He was an evil little boy and he did evil things. Everybody was afraid of him and nobody could stop him.
Once he brought a dead crow back to life, watched it bounce on the roadway and sweep backward on a gust of wind that only it felt, listened to it caw angrily as it vanished in the leaden sky. That should have been a good thing, bringing that bird back to life, but somehow it wasn’t. Another time he made it rain real hard on the last day of school. The picnic had to be canceled and the mother of one of his classmates died in a flash flood. She had the cancer, and her death could have been a good thing, a blessing. But it wasn’t. Another time—
But there had been a lot of other times.
Now he walked down the middle of the road, confident that any drivers from around there would know enough to steer around him. And they did. The other boys walked a few steps behind, afraid to anger him by getting too close or hanging too far back. Then he stopped, right about where that damn crow had been lying, and looked around.
“I can make all this go away,” he said.
They stopped too, looked around too. Had they heard him right? All what? All this? There were fields of stubble, shacks here and there, stands of black locust. Just those and the dusty road. It was that kind of place.
“I can make all this go away,” he said again, more thoughtfully this time, turning back to say it. It was a terrible sight, the little boy’s face screwed up in thought, and it made the others even more nervous than they were already.
He looked down at his right hand, moved his fingers this way and that, feeling his way … back. As if he were remembering something, something he had known a long time ago. But that was impossible, he hadn’t been here a long time ago. Had he?
He touched his thumb to one finger and then another, feeling his way. No, not that one. Not that one, not that one. That one.
The evil little boy grinned, and that was a terrible sight too. He set his thumb back against his middle finger—that one—and clenched them together, and—
Grove Koger is the author of When the Going Was Good: A Guide to the 99 Best Narratives of Travel, Exploration, and Adventure, Assistant Editor of Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal, and former Assistant Editor of Art Patron.