The Crossing of the First Threshold

  “You can’t go back there.”
   I’m astounded by this kid. I’m back there already. “She did,” I say.
   The whole store wants to know what I’m up to now. They’ve all followed.
  “That ‘em sister,” he says, using a local vernacular.
   I am astounded and incredulous. “You him brother?”
   Back here back here is not very attractive. How often do you want to see where your meals are prepared anyway? Past the cooktop, which is itself wedged under the stair, the back room has once-white walls that are smudged blacker the closer you get to the wet floor. Place stinkem meat and blood too.
   He’s defiant. “Yes!” he says.
  “Different parents?”
  “What?” Literally, he doesn’t know what I’ve just said.
  “You’re from here, she’s not. You have different parents.”
  “Still em brother. You can’t know.”
  “So where’d she go?”
   I have to back up. Me, the kid, the tiny woman, the dumbfuck breathing booze and his fellows. Somewhere back there is the grinning idiot. You know how I know? Because he giggles right then, and then he screams.
   Now, I have my banger, and it’s a toy like everyone else’s, converted from throwing foam darts across a room to jabbing a steel spike only so far forward, you work it by hauling back a lever then pulling another one out of the way, but I have never used it, not on a person. So, lucky I suppose, everyone’s turned their backs on me now. Cept for drunk guy. He just wheels and then topples.
   They all start yelling at once.
   And I think she probably went upstairs.
   But me? I’m leaving by the back door.