He looked at his empty hands and put one up to wipe the spittle off his cheek.
“Oh, Jim,” he mourned.
And he heard the merry-go-round motioning, gliding on black night waters around, around, and Jim on a black stallion riding off and about, circling in tree-shadow and he wanted to cry out, Look! the merry-go-round I you want it to go forward, don’t you, Jim? forward instead of back! and you on it, around once and you’re fifteen, circling and you’re sixteen, three times more and nineteen! music! and you’re twenty and off, standing tall! not Jim any more, still thirteen, almost fourteen on the empty midway, with me small, me young, me scared!
Will hauled off and hit Jim, hard, on the nose.
Then he jumped Jim, wrapped him tight, and toppled him rolling down, yelling, in the bushes. He slapped Jim’s mouth, stuffed it, mashed it full of fingers to snap and bite at, suffocating the angry grunts and yells.
The front door opened.
Will crushed the air out of Jim, lay heavy on him, fisting his mouth tight.
Something stood on the porch. A tiny shadow scanned the town, searching for but not finding Jim.
But it was just the boy Robert, the friendly nephew, come almost casually forth, hands in pockets, whistling under his breath, to breathe the night air as boys do, curious for adventures that they themselves must make, that rarely happen by. Threshed tight, mortally locked and bound to Jim, staring up, Will was all the more shaken to see the normal boy, the airy glance, the unassuming poise, the small, the easy self in which no man at all was revealed by street light.
At any moment, Robert, in full cry, might leap to play with them, tangle legs, lock arms, bark-snap like pups in May, the whole thing end with them strewn in laughing tears on the lawn, the terror spent, the fear melted off in dew, a dream of nothings quickly gone such as dreams go when the eye snaps wide. For there indeed stood the nephew, his face round fresh, and cream-smooth as a peach.
And he was smiling down at the two boys he now saw locked limb in limb on the grass.
Then, swiftly, he darted in. He must have run upstairs, scrabbled about, and hurtled down again, for suddenly as the two boys out-thrashed out-gripped, outraged each other, there was a rain of tinkling, rattling glitter on the lawn.
The nephew leaped the porch rail and landed panther-soft, imbedded in his shadow, on the grass. His hands were delicious with stars. These he liberally sprinkled. They thudded, slithered, winked at Jim’s side. Both boys lay stricken by the rain of gold and diamond fire that pelted them.
“Help, police!” cried Robert.
Will was so shocked he let go Jim.
Jim was so shocked he let go Will.
Both reached at the same time for the cold strewn ice.
“Good grief, a bracelet!”
“A ring! A necklace!”
Robert kicked. Two trash cans at the curb fell thundering.
A bedroom light, above, flicked on.
“Police!” Robert threw one last spray of glitter at their feet, shut up his fresh-peach smile like locking an explosion away in a box, and shot away down the street.
“Wait!” Jim jumped. “We won’t hurt you!”
Will tripped him, Jim fell.
The window upstairs opened. Miss Foley leaned out. Jim, on his knees, held a woman’s wrist watch. Will blinked at a necklace in his hands.
“Who’s there!” she cried. “Jim? Will? What’s that you got?!
But Jim was running. Will stopped only long enough to see the window empty itself with a wail as Miss Foley pulled in to see her room. When he heard her full scream, he knew she had discovered the burglary.
Running, Will knew he was doing just what the nephew wanted. He should turn back, pick up the jewels, tell Miss Foley what happened. But he must save Jim!
Far back, he heard Miss Foley’s new cries turn on more lights! Will Halloway! Jim Nightshade! Night runners! Thieves! That’s us, thought Will, oh my Lord! That’s us! No one’ll believe anything we say from now on! Not about carnivals, not about carousels, not about mirrors or evil nephews, not about nothing!