Pink Hippo

It always smells of old popcorn and socks at Conor’s house, so I don’t like to go there too often – especially not since we had the fistfight. Conor got pissed off at me last week while we were playing street hockey. It was my first ever fight, and I managed to survive, but he did pop me once, and swelled my face up. It’s better now.

Still, we’re there after school on a Thursday watching the end of Terminator on his living room TV. It’s weird because the O’Malleys only have the one black and white TV. We have five color TVs. Terminator scares me, but Conor loves the violence. He sits there – watching Arnold kill everything – and eats Cheerios. That’s his dinner, even though it’s not even 4pm. His mom is working late at Woolco.

When the movie’s over, he says, “Whaddaya wanna do?” He flips his blonde bangs out of his eyes, which look almost red in the flickering light coming from the TV.

“I dunno,” I say.

“Let’s go downstairs and play.”

“Okay.”

Conor’s room is in the basement, down a long hall lined with dirty clothes – mostly socks. It seems like there are socks everywhere.

We go into his room. There are clothes and comic books and food wrappers all over the place. My mom would kill me if I let my room get this messy. Actually, there’s no way my room would ever get this messy. She’d clean it up.

“I’m gonna fuck Jackie Walker,” Conor says, flipping through a G.I. Joe comic.

“Yeah?” I say.

I know what fucking is. Sort of. I know he probably will fuck Jackie. Girls like Conor. He’s lean and all muscle. Mom likes to feed me, so I’m kind of chubby.

“Yeah,” he says. “She likes guys with big cocks.”

I don’t say anything.

“I bet you’d like to fuck Myriam Andrews,” he says.

“Yeah I would.”

“She’ll never fuck you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’ve got a pee-wee penis,” he says.

I feel my face flush over. It’s true: I do have a small penis. Whenever we go swimming, in the summertime, I notice Conor’s bulge. Mine doesn’t bulge. So what I do, whenever I’m out of the water, is pull on the front of my Speedo so that it makes a balloon. Then you can’t see the outline.

“I gotta go home for dinner,” I say.

“Play one game of Hippos with me,” Conor says.

He means Hungry Hungry Hippos. I don’t really want to play.

“Okay,” I say.

Conor pulls out the game from somewhere. He lost most of the original marbles so we have to use regular, swirly ones. He takes the blue hippo, which means I’m playing pink – the one across from blue.

“Go!” he says.

We start banging our hippos, trying to gobble up the marbles. The bounces are going my way, and I’m filling up my tray.

“Fuck,” says Conor.

I keep gobbling up the marbles. Conor is whacking away, and every time he does, the marbles tend to head over to my pink hippo. It must be that the floor is bent in my direction.

“I win,” I say.

Conor’s pissed. “Play again,” he says.

“Okay.”

We play again, and it’s pretty much the same result. I start laying off a little, because I don’t want to completely cream him. He might go crazy and kill me, and hide me under a pile of socks. They’d never find my body.

But no matter how hard I try, I keep beating him. “Son of a bitch,” he says. “This thing is so fucking stupid!”

Suddenly, he picks up the hippo game and flings it across the room like a Frisbee. Pieces of plastic and marbles go flying everywhere.

I’m on my knees and he’s standing over me, breathing loudly. He walks over to a bunch of old toys and kicks them, then walks back to me. “Fuck you, Mama’s Boy!” he says. “Go home to Mama and get her to cook you your dinner, you big fag.”

I get up, walk up the stairs and leave by the back door.

As I walk home up the hill, I notice it’s already getting dark. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming. I try to imagine what Conor does at home until his mom gets there. Maybe I’ll stop going over.

When I walk in the door at our house, I can smell that Mom’s cooking shepherd’s pie, my favorite.

But I’m not hungry.