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“Irvin? You can come in now.”
Irvin followed the counselor through the door. Irvin had a somewhat ungainly walk, and his brown lack-luster hair was tousled and disarrayed. One shoe was untied, and the formerly white shoelace of that shoe faithfully dragged across the carpet behind him. But Irvin also had beautiful baby blue eyes, the kind you see on advertisements for cereal and Hanes underwear. They were two lapis lazuli-stained stars glowing with goodness and innocence and the clumsy, rough love found only in the truly good. May such innocence remain ever unspoiled.
Irvin let forth a grunt, “Uh?”
“You can sit.”
“Ok.” Irvin more dropped than sat down in a quick, uncontrolled motion. It was not enough for a “My God!” or a dropped chin, but it was enough to strike a queer note through the room. Irvin looked toward the counselor, elbow crooked, wrist bent, so that his hand laid somewhat awkwardly across his chest, thumb inward. Irvin grinned and bobbed his body back and forth, back and forth, in a rocking motion.
“Look at me.” Irvin continued to lean alternatively forward and backward.
“Look at me, Irvin.” Irvin stopped and turned his unfocused gaze toward the authority figure. He continued to grin.
“What happened today?”
“How’s that, Irvin?”
“Wit ma frens.” Irvin began to bob again and glanced furtively around the room.
“Irvin, how'd you get that cut?” The counselor pointed out the nasty gash that ripped across Irvin’s forearm, now cleansed with peroxide, but still oozing slightly.
“Irvin, what happened?” The counselor, of course, already knew exactly what had happened. It was just another variation on Irvin’s history of social interaction. Irvin’s need for acceptance drove him to do whatever The Others asked of him. He was a cross between a manservant, a financial backer, and a live entertainer. This time a knife had been involved.
“Will you read now?”
The counselor sighed. “Irvin….”
“Why do you let them do this?” The counselor gestured toward the diminutive boy's arm.
Irvin looked puzzled for a moment before he answered, “They are ma frens.”
Irvin’s funeral was small but nice. They said the fall had immediately snapped his neck. Only a few of The Others involved were brave enough to attend. And now he lay in a simple brown coffin in a simple gray suit that did not fit him. He no longer rocked. He no longer grinned. And his baby blue eyes were closed.