“Stay away from those neighbor boys! They’re all up to no good, especially Scalps,” yelled Mary Luce’s mother.
It didn’t matter to Mary Luce. She wasn’t interested in any of those greasy aliens, anyway. They couldn’t speak English, only those mysterious guttural languages that all sounded the same: like someone got something slurpy stuck in their teeth. But she did adore Scalps.
Mary Luce’s mother really worried about Scalps because he never spoke a word in any language. He just stared at the sun. Every day. Summer and winter. And… he had that pierced nose.
Now this was a respectable neighborhood, where only pet yaks were allowed to have nose piercings. All of the nice folks just pierced their kneecaps.
Even the other foreigners found Scalps intimidating. They were not fearful of him in a dangerous way, but in the way that people are afraid of getting bad luck from black cats, or afraid in the way that bats will move into their belfries and sell real estate to other bats.
But Mary Luce’s adoration of Scalps transcended all of those superficialities. She adored his yak nose and his bald head. She couldn’t stop watching him stare at the hot summer sun while wearing his tarpaulin raincoat. She stood at the property line to observe while he stood in nothing but a white t-shirt in winter’s four foot high snow drifts. She watched him hover in the wind over the cigarette that he never lit. She sighed when his pet crow pecked at his ears and the zipper-like scar down the center of his face.
Eventually, trouble brewed in the shadow of the suburban backyard plum trees. Scalps sprinted to Mary Luce, stopping just inches from her face. She absorbed the passion in his eyes…and then…as Mary Luce braced herself and bravely gazed back at his sweaty, scarred face…he was gone. Disappeared. Vanished.
Moving vans arrived the next day with a new family. A family with fourteen handsome, brilliant, well-mannered, blonde-haired, blue-eyed sons.
Mary Luce just ignored them all and stared at the sun, wearing her raincoat.