Devin Maguire Can Bite My Dust

Devin Maguire Can Bite My Dust

by Marc Alexander Valle

10-year old Devin Maguire held onto his BMX handlebars and stared at my new bike. “Your dad got that bike from a thrift store.”

“No, he didn’t!” I said.

“Yes, he did. I can tell.”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Yeah, cause there’s marks on it.”

I looked down at the bike. There were scuff marks on the handlebars, but that was it. 

“He got it from K-Mart,” I said.

“Okay, which one?”

“The one down the street.”

“I know all the bikes at K-Mart. I didn’t see that one there.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Well, that’s where he got it from.”

“Did he tell you he got it from there?”

“No.”

“Then how do you know?”

Devin stared right into my eyes. He had a blank expression, but I swore I could see a smirk. It was the same smirk he always had, the same one he had whenever he beat a kid in a race. 

“So?” Devin said. “How do you know?”

Devin kept staring. He looked as though he had all the time in the world and the absolute certainty that he was right. I knew that I had only a beat or two before I looked like a fool. I had to answer. 

“Cuz,” I said, “My parents don’t shop at thrift stores!”

Devin continued to look into my eyes. I felt like he was searching for something, and I needed to keep my composure. Didn’t he see my brother with a new bike last year? Didn’t he know it was my turn?

I tightened my lips and gripped my handlebars. Devin scrunched his eyebrows. I quickly glanced down at his bike.

“Alright,” he said, letting out a snicker. Then he rode off towards his apartment building.

When my dad came back from work, he told me that he bought the bike from a thrift store. The same store we’d been to several times that year.

The Homework Theif by Marc Alexander Valle

A mini-story from my mini-book, So You Say You Want An 80s Childhood?

The Homework Thief

Brian Ross was my friend.

“Are you friends with Brian?” Anna said to me, sitting on the floor in gym class. “I think he puts mayonnaise in his hair.”

“No, he doesn’t,” I said.

“Yeah,” Frieda said. “He smells like my lunch bag.”

“No, he doesn’t.”

Brian Ross was my friend, even if he were to put peanut butter on his head. Brian liked what I liked on TV, and we could play the same characters every recess without my having to tell him about them. He was the only other kid that laughed at my cartoon jokes and references. Brian Ross was my friend. Then Brian Ross stole my homework.

It was there in the bin. I told Mrs. Cain that I swore I did my homework and put it there when I arrived at 8am. So she looked through all of last night’s assignments and pulled it out. I could see my name erased and Brian’s name now on top of it.

“That’s it,” I said. “I know because I wrote my name nice and big.”

Mrs. Cain turned to the class. “Alright, let’s go to lunch. Marc and Brian I want you to stay behind.”

At recess, my classmates surrounded me, trying to piece together what happened.

“He tried to make it look like it was his homework?”

“Did he ask to take it?”

“Is he getting in trouble?

I answered the questions as fast as they were given, and I assured them that I didn’t give him the assignment. I liked this feeling, this attention. It felt good. All eyes were on me for the first time in a very long time. The boys even stopped playing kickball to question me, and the hopscotch girls left their beanbags unguarded. This was nice.

Within two minutes, they’d gotten all the information they needed, and I ran out of things to tell them. They began to talk amongst each other about Brian.

“Yeah, he smells like ham sandwich.”

“He took my pencil.”

“Why’s he always dirty?”

They kept going on about different circumstances involving Brian. I laughed at a joke without even hearing the punchline.

“Mrs. Lee looked mad,” I said.

They kept talking.

“He got upset.”

They kept talking.

“I think he’s scared.”

They kept talking.

“He picks his nose too.”

They looked at me.

“I know. I saw it,” Lucy said. “He does it all the time.”

I continued, “He used to be my friend, but he acts stupid sometimes.”

“He thinks he’s funny,” Elvin said.

Their circle opened up, enough for me to fit in. It was as though they made the perfect spot for me with my name on it. I walked forward. The circle closed again. I was in. I was there. I was one with the rest.

Brian walked out of the building and onto the playground pavement. His head was pointed down to the ground as he zipped up his thin red jacket. The kids turned towards him. I backed away just a bit.

He stopped and scanned the playground, then turned and looked at me. I looked away. A kid in the group said something that made the other kids laugh. I chuckled at the joke without even hearing the punchline.

by Marc Alexander Valle

©2022