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Rainbow Disease

Rainbow Disease

Jason Jordan

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The colored boy at my front door is asking if I’ll donate to RR—Ridders of the Rainbow, “a group dedicated to finding a cure for people whose skin is multiple colors,” he says. He tells me his name is Robert, that he’s twelve years old. Even though I can see for myself, he says, “I have a red head, orange torso, yellow left arm, green right arm, blue left leg, indigo right leg, and violet eyes.” The brochure he hands me has a full body photo—he’s clothed, of course, in a white tank top and shorts—and his limbs look like he dipped them in paint.

I say, “What’s the problem? You look cool as shit.”

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“A vast number of gay jokes, sir, and my classmates frequently singing ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow,’” he says.

“You get your ass kicked a lot?”

“Often, sir, and hard.”

“Not my problem,” I say, and slam my door. If I’m going to donate to a cause, it’s gonna be a good one, like a group that tries to find a cure for a real disease. I check the peephole, waiting for him to walk away, out of my cul-de-sac, my neighborhood, but he doesn’t budge. He rings the doorbell again. Against my better judgment, I answer.

“Please, sir, for only a hundred dollars a year, you can help find a cure for Rainbow’s Disease,” he says, holding out the brochure.

“I said no, dammit. I have my own bills to pay. Now get outta here.” Slam. The couch is more inviting than ever. I sit down and lean back, pick up the remote and channel surf. About five minutes later I catch the boy at one of my living room windows, his yellow and green hands cupped around his red face while he tries to peer through his reflection.

“I beg you, sir,” he says, his voice muffled, “you must help.” It’s the hottest part of the day, and I wonder how the rainbow people react to sunlight, if they’re extra sensitive like albinos, or extra resistant like dark-skinned people. I lower the blinds.

For the rest of the day, I avoid the door. After I pick up my landline and hear the word “sir,” I stop answering it too, eventually unplugging it.

#

At the office the next day, I expect to see Rainbow Boy lurking—his red face in a windowpane, his blue leg and indigo leg behind a bathroom stall, a yellow or green hand reaching for my wallet when my back is turned—but he doesn’t show. I also expect to see him sitting on my front step when I near my house after work, but he isn’t. And finally, I expect to see him sitting on my couch when I’m about to sit down with my first beer, but he’s not.

When the sun is almost down, I unlock the front door and open it a crack, careful not to let any bugs in. No boy. “That’s a relief.” Upstairs, I get ready for bed. I turn off the light and slip under the covers, but when I settle, it feels as if there’s someone else in the room, someone watching me, so I turn the light on and see Rainbow Boy, duct taped to the ceiling, holding a contract and a pen.

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“Your signature would be most appreciated, sir,” he says, offering the pen.

“Will signing that get you out of my hair?”

“Yes, sir,” he says, extending his green arm.

“Fine,” I say. “Drop them.” He lets go of the pen, which hits me in the face, and lets the contract sail down to me. “What’s this say?” I ask while signing.

“It says you pledge to donate a hundred dollars this year. When a year is up, you’ll be sent a renewal notice. I hope you’ll choose to renew when the time comes.”

“You can bet on it.” He smiles, and for the first time, I notice his teeth. I thought each tooth would be a different color, but they’re white.

“Thank you, sir,” he says. He fidgets, but the duct tape holds. He tries again, but fails to escape.

“Son. Of. A. Bitch,” I say and get out of bed. I stand on my bed and remove the strips one by one. When I think he’ll fall if I tear off another, I grab him under the arms and pull down, and the tape rips from the ceiling. I’ve always loved the sound of tape peeling.

“Goodnight, sir,” he says, making his way to the door.

“Goodnight,” I say. I want to use his name, but I don’t remember it.  

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All rights reserved to Jason Jordan.

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