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Authors: Darren Hynes

Creeps

BOOK: Creeps
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RAZORBILL

CREEPS

DARREN HYNES'S
first novel was
Flight,
published by Killick Press in 2010. Hynes has also appeared in theatres across Canada, including the Canadian Stage Company, the National Arts Centre, and the Stratford Festival. His film and television credits include
Lars and the Real Girl, Heartland, Republic of Doyle, Degrassi: The Next Generation,
and
Hockey: A People's History
. Hynes lives in Toronto.
Creeps
is his first novel for young adults.

ALSO BY DARREN HYNES

Flight

RAZORBILL

an imprint of Penguin Canada

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3008, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,

Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published 2013

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (WEB)

Copyright © Darren Hynes, 2013

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Publisher's note: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Manufactured in Canada.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION

Hynes, Darren, 1972–, author

Creeps / Darren Hynes.

ISBN 978-0-14-318714-1 (pbk.)

I. Title.

PS8615.Y53C74 2013       jC813'.6        C2013-903338-6

Visit the Penguin Canada website at
www.penguin.ca

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see

www.penguin.ca/corporatesales
or call 1-800-810-3104, ext. 2477.

FOR LIAM

JANUARY

Unanswered Prayers

ONE

Dear God or whoever,

Could you make me popular so someone will see me and smile and the volleyball team would high-five me in the corridor and the principal might even say my name over the PA system? Could you make me strong enough to lift a medicine ball and do the flexed-arm hang and complete at least twenty push-ups so they won't call me faggot? Could you make me taller? It would be great not needing a chair every time I wanted something in the cupboard above the stove.

Mostly though I'd just like you to keep Mom away from the train and Dad away from the Bacardi Dark and my sister Wanda away from Nickelback. Also her Diet Coke habit is out of control. Is it true that
aspirtame
aspartame causes cancer?

This is a big one, God or whoever, but if you could make high school pass as quickly as possible I'd really
appreciate it. I know I shouldn't wish my time away but it's hard to be somewhere when you don't fit in. Mom says that it's selfish because there are people who'd kill for another MINUTE let alone an entire three years. You'll wish for the time back, she says, but I doubt that.

I walked behind that girl with the dead father this morning. She didn't look back although I'm sure she knew I was there. Wearing sneakers and here it is January. No hat or mittens. Jacket too small. Marjorie's her name but Maple Leaf's what they call her. They say she's easy and loves it all the time.

Yesterday I humped the snow and had to pretend like it was a girl but then Bobby laughed and said: a boy more like it.

Your friend who humps the snow,

Wayne Pumphrey

TWO

Something explodes against Wayne Pumphrey's back. He turns around just as a snowball whizzes by his chin. One hits him in the stomach. Another strikes his shoulder. They're the hard and heavy kind, the after-a-wet-snow kind. One comes awfully close to his eye. He raises his arms. “I surrender.”

Four figures approach: Pete “The Meat” Avery, followed by Kenny Saunders, Harvey Stool, and Bobby Power. Pete is called The Meat because he lives in the weight room and has fat veins running along his biceps and can make his chest muscles move without touching them.

Bobby's grinning and Harvey's smacking his fist into his palm while Kenny rounds a fresh snowball.

Pete goes right up to Wayne and stops, then signals for the others to stop too. He smooths his
almost-a-moustache and says, “Where do you think you're going, Pumphrey?”

Wayne goes to lower his arms but Pete makes a fist so Wayne keeps his fingertips pointed skyward and says, “Same place as you.”

Pete takes a step closer. “Not ahead of us, you don't.”

Wayne smells StarKist tuna on The Meat's breath.

Bobby folds his arms across his chest. “You always walk at the
back,
Pumphrey.”

“That's right,” Pete agrees. “Your place is behind us, Pumphrey.”

“Not
too
close behind though, eh, Pete?” Bobby adds.

Pete nods and says, “That's right. Lord only knows what this pervert might try.”

Bobby laughs. “Yeah.”

“Fuckin' rights,” goes Kenny. He's
hardening
the snowball now.

Harvey keeps smacking that fist into his palm. He horks up a big green one and lets it dangle from his lips before sucking it back up into his mouth again.

Wayne looks away.

“Could barely hit him, he's that skinny,” goes Kenny.

Bobby says, “Built like a girl.”

“Got a pussy, I bet,” Kenny says.

Harvey snickers and Bobby goes, “Good one, Kenny,” and The Meat brings his face even closer to Wayne's and says, “That true, Pumphrey? You really a chick?”

Wayne shakes his head, then tries lowering his arms, but again Pete tells him to keep them where they are.

“It's burning,” Wayne says.

Pete looks back at the boys. “Listen to him: ‘It's burning,' he says.”

“That's the piss running down his leg,” says Kenny.

“Yeah,” Bobby says, “it's the piss.”

Harvey's palm is red now from his own fist.

Pete focuses back on Wayne. Shakes his head. Clicks his tongue against his bottom teeth. “You go and piss yourself, Pumphrey?”

“No.” Wayne's shoulders are about to catch fire. He's shaking from cold, or is it shame? Nose running. A dome of snot over the left nostril.

“Look at him, Pete,” Kenny says. “Mommy didn't wipe his nose this morning.”

Wayne goes to wipe but Pete digs a finger into Wayne's chest and tells him, for the last time, to keep
FUCKIN' STILL
. Then he says, “You're disgusting, Pumphrey. You're what's in the toilet bowl when I've eaten too many toutons.”

Harvey and Bobby give each other high-fives.

Kenny tosses his snowball in the air and then catches it.

A school bus in the distance, the driver tiny behind the steering wheel. He slows as he approaches, veers right. Palms pressed against windows, squished noses and unhinged jaws, wide eyes. It rumbles by, a brief plume of exhaust left in its wake. Then silence. Four sets of eyes right on him. Wayne looks away, in the direction of the mine, then upwards where the mushroom cloud of iron ore dust hovers above it like a mistake. He imagines his father beneath that cloud somewhere, his hard hat tilted to the side and soot encrusted in his moustache, underneath his nails, between his teeth. What would his old man say about the raised arms and the snot and the school bus loaded with gawking children, he wonders.

Pete's voice brings him back. “What's his punishment gonna be?”

Bobby raises his hand.

“Yes, Bobby?” says The Meat.

“Kick him in the balls.”

“Jesus Christ, Bobby, everything's balls with you.” Pete looks over at the others. “Whaddya think, Kenny? What should Pumphrey's punishment be for walking ahead of us?”

Before Kenny can get his suggestion out, Wayne says, “I didn't know you were behind me.”

Pete locks eyes with Wayne. “You arguing with me, Pumphrey?”

“Oh, you're dead, Pumphrey,” goes Bobby. “Arguing with The Meat.”

Tears in Wayne's eyes.

“Hey boys, get a load of this,” goes Pete. “Little girl's crying.”

“I'm not.”

“No? What's that coming from your eyes then, Pumphrey? Cream of Wheat?”

Because wiping his cheeks would mean having to lower his arms, Wayne lets the tears roll down his face, onto his lips and tongue. He tastes salt and snot and remnants of the baloney and Honeycombs he had for breakfast.

“Tell you what,” says Harvey.

“What?” goes Pete.

“I say me and Bobby hold 'em while Kenny throws that snowball he's making right at the little pussy's face, and if he so much as flinches we make him hump the snow like yesterday.”

“Fuckin' rights,” goes Kenny.

“Yeah!” Bobby shouts.

Pete shakes his head.

“Why not?” says Harvey.

“Because it's supposed to be
punishment
.”

So much laughter now it almost seems to be shooting up from the ground, or falling from the
sky. Bobby's clapping and Pete's holding his stomach and Kenny's just dropped his snowball and Harvey can barely breathe and Wayne starts running.

Now there's no sound other than his own heartbeat and a ringing in his ears and his boots thudding off the frozen street. The school's in the distance, shit-coloured against the grey morning, and he imagines sitting in a plastic chair and scribbling in a notebook and feeling safe for a moment, but then there's a load on him and he's falling and the wind's knocked out of him. And Bobby's bearing down all his weight and smirking and breathing, and Wayne wonders if the heavy boy has ever heard of Colgate.

“You're dead now, Pumphrey,” says Bobby, “running from The Meat.”

Wayne struggles to move. “I can't breathe.”

Pete comes over and orders Bobby to get Pumphrey to his feet and hold him because Kenny's about ready to let his snowball rip.

Bobby stands him up, his fingers digging into Wayne's left arm. Harvey's got Wayne's right one.

BOOK: Creeps
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