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Something Stupid As a boy, I believed in good. A mother’s love was unconditional. Fatherhood was an undying pledge. Brother and sisters were ultimate protectors. Schoolmates were a gift. Life was a promise of success. I did good things. I made friends with a black girl and a Down’s boy. I worked hard in school…Read More
Nine Months AgoIn the fall semester of 1966, Scooter Andersen had been the first sophomore at Hell Creek High to own a motor. He made that clear the first day of school, blasting around campus on that junker without a muffler. He rounded the traffic circle, skidded his Yamaha sideways, and booted down the kickstand…Read More
If Dumb Were Manure I couldn’t stop looking at the freckles dusting her nose. “Hi.” That’s it? Probably shouldn’t write a manual on how to talk to girls. “Hello.” O’Murphy stood on the cafeteria steps. Those Siamese-cat eyes bedazzled me: jewel blue, blinking slowly and vacantly at a faraway horizon. For fourteen years, I’ve yearned to…Read More
Spring Semester My bedroom door opened. Startled awake, I rolled onto my flashlight. Oh. No. I reached under my side and set the light on the Remington typewriter between Biggy’s bed and mine. My eyes closed in resignation. “You still read under the covers?” Mother came in each school morning to make certain Biggy and I…Read More
Hollow Fathers We’d never really known how Vin Trainer felt about us. I’d tried to like him, but he’d kept repeating his bad-man patterns. Nan and Grand were teetotalers, and so was Mother. She’d carp about his drinking and Vin would storm away. Then he’d get drunk or sorry or lonesome, he’d want return to…Read More
No Respect without a Motor “Cutie, can you ride with me today?” Mr. Presley asked. “I have to throw Richie’s route.” So, Richie quit? “I’ll deliver it.” “His route and yours? This afternoon? On a bicycle? Can you finish both by six?” Presley’s Rule: every Daily Oklahoman on its doorstep by six A.M.; six P.M. for The Oklahoma City…Read More
Bittersweet Chocolate Love I skimmed 16 Magazine for Valentine’s Day gift suggestions while the dentist Novocained my jaw for the drill. My choices, it seemed, were an armload of flowers or a box of candy. I cruised into the Rexall on Main Street. The druggist walked as if he were under water. “Young man?” “Ka’dy.” My jaw…Read More
Escape from Bizarro World After I finished my afternoon paper routes, I’d always treated myself to a Saturday show at the Ritz Theater. Thunderball was the matinee. Just as SPECTRE captured James Bond, Pickle Andersen walked up beside me. Pickle fake-punched at my nose with his right fist and loudly thumped his chest with his…Read More
That Doublemint Smile I didn’t see him for a month, and then, holy feces, there he was in third-period English. “Why did Pickle come back to school?” “Truant officer,” Sammie Davis Jr. said. “How do you know?” Sammie watched my face. “My moms was the school secretary when they closed Fredrick Douglass. Two weeks ago,…Read More
Epic Fight Pickle stood outside Mrs. Lane’s classroom. “Parking lot, Cutie. After school.” I didn’t see his lips move. I’d been watching his eyes. Sammie Davis Jr. looked solemn. “You gonna fight Pickle?” I shook my head. “Why should I?” “Because you can’t back down.” “That’s in the student handbook?” Sammie’s hand clasped my shoulder.…Read More