Crazy Moths: Billy Wiff (Crazy Moths III)
At daybreak Billy Wiff stumbled out the front door of his parents’ house and stood for a moment staring off into the quiet neighborhood. He was a scrawny, pale-skinned boy with a large dimple on his left cheek, with callused fingers, dented and white at the tips from playing sad songs on the guitar about his family. His eyes were an unfocused brown and the hair that flopped thick in the breeze was plenty long enough to cover much of his face.
Billy was playing with the collar of his too-big leather coat. He popped the collar up in the back and folded it back down again. The coat belong to his father and had a collar that was good to pop up at the back of the neck if you could get it right. When he finally got it how he liked it, Billy’s posture deteriorated fluidly into a brooding slouch. This was automatic.
Also automatic: he pulled out a pack of Marlboro Reds from his pocket and put one to his lips and lit it. But he’d put it in backwards and when he tried to inhale there was a weird hiss and a bubbling smelltaste. This was something that happened occasionally, because he was nearsighted to the point where he was considered legally blind, and a cigarette was just a uniform white stick to him. After he finished coughing he tried the whole thing again and got it right.
Then with cigarette dangling from bottom lip he walked across the front yard to the big black car of his grandma. He maintained a bad boy swagger because he wasn’t afraid of the moths that he could feel, even then, fluttering all around him. He wasn’t afraid because he was too blind to see the bad designs on their wings. He couldn’t see far and he couldn’t see close. Since he’d stomped his bifocals to smithereens two months ago on the back patio, he’d begun to forget even what his own face looked like. Everything he did either by generalizing colorful shapes, or simply by touch. He found the doorhandle of the 77 Malibu Classic and let himself into the car, and he had hardly settled in when a bone-chilling crash of metal and glass came from somewhere over the trees, a few streets down.
Some poor fool who’d managed to keep his wits all the way up until now, maybe by wearing blindfolds–or locking himself in the basement, eating dry rice from a sack–had decided finally to venture out into the daylight and take his chances with the moths. Billy wondered if it was someone he knew from high school, and then started the engine and put the car in drive so he could get more smokes. By now he’d memorized his way around the greenish sliding blur that was his neighborhood, all the way to the gas station, and he had no reason to suspect that today’s cigarette run would unfold any differently than any other day.
Copyright 2012 Bill Carson
Catch up with the Crazy Moths serial before it starts getting particularly wild: