I take a little detour off the freeway now and then to get a glimpse of their high celestial shine again—
the guard towers and the razor wire and the silvery cement of the prison where my cousin Kenny lived (felonious assault/armed robbery) for seven years until he was set free, and married, bought a house out in the country, where he lived another seven years happily (it seemed)
until one day he took a chainsaw to a tree to rid his property of some tree disease, and in the course of this was pinned beneath a limb so heavy that it took four men to lift it off of him. He
was dead already when they found him, so no one knows how long he might have borne that weight and lingered—whether it took him many hours to die, or if, as they so often say, he never knew what hit him.
But long before this end, my cousin would ride his bike ten miles across forbidden busy streets on Saturdays to play with me a game we called Don’t Kill Me, Kenny, Please.
Because to say this was the only way to win.
It was the kind of play that made my parents wary, so when we heard my father’s pockets full of keys, we turned on the TV and pretended to be watching: