Sue is the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered. She is forty-two feet long and thirteen feet tall. Her skull weighs six hundred pounds. She weighed nine tons, when she was alive. She was discovered by Sue Hendrikson, for whom she is named.
Near Sue, sitting at a small table for two, up against one of the Field Museum’s giant pillars, is a boy. He’s wearing a white t-shirt, an Oakland Raiders ball cap, and tight black jeans. He clasps his phone desperately. It lights up every few seconds through the cracks in his hands.
His dad is across from him. He’s short, with a goatee. The very bottom of a tattoo shows under his huge red polo. The polo is tucked into cargo shorts with endless pockets; the various museum pamphlets, maps, and tickets poke out all over.
They’re sitting there, in the shadow of Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered, about to eat their lunch.
“Well,” the man says.
“Yea,” the kid says back.
“Whadaya say?” the man asks.
“I don’t know,” the boy replies, and then, “Thanks.”
“Pretty impressive. She’s huge!”
“Yeah, a huge pile of bones.”
They have Sue posed right there in front, combat stance, looking ferocious. Sue, with teeth like steak knives and eyes like snow globes. Sue, who really lived and really walked around, in South Dakota, of all places. Sue, a Tyrant Lizard King if there ever was one.
“So…ah, so how’s your sister?” the man asks, “How’s Dawn?”
“Good,” he says. He stares at his hands.
“Good, good. And…baseball? How’s that going?”
He’s busy with his phone, takes a sip from the styrofoam cup in front of him.
“You’re in, what—seventh grade now?”
“Fifth,” he says.
“Right, right. I was gonna say.” The man takes a big bite of his sandwich, a handful of chips. The boy’s sandwich sits untouched.
“Who’re you emailing?” he asks, but seems to know even before the words leave his mouth the boy will never say. The man’s got this look like he wants to tell the kid to put that thing away, to look him in the eye, to have fun goddammit…but just can’t muster the authority. Hey, I’m trying, his eyes say instead.
“What about, uh,” he pauses, “Your mother? What’s your mother up to these days?”
And the kid says—nothing. He doesn’t say anything.
During her life, Sue suffered a damaged shoulder blade and three broken ribs. Her left fibula is twice the diameter of the right one, the result of infection. Sue did not die as a result of these injuries; her cause of death is not known.