I am staring at the porcelain doll, the one with a paper moon face, the one bound in gaffer tape and strands of black, black lace that Johnny collected from his dead grandmother`s dress during one of his Saturday corpse raids, the ones that cause his auntie distress.
We never say that Johnny is `sick,` despite his penchant for peeling road kill off cement or giving small creatures a blood-drawing prick with one of the hundreds of needles he stores in his desk drawer, things other people would hide behind bolted and locked doors so as not to stir suspicion within the curious mind and even more curious heart of the suburban housewife, the kind of wife and mother that Johnny`s own mother once was--that is, before Johnny became the boy who scooped marrow from the bone for an art project. We never say that Johnny is `mental` or `morbid` or `plain wrong. `
We never question that chilling song he wrote and always sings, the one about murdering the neighbor child and splattering his red, red blood across his room`s walls, the walls he, the wild one, painted in celebration of finally cracking a sparrow`s neck in a single twist, one flick of his pasty wrist, while dancing on the deck.
Remember what he built on that deck that Halloween eve two years past, the year he dressed as "what Steve will look like after I kill him"?
After stowing away mouse skeletons since he was just four years old, Johnny rubbed his pale hands together and decided to be really bold by constructing a giant mouse skeleton out of all the ones he scraped from his attic, where he draped traps with the same flair that one pulls a dark, dark cloth over the cold face and hair of the recently deceased.
No, no, no, despite Johnny`s obsession with life after death and despite his habit of mentioning the ways he`d like to rupture someone`s breath; despite the fact that he has never even picked up a crayon that was not crimson or ebony to lay on one of his brusque, devil-worshipping drawings.
Johnny--oh, our tender, impressionable, angel of a boy Johnny--is not sick.