Authors: Carrie Mac
Copyright Â© Carrie Mac 2008
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,
including photocopying, recording or by any information storage
and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without
permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Mac, Carrie, 1975-
Pain & wastings / Carrie Mac.
ISBN 978-1-55143-904-4 (pbk.).--ISBN 978-1-55143-906-8 (bound)
I. Title. II. Title: Pain and wastings.
PS8625.A23P33 2008 jC813'.6 C2007-907177-5
Fifteen-year-old Ethan must face the truth about his
First published in the United States, 2008
Library of Congress Control Number:
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing
programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada
through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program and the Canada
Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC
Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Teresa Bubela
Cover photography by Getty Images
Author photo by Benjamin Owens
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Printed and bound in Canada.
Printed on 100% PCW recycled paper.
11 10 09 08 â¢ 5 4 3 2 1
For Ian Muir and his sick sense of humor. And for Reggie...sorry about the jacket.
Tonight we're going to break into Playland, the amusement park across the highway from the group home. It was Harvir's idea. It's raining when we climb out the window, but it stops when we are halfway down the alley.
“The rides won't work,” I say as we wait for a break in the traffic. “They turn the power off at night.”
“Who cares?” Harvir looks like a cat burglar, all dressed in black. “I'm not interested in the rides. I just want to climb the roller coaster.”
“Because it's there. And I want to.” He dashes onto the highway. A pickup truck slams on its brakes, swerving to miss him. The driver rolls down his window and yells at Harvir as he drives away. Harvir does a little bhangra dance in the fast lane. “Are you chicken, Ethan?” Horns honk. Headlights flash. A sedan screeches to a stop on the shoulder and a beefy guy gets out, his hands already in fists.
“You chicken, Ethan?” Harvir asks again.
I fix him with a glare. We are always one-upping each other. And I always win. I run right at the sedan and jump on the hoodâdenting it with a loud metallic crunchâonto the roof and down over the trunk end before the guy even realizes what's happening.
“Sucker!” I flip him the finger, and then Harvir and I scale the retaining wall and make a run for it. Along the off-ramp, across the overpass and into the bushes, where we wait to make sure Sedan Man isn't on our trail.
We are only halfway up the first incline of the old wooden roller coaster when the lights flood on below with a loud buzz.
The glare of the lights blinds us. We can't see who it is.
“Just security.” Harvir keeps climbing. “Rent-a-cops. Harmless.”
“And that?” I start down as the sirens get closer.
“Cops. So?” Harvir shrugs. “If they're going to get us anyway, might as well have some fun with it.”
So Harvir keeps climbing up while I start climbing down. Just as I'm about to set foot on the cement, they set the cop dog after me. So of course I run. Who wouldn't with a snarling barking beast of doom coming after you? I dare
to stand still.
“Stop!” the dog handler yells. “Or it'll get messy. Don't say I didn't warn you.”
Yeah, well I'm a good runner, so I'll take my chances. I hop the low fences that form the lineups for rides; so does the dog. I deke in and out of the concession booths; so does the damned dog. I throw myself halfway up a fence that would get me out of the park, and so does the dog, clamping on to the back of my thigh.
He hangs there, midair, ripping my flesh with his teeth, growling.
“Get it off!” I swat at him with one arm while holding myself up with the other. “Okay! Okay!” I can literally hear my skin rip and the burble of blood as it oozes down my leg. The pain makes me high, and not in a good way.
“Good dog, Smokey. Off!” The dog handler gives the shepherd an old plastic pop bottle and a pat on the head. The dog wags his tail and gnaws on the bottle, swinging it back and forth as if it were a rabbit or a rat. Or my leg.
I ease myself off the fence and collapse on the ground, face-first onto the wet cement. “He bit me!”
“That's the idea,” the cop says. He snaps a leash on Smokey and leads him away, the dog trotting proudly while two other cops handcuff me where I lie on the ground.
“I need a goddamn doctor!”
“You hear something?” Cop Numbnuts says.
“Just some foul language that don't get you nowhere,” Cop Buttface says.
The pain is so bad I have to grit my teeth to talk. “That's a double negative, idiot.”
“I think you've got better things to worry about than my grammar, kid.” Cop Buttface pulls on a pair of leather gloves. “Anything in your pockets I should know about? Knives? Drugs? Needles?”
“Screw you. I don't do that crap.”
“I'll take that as a no.” He digs roughly in my pockets, each jostle sending hot pain shooting down my leg.
“Do something about my leg, jerk-off!” I try twisting to see how bad it is but can't. “It's still bleeding, isn't it? It hurts, man. Do something!”
The cop puts a thoughtful finger to his chin. “Now, why is he so upset?”
“An excellent question.” The other cop squats beside me. He shines his flashlight on my leg. “Ouch. Look at this, partner.”
“Nasty.” Cop Buttface wrinkles his nose. “You can see the muscle and fat and everything. Good thing he didn't go for your balls. They've got a command for that, you know.”
The cop radio crackles as Buttface organizes an ambulance.
“Warrants, prior arrests...?” Cop Buttface picks through my wallet and pulls out my ID.
He records the details in his notebook. “Might as well tell me now. We've got some time. They don't hurry for this kind of call.”
“I'm going to bleed to death, you pig!”
“Let's start with where you live.” Cop Buttface turns the page in his notebook. “You're one of the juvenile delinquents from Harbor House, right?”
“I don't have to tell you anything.” I writhe on the ground, the pain like a jackhammer digging into the back of my thigh.
“Suit yourself.” Buttface flips his notebook shut. He unwraps a piece of gum and folds it into his mouth. “I got all night.”
A million and a half years later, the ambulance shows up. Buttface is on his fifth piece of gum. He takes it out and flicks it into the bush before he waves the paramedics over.
“What have we got?” One of them drops an enormous first-aid kit dangerously close to my head.
I crane my neck to see who's talking. It's a girl paramedic, or woman, I guess. Good looking enough, but a little old. Fake blond with dark roots, hair pulled up in a ponytail. Tired lines
around her eyes. A decent rack. She winks at me. “Looks like you had a run-in with Smokey, huh?”
“What took you so long?” I writhe on the ground, my leg screaming with pain, my front soaking and cold, my wrists chafing against the cuffs. “You stop for donuts or something?”
Everyone shuffles in closer and talks over me. Now all I can see are boots. Two cop pairs, shiny and buffed, and two paramedic pairs, scuffed and dull. The cops are telling the paramedics their version of events. I am not surprised to hear that, on the other side of the amusement park, six cops are waiting for Harvir to decide to come down from the top of the roller coaster. I can hear him whooping and hollering in the distance. They probably think he's high, but he's just whacked out like that for real.
“Hello? Somebody get me the hell off the ground, please?”
“Oh, he said
.” The girl paramedic squats. Her nametag catches a glint of light.
The other three all go
, and then
Buttface adds, “He's learned some manners in the last half hour.”
“Up you get.” Holly grabs one of my arms while her partner yanks on my other one. “We'll fix you up in the ambulance.”
“Ow!” I yell as they set me onto my feet. “You're going to make me walk? What the hell? I need a friggin' stretcher!”
They share a look and both let go at once. I teeter on my one good leg, my hands still cuffed behind me. The hard ground looks a long way down, and I do not want to greet it nose first.
“Sorry,” I mumble. “Just don't let me fall, okay?”
, his nametag saysâ helps me hop to the ambulance. She climbs in ahead of us and puts a plastic sheet on the cot.
“I don't want you bleeding all over my car.” She moves the belts on the cot out of the way as I half crawl up the steps. “Get on.”
“Come on,” I beg. “Get that jerk cop to take the cuffs off.”
She sighs. “What was your name?”
“A piece of advice, Ethan. Don't piss off
emergency services. Not smart.” She pats the yellow sheet. “Now get on and try asking one more time. Nicely.”
“Jesus! Ah!” I flop onto the cot, hollering as the pain cuts through my leg. “Please can you get them to take the cuffs off?”
“Sure, since you asked so nice.” Holly sends John to get the cop to come in and take off the cuffs.
“Finally.” I rub my wrists.
“Sorry, officer. He means
.” Holly pats my head. “Right, sweetheart?”
Buttface settles himself on the bench, his belt creaking, his gun angled down at his hip. “You're welcome.”
“See?” With me facedown on the cot, Holly cuts up the leg of my jeans. “We can all be nice.”
She tugs my pants away from the dog bite. It takes some effort because the blood and fabric have stuck together. I scream. The cop tells me to be a man. I tell him to go and screw himself. Holly pours something cold and stinging onto the wound. I pass out.
When I come to, all I hear is my name. And then I hear it again. And again.
“Ethan Kirby? You're sure that's his name?”
“That's right.” I open my eyes to see the cop check his notes. “Sixteen years old.”
“How many sixteen-year-old Ethan Kirbys can there be?” Holly murmurs.
We're driving now. We go over a bump. I wince. Buttface leans over me. His breath is alarmingly rank despite the gum he's chewing.
“Good morning, sunshine.” He grins. “Not so much the tough man now, are you?”
“What the hell'd they bring you along for?” I sneer at him. “Do I look like I need a police escort?”
“Policy.” Holly bends over me. “What's your middle name?”
“He doesn't have one,” the cop says. “Just first and last name on his id.”
“I have one.” I open my mouth to say it, but Holly holds up a gloved hand to stop me.
“Don't tell me. I bet I can guess it.”
I shake my head. “Not a chance.”
We take a corner. Holly grips a hand bar and steadies herself. “What do you want to bet?”