For nearly two weeks, Robert Quinns tight-knit circle of pals hasnt been whole.
The boys still spent afternoons skateboarding, swimming and playing Call of Duty on X-Box, but none of it felt right because their best friend Kenny was in the hospital, possibly fighting for his life.
On May 30, 11-year-old Kenny Allen was mauled by a pit bull.
He had walked around the corner from his house to borrow a blender from a neighbor to make a smoothie. But a 2-year-old pit bull named Dallas attacked him, ripping away a chunk of the childs scalp.
Dallas, who belonged to Anthony J. Smith and Angela Oneppo, was tied to a cable outside the house before getting loose, police reported. Dallas has since been euthanized.
Kenny was taken to the intensive care unit at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, then moved to CMCs Levine Childrens Hospital to recover. He faces years of intensive reconstructive skin grafting.
The rising Saluda Trail Middle seventh-grader is a sweet-natured comedian whom everyone likes, friends said. Since hes been gone, the neighborhood hasnt stopped talking about him.
I thought he wasnt going to make it, said Jacob Neelands, 11.
Hes a miracle, 12-year-old Chris Hutto added.
Hes a trooper, Robert, 12, said, because (after the attack) he walked back home.
Since the attack, friends, acquaintances and strangers have stepped up to support the Allens.
Their church, Faith Family Christian Center, has been collecting donations. Neighbors in the small working class neighborhood are pooling money to help. A group of women is cooking meals for the family all week.
A convenience store nearby has a donation bucket on the counter with Kennys photo on it.
Everyone was anxiously awaiting his return.
On Friday morning, Robert and his friends got the word - Kenny was coming home.
How do you feel?
Leaving the hospital Friday afternoon, Kennys parents, Kenneth and Becki, werent sure if taking their son home was a good idea.
They worried he was too traumatized to go back. Plus, Kenny now says hes scared of dogs and prefers to stay indoors.
But he made it home comfortably and even managed to hobble up his front porch steps without crutches.
Kenneth wanted his son to take it easy. A six-hour surgery, in which doctors unsuccessfully tried to reattach his scalp, followed by a skin graft left him weak. Though a gauze bandage covered his head, his skull was still fragile. He was drowsy and needed rest.
Kennys first day home brought a mix of anxiety, visitors and media attention.
But there were times throughout the day when he got to just be an 11-year-old.
Sunk in the couch, clutching his replica world champion wrestling belt, he watched the latest WWE wrestling Smackdown on TV.
He looked most comfortable surrounded by his buddies -- Robert, Jacob, Blake Melton and brothers Chris and Matt Hutto.
They stood on the porch asking their friend questions only 10-, 11- and 12-year-old boys can ask:
Could they see his cuts?
What did it feel like when the dog bit him?
Did he want to go fishing that afternoon?
They chatted about video games and shared stories about bumps, bruises and scars.
The boys hung back while Kenny sat for his second television news interview of the day.
Afterward they joked about it.
They always ask the same question, Kenny said.
I know, said Robert. Its How do you feel? Then How do you feel now? Then How do you feel in five minutes?
Kennys parents worry about the future.
They wonder whether kids at school will pick on their son.
They wonder how Kenny will react when he realizes how severely hes been hurt. They have tried to shield him from knowing that for now.
Friday morning at the hospital, Kenny caught his mom crying and asked what was wrong.
She told him something had gotten in her eye.
Kenneth is still in shock.
He was in the living room when Kenny staggered home on May 30 screaming, Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!
I saw blood all over his body, Kenneth said. It was the worst thing Ive ever seen in my life.
Kenneth worries things will never get back to normal.
If I could just take that day back, he said. I just want him back.
Friday afternoon, Kenny was already pushing to get back to normal.
After his last media interview, Kenny asked, Dad, can I go fishing today?
Not today, Kenneth said.
Aw cmon Dad, Kenny said. Its not like theres any sharks.