The New Boy

Joseph Fazio


He asked me if I wanted to see the body of the new boy. I did not, but I said yes. I was forever going along with things at that age. "Nobody will miss him," he'd told me a week before the murder, meaning our classmates in school, our teachers, anybody, really, who wasn't related to the new boy. He planned to lure this freshman into the woods with the promise of a cave he had discovered, one ripe for exploration. As they walked through the fresh snow in the forest, my friend produced the tire iron hidden beneath his heavy wool coat and struck the new boy's head six times. He cleaned the blood from the iron in the snow, then left the woods carefully, as he'd entered, stepping only in the new boy's tracks.

"I wanted to see what it was like," he told me.

The snow had glazed in the days that had passed, fossilizing the new boy's last steps. I had a feeling of grave remorse for all I hadn't done as I walked in them. "I'm going to throw up," I said.

"Don't do that," my friend, up ahead, said, "you'll feed the birds."

I paused to compose myself, and for the first time since we'd begun our trek, I raised my eyes from the new boy's footprints. In the distance, I saw a lump of pale blue ski jacket on the ground. And then I noticed how the back of my friend's coat swayed oddly as he walked, as if he had a tail hidden beneath it.