The Way He Is


1. Arrival

  I was on a bus with a band of sweat around my wrist because I was handcuffed to the seat. I looked out the window and saw holes trailing besides the dirt road. The bus pulled into the camp and screeched to a stop. The doors swung open and the guard led me out of the bus. I got out and walked into a cold cabin. I saw a man in a cowboy hat, eating sunflower seeds and with his feet kicked up on his desk. "Well...." He said, looking at his clipboard. "Dallas Royals?" "My parents were both born in Dallas, Texas." "Well, Dallas. What did you do to end yourself up here?" "Hot wiring cars." "How-" "Don't ask." "Well, you are to call me Mr. Sir. Got that?" Then a short man in mailman shorts and knee socks came in through a door and said "You may have done some bad things, but that does not make you a bad kid. I respect you, Dallas." "Start that touchy-feely crap, I'm leaving." "I'm Mr. Pendanski. Your counsuler." He walked me out and said "You're in group D. D means 'diligence'." I saw two boys a few yards away. "Rex! Alan! Come meet Dallas!" The two boys walked up. They were covered in so much dirt that I just realized that one was black and one was white. "Where's Magnet?" The black one said. "Oh, Jose` won't be returning. He had an allergic reaction to the bite." Mr. Pendanski said. "Rex, Alan. Meet Dallas." "Yo, my name isn't Rex. It's X-Ray, and that's Squid." said X-Ray. "Him, he's Ma." Squid said in a deep southern accent. "They have their little nicknames. If it makes you feel any better to call me Mom, go right ahead." He walked me to the tent that smelled like a horse. "This will be your tent." Mom said. There were all boys in the the tent. Once I came in eyeshot of most of them, they went dead silent. "Boys, this is Dallas." I had my hair pulled up into my Batman hat. A boy came up to me and looked real close at me. I had to take a step back. He had blonde shaggy hair. He looked kinda Bay watch-y. "A girl? Since when do girls come here?" "Since now." I said. I took my hat off and shook my hair out. "Dallas, this is where you'll sleep." He took me to a cot with an unidentified stain. "Keep it clean. Boys, introduce yourselves." A slightly overweight boy came up and said "Yo, I'm Armpit, this is Zigzag." He said. He pointed to three boys in the corner. "Those guys are Zero, Twitch, and Caveman. No one messes with the Caveman."

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