I’m standing beside my old Ford, passenger side, the door open, using a bent, grungy key I found in the glove box to saw the top off a clear plastic jug that used to hold emergency radiator water, when the kid says, “Hey Mister, you want to know something creepy?”
I raise my eyes across the bench seat where I can see him through the open driver’s side window. He’s shirtless, grubby, and looks a little uncertain. “Sure,” I say.
“Did you know you can live for five minutes with your head cut off?”
I raise my eyebrows. “No kidding? That is creepy.”
The girl standing next to me, her face betraying the early hints of pre-teen acne, nods. Her eyes are wide and she says, “We kept a chicken’s head alive for a whole year one time.”
“That’s really something.”
The kid says, “I guess they cut it off just right.”
“I guess so.”
I continue sawing at the jug a few moments more, then tear the top back like a half-opened soup can. I hand it to the girl. “That ought to do the trick.”
“Thanks,” she says. She smiles at the kid.
They scramble down the bank toward the river. “Have fun,” I say. “Don’t drown.”