those few days in Galway to last me a lifetime. Iâll be crippled with arthritis by the time Iâm fifty after all the soakings I got.
Gramma always said she felt sorry for delinquents. She said, I bet theyâve had a horrible life. I bet something went terrible wrong in their family.
I never thought I would be one myself.
It was the carrot job that did it. I donât really think they can be serious about me killing Ma, but theyâll have no trouble nailing me for the carrot.
Itâs kind of weird, but even when you know someone is dead, you sometimes have this sort of conviction that it hasnât really happened, and if you do the right thing then they will somehow be undead, and itâll all come right. The only problem is to know what that right thing is.
I was still in that phase. I suppose itâs shock or something. I had this mad sort of idea that if I behaved myself properly with this Paudge, then itâd be okay, Ma wouldnât be dead after all. It bothered me, though, that Iâd done the carrot job. I had this eerie feeling that this was at the nub of the problem.
Paudge had me worried there for a while, about the hairs. I was even beginning to think myself that maybe Iâd done it. By accident. But I didnât. I need to believe that.
I finished my hamburger and licked my fingers. Then I wiped them with the little piece of tissue they give you, and I wiped my mouth too. I folded the tissue up and tucked it into the cardboard box they put those stupid skinny chips in.
âAll right,â I said, meaning about what they were calling my placement , as if I was a chess piece that they had found a perfect move for. The fight had gone out of me.
âCan I see Julie soon?â I asked.
Paudge looked at Kate. Evidently she was the one they had decided was going to do the dirty work.
âNot just for the moment, Jonathan,â she said softly. âBut sheâs okay. Sheâs well, and sheâs safe. You donât need to worry about her.â
âWhy canât I see her?â I asked. âIs it my da? Is he the problem?â
They didnât answer.
âWell, look,â I said. âTell yous what. You ask Julie if sheâd like to see me, and youâll see. Her and meÂ â¦ well, Iâll put it like this, weâre very good mates. Look, she brought this book for me to read,â and I pulled The Merchant of Venice from my rucksack. âWe were running away from home, right, and she thought I might just like a spot of Shakespeare to keep me entertained. Sheâs a howl, she is.â
âHave you read it?â Kate asked. She was changing the subject, I knew.
âOf course I havenât read it,â I said. âI donât speak Shakespeare. Thatâs the whole point. Thatâs why itâs such a hoot that she brought it.â
âItâs a good story. You might like it.â
Dream on. I didnât actually say it, but I raised my eyebrows so she knew what I meant.
These social worker types, like teachers they are. Think they can save you with Shakespeare. Itâs kind of sad, really. They canât know much about reality.
In sooth, I know not why I am so sad;
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I caught it, found it, or came by it,
What stuff âtis made of, whereof it is born,
I am to learn.
Yeah, well, itâs the only book Iâve got , right?
So, good for old Antonio. Heâs sad and he doesnât know why. Thatâs a bit of a luxury, that kind of sadness, if you ask meâand even if you donât. It has no cause. Itâs just a kind of mood . Maybe he was a teenager. I doubt if his grandmother has died, his mother has managed to annihilate herself, his father has run off with a young one, heâs not allowed to see his little sister, and heâs in danger of getting a criminal record because of a kind of overambitious prank with a