It was like that shock after a shotgun blast. The whole world was offended by the noise. All the parts of it that he could see. He did like everyone else, he looked around with ringing ears wondering what, where? He was still reasoning it out when he found himself on the ground, tangled, suddenly with an extra set of arms and legs.
The boy stood up fast, but the man grabbed his ankle and pulled him back down.
"Let me go, mister."
"What was that noise? Why are you running?"
The boy considered his options. He decided, for once, that honesty was the best policy.
"I just put an M-80 in the mailbox on 7th."
The man swallowed these words slowly. He mulled them over in his mind. He choked them forward, tasting the bile. Hearing strong words and looking at the boy, scared.
"You gonna do it again?"
"Never. I didn't..."
"Run. I won't tell them anything."
The boy stared at him with his head cocked. He was on the lookout for traps of all kinds.
"I used to be an asshole, too. Stop blowing shit up. Deal?"
The boy started to run as he threw a grunt over his shoulder. He stopped, turning to look at the man.
"You're welcome. You'll get a chance to repay the debt someday. Take it."
The boy took off into a vacant lot and it wasn't forty seconds later that sirens came screaming through the neighborhood. An officer screeched to a halt beside him and asked him what he knew. Jim felt the delicious sweetness of the words on his tongue.
"Don't know a thing. You guys been shooting?"
The cop roared away from the curb and the man chuckled to himself. Something about that boy seemed familiar. It wasn't the boy, though. It was the whole idea of being a boy - some cliche he thought he'd lost. He imagined the boy sprinting through side streets, looking for a place to hide, and he could almost feel the wind snatching laughter from his lungs as he ran.