Six days pass in even rotation from the day that John Bob's blood finds the metal surface of a locker door and sticks to it. In the middle of those six days, there is a moment, just before afternoon is about to burst into evening and when Vince's mother is napping away her breakfast cocktails, where he reaches out his hand to find Jimmy's palm open and warm.
The moment is brief and even as it was happening it was hazy with tufts of pollen and the light between his lowered lashes. Now, as Vince sits at the kitchen table, he passes his finger over the line of peas inside an open pod and fails to remember what it felt like to kiss Jimmy again.
Smells like just-mowed grass and laundry detergent. Warm skin and breath against mouth. Jimmy's chest moving under his and the sky burning away into something dark before Vince'd forced himself to pull away. He'd run all the way home and found his momma still sleeping. Relief thrilling through him from the kiss and the run and the fear, and he'd collapsed against the inside of the bathroom door and grinned to himself.
He looks at the clock now and taps his heels against the chair. Eyes his momma out of a corner and counts the number of drinks she's had.
"Maybe after dinner I could go out for a bit," he says. There's just the sound of potatoes frying and of peas hitting the bowl. "Momma?"
"Sure thing, tiger," she says, and she sounds distracted. Vince's daddy's on the road again this week. His momma sets the spatula down on an open newspaper and touches his cheek. Her hand is cold from the ice in her drinking glass. He tries to smile up at her.
"Tell you what," she says. "You wanna go play for bit in the evening? I have a friend coming over. You could stay with Orli, maybe. I'll call over there and ask your Aunt Rose."
"'S all right," he says, hurriedly. He always starts to talk fast when he's about to lie. "Orli already said I could come over."
"Well, all right, then. That works out, doesn't it?"
Vince nods back at her and catches her eyes for a second. She looks like she's about to say something, but then the potatoes need turning over and the peas need washing and Vince is too busy paying attention to his heartbeat lurch forward in anticipation.
He looks at the clock again. Tells himself that in half in hour he can be at Jimmy's door if he eats his dinner fast.