It was a bike ride, through Bellflower, CA, territory. We were on an after school mission buying silence and acting stupid. A dead cat, sprawled out, with half its face in the gutter. Whoa cool, says Bare, riding up on it. I wonder who the owner is, checking the tags, looking around…Pepper? That’s lame. Hey Dave, he turns to his brother, give me something to write with, and of course, Dave gives him the finger. Josh and James are right behind, filling in the circle as heated sparks flew to Halloween prop, to porch prank, to Pepper TP. I’m outside the circle, looking around, nervously. Jesus Christ, it’s a dead cat, I’m sure there’s one more up the street? James is having more fun egging me on about what I am suggesting. As I’m stamping my feet, they have equipped James, already, with a verbal list. Josh wants everybody to know how he took one out on his bike, last week, smacking his lips together. At this point, no one cares because Josh is an idiot. Bare frowns at Dave, “Terd-burglar, remember when mom grounded me when you got an A in English?” Dave stares back, challenging what’s left of our crowd, including the cat, with dead silence. Racing back, James skids inches from the cat, voila dudes, shaking a pill bottle of aspirin. I whine, is this going to take all day? You promised me candy from the liquor store! Not now, so shut up, says Bare tugging on my ribboned pigtails. Yeah, don’t ruin it, sweating James spits. Josh knows better, he’s quiet until Dave dictates the letter: “Goodbye cruel and heartless world. There’s nothing left to live for, nothing! In a dog eat dog world…etcetera, etcetera.” As they bust up laughing, I say, I don’t get it. That’s because you’re dumb, Bare says…I retort, whatever, pizza face! All eyes on Bare, then more howls of laughter. James at the ready, siding with Bare, pulls me into him blowing stinky, wet raspberries into my neck which looks like heavy necking which takes valuable seconds away from the cat and then back to how Bare is going to shove “that note” and “that dead cat’s carcass” up James’s face if he attempts to touch me again. But, she wants candy! James mimics. Now, the posse is hysterical over Astro Pops and Fun Dips, as a crow aggressively hops onto the sidewalk wanting to be the next to violate the deceased. Let’s roll, steps in Dave, shoving the last of the pills and bottle into the dead cat’s mouth tucking the suicide note under the other paw…. Back to our mission: To the candy store, where mom is none the wiser about animal corpse abuse or nudie magazines! Up on the bar, I gasp against the wind, thinking of Pepper. Poor Pepper. Death wasn’t enough, he had to die again, for them…. I shout over my shoulder, I really don’t want candy anymore, gripping more tightly on my brother’s 10-speed.