One hundred bottles, some green, some clear, some brown, some dug out of barroom dumpsters, some pulled from alley trashcans, but most just found, found resting against curbs, found on the street grates that carry the heavy rains away, found in the high weeds in Deadman’s woods, in the high weeds that border Griffin Park, in the high weeds in front of the vacant houses, in the high weeds behind the occupied houses, bottles all over like they were put there just so they could be found by the Scrap Boys, bottles like Easter eggs to be hunted, like this was all meant to be.

Scrap Boy 1, Scrap Boy 2, Scrap Boy 3, three backyard haircuts, three necks slick with grime and sweat, three right arms aching to feel the heft of an empty glass bottle, one shared heart. Neighbors by chance, brothers by choice, where one Scrap Boy goes, the other two follow, sure as heat follows the birth of a flame.

Today the Scrap Boys feel their shared heart swollen and buoyant as a hot-air balloon. The Scrap Boys told each other they were going to do it, and they did it. It took weeks, but they did it. One hundred bottles gathered and brought to the best shady spot on the ridge that runs above the railroad tracks, one hundred bottles waiting to be chucked.

Questions bloom in the Scrap Boys shared heart: How to start? When? At what cost? The questions weigh on the Scrap Boys, settle in their shoulders so it’s difficult to lift their arms. So they just stare at the pile. And this feels good. The Scrap Boys don’t know why it feels good, don’t know the way the light and shadows dappling the pile speak to them, tell ancient tales of creation, where there was once just sun parched grass and shadows, now there is this, tales of power and agency, you made this Scrap Boys, you and you alone, your six hands, your own damn selves.

The anticipation is building. This will feed the Scrap Boys. Give them the strength to shake the questions off their shoulders. They will move in unison, as they always do. One right hand, two right hands, three grabbing one bottle, one bottle, one bottle each. Those first bottles will be launched, arc through space catching the sun like prisms, carving light into rainbows as they whistle across pale blue sky and then drop, drop, drop, rush to kiss the gravel along the tracks where they will burst and bloom like fireworks, shattered and brilliant and gone.

Second bottles, then thirds, and fourths, faster and faster, five will leave their hands before four even kisses the ground. A barrage of bottles, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and still so many more to go. Bottles kisskisskissing the dirt and gravel, the steel of the rails, the creosote rich wood of the ties.

And with each kiss there will be the sound, shattering bottles speaking with the voices of the Scrap Boys future lovers, their future children, demanding voices, insistent, look here, look here, look at the destruction you have wrought.

***

Tom Weller is a former factory worker, Peace Corps volunteer, Planned Parenthood sexuality educator, and college writing instructor. His fiction has appeared recently in Pidgeonholes, Barrelhouse, Booth, and X-Ray Lit, among others. His fiction collection And There Came Forth a Great Fish is forthcoming from Gateway Literary Press. He lives in Victoria, Texas.