Repeat After Me

by jkatejohnston

9 January 2014

Dear Max,

Last night Enzo was making candy with sugar, food coloring and his collection of artificial flavors: grape, watermelon, green apple, cherry and orange. He concocted some combination (I think it was watermelon and grape) and ground it all up in the mortar and pestle. It was bright, dark, sparkly red.

“You and Teresa are old enough to vote. So you can vote: who has the best candy in Sacramento, me or the corner store? Also to save the American Croc. Repeat after me. Protect—”


The Ah—

“The Ah—





“My candy is the best in Sacramento by nine millimeters.”

He also made grape 7-Up. Then, while Teresa was in the shower, he made up a little pallet on the living room floor with the cushions from two chairs, a fleece blanket and small throw pillow. When Teresa was about to come out of the bathroom he said, “Light the fire! Light the fire! She’s coming!” And as I did, he ran and got the grape 7-Up and set it on the floor by the pillow.

“What are you doing?” I said.


Then Teresa came out.

“What’s this?”

“Relax! Grape 7-Up!”


Enzo always arms himself for bed. For a while it was just the wooden sword he made at school and a small detail of crocodilians and fish (Saltie, Freshie, sturgeon, salmon and trout). But for the last few nights he has added his Nerf gun and plenty of ammo. Then last night he added his knit 49er’s cap. “For rooting and protection.” He picked up the gun. “And anyone who comes near will get shotten.”