Lost Boy Found
More startled than actually frightened, Peter stumbled to his feet to see the four urchins who had come through the newly destroyed window and were now scattered about his room. Each was scruffier than the last, and their ratty, torn clothing and matted hair made Peter wonder if they’d ever had a bath in their entire lives. Peter couldn’t take his eyes off them, although none of them were paying the slightest bit of attention to Peter.
“What are you doing here?” Peter asked. It seemed as good a question as any, although the answer wouldn’t explain who these boys were or how they had come to be in his room. He couldn’t think of a question that would have covered all of that in one go, so he asked the first thing that came to mind.
The boys didn’t bother to respond. The tallest of them, a boy with auburn locks and a face full of freckles, was busy trying to reach up to the top of his bookshelf, standing on the tips of his muddy toes. His face brightened when he seemed to find the specific book he was looking for.
“Here!” said the auburn-haired boy, grabbing the book and tossing clear across the room at another blonde boy who couldn’t have been more than ten years old. Three of them seemed about that age. Perhaps the auburn-haired one was eleven or twelve, but the tiny, dark, African-looking boy rolling around contentedly on the carpet seemed like he may have only been six or seven. The blonde on the receiving end of the flying book was staring at Peter’s framed painting of the Dunnet lighthouse and didn’t even turn his head when the book collided with the back of his head and then fell to the ground.
“There!” yelled the auburn haired boy. “You just let it fall to the ground.”
“Oy! Fletch!” yelled a third sandy-haired boy who was jumping on Peter’s bed. “Bishop’s talking to you.”
The blonde boy called Fletch shrugged his shoulders, still not bothering to turn around. “Bishop’s always talking to me,” he said.
“You see how he disrespects me?” Bishop said, directly addressing Peter for the first time. “I shouldn’t have to put up with that, should I?”
Peter didn’t have the presence of mind to come up with an appropriate response.
“Here now!” Bishop said. “You just let it fall!”
“That’s not right!” Bishop yelled at Fletch. “That’s a terrible thing to do to a very fine book!”
“Oh, fine book,” Fletch smirked back. “You don’t know even know how to read.“
“So?” said Bishop.
“Yes?” said Fletch.
“So what?” asked Bishop.
Fletch nodded. “Yes.”
The sandy-haired boy banged a fist against the wall. “It’s the right lighthouse; I’m sure of it. I recognize the echo.”
“Tastes like the right lighthouse,” said the small boy on the floor as he licked the dusty wood floor.
“Grim, that’s disgusting,” said the sandy-haired boy.
“That’s how I know it’s the right lighthouse,” said Grim. He coughed, rubbed the end of his tongue with his fingers, and the coughed again.
“Hello?” Peter said to no one in particular, and no on in particular answered him.
“It’s the right house if Langy says it is,” said Bishop, indicating the sandy-haired boy.
“It’s settled then,” Bishop said.
“Yes,” replied Langy.
“The rightest of right lighthouses,” said Fletch.
“I like books with birds in them,” Grim said, fingering through the volume that Bishop had dislodged from the top shelf.
“Please, will someone tell me what’s going on?” asked Peter, his voice frantic.
“Yes,” said Bishop, grabbing the book out of Grim’s hands. “No birds in here, though.”
Fletch, still looking at the painting, asked, “What’s the book say, then?”
“Hard to tell,” said Bishop, holding the book upside down. “Too many words.”
“Please, all of you,” pleaded Peter, “Just tell me who you are and what you want.”
“Where’s Jane?” asked Langy. “Why isn’t she here?”
Peter’s felt all the color drain out of his face. “Jane was my mother’s name,” he said.
“Gather round, boys!” Bishop shouted. “This is the book! The one about us!”
Fletch snorted. “And just how would you know that?”
Grim flapped his arms and said “Big sea birds” to nobody in particular.
Bishop flipped through the pages. “That’s my picture, innit?”
Fletch craned his head over Bishop’s shoulder. “That’s not you; that’s old Tootles,” he said.
“So?” said Bishop.
“So what?” said Fletch.
Bishop nodded. “Yes.”
Then Grim said “Whitey birds!”
Langy threw up his hands. “Let’s just ask her and be done with it!’
“Right,” said Bishop, who looked over at Peter again. “Jane. Where is she?”
“I’ve had enough of this,” Peter said. “Whoever you are and whatever you’re doing, it’s just not right.”
“No, what’s not right,” Langy said, taking a step toward Peter, “is you keeping Jane hidden from us when you know right and proper just how late she is.”
“Late,” Peter repeated. “Then you know. Of course you know.”
“I know!” said Grim, raising his hand.
“Know what?” asked Fletch.
Grim lowered his hand and bowed his head. “I didn’t expect to be called on so soon.”
“That’s enough,” Peter snapped. “You all have to leave. Now. This very instant.”
“We do, do we?” laughed Langy. “And why is that?”
No good reason occurred to Peter, so he said the first thing that came to his mind. “I’ve got a gun,” he said.
And with that, there was instant silence.
For a moment, Peter thought he had the upper hand, until Grim let out a giggle and said, “Golly! Peter’s got a gun!”
Howls of laughter filled the room as each of the four boys took turns playing the finger shooter or the victim of the finger bullets. Langy especially seemed to enjoy getting shot in the chest and collapsing in a grand, sweeping motion before leaping back to his feet to aim his finger at Fletch. Bishop tried to shoot Fletch, too, and he got increasingly agitated as Fletch made it clear that he was only going to acknowledge the imaginary rounds fired from Langy’s finger. Grim wasn’t bothering to aim at anyone; instead, he stared at the ceiling and made “pow. pow” sounds, firing his pretend bullets into the air out of his thumbs instead of his finger. That, too, seemed to disturb Bishop, who kept telling Grim that he was doing it wrong, only to have Grim ignore him completely and continue launching imaginary thumb volleys.
“Stop it!” yelled Peter. Nobody stopped it. Grim did aim one round of shots at the floor instead of the ceiling, but he seemed frustrated that he couldn’t aim his thumbs right when they were pointed down.
“Stop it!” Peter yelled again.
And, again, nobody stopped it. It wasn’t until Peter darted to the bookshelf, grabbed a dictionary, and hurled it smack into Langy’s face. Langy let out a small yelp and covered his nose as the other three gasped.
Langy’s lower lip began to tremble, and a drop of water started to gather in the corner of his eye. Then he sank to the floor and started wailing like a wounded animal as his three friends swarmed around him in an attempt to console the inconsolable. Grim kept saying, “there, there,” and patting him on the head as if he were a puppy, while Bishop ripped a page out of the dictionary and used it to wipe Langy’s nose.
“He’s a monster,” Langy sputtered through heaving sobs. “They turned our Peter into a monster.”
“Look, I’ve had just about enough of this!” Peter said. “I’m not ‘your Peter.’ I don’t have any idea who you are, or how you know my name, or – ”
“Not our Peter?” asked Grim, cocking his head. “Who’s Peter are you, then?”
“Never mind. We don’t need him anymore,” Bishop said. “He’s just a grown-up now. Somebody go find Jane.”
“She’s dead,” Peter said flatly.
“She’s late is what she is,” Fletch shot back. “She should have come for her spring cleaning ages ago.”
“She’s not going anywhere,” Peter said.
“Oh, yeah?” Fletch snarled as he stood up to face off with Peter. “And who’s going to keep her from us? You? Your gun? Some more big fat books?” That was enough to elicit another melodramatic howl from Langy.
“Didn’t you hear me?” Peter said. “Jane’s not going anywhere. She can’t. She’s dead.”
“Yeah, you told us that already,” said Fletch. “And our house is dirty. So you know what that means.”
When it became clear Fletch was waiting for a response, Peter answered, “No, I’m afraid I don’t.”
“And I’m afraid of spiders,” Fletch countered, his eyes narrowing.
Peter raised an eyebrow. “So?”
Fletch stepped in closer. “So what?”
“That’s what I’m asking.”
“What are you asking?”
“I’m asking why I should care that you’re afraid of spiders.”
“Don’t mention spiders!” Fletch said, recoiling. “I’m afraid of them.” Then he scampered back to Langy’s side.
Grim stopped patting Langy on the head and looked at Peter with plaintive eyes. “Why aren’t you our Peter anymore?” Grim asked.
Peter just looked at him, dumbstruck. He was no longer scared of these loopy intruders, but he had could find no proper frame of reference into which to understand this experience. He was beginning to wonder if real life was always this bizarre, and that maybe he’d just forgotten that along with everything else.
“He’s a monster,” Langy muttered again. “A monster.”
“But he’s not supposed to be a monster,” said Grim, who picked up the first book that Fletch had grabbed after he’d first crashed through the window. Flipping through the pages, he came upon a picture and said, “Take a look at him. Does that look like a monster to you?”
“Let me see that,” Peter said. He grabbed the book a little too roughly out of Grim’s hands and read the title: Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie.
“Peter and Wendy,” he read aloud.
“Wendy doesn’t come anymore,” Grim said. “That’s why Jane comes.”
“Which reminds me, where is Jane?” Bishop asked. “She’s late.”
“Jane,” Peter said, “As in Wendy’s daughter. And so you’re supposed to be the Lost Boys?”
“I don’t know whether I’m supposed to be or not,” Grim said. “Although I often do I things that I’m not supposed to.”
Peter shook his head. “I’ve read this book. There’s no one called Grim or Bishop or… or whatever the other two are called.”
“Why would we be in that book? That was about when Wendy came. Now Jane comes, except she’s late. Did she tell you why?”
“So you’re not talking about Jane, my mother. You’re on about some character in a children’s book.”
Langy’s sob turned to a snort. “You hear that, boys? Jane, his mother.”
And then the two boys next to him snorted, and the room filled with laughter again. They started bowing and courtseying, talking in high, snooty voices, saying things like “Oooh! I’m Mother Jane! Look at me! A mother!” But this time, Grim didn’t join in. “You’re ignorant!” he yelled. The others ignored him. “I’m a mother,” Bishop trilled. “A motherrrr! Care for a cup of tea?”
Grim walked to the other side of the room, jumped up on Peter’s bed, and struck a pose with his hand son his hips. “Listen to me, you ignorant slugs!” he screamed.
The room again fell silent, and all eyes turned to Grim.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting a mother,” Grim said. “Peter wanted one. Jane wanted to be one. Sometimes I even want one. What do you have to say about that?”
“This,” said Fletch, who then blew him a noisy raspberry as the other Lost Boys cackled.
“Now Grim wants a motherrrrr,” Langy laughed, raising his voice into a high falsetto on the last word. Then he and Bishop and Fletch went back to their screechy little pantomime, with Grim yelling “ignorant!” over and over again, all the while jumping up and down on Peter’s mattress.
Then Peter raised his hand and yelled, “Hold it.”
The reaction wasn’t instant the way it had been when Grim had demanded attention, but after a moment or two, the boys calmed down enough to let Peter say his peace.
“This is madness,” Peter said. “Simply madness. I don’t know how you got here; I’m not quite sure what it is you want, but if I have any wits left me at all, I know that my mother was a real person, not a storybook character, and I think it shows extremely poor taste and disrespect for the dead the way you are behaving, and I’m sure if I could remember more about her and -“
“You can’t remember?” Bishop asked. “You don’t remember Jane?”
“No, but that still doesn’t mean you can just –“
“You don’t remember us?” asked Langy.
“Do I remember you? I don’t understand. Should I remember you?”
Peter thought Grim was about to cry when he asked his next question.
“Peter Pan, “ he said, “you don’t remember me?”