Diabolico! / 28 October 1997

Darmon Alexander was born on the warm, vibrating hood of an ‘83 Honda Civic, stalled in the middle of an intersection in downtown Giant City. This was the vernal equinox. The second-degree burns that Darmon suffered on his head, scant millimeters away from his gelatinous fontanelle, though applied seemingly at random by the scorched, sparkled, silver vehicle, quickly resolved themselves into the semblance of a six-fingered hand, open-palmed, splayed, a warning or a ceasing or a benediction or perhaps a greeting of goodwill.

Though most of the other drivers saw what was happening and either stopped to gawk or pivoted their machines out of the way and down another street, late for an appointment, say, one’s attention was elsewhere, consumed almost entirely by a fight with the missus mere minutes earlier. This one sailed into the intersection, striking the Honda Civic and severing the umbilical cord, sending the young Darmon Alexander into the air, smog-besotted, impossibly arid, and killing, with instant decisiveness, the parents.

Thankfully, a paperboy had just cycled into the gridlock carrying the final three to-be-delivered newspapers in his front basket. These three papers, each of which had the word DIABOLICO! in gigantic, 124-point type on the front, followed by a brief newswire article and a small, blurred photograph of what looked to be a blond girl around sixteen years of age holding a miniature flag of either Papua New Guinea or New Zealand or perhaps the provincial banner of New Brunswick or maybe the state flag of New Mexico, these three papers provided just enough protective, fall-breaking cushion for the literally bouncing baby boy that sailed onto them. Darmon Alexander wailed, shrieked, and somehow managed to be heard above the squealing brakes, the sirens, the howls of agony, the droning horn blasts. The paperboy, following instincts older than the petroleum that was frozen in the searing asphalt beneath his tires, fled, keeping the baby firmly inside the basket with one hand and steering the bike through narrow gaps between bumpers with the other.

Everyone watched him go.

Darmon Alexander was raised by the paperboy’s grandparents as one of their own. He broke his hand seven years later, had braces for three years, narrowly missed being crowned Homecoming King, and majored in electrical engineering at State. Today he repairs vending machines. Soda, candy, cigarettes, you name it.

Joshua Green Allen

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