He was one of those kids...
Always dressed in suspiciously white-stained sweats,
exuding the odor of catfood, urine and general neglect.
He had unruly red hair and an attitude to match.
He'd always get into fights
and he'd always end up with blood on his shirt...
guaranteeing a second helping of abuse from his mother when he got home.
Few of us ever invited him to our homes a second time.
Something would always end up missing.
Never something valuable or in any way important...
Knick-knakcs mostly... stuff no-one would miss if they didn't notice
the lack of dust on the shelf-spaces where they were taken from.
And he was a liar.
He would lie so brazenly, cockily and pathetically that we had to humor him.
The alternative would have been worse.
Always claiming he had some rich relative who bought him fantastic gifts
for Christmas and took the whole family for trips around the world.
In other words,
he was insufferable
and I didn't like him at all.
But he was my friend
and compared with the smarmy and greasy jocks and rich-kids
who seemed to know all the tricks and secrets,
he was a better friend than I deserved.