The neighborhood kids called him Blackfoot.
Initially, it was supposed to have been a jibe about how filthy his feet were, but Blackfoot took to it like a pig to stink, going so far as to cover himself with warpaint and stick feathers in his hair.
They weren’t eagle feathers like real Indians had, of course. These were much smaller, from robins or blue jays that lived in the neighborhood.
Fully resplendent in his war gear, Blackfoot was the sort of child that others parents looked at as a harbinger of their own child’s descent into savagery.
Sometimes the other kids would invite him to play Cowboys and Indians with them because he could be a better Indian than any of them. Blackfoot always felt a special joy when he was allowed to play with them, even if the rest of the children were trying to shoot him.
Then the two men from protective services knocked on his door one day, asking to speak to his parents. His mother cried a lot when they pointed at him. Blackfoot hid in the bushes until the men left.
That night, they scrubbed his feet, but they never could quite get them clean.
Before video games, television and the Internet sucked the life out of children the world over, summers were a time to go exploring and adventuring. And if you lived in Memphis, this was often done without shoes, which inevitably led to your feet turning as black as the tarred asphalt you ran across.