Seven-ten a.m., July. I walk the sidewalk to the bus stop. The dead cat stinks. He’s been on the curb by our bus stop all week. Everyone’s got their shirt pulled up over their mouth and nose. I do the same. My bus number’s 41. Everyone’s quiet. Except for the birds. Guess the dead cat don’t bother them? Do birds even gottta nose? Oh, thank god, there’s our bus. Okay, so we go down the road a bit and stop where Susie and Danny are. There’s other kids too, but they’re all gay.
“O.M.G. LOOK!” Don’t know why I said that out loud. On the sidewalk where Danny’s standin is a popsicle stick, a purple stain and a bunch of dead ants. Did they eat so much grape popsicle that it kilt em or did they get drowned in it?
I wonder what would happen if ants and cats were gettin on the bus? And I was layin on a purple stain beside a popsicle stick. Or sprawled out dead on the curb. Some ant would be like, “O.M.G. LOOK! That stupid kid ate so much grape popsicle it kilt em.”
And if the cats saw me all dead on the curb they’d be like, “GOD HE STINKS. It so ain’t cool to hafta smell em every day.”
“Yeah it ain’t — and how come people just leave dead bodies layin round like that?”
“I dunno. Someone should say somethin.”
“Jasper. Jasper. JASPER!”
“I called yer name like three times. Whattaya thinkin?”
“I dunno. Someone should say something.”
“About what? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I was just lookin. Dead cats. Dead ants. Popsicles. Let me ask you a question.”
“Could you stop eatin all-you-could-eat popsicles?”
“I dunno. What flavor?”
“Any flavor. Say grape.”
“Yeah probly—but not if they were strawberry. Then I’d probly eat til I died. It’d be strawberry popsicle suicide.”
We both laugh. And for the first time I’m really happy to be Jasper. A little kid. Alive. Man, it’d sure suck to be born a ant or a cat. Especially on this street, where everyone just steps on ya or puts their shirt over their nose and mouth so they can’t smell ya. One thing’s for sure. They’ll never stop makin popsicles.