In a hospital there was a man.
“You be good, Kyle,” said a woman, leaving her four year old son there with the man.
The boy said nothing and his great-grandpa stared at him, saying nothing. The boy walked over and looked at the man’s face. The man turned his head and looked at the boy. His voice was ghostly and weak when he said:
“Clyde, you go sit down now.”
The boy made a face. He climbed up on the rail of the bed and looked down on the man.
“Get the hell down.”
The boy laughed and walked sideways on the rail. He pulled the corded control that lay beside the man and began turning the channels on the TV. The old man tried to raise his leg but he couldn’t. Only his foot moved. The boy stopped the TV on a channel with a person dressed in a bright pink, soft-looking hog suit who snorted and danced with a person dressed as, what looked to be, a deer. The boy laughed at it.
“You whistledick, give it—”
He reached out for the control and touched it with his callused fingers. The boy jerked it away.
He stopped smiling and started playing with the control. He lifted the bed up all the way in the back so his grandpa was seated straight up. He lifted the old man’s knees up so that he looked crushed.
“Clyde—” began the man and he stopped, unable to breathe.
The boy let the upper part of the bed all the way back.
The man’s face look blue and dead and his lips trembled together. He stared at the boy. The boy began coughing, sounding like he was still in the grips of some cold. He stopped his gagging and leaned over the old man. He spit a green hock in the man’s face and then let the lower part of the bed go down so that his grandpa was lying flat. He looked at the boy with a hatred.
“I’m Kyle, not Clyde, Paps.” The boy climbed up on the man’s bed. “I got something.”
The man reached out with his arms and tried to catch the boy but the boy slapped them away and laughed. The man reached up and grabbed the metal triangle that hung from a chain above him and began shaking it.
From his pocket the boy pulled a dead slug. Wary of his grandpa’s grasp he used his agility to touch the sloppy thing to the man’s blue lips.
“Eat it,” the boy said and then moved back to escape his grandpa’s arms. He laughed and rammed the slug into the old man’s wrinkled face, around his mouth. He repeated, “Eat it.” He threw the slug and it smacked against the man’s forehead and fell back into his silver hair.
“Stupid bastard,” said the man. “You wa—”
The boy mocked him and jumped on the edges of the bed, chanting, “Stupid bastard, stupid bastard, stupid bastard.”
The boy again began to cough as he jumped and the man moved his knee. It was just enough to knock the boy over. The old man caught the boy in his arms using all the strength he still had. The boy screamed wildly, struggled, and succumbed to another fit of coughing. He was caught. The man bit at the boy’s face and Kyle pulled his head back. It was just as the man wanted. He opened his mouth as wide as he could, until his jaws shook, and bit with his 1965 set of false teeth down on the boy’s throat.
“I’m sorry I was gone so long,” said the woman, returning five minutes later, “I saw a friend from school—aww, you giving your great paps a hug?”
The boy was buried in a small, but nicely lined casket made out of walnut. But the funeral was nothing next to his great-grandpa’s. There was a ceremony, marching, rifle’s firing, flag’s carried and one draping, then folded precisely. He got a nice black marble stone with a bronze monument indicating his service. He was a war veteran.