emptied all his stones onto the floor and is placing them in size from biggest to smallest.
âPut the stones away,â I tell him.
Xander doesnât look at me when he speaks. He never looks at
when he speaks to them.
âI donât want to put them away,â he says.
âYou have to.â
âSo I can murder you. You are a haemorrhoid.â
âIf you murder me Iâll tell on you.â
âDonât you want to know
Iâm going to murder you?â
Xander says nothing. He has two stones that look the same size. Heâs trying to work out where to put these two stones in the arrangement.
âYour tractor beetles escaped,â I say.
Xander remains quiet as he studies the stones. There are a dozen shoeboxes lining the wall next to Xanderâs bed. They contain various species of beetle. Our employee Nathan knows the technical name of every species. He keeps telling Xander that he shouldnât keep beetles in boxes, but it doesnât stop him. Xander has punched airholes in the lid of each box. Typically, he has made some of the holes too big. Not only do they let the air in, they let the beetles out.
âI found your tractor beetles, Xander. Do you want to know where?â
By now Xander has found a third stone that seems to be the same size as the other two. I can see this
âThey were in my hair,â I continue. âI was at the store with this amazing girl and your beetles fell into my milkshake.â
At last I get a response from Xander. He chuckles.
âIt gets worse,â I say.
I tell Xander the terrible story of how I removed the tractor beetles from my pants, and was observed doing so in the security mirror. Xander explodes with laughter.
âThatâs why Iâm going to murder you,â I say.
âYou wonât murder me,â says Xander, âbecause I will murder you first.â
As usual, we start to murder each other. We do this on Xanderâs bed, because the floor is covered in stones and if we try to murder each other on the carpet we might hurt ourselves. We wrestle around and put each other in headlocks. Iâm stronger than Xander, so I go easy on the headlocks. We are both caught by surprise when Grandma appears in the doorway. Sheâs been out with Mum.
âWhat on earth are you boys doing?â she says.
We stop murdering each other because we know Grandma doesnât like that.
âJust mucking around,â I say.
âAdam is being gay with me,â says Xander.
âDonât say such stupid things,â says Grandma.
âOnly if Adam stops being gay.â
âXander is being a haemorrhoid,â I say.
âIâm very angry with you, Alexander,â Grandma snaps. âYou threw those stupid balls at me, didnât you?â
âI donât know what you mean,â says Xander, innocently.
Grandma holds out four wacky balls.
âI was walking around with balls on my back, until your mother told me.â
Xander giggles and Grandma frowns.
Mum enters behind her. âApologise to Grandma,â she says.
Xander looks sullen.
âIf you donât apologise,â says Mum, âweâll confiscate every single one of your wacky balls.â
This is a severe threat. Xander knows Mum is serious.
âSorry, Grandma,â says Xander, softly, âif I upset you.â
âThat isnât a proper apology,â says Mum.
âSorry Grandma,â says Xander.
Grandma turns to Mum. âGeorgia, you really need to use a firmer hand with these two. When I was a naughty girl, the teachers caned me.â
âI bet you caned them back,â says Xander.
Grandma leaves, but Mum stays behind.
âI donât want any bad behaviour tonight,â she says. âGrandma will be staying for dinner.â
âWhy does she have to come here all the time?â says Xander.
âBecause we love