Autumn morning waiting for the school bus.
Wendy is fishing for compliments, as usual.
This time, she says her uncle is in the mafia,
as though that would be something to be proud of.
I look at the faces of the kids gathered around us;
no one is really buying it.
“If I wanted someone gone,” she begins,
then drags a finger slowly across her throat.
“Oh shut up,” Rebecca replies with rolled eyes.
“You’re so full of it.”
Wendy’s bravado shatters in the face of this challenge.
“Am not,” she mutters quietly.
She stands a little apart from us until the bus arrives.
Just before Christmas,
Wendy stopped coming to school.
Her uncle had been arrested, as well as her dad.
They weren’t mob bosses or hit men,
but they did boring illegal things for money.
“Where’s Wendy?” Paul finally asked our teacher.
“Did she, you know, get whacked?”
He sounded like a character in a Scorsese film.
Mr. Ross stared at us, mouth agape.
For the first time in his career,
students stared at him in keen fascination.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he scolded.
“Her parents are…separated,
and she’s moving away with her mother.
Kansas, I think.
Satisfied that he had settled the matter,
Mr. Ross returned to our math lesson.
Paul turned to me and shook his head,
“She was totally whacked,” he declared.