A shout of "Cannonball" and hard slaps against our shoulders interrupted our talk. Ricky-and-Donny, the bullies, jumped over us, hitting us with their feet, and landing in the pool with high, far-reaching splashes.
Yes, I hyphenated their names. They were a matched set and did everything together. Where we saw one, we saw the other. They were cousins and had been dumped in the orphanage until an uncle in the military came back from active duty overseas. They went away after a while, but not soon enough for Kurt and me.
We got up and moved away when Ricky-and-Donny stayed right there in the shallow end and splashed us and crowed about "Kurt's got a giiiirlfriend!" Seriously? I was five and Kurt was eight. We were barely aware that he was a boy and I was a girl, much less what we were supposed to do about the differences.
The bullies followed us. When we retreated behind the locker rooms, they followed us. Only they ran outside the fence and got hold of all the old pine cones and shells of acorns and other trash that fell down under the trees surrounding the pool. Then they threw that junk at us. Kurt and I ducked for cover and ended up hiding under the picnic table on the far side of the locker rooms, where nobody could see us. With all the shouting and laughing and whistles blowing, nobody could hear us call for help.
"Y'know, this is really stupid," Kurt said after we sat there for about fifteen eternal minutes. "We're superheroes. We should be able to fight back. Those jerks should be running away from us."
"Can you make a machine out of this junk?" I winced when another handful of debris got between the table top and the bench by my head.
Kurt just looked at me. Then he grinned. I liked that grin. It was nasty and it was like laughter was going to explode out of him and he knew something wonderful.