I was searching for something—that’s the closest way to describe my state of mind, at the time. I was living in a low-income apartment, by a whore, next door, who had regular guests. Her boy was the curious type, and self-reliant, because he was rejected by the other kids, who played in packs, in the parking-lot. Tony, wanted me to be his dad, but his mom was a heroin addict, and had more traffic in her nether regions than a baseball stadium, during the world series. I felt sorry for him, when he came over. He wore a yellow cap, faded with sweat, and the same jeans, and orange tee-shirt. He looked like a little sun. I left my door open on Saturdays, so that he could come over. I kept my door open, since women think men interested in kids are perverts. I think it’s the other way around. These women have dirty minds, but it doesn’t matter—their lives are dull, so they have to sharpen them with gossip.
“Mr. Johnson, what are those on your wall?”
“Tony—that’s what you call a Samurai Sword. It is the warrior’s soul.”
“Are you a Samurai, Mr. Johnson?”
“I wish. The last Samurai was made obsolete by modernness.”
“Modernness is the unseen mechanization of society.” I could tell he didn’t understand. “People make all of their decisions with money in mind.”
“Oh—so, they don’t do things because they want to, but they do them for money?”
“You’re a smart kid, Tony. Too bad your mom’s a whore.”
“Too bad,” Tony said.
“Do you want some pancakes?” I asked.
He smiled. Tony had no fat on him. He looked like a tee-shirt with bones sticking out.
“We’ve got some syrup and strawberry jam next door,” Tony said.
“We’d better not use that. Your mom can’t be trusted. I’ve got Maple Syrup from the tree, and fresh strawberries and blueberries. Let me put some batter on the griddle, and you can watch TV.
Tony sat down next to my 50-inch plasma screen TV. My dirty videos were inside their dust jackets. Nobody watched VHS, anymore—so it was a sure way they would stay hidden, but Tony was interested.
“Mr. Johnson, what are these?” He asked.
“Stick to bluray,” I said. “Those are for lonely men.” Tony found Robin Hood and put it in. The fox and the bear were outwitting the rascal lion.
“Pancakes are ready,” I said. Tony enjoyed them. I could see his belly expanding. When he finished, he went home, and two minutes later, I got a knock on my door.
“Something’s wrong with my mom,” Tony said. I followed him into Sheree’s apartment. His mom was lying on the floor covered in vomit, with a needle sticking out of her arm. She was dead.
“Why don’t you watch another cartoon Tony, and I’ll call the police?”
When they got there, I had to answer questions from a fat detective who intimidated me.
“You said, she had 12 tricks a day?”
“And you never talked to any of them?”
“I never went over there. I just kept my door open for the boy.”
“What? Are you some kind of pervert?”
“I don’t like kids. My preference is women around the age of 25.”
“Sorry, but I had to ask. Would you consider adopting?”
I hadn’t thought about that. Tony would grow up to rip-off apartment stores, if he didn’t have a father to beat him occasionally—and tell him right from wrong.
“I’ll think about it,” I said.
“When the social worker comes around, get her contact information. The boy needs a home, and I can tell you love the boy.”
The problem was, I loved myself, more than anybody, and chicks don’t dig a single guy with a kid. I went to the dojo to commune with my master. He was smoking Hashish, and listing to Jam music while he played with his Samurai sword. He was a wannabe Mr. Miyagi who made weekend dollars by pretending to be 200 years old.
“Can I ask your advice about something?”
“Could you stop acting?”
I gave up. His eyes were dilated 8 balls. He was a drug addict.
“Samurai Sam, should I adopt the boy next door?”
“What? Are you a pervert?”
“No. His mother overdosed.”
“Oh—bring him into the dojo. We will teach him how to be Samurai.”
I left my master and went home to my messy apartment, full of mail and rotting Chinese food. The social worker stopped by. She was fat and a feminist.
“Detective Talbert told me you were interested in adoption?” Her eyes were giving me suspicious looks.
I was 35, single, and I liked to be alone, but society didn’t like that. I needed more than a hobby. A girlfriend was okay—although, they always messed up my life. It was impossible to please them. They were like temporary storms that pointed out my inadequacies, and then moved on to destroy some other man. But— I needed to get one that could tolerate me—the uglier, the better. One that could clean. A troll to keep in my dungeon.
“Yes—I’m interested. I want to adopt.”
“Okay. We’ll bring the paperwork by, and I’ll make it official. I’ll need to do an inspection of your apartment to make sure it’s a suitable home.”
“His mother overdosed on heroine and was a prostitute.”
“That might be, but we have standards for men who want to be fathers. Fill out this questionnaire.” It was 500 questions. They asked the same question different ways. It would be easier to let the kid be raised by the State, but Tony was a good egg. I couldn’t let him spoil. By the time I was done with the form, my head hurt more than when I took my SATs.
Two weeks later, Tony was my boy, and I had him in martial arts. He was using a real Samurai sword. I didn’t tell the social worker that, when she did her routine inspections. Then Detective Talbert stopped by one evening.
“You know what, Mr. Johnson? We found out the heroine load, was three times what Sheree normally drugged herself with, and we don’t think she committed suicide.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“Her boy. Why else?”
“Okay. What are you going to do about it?”
“Nothing. Case is closed on our end.”
He left. The police were good if they could find the dead bodies. The live ones that actual did murder, was a whole other matter. Tony had to watch himself. Thus, I made a few changes. I got rid of my dirty book collection and movies. We started going to church. And I found a woman who told me she was a virgin. Of course, I didn’t believe her, but she was trying to uphold a standard, and I thought, she might make a good mother. It was June, and Tony was home from school. I worked as a software engineer. It was soul-sucking work, where I designed programs that killed viruses. I had a mustache. Only police, and engineers can have mustaches. My brother grew one. He worked in a school. They found an excuse to fire him. He looked like a pervert.
Long story short—I came home one day, to find the severed head of Sheree’s pimp in the parking lot. I got a sick feeling in my stomach—not from the body—but from my intuition. When I opened my apartment door, I found my Samurai sword lying on the bloody carpet, and Tony watching TV, without it being turned on.
“Did you murder your mom’s pimp? I asked.
At least he was honest…
“You might get life in prison.”
“No. I’m only 11.”
“He came to collect, and I asked him if he wanted some lemonade. I got him a glass, and did a clean sweep in the parking lot.”
“He’ll have friends,” I said.
“They’ll try to kill you.”
Tony didn’t say anything. I called 911 and told Detective Talbert what happened.
“And you say he did it with a Samurai sword?”
“Good for him. I can offer you some protection during the interim, but you both are mostly on your own. We’re short-staffed after the Ban the Police initiatives.”
“Okay,” I said.
It was summer vacation. Tony stayed at home. There was a police car that drove by, every-so-often.
A couple weeks into summer, I got home, and Tony was missing. I didn’t know what to do. I thought about calling the police, but maybe Tony had made friends. I would make sourdough pancakes from my germ marinating in the batter box. Tony would want some when he came home. I turned on the griddle, and went for my sourdough. I lifted the lid, and there was Tony, looking up at me, with horror in his eyes.
“And that’s your final story?” Detective Talbert asked.
“It’s the truth,” I said.
“You are a sick pervert. We found the boy’s body in the dumpster, and you tried to preserve his head—what for? We’re going to throw you into the darkest Penn, where the animals will eat you, in all kinds of ways!”
“No, you’ve got it all wrong! You’ve got to believe me…”