20: Miles Pendish

The kid has hands like water striders. They never stay still and the nails grow long and they get into everything like the creeping rot in this goddamn swamp. He wears mens’ shirts because there aren’t any kids in this town, and even with the cuffs rolled up to his elbows he looks like he might at any moment try and turn someone into a frog. His head is an earthquake hazard, balanced as it is on his toothpick neck. He hides his mismatched proportions under a blue trucker’s cap, and is saving his breath for after his voice changes. Miles Pendish is the unintentional mascot of the Blue Tip Bar.

No one can give a satisfactory account of where he came from, but that’s hardly surprising given the Blue Tip’s affinity for attracting blackout drunks. All anyone can say is that he walked in two years ago with a laundry bag slung over his shoulder, and when Big Tim the Bouncer jokingly asked for his ID, he dropped to his knees and started scrubbing the floor. The Blue Tip is not the kind of place where the floor gets scrubbed often, and when Miles managed it in one night, they decided to keep him.

Sure, he steals from the tip jar. Sure, he drinks gin like an old pro and carries a sailor’s knife and when Loose Lily comes in for a drink he rubs charcoal on his chin like a five o’clock shadow and polishes glasses meaningfully at her. But he keeps the place clean and he takes all his fights outside, and for some stupid reason the patrons like him. Clem Kelso, the barkeep, likes him too, owing to the little piece of herself his dead wife left inside him. So Miles stays, and Clem feeds him on pulled pork and macaroni and cheese, and they both wait for the day when the boy will disappear again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *