Text and Photography by Hans Klein
My friends and I found out stealing was delicious. Candy bars, fruit pies, bags of chips. Just kid stuff from the grocery store. Every day we’d walk down the hill from our middle school and go ‘shopping.’
One day we went shopping and decided to split up. If we split up we wouldn’t get caught, so I walked through the aisles looking at bright boxes. The lettering. The logos. Everything now with less fat. Even if I didn’t want to ‘buy’ it, I was excited I could.
I’d been stealing sweet green slime. It was so sour and appley. I picked up a tube and walked to the back of the store. There was a corner where everyone said the cameras couldn’t see. ‘It’s a blind spot.’ When nobody was around, when the coast was clear, I tucked it in.
When I saw Arthur’s red face, I was outside sucking on the tube. He was running with stiff knees and thighs pulled tight. Arthur wasn’t the type to play sports. He didn’t move much but right then he gave it everything. His blue jeans were baggy, bunched up on fat skate shoes, and shredded at the heels. A couple steps and a giant followed him through automatic doors. The guy was massive. His shirt held in a softness, buttons about to pop, but he was chasing fast.
Arthur was also the kinda kid who said funny things. He rarely turned in homework and failed most of his tests. One time, when I went over to his house, we played video games for eleven hours. His mom would come in with plates of cheese Doritos and cheese sauce to dip. He was the kinda kid others would talk shit about behind his back. ‘He’s so weird.’ But I rooted for Arthur when I saw him running. I wanted to see him win so I could high five him and tell him, ‘That was badass.’
Arthur made it maybe ten or twelve steps before the giant’s feet left the pavement and he flew. That giant’s arms wrapped him up, and Arthur’s feet lifted too. A tight embrace until they landed between a Volvo and a Subaru.
The man dug a knee into Arthur’s back and reached into his pocket. He pulled out something silver, and that light gave me a real bad feeling. The sparkling thing made me scared. It made me guilty about all the shit we said.
‘What just happened?’ said Mike.
‘I thought he was done,’ I said.
‘I thought he was about to get cut open,’ said James.
‘I thought we were about to see his guts,’ said Ellis, and we busted up. We all laughed at the thought of guts on the ground.
‘At least he’s not dead,’ said Matt.
Matt had a point. I was outside and I was with my friends. That fear I felt, the flash of terror, was fading fast. And it was Arthur. That kind of stuff always happened to him. He failed again, but at least he wasn’t dead.