouse lamp as she sat wet and limp in a rusty old wheelchair that Jimmy struggled to push through the gravel.
It was Peads who jumped out first. You have to believe, the rest of us – me, Hookie, Joe and the twins – we did those things out of necessity. But Peads, well you could tell he really took enjoyment from the whole affair.
Jimmy whimpered a feeble protest as we tied his sister to the front of the truck, but I knew deep down he was glad to rid himself of the responsibility. And he put up no fight later, as we crested the dunes under the glimmering moon, erecting her high for Them to take.
Last night, as the last of the totems burned out and the guttural moans gave way to the sea, I dreamed. I dreamed of bared teeth and leather lips, of flailing stumps of limbs. Wheezing, bloated bodies slapping on boardwalks, slithering, moaning, crying out in pain. I dreamed of the mainland and what life would be like there for us boys of gorse and sand.