Ticko, short for Timothy Grecco, walked to the end of the block. WetLand was this way. Logan, his brother told him they would go this summer, so he was going. His parents were outside messing with the dirt, something he would get in trouble for, when the WetLand commercial came on. The Fins the bad fish, were being chased away so they could keep a happy place for the whole family. It was "Open Now".
"we can go there on bikes."
"I can't ride one."
"I'll teach you." He didn't.
So he grabbed his trunks, and a towel and put them in one of the cloth bags that gave his mom a nickel every time she took them to the store.
When Logan took him last year, he was five and he was allowed to help make the sandwiches. So he made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The jelly oozed out the sides.
He put it in a paper bag with some chips. That too went into the cloth bag. Oh, and the sunscreen. Logan would be mad if he didn't take sunscreen.
Last the stick. Logan had to use a cane to walk, he said the medicine made him weak. Ticko wanted one too so they made one for him and the two of them would walk with their sticks.
All packed and ready for the day, stick in one hand, bag in the other he headed to the door. When they went for their walks they couldn't walk far, their mom got mad when they did go for a walk, but every day they'd go and every day they’d talk of some adventure but first Logan would say, “You and I are going to WetLand”
He remembered Logan telling him how to cross the street. He looked one way, then the other, and then the first again. A car went by and he did it again. He didn't know how long the cars would stay away so he ran across. This way. Towards the water tower.
He kept walking and at each corner he would look one way, then the other, then back and run across. He made it several blocks when he got to a ravine blocking his path.
"Where to now Logan." he looked at the stick.
This one was different than the one they walked with, this one was special. They didn't let him in to see Logan for a whole week. He was just in his room. They kept telling him he couldn't but they wouldn't say why.
Logan's door opened, he looked scary. "Hey buddy, what's the noise."
"They won't let me see you. I took a bath, I even washed behind my ears and between my toes. I'm clean."
"Come on, let's start a coup."
"Logan, don't, you'll get sick."
"Mom." Logan had never sounded like this to Mom, ever. "I'm already sick. I want to play with Ticko, I need him as much as he needs me"
"Come on Snots, let's shoot the shit."
He closed the door muffling what their Mom was saying.
That night they talked about the fun they had and the things they could do soon.
"We are going to WetLand. too."
"Hey, buddy," Logan looked serious. Get me my stick." Ticko did, while Logan took a knife off the T.V. tray. Most of his food was un-eaten. "And some string and the feathers from the trip to Black Bear." He requested some other things and sat Ticko in his lap.
"Okay, it's time to be men."
Ticko didn't like the sound of that. It was always scary when it was time to be men. He nodded though. Logan was there.
"I'm not sure we'll be able to go to WetLand."
"You were going to drive. You'll be old enough."
"It's not that. I'm sick"
"You went to the doctor, they took the bad stuff out. They've given you medicine."
"I don't think it's working. Here." he took the knife and with a grimmice poked his finger. Ticko watched. "I'm giving you my stick and this is my blood, it's a part of me." He put the drop of blood on the cane and said. when it dries we'll seal it. Now let's do some magic."
"But why did you do that."
"I'll explain in a bit. Help me braid this. Do you know what a talisman is?"
Ticko shook his head.
"It's a magic thing that lets you and someone who is not here anymore stay in touch."
“We are making this talisman for you."
"Who am I going to stay in touch with."
"Ticko," He hugged him so tight. "I don't think I'll be here next year."
"Where are you going?"
"Were men right now right?" Ticko shook his head. "I think I'm dying. Like Grandpa."
"No!" the jumped from the bed and ran to his room."
Later, he heard his door open. Logan was there with the stick. "Here Buddy, I finished it."
“I don’t want it.”
“Why not.” Logan sat audibly on the bed.”
“Because then you won’t go.”
“I know it hurts, and we need to be strong. Want to hear a secret?”
Ticko turned to look at Logan and nodded, “I’m scared too. I don’t want to go either but if I can’t get better I’ll have to.” He saw for the first time ever a tear roll down Logan’s face.
“We’re men.” Ticko said.
“Yes, and men cry when they are sad. They do what they have to they don’t get mad at unfairness because why?”
“Yes, shit happens”
“And don’t tell mom we said that.”
“Well someday just not yet.”
"Logan, I don't want you to go.”
“Me either. It would mean being away from your punky little ass.”
Tears the tears started and Logan and he cried. Logan noticed a shadow in the door, he waved them off.
“Okay my little man, let me tell you about this.” And they spent some more time talking about why the things were on the stick. “Keep this stick with you and I’ll always be near. I’ll always be able to hear you and you’ll always be able to feel me.” Ticko smiled and they fell asleep.
Ticko stood up and walked around the ravine a small rickety bridge let him pass. A few big kids were there. One was Samm with two ‘m’s, so you know it’s not Samuel.
“Hey Ticko.” He yelled from the bottom. Ticko waved back.
He remembered the day the ambulance took Logan away. Samm was there. Ticko started screaming. “Let me go, he needs me. Don’t take him.”
His dad was yelling at him his mom was crying. Samm knelt down and looked at him. It’s man time little dude. Having heard Logan say it to him. We have to let him go for now, okay?”
“No!” Ticko yelled. And saw samm crying. “It’s okay”
“I don’t want him to go.”
“Me either. Come on let’s go to your room.”
They did, when Samm saw the cane he asked why it was all decorated.
“It’s a Tellsman so we can always be together.”
“That’s cool. Maybe you can make one for him?” Ticko showed him how to do it. They used the handle to the plunger in the bathroom.
When they got downstairs Ticko saw his mom in his dad’s arms, they were both crying. He knew it was time to be a man. He took out a beer and a bubbly water and put them on the table. “I made Logan a tellsman, so we can always be together.”
The water tower still looked so far away. He needed to get there but he was getting hungry. Later. He opened the bag and pulled out his trunks. Wrapped in them was his talisman. He had to get to WetLand.
Samm agreed to take care of Ticko during the funeral services. They didn’t want him to go. “Samm, take me to the funeral.”
“Sorry I can’t”
Ticko ran off to his room Samm started to follow when he saw him coming back caring the stick they made. “They wouldn’t let me give it to him.”
“Samm I have to go, I need to give it to him.”
“I can’t bro”
“Samm It’s time to be men. I have to do this Logan needs this.”
Samm looked at him and said. Dress nice, a suit if you have one.
He came down with his hair slicked down and wearing a suit that showed his ankles above some grubby tennis shoes. “I can’t get my nice shoes to fit”
They went to the back of the funeral home. The place was full of people he didn’t know. The stick for Logan was hidden in his jacket. They had to trim it buy figured it would be okay since all the good stuff was on top.
People were going to the casket so he headed for the back of the line. Someone grabbed him. “What are you doing here.” It was his dad.
“I have to give this to Logan. He needs it.”
“Stop, you are going to make a scene.”
“No I need to give this to Logan.”
Ticko started to fight his dad even hitting him with the talisman. His dad dragged him out and told Samm, “I told you to keep him at home.”
“Come on man it’s his brother”
“He made a scene.”
He sighed and looked down at the distraught boy. “Come on little man, I made a mistake.”
When they were in the car Ticko was holding the stick. His favorite robot had come off. He was crying.
“You didn’t make the scene dude.”
He got to the park finally, it was two o’clock. His feet were sore but he finally got there. He looked in his bag and realized he left his money at home.
In panic he looked around, and saw a large group that looked like two families bunched together with several kids. He casually walked in with them.
Logan had said he would bring him. Well he was here.
“Okay, if we get separated where do we meet?”
“Near the woman’s restroom by the wave pool.”
“So I can pretend my mom is in there if anyone weird comes up to me.”
He walked around for a bit, and got to the Boomerang.
“Logan,” his mom had said. “Are you sure you should go?”
“It’s nothing mom, I promised him. Besides I feel better once I get moving.”
“Okay, but come home if it gets worse.”
It got worse. He passed out right here. It took him awhile to get help. No one would help, they thought Logan was playing but he wouldn’t move. They never said what it was. But he never got better.
Ticko walked to the woman’s restroom. The border fence ran along one side.
“If we get separated where do we go?”
in a soft voice he said, “Near the woman’s restroom.” as he placed the smaller talisman between the building and the fence