The Milk Chicken Bomb
The Milk Chicken Bomb
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The kid sells lemonade. Not a lot of people buy lemonade, especially now that it’s winter, but the kid makes good lemonade, even if his friend Mullen thinks it ought to be sweeter.
They don’t talk much with the other ten-year-olds – most of the others are Dead Kids anyway. Except for Jenny Tierney, but she’s busy breaking kids’ faces with her math book. Besides, the Russians from the meat-packing plant are a lot cooler, and they always win at curling.
But in small-town Alberta, there are just too many roman-candle fights, bonspiels, retaliatory river diversions, black-market submarines, exploding boilers, meat-packing-plant suicides and recess-time lightning strikes for one lonely kid to get any attention. He might as well go to Kazakhstan. Then the adults in his life start disappearing down tunnels and into rendering vats. Being ten is hard enough without all that, especially when your best friend is ruining the lemonade.
But the Milk Chicken Bomb should change everything.
Frenetic, hilarious and gently heartrending, The Milk Chicken Bomb takes us inside the mind of a troubled ten-year-old who is just beginning to understand that the adults around him are as lonely and bewildered as he is in the face of the slapstick demands of the world.
long, I say. I was thinking of getting Mullen a new sled for Christmas, he says. You think he’d like that? The sort with runners, that you can steer. You guys could ride one of those anywhere. Christmas is pretty far away, I say. Yeah. Christmas is pretty far away. We drive through the dark, past wooden gates, long driveways. People put wagon wheels on their gates, their names on wooden arches over the road. We drive through the dark and the circles of light, under posts, around driveways. We
stone heart of the earth will freeze the lungs and burst the chest. We cough ice, we gasp and die, harder and colder, mouths full of snow and with picks and shovels left helpless. Lord warm my fingers, Jesus warm my toes, and I’ll dig in your frozen heart no longer. Have you heard the pipes making any more fuss? asks Solly. Vaslav stirs the pan. I’m a busy guy, he says, I don’t just sit around listening to the plumbing all day. Sorry, I forgot, says Solly. Unfolds the newspaper, turns a page.
but her eyes are real wide. Paul puts his hands on the roof of the truck, then huffs and pulls himself up. Stands on the roof. All the teenagers stop what they’re doing; they whistle and clap. Paul waves. Well, he says, just watch out for people’s faces I guess. No shooting at anybody’s head. And if somebody shoots at your head, then duck. Okay? Keep the music off, and no jumping out of moving trucks. Unless they’re on fire. They rev the engines, flick their windshield wipers on and off,
the stairs. She gets her coat and disappears. I listen to her feet, far away, back up there. I lie in the dark where she left me. Damp and sweaty where she was heavy on top of me. The last bell rings and all the Dead Kids put their duotangs and textbooks back into their bins. All the kids push in their chairs and some of them wave to Mrs. Lampman on the way out the door. We get our coats down off our hooks, we take off our inside shoes and put on our winter boots. The hallway is dark and wet,
then the beam comes back, a little dimmer maybe. We stare down the tunnel, listen to the clanging, far away. Your dad told you. Yeah. Well, why wouldn’t he? I say. Why wouldn’t your dad decide when it’s time for me to come back up? I can’t see Mullen’s face behind the white light. I know how to make the Milk Chicken Bomb, I say. The what? The Milk Chicken Bomb. You remember when Paul Grand told us about the Milk Chicken Bomb? How did you get him to – I figured it out. I know how to do