Spring Break

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“She generally gave herself good advice (although she very seldom followed it.)”

I didn’t miss St. Mel’s during Spring Break, NOT AT ALL.

It was nice being away from everybody. I hung out with my new friend who lives in Avon Lake, and all my other friends, and didn’t think about school. I had been staring out windows a lot, waiting for spring. I felt like a crab apple tree sniffing out warm weather.

I did a lot of reading and relaxing. I re-read the ‘Hunger Games’, which is absolutely one of the best books of all time. It’s a series, there are three of them, and I read all of them when they first came out. I was in middle school back then and we had a book fair one week. I spotted it there, right on the spot..

Not many people knew anything about it, but I saw it right away. It said’ Hunger Games’ on the cover and it looked very cool. I read it and two days after I finished it I bought the second one. When the third one came out I got it right away, too.

I’ve re-read all of them because the movie is coming out and I’m going to see it as soon as possible.

It’s about a semi-post-apocalyptic America. Everything is run by the Capital. That’s another name for Washington, but they don’t call it Washington. There are thirteen districts, although now there are only twelve, and the Capital tells them what to do. Every year they have something called the Hunger Games. Each district has to send one boy and one girl to the games. They all go to an arena and they have to fight each other to the DEATH. The last person left is the WINNER.

They win a life of LUXURY.

Mr. Orwell told me to read the story of Theseus and I would understand what it was about, but I didn’t. I don’t think he read my new ‘Hunger Games’ so why should I read his old thing called Theseus? Besides, I don’t believe it really had anything to do with the ‘Hunger Games’. That was then and this is now.

I don’t usually read too many books, much less re-read them, but the ‘Hunger Games’ is a series I’ve re-read three times. The emotions, the action, and the conflicts are all great.

Barely anyone I know reads. GOD, NO! They feel like they’re missing out on something when they’re reading. “It wasn’t half-bad,” they’ll say. “At least for a book.”

My dad reads a little, and one of my uncles is always talking about books, but at St. Mel’s nobody reads. Some of the kids don’t even crack the textbooks they’re supposed to read. That’s how much they don’t like all a butt load of words.

“What if you’re reading something and there’s a misprint?” one of my friends asked. “If it was a cook book you could get food poisoning.” They just don’t want to stick their fingers in the socket for themselves, or maybe they do.

Truly, almost everybody doesn’t read. They think reading is a waste of time. They would rather watch anything on their tablets. That way they don’t have to imagine something to make it real. But, if you ask them about video games, almost nobody would say they were a waste of time. I don’t think they are either, and I love to play them, but I like to read, too, at least a little more than most.

In our English class we hardly read any books. We mostly read parts of them. I read the entire ‘Inferno’, even though I didn’t have to. I liked it because everyone is always getting ripped from their mouths to their butt holes. We read a smidge of the ‘Odyssey’, but it was for a project that involved an essay. The ‘Odyssey’ is long, although Mr. Orwell says it isn’t. Nobody cares what he says, because it is long. It’s retarded, too.

The first three months of school we read different parts of it. We read the sirens passage and, basically, some of the other good parts, like about the Cyclops. That was really something, him being stabbed in the eye with a nasty, burning, poop-filled sickle thing. That was good.

We read a few more parts, but they were so bad I can’t even remember them. Then we had to write an essay about what we read. It shouldn’t have been hard, but it was actually rather hard, because of Mr. Orwell. If you don’t write your essay how he likes it he won’t give you a good grade.

I don’t know about that. You just have to get used to it. He’s a boat load.

Mr. Orwell is young and has a totally different style of teaching than most of the other teachers. I like him, because I can relate to him, but sometimes I very much dislike how he teaches.

We have English class every day and he’s had us write a butt load of essays this year. I don’t like writing essays.

He had us write one about home in the ‘Odyssey’, another one about women in the Odyssey, and even another one about why it takes Odysseus so long to get home to his wife. Mr. Orwell grades every essay and no matter what grade you get you have to revise it. More writing! I got a 93 on one of them and I still had to revise it. When you revise it, if you do something different with it that he doesn’t like, he will give you a lower grade. That’s the grade that will count, the revised grade, no matter what.

Sandy told me you have to write a lot of essays in college, and she thought he was prepping us for that, so it seems like what he is doing is actually a good thing. But, we do a ton of vocabulary, too, Greek and Latin words, and words with all kinds of weird endings. He said he wanted us to know where words came from.

WHO CARES?

Mr. Orwell said he usually has students read a book over the Christmas holidays, but he had us do a group project, instead, which I thought was a horrible idea. We had to pick a part in the Odyssey and work with a group on it.

There were three of us in our group, including me. The others were Tommy and Tyler. I called Tyler a few times, but he never answered. I called Tommy, who was good at drawing, texted him, and booked him, and then called him again. He finally came over to my house.

I had a great idea for the cover of our project, which would be a bow. “At the top there’s going to be a bow, cocked and ready, and a long arrow in the shape of a question mark, going down to a T made out of a trident, and under that the title all in capital letters,” I told Tommy.

THE ODYSSEY

“All through the arrow there’s a question mark, which is about Odysseus being gone so long, and where he was for so long and being all clueless to his wife and family and the whole kingdom. There are his wife’s boyfriends, too, who had to shoot an arrow through rings,” I said.

I had a bunch of them in the drawing. There was a big Cyclops eye, too, and axes with little circles right at the top of the question mark, and then it all curved down. At the down curve, right in the middle, there was the poked Cyclops eye, and then the sirens, all pretty on the water, and everything ended up with the trident.

It was all about showing the main points of the book. The top part was dark gray, the middle was white with lightning bolts and the sea, and the bottom part was blue. I did the rough draft, but Tommy drew it out because I’m bad at drawing and he’s a good artist.

The other part of the project was to dress up like something from the book and take photographs. My idea was that we pose it like it was a modern-day, now not then. I picked the Lotus Eaters, because they’re all on dope, and stuff. But, Tommy and Tyler were worthless guys. They’re not too smart to begin with and they didn’t care, either. I had to tell them what to do, bring the camera, and then one of them forgot his clothes.

I had to let him wear mine.

Tyler wore dress clothes, and Tommy and I were in shorts and mesh shirts, like we were working out. In the picture we grab the dressed up Odysseus and try to feed Sun Chips to him. I had the idea to use Sun Chips instead of lotus berries because they are delicious. After we did the picture we had to describe the shooting angle, the framing, and the mise-en-scene, one of Mr. Orwell’s fancy words. We had to write a paragraph, too, about why we chose the part we did.

I had to do it all, which was busted, because Tommy and Tyler wouldn’t do anything.

We also each had to pick someone to interview, so they ended up having to do something, the big butt turds, which is what they are since they hardly ever do anything.

The person we interviewed had to be a girl from 14 to 20, or a woman, 21 to 55, or 35 to whatever they were, as long as they could talk. We had to ask them a certain set of questions, and after that we had to make up our own questions. Mr. Orwell told us to use his questions and their answers as a springboard, although I wasn’t sure what he meant by that.

We asked them about the roles of women, what they expected in a relationship, and things like that. It didn’t matter that the book was written three thousand years ago! It was just a crap load of questions that didn’t mean anything.

We didn’t read much of the ‘Odyssey’, anyway. It was really about Mr. Orwell wanting modern day depictions of whatever, so we did that. I don’t understand why we did it.

We don’t read much in English class, which is kind of sad. At the beginning of the year, after we came back from Christmas, we did watch a boat load of movies. The first one was ‘Batman, The Dark Knight’, with Keith Ledger, the actor who killed himself. I don’t know what it had to do with English. The next movie we watched was ‘28 Days Later’, which is a zombie apocalyptic movie in England. At least it was in England, which has something to do with English.

Mr. Orwell said we were doing film studies, and it was so we could learn the language of the camera. I have NO idea, JEAH!

My Uncle Gediminas, who reads books, was over our house one day and saw I had the ‘Hunger Games’. He asked me about it. I read some of the first pages to him, the ones filled with Roman names.

“What else do you read?”

“I read the ‘Inferno’. It was good.”

“I’m impressed. I didn’t read that until I was in college. What else have you read? The ‘Iliad’, Homer’s other book?”

“No, but I think I’ve heard about it.”

“How about ‘Paradise Lost’?”

“I don’t know what that is.”

“That’s a tough one, sorry. How about Jane Austen?”

“I don’t know her.”

“George Elliot, or any of them?”

“Wasn’t he a poet? We read George Bilgere in class. He’s from Cleveland. He’s a famous poet. I think he’s still alive.”

“I’ve never heard of him. In my own backyard, too,” he laughed.

“He’s famous, he teaches at John Carroll, and everything.”

“How about Ernest Hemingway?”

“I’ve heard of him, he’s a poet, too. We read ‘Hills of White Elephants’.”

“James Baldwin, anybody like that?”

“No, never heard of him, who is he?”

“Charles Dickens?’

“I know him. He wrote the Scrooge movie. I went to see the play at Playhouse Square. It was exquisite.”

He gave me a funny look. Scar barked.

“I read a book called ‘Leviathan’,” I told him. “I don’t remember who wrote it, but it’s semi-medieval, about this prince in England who controls all these giant robots. It was very cool. And I read an awesome Greek mythology series called the ‘Demigod Diaries’.”

“Oh,” he said.

We were sitting outside in the backyard throwing an orange day-glow plastic stick for Scar to fetch. It was a clear dark night with an almost full moon.

“That’s OK, read whatever you want, whatever you think is good,” said Uncle Gediminas. “Don’t worry about anything or what anybody says.” He clapped to call Scar to us.

I threw the day-glow stick again because, honest to God, I barely knew what he was talking about. He was an adult, I could tell, but he was telling me to do what I wanted to do, which was a surprise.

Kiss Off Mr. Krister

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“You may look in front of you, and on both sides, if you like,” said the Sheep: “but you can’t look ALL round you – unless you’ve got eyes at the back of your head.”

I had to read ‘Night’, which is a book by Elie Wiesel. He’s a famous writer who won the Nobel Peace Prize. It wasn’t that great of a book, which is probably why it didn’t win any other prizes for writing, just the peace thing. He’s written a boat load of books on the Holocaust, but ‘Night’ is the one that made him famous.

We had to read it in our religion class. The project didn’t make Mr. Rote any friends, but at least the book was short and creepy. It’s about Elie Wiesel going to Auschwitz, and about people getting killed shot tortured gassed by the Nazis. After that they were burned in crematoriums.

When they got to the concentration camp the women, at least most of the women, and the children, and the weak people would have to go to the side. They made them take off all their clothes. The Nazis wanted to save the clothes and shoes. They would tell everybody they were going to the showers to clean up. But, the showers would really be gas chambers. After awhile they would burn their bodies.

We watched a gruesome video about the Holocaust and then read the book. It would have been more fun if we had been able to read it at our own pace, but Mr. Rote made us read an exact number of pages every night. The next day we had a quiz on it. We had to remember one specific thing every day, so it wasn’t that hard. It was actually kind of boring. I always got a 5 out of 5 or a 10 out of 10. Mr. Rote always quizzed us on something that happened in one of the chapters. It was some kind of fact, so it was retarded.

Jack my so-called brother upstairs in his attic fortress thinks Hitler had his reasons and is misunderstood. He even went to one of Hitler’s mountain top bunkers when he was in Germany for his slap dancing championship, but he was disappointed. He said everything was falling apart and damp.

“It’s all wrecked,” he said. “Even the Germans don’t care.”

Jack is all about the goose-stepping Germans, the should-have-beens of the world, which is what he calls them. He dresses up in deer-hide leather shorts, a green wool hat with a grouse feather, and black shoes when he goes slap dancing at the German-American Cultural Center. The black shoes have two-inch heels and cleats as big as horseshoes.

His dance group dances at the Labor Day Oktoberfest every year. They dress up as old men with canes. A lady comes on stage with a big sign saying she’s got a special beer, and they drink it, and limp around to the back of a glockenspiel. When they come back they’ve lost their white beards and scraggly wigs and limps and they’re dancing all spry and happy.

“It’s like the beer that makers you younger,” Jack said.

They have sponsors who give them bead necklaces and sunglasses and they toss a butt load of the crap to the crowds during their shows. One year when I was there, since my step mom always makes us go see her boy wonder son dance, they threw out Jagermeister thongs. That was nutty. Everybody was grabbing for them. There was a riot.

I think Hitler was insane. He and his flunkies made mass insanity break out. I found out he had only one nut, which probably explains it. He was crazy, but he was a crazy mastermind. He was flipped out smart. His master plan was to make a master race by killing all the Jews. The Jews couldn’t be part of the plan because they didn’t have blond hair and blue eyes. But, in the end, he killed his wife and himself.

Hitler is always blamed for starting the war, but that’s fool’s talk, because Hitler or no Hitler there would have been a war. There ‘s always a war. Nobody cares who starts something. I just want to bomb someone. Anybody. Then I get excited.

My Uncle Valdas was in the Russian Army when he was young and lived in Lithuania. They made him go to Afghanistan and fix tanks during the war, but the terrorists crushed the Ruskies, anyway. When he got back to Lithuania he became a policeman, but now he’s a truck driver here, driving from coast to coast.

He’s not annoying, although he can be. He just comes right in to my room with his radio and iPod and I have to download crime books from the library for him. I got his new radio working because he had broken his old one, but I screwed up on the downloads and had to call Apple. They were good about it, but they said, “Don’t let it happen again.”   It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t exactly know exactly what I was doing.

Uncle Valdas was over for more than four hours with all his stuff. Thankfully, Aunt Lizzie showed up.

“The shit!” he said. “Put the iPod under the bed.”

Uncle Valdas is a weird talker. He has a weird accent. He’s always working, too, working hard, when he’s not gambling at some casino somewhere. Aunt Lizzie says he’s throwing all their money away. He’s nice, but a little assertive. He’s not aggressive, just assertive. Although he doesn’t ask questions, since he doesn’t not know it all, so he says. He makes a butt load of statements about things. Sometimes it seems like he thinks he knows everything. When we were downloading his books he kept telling me to do the same thing that wasn’t working.

“I already tried,” I told him.

“It’s not going to work,” I said.

But, he wouldn’t listen.

He’s relaxed when we talk, but he’s crazy. Not mentally crazy, but fast and loud crazy, basically. He’s always been. It’s nothing new.

I met Uncle Valdas when he and Aunt Lizzie got married nine years ago. I was five-years-old. There’s a picture of him and me when I was only a couple of months old. I’m buck-naked and my dad is holding me. Uncle Valdas is in the picture and there’s a big wet stain on his shirt. I must have thrown up on him.

Uncle Valdas never lets anyone get anything over on him. He will punch anyone in the face if he has to. He knows that non-violence is pointless. It’s fine as long as it works, but it hardly ever works.

My friends and I were at Crocker Park, walking the mall, not doing a single thing, when a pack of little retards walked smack up to one of my friends. One of them started swearing at him. They were ten-years-old and swearing up a storm. I could have slapped that kid in the face.

“Get out of here” is what I should have said, but I didn’t say anything, for some reason.

“Dudes, can you guys get away,” one of my friends finally said, shoving him away. But, the little retards kept swearing it up. If I had slapped him in the face to begin with he would have run away crying because he was just a small, senseless butt head.

I can’t believe a ten-year-old CUSSED ME OUT! I should have gotten VIOLENT. We saw them later, running around a Barnes and Noble, and security guards were yelling at them.

Is non-violence what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? Nobody knows and I don’t think so. Most guys at St. Mel’s would say non-violence is pointless. That’s because violence is a good thing. Maybe not always, but sometimes it’s necessary, when it’s needed. It depends on the situation.

More often than not non-violence doesn’t solve anything. It can, but most of the time it won’t solve a thing. It’s good to try to talk things out. No one should go straight to violence, but I have a craving for it. It’s all about adrenaline. It’s like a drug. Most guys like fighting.

There are a butt load of shows on TV about jails, jailbirds, and drugs. The people in jail, especially if they do drugs, like fighting because they feel it gives them a fix. They feel the adrenaline, which is like a drug.

Everybody at St. Mel’s is always messing around and fighting. I was wrestling with a friend of mine and he punched me, so I punched him in the stomach. But, we were just messing around, so I didn’t do it super hard. Violent stuff happens at school all the time. It’s just a bunch of guys punching each other, hitting slapping tackling. They throw the other guy to the ground. We usually do it after school, sometimes in the gym, or during practice for something, or other. We hardly ever do it in the hallways.

I’m not even especially competitive. I’m all for sports, I love it, but I don’t care about being the best. I do it for fun, at least most of the time. Teachers and adults and parents want their kids to be competitive. They’re always yelling at us. I hate that. Even the mall guards yell at us.

I was at the Westlake Mall waiting for my dad to pick me up one night when a guard came up to me.

“What are you doing, get going,” he said, all aggressive.

“Excuse me,” I said, on the sarcastic side. “I’m waiting for my ride.”

He was, “OK, but don’t wait long.”

Teachers parents adults always want to push around anybody who’s smaller than them. They want to be the alpha male, to have power over their kids, to be authoritative about everything. Adults are the ones who are aggressive in this world. They’re the aggressive grapefruits squirting their juice. That’s how guys learn to be mean and horrible.

BELIEVE ME!

   Mr. Krister, my history teacher and cross-country coach, is like that. He yells at guys all the time for no reason. He’s ugly with nasty teeth. He’s not too tall, on the skinnier side, and has a scruff like a schmuck.

When he pulled my tie one day when I was walking to study hall he pulled it down hard. It was all on purpose. He definitely meant to do it. I wasn’t saying or doing anything. He did it because he wants to have power over guys.

“How are you, Sebastian?” he said, all smug.

“Let go of my tie,” I said.

“What?” he said, all smirking.

He’s a complete adult, just like an adult. I should have told the Dean of Students about what he did, but I didn’t. I told my dad, instead. He had a talk with Mr. Krister at one of the pasta dinner fundraisers for the team. I don’t know what my dad said to him. I didn’t ask.

But, I know he’s been afraid of my dad ever since then.

Now I screw with Mr. Krister all the time, mostly because he’s a jerk-off, but partly because I know he has to watch what he does or says to me. He doesn’t pull my tie anymore or even hardly yells at me. Even if he never did anything my dad would never believe anything he said, so he has to be careful with me.

Shutting him down shutting him up. It’s too bad for you, Mr. Krister.

Might Makes Right

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“If you’re going to turn into a pig, my dear,” said Alice, seriously, “I’ll have nothing more to do with you. Mind now!”

I hurt the crap out of my abs before the spring dance at St. Mel’s, which is the dance for sophomores and freshmen, since we don’t have a prom. I was working out with my track guys in the weight room. You don’t want a pooch in the summertime, or anytime, really. There are different colored weights and we do weird kinds of exercises, like putting weights on our stomachs.

We have a new machine that’s a kind of half-cylinder, high off the ground, in which you put your ankles through traps that are padded and do crunches. The pads hold you fast in place. Everyone puts weights on their stomachs and does their sit-ups. I was using two fifteen-kilogram plates, which are very heavy, and I went hard at it.

You start by going flat and basically do your crunches, except you start in the sitting up position and then go flat. They’re the kind of crunches I saw Tim Tebow doing on YouTube. Tim Tebow’s a GOD among men. I love him. He must have a really small wiener to counteract his amazingness on the football field. There are many doubters of Tebow, but they suck, and are retarded, too

But, I hurt my abs doing the Tebow crunches. I actually hurt them. They shouldn’t be sore for two days. Nothing is ever sore for two days, at all, or else there’s a problem.

Laurel and I went to the spring dance. The nice girls like Laurel are super, sugar pie, honey bunch. When you talk to them they don’t send off the superior vibe. They don’t try to act like all that. They aren’t prissy girls, running around all the time, trying to make a ruckus of things. Laurel is probably my best friend who’s not a guy, except for Madison at summer camp. Laurel and like a lot of the same things and she’s easy to talk to.

If you go to a St. Mel’s dance or any other Catholic school dance, you have to have a date. You can’t go by yourself, one of your friends, or with the crew. If you talked to the Dean and made your case, I’m sure you could, but then why would you want to go?

I wanted to bring someone who was a girl, and it came to me, why don’t I bring a friend. “I could ask someone I’m good friends with, and it would be a lot of fun,” I thought. So, I brought Laurel. I danced with her all night, too, but no grinding.

OH, GOD, NO!

Big Blaze, one of my better friends in math class, brought a girl. It didn’t work out. Blaze is pale, has ginger hair, and loves his iPod. He had his buds on all the time, staring at the iPod in his hand, and walking in circles instead of dancing. While he was going solitary I thought, “Why would you come, anyway?” His girl left him milling around and danced with her other friends all night.

Laurel is a nice girl, but there are plenty of bad girls. There are many girls who are mean and dirty. They are exactly like sluts. The bad girls don’t believe in love or respect. They just believe in teasing. Oh, God, YEAH! You can tell by how the bad girls act and dress. They all wear boaters most of the time. They all like to be casual most of the time

They are all fourteen-years-old and all over guys.

“Oh, my God, I love you,” I hear them saying all the time.

The other project they all have is to date a butt load of guys. The slutty girls wear short pants and short tops. They want to expose as much of themselves to guys as possible, so the guys like them.

Most guys like it when their slutty crush likes them back. I call that imagination.

Their parents don’t care. Maybe their parents care to an extent, but they’re too afraid to say anything. Or maybe they care, but they think, “My child is not a bad kid. That can’t be.” Sometimes parents are just like my dog Scar. They don’t know their own minds and they don’t want to know. They even drive their slutty daughters to see their boyfriends. That’s the moral of the story.

My parents drive us to the dances, or I ride my bike and meet my girl there.

There are many girls who like guys who are jerks. Even some nice girls like them. Most of them are smart enough to know it’s not going to get you anywhere. They think, “Wow, he’s a jerk. Why would I ever date him?” But, there are so many guys like that at St. Mel’s, and all the other schools, too. It’s a tad load annoying. But, that’s how it is.

It’s annoying because they are guys who are mean to other guys, especially the ones who are smaller than them. MIGHT MAKES RIGHT is what they all think. They think they’re better than everybody else. They know not to get into fights at St. Mel’s because the Dean can just kick you out if he wants to, so they tend to stay away from that crap. But, they are rude and pushy.

I have many good friends, which is a good thing, especially friends who are football players. They are some big guys, like Sconnie and Big Blaze. Blaze is the boss of the hallways. When you have friends like that, and someone pushes you around, they will confront them for you. They are your friend and care about you. The IDIOTS generally leave you alone then. Sometimes, though, they have to be talked to twice. That’s when Big Blaze steps in.

When you’re a freshman the other freshmen who think they’re cool, and believe they’re more at the top, are kind of retarded. Once you get into the sophomores and juniors, especially the juniors and seniors, it’s the fun guys who are at the top. The retards either stop being that way or they trickle away. It’s because, truly, nobody likes a jerk. When you get older and you’re still like that, stuck in the ‘tard bin, I don’t like you. Neither does anybody else.

It’s all about how you act. Clothes are something, to an extent, but nobody cares what you wear. It’s all about what you do and say. A jerk in a million dollar suit is still a jerk in a million dollar suit. The sons of St. Mel’s don’t brake for that!

It’s unbelievable how many adults are like that, which sometimes seems more than most. My dad’s boss, Kenny the toad, is a complete d-bag, a total D. He Jew baits and calls black people niggers. He hates anyone who works with their hands. The only thing he did with his hands at the Christmas party was drink his booze.

“Unions and niggers,” he said at my dad’s company sad Christmas party that I had to go to with him and my step-mom. “They’re all trying their hardest to live off us, the people who really work in this country.”

He raises his children like he’s the boss man, except when he’s ignoring them. I don’t understand how his wife stands him because she’s so nice. She should dump his fat butt and put his ugly face away. She should have him arrested and he could go to jail for a year-or-two. His butt hole would be the size of a quarter.

Although, maybe she can’t, maybe he just dominates her.

There are plenty of guys at St. Mel’s who are like the toad. Matt is one of them. He’s always messing with me in the hallways, at least until Big Blaze settles things down for a few weeks. Matt’s kind of sloppy and kind of ugly and thinks he’s kind of good at football. The truth is he’s a third-string lineman sitting at the end of the bench. He’s not even a guard. He’s a tackle. He just stands around on the field. Matt’s just a jerk and he acts like it, too. He’s not in any of my classes, thank God!

I run into him in the halls all the time.

“Sebastian, you’re so dumb, you need to shut up,” he says, edging at me, nudging me toward a wall.

“Dude, get away from me, I’m not going to listen to you.”

I’ve told him more than once to stay away from me. At lunch and in the library, whenever he sees me he makes a point of saying his butt load of crap.

“Nobody likes you,” I told him.

“You mean you don’t like me,” he laughed.

He has a little mouth, little eyes, and little ears. His neck is bigger than his face. When we’re standing face-to-face I am staring straight at his blotchy, fat neck. Then he’s walking away from me down the hallway and all I see is his big broad dark back.

I never mouth off to guys. It’s not worth it in the long run. If someone gets in my face once, it’s, “Hey, whatever.” I can deal with it. But, when they do it a couple of times, then they’ve started to get in my way. That’s when I tell my boys and they talk to whoever needs to be talked to.

“Lookee here, leave him alone,” is what they basically say and the rest is body language. All I ever have to do is tell one or two of my boys and they always take care of business. Oh, YEAH. You make friends and they become the friends you care about. Matt doesn’t mess with me much anymore.

The last day before Spring Break the main music man at St. Mel’s walked into the lunchroom and came up to me.

“Hey, babe,” he said, in his fake Jamaican accent. I didn’t know what it was all about. Seth seemed very happy. He’s a DJ and goes to raves. I thought that was what he was happy about. Seth’s fifteen-years-old and takes pills when he DJ’s.

Raves are dance parties where you go crazy. Sometimes guys drink at them, which is what they usually do. They do that, and go crazy, and do pills. The only pills I ever take are the Tylenol kind, when I don’t feel good. Getting high on pills, or whatever, isn’t worth it in the long run. I have better things to do, like playing sports and hanging out with my friends.

Sports are better than drugs because you can’t get a bad high. It’s always a good high, most of the time, unless you get rocked. You can have a bad low, but not a bad high. When you get high on drugs it feels good at first, but then it just gets bad.

The kids who do drugs get bad grades. All of them do, every single one I know, and every single one everybody knows. I don’t have any friends who do drugs. But, guys do drugs at school all the time. There are definitely a lot more of them than the teachers know about. There are a butt load more, believe me. Most of them are older guys, of course. I know some of them.

Johnny is everybody’s favorite doper. He’s a senior, white, and kind of tall. He has short brown hair, and is strong, definitely very muscular. Everybody on the cross-country team knows him, although he only runs by himself and for himself. He would be the frontrunner of the team if he was on it, but he’s not.

“My sack, my junk,” he’s always saying.

He’s a party animal and smokes weed all the time. Some of the guys from the team have gone to parties with him where he just goes crazy. He gets drunk and does drugs and goes wild. It’s not like punching people, just getting excited.

The girls like him. He’s a lady’s man and all the ladies flock to him. I’ve never actually seen him do drugs, but the cat is out of the bag. Everybody can tell what he’s been up to when he starts smiling like the Cheshire Cat, all loopy.

I don’t know what my step mom would do if she found out I did drugs. She thinks she knows everything, since she’s a teacher. She’s not as smart as she says she is, but there’s no telling her anything. I think I would have to move out of the house or she would make me move out.

I could probably always live at one of my uncle’s houses. no matter what I did. I know a few of them would have me, at least the ones who don’t think they know everything, and the ones who don’t downpress you the minute you wake up in the morning.

Although you never know, because might makes right.

Bloodshed could be in the blood.

Double Jump

double-jump

“I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.

“I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone, “To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!”

I started playing video games the minute I got my first game cube. I was eight-years-old and I loved it. It was a cube by Nintendo that had little play disks. The next summer when I got home from summer camp my dad bought me a PS2. I played the mondo out of it. It was a great system.

There are kids today who still play game cubes and PS2s.

I never stopped playing video games, but I didn’t play them much for a while, which was the summer I was eleven-years-old. I got a used xBox when I was ten-years-old, but went back to my PS2. I didn’t like the xBox, at first. Then, two years ago, I got a new xBox. Now I only play it.

It’s a Limited Edition Controller. It’s better different state-of–the-art, with lights on the side, and the triggers are a new style. They light up green. There are tactical set-ups, using different buttons, and it’s complex overall. There are many different ways to play.

You can either play the tower or you can play on-line, although it costs money to play on-line. Play Station 3 lets you play for free, but the connection to the game is not good. It’s not bad, but it’s not great, either. You have to pay to play xBox 360, but it’s reasonable, and it’s definitely worth it, since they have more dedicated servers.

I play a lot of guys and sometimes even a few girls. We talk to each other on our headsets. But, I broke mine, so I had to get my dad to buy me a new one. You can talk to your friends while you’re playing laugh have a good time. You can play seriously, too, telling everybody, hey, there’s a guy here, come and get him!

Some guys take video games too seriously. “The world outside burns through skin,” they say. But, then they take it too far. Whenever a new game comes out they have trouble in school. They don’t necessarily get F’s, but their grades start to sink fast, because they’ve gotten addicted.

That’s never a good thing and why it’s not cool to play video games all the time.

There are some guys who play every day, start playing the minute they home from school, and stay up late on school nights. They play just about any chance they get. They even skip their crappy part-time slavery jobs so they can get on their consoles.

My ex-friend-to-be Mario at St. Mel’s plays video games all the time, which is basically any chance he gets. He’s chunky and doesn’t play any sports. “It’s the only thing that’s fun to do anymore,” he said. He doesn’t get good grades. He has a C- in my science class and it’s definitely because of video games.

You get addicted to them and you don’t even know it’s happening. All you can think about is playing. You think, I just want to play this. Then you play it all night. The next morning you wake up, shake it off, and go to school. Then when you look at your planner, oh, my God! I had all this homework and I forgot to do any of it!

Even if it happens only four times for only one quarter for only every class, that’s four homework assignments, which are usually ten points. That’s forty points off your grade. It adds up fast to a butt load of bad grades.

Our teachers don’t know what’s happening, or if they’re deluded and think they know, they don’t actually know. No one ever tells their teachers they’re failing because they play video games. “I’m just having trouble,” is what everybody says. Nobody says I’ve been playing video games all the time and didn’t write out any of my notes.

It’s not just video games, though.

CJ is in my history class and sits in front of me. He’s a good artist and all day long he draws pictures of basketball and football players because he’s gay. We take notes every day and I have at least a twenty-five-page book filled back to front, but he doesn’t take any notes, at all. Taking notes is a big thing in our classes. I started taking them and it helped me super immensely. It showed on my grades.

“CJ, what are you doing?”

“Dude, shut up,” he says.

Cartooning isn’t video games, but it’s the same thing.

I study my notes at home every day, which is something you just have to do. If I didn’t my time would be gone up in smoke playing video games. I would have a test the next day and fail it.

You can’t just get on your console and think you will be in control. Everyone thinks they have board control, but it’s usually the other way around. Your parents will know. If I sat at home every day after school and played Call of Duty, when my step mom got home she would notice, and there would be trouble. When my dad prints out my grades and I have a D he would know it wasn’t because I didn’t understand things, but that I was playing video games every day after school.

I don’t have dibs on many parents playing video games. Some of the on-line commentators are probably parents, because they’re old, or at least older. But, they make money off of it. They have a boat load of subscribers on YouTube. They don’t care. They’re rich as dictators.

The very oldest adults playing are probably twenty-five. They’re mostly guys on their headsets, sitting at home, who don’t have a job. You rarely see girls playing. It’s not for them. They don’t have what it takes, not really. They’re better at dating sims than doming.

Adults always say video games are bad for you. That’s what they say about techno music, too. What do they know? My grandmother says the screen will weaken my eyesight. Now it’s all about video games will make you violent. I don’t know about that. Everybody knows murder in real life is illegal.

The one thing I know is spending all night at a console will get you girlfriendless. I love video games, but sometimes you need to get up and do something. Otherwise you start to grow a sofa butt.

Almost everybody plays video games, although some guys aren’t allowed to play some of the games. But, if you’re a smart parent, and your son likes playing video, you should let them. That’s how they connect to people. That’s definitely how I connect to many of my friends. If they didn’t play the same video games as me then we wouldn’t be friends. But we do, and when we became friends, we notice we have many other things in common, too.

Video games are all about reflexes and aiming. That’s it in a nutshell. You have to have good reflexes or you’re sunk. You MUST be able to RUSH and RUSH DOWN There are different maps everyone plays, so knowing the maps is a huge part of it, too. If you know the maps you know where people are going to be and can strike fast.

Staying focused is important. When you’re playing on a twitch you have to control your emotions. Some people get ticked off and that affects their play. When you’re angry you don’t play as well. You end up running around trying to kill that one person who’s hiding in that one spot. You’re so crazed about it that you can’t see anything. They can see you, but you can’t see them, and they’ll see you first time every time and shoot you.

It’s better to control other people’s emotions. That’s best and better. It’s a better plan to make them angry than to be a madman yourself. Every time you play video games it’s a first-person experience. Only you can torch it.

Killing other people is fun, especially doing it with friends, and other people who might be friends. They’re all around the world and talking to them about it afterwards is fun, too.

When you play on-line there are game modes, like free-for-all, which is where you’re by yourself against everybody else. There’s also death team match, which is where you’re on a team killing other teams. Whatever way you play, whoever gets to a certain number of points wins. In the end, it’s all about wiping.

There’s domination, which is like capture the flag. There’s sabotage, which is where you have to find a case, unlock it, and type a code in. There’s demolition, too, which is a search-and destroy game. There are just a boat load of different games.

The idea is to prestige it. As you do that you get different guns better guns bigger guns more guns. You get SMG’s, assault rifles, and grenade launchers. There are no cannons, but rocket launchers, yes. You get more bullets for your magazine, higher power, and more accuracy. There’s just a butt load of better everything because you’re on a higher level.

Video games are a great way to connect with other people in the world. Even if it’s just your friends at home it’s all good. In the winter you’re not going to go outside for three hours straight. You can stay inside, relax, and play some video games. It can be an icebreaker if your friends are new friends.

War games are the biggest attraction, DEFINITELY. Massively multi-player on-line role-playing games are tremendous. It’s all about first person shooting and killing. But, it’s not JUST shmup and bleeding all over the place. When you get shot, because it’s from a first person view the screen gets a little bloody, but it’s not like blood spurting out of your arteries.

Back in the day I loved fantasy role-playing games. You’d become a character, start at a low level, and grow your parts. I fought monsters and won better armor. I used to play those all the time, but I quit. The last one I played you could tell it was going all to crap, so what was the point?

Guys who are good at video games are different than other people. They don’t say they’re better than you, but when they’re playing, and they’re better, you just know they’re GODS. If you go back and watch their games in theater mode you can see that how they play is much, much different than everyone else. They don’t run around all crazy. They’re cold-blooded and calculating. When I started I sucked. But, after a month of playing I got into a rhythm. I could do what I wanted on the maps and I thought that one day I could be a GOD, too.

Guys who don’t play video games act like you’re stupid if you do. They’ll act superior by saying their parents won’t let them. They act just like their crappy parents, all serious and smug. My dad understands that I’m not going to run out on the street and really kill people because I play war games. We all know it’s just a game.

If I was on my xBox every day – not that playing every day is bad, although it can be a bad thing if you play too much – my dad would probably not like it if he found out, but I think he knows I’m responsible about it.

Some parents are probably scared of their kids being introduced to violence. They say it’s INAPPROPRIATE. They think it’s bad to play any games with guns. I don’t know of any other reason they would be scared. They don’t like violence, shooting, and a butt load of gore. I’ve heard parents believe a guy played Call of Duty and afterwards went out and murdered a girl. It doesn’t matter even if it happened. I don’t think that should be a reason for not playing.

You can’t say, oh, my God! VIDEO GAMES ARE EVIL! Playing a video game doesn’t make anyone get a real gun and shoot a girl or a random dude on the street. That doesn’t pertain to playing Call of Duty. A lot of adults try to pull that stupid argument, but they’re only being stupid. Sometimes video games are just scapegoats for crappy parents. The only bad thing video games can do for sure is get you bad grades in school. Some guys take it too far, quit their jobs, and literally play games all day. That is truly stupid. But, it’s a personal problem. It’s not a bad thing if it’s personal.

Video games are a way to feel good about yourself. If you get made fun of at school, and people don’t respect you, playing video games is a way to get away. It makes you feel good, and important, like you can do anything. It makes anyone feel like they can take on the world.

It was a big day when Modern Warfare Call of Duty 3 came out. I had my AC130, which is my gunship, and I got on a kill streak. I was literally mowing guys down, making them spawn tracks, just mowing them down with my gunship. WHOA! You feel big and bad, like those jerks at school don’t have anything on you, just for the little bit of time that you’re playing. You always have to go back to real life, of course, but you can return to the game later and feel good again.

Video games are ridiculously popular, although some guys say it’s all a waste of time. “I can do so much more, so many better things,” they say.

They might be a waste of time, but it’s fun to lay back, relax, and not take it too seriously. I don’t know what those guys do instead of playing video games. I never ask. They just say it’s a waste of time. They were probably raised that way. Some of them get angry about it.

“What’s the big deal, dude?” I ask them.

“Who cares? You?” they say.

“Dude, you’re a tard,” CJ told one of the haters, even though CJ doesn’t even play video games. “If you like the games, that’s cool, if you don’t, you don’t have to say they’re stupid and a waste of time.”

Some adults think video games are fine. They don’t care too much. The real geezers don’t care at all because they’re beyond caring. Many adults are sulky about them, bitter, and kind of angry. But, I hope they’re not against them, in general. Everybody should know something about video games. You shouldn’t say they suck. That’s useless talk, that’s all, just comments in the comments section that nobody cares about.

Bull in the Ring

 bull

When his eye happened to fall upon Alice, he turned round rather instantly, and stood for some time looking at her with an air of the deepest disgust.

“What – is – this?” he said at last.

“This is a child!” Haigha replied eagerly.

“I always thought they were fabulous monsters!” said the Unicorn. “Is it alive?”

“It can talk,” said Haigha, solemnly.

My big bother so-called brother Jack thinks he’s an expert marksman. He tells everybody that he is, and he’s going to join the Army next year to be a weapons maintenance man, but expert marksman? He’s definitely not that.

He’s definitely not my brother, either. Halfway is as far as it goes, in all ways.

We have guns, which are mostly his, and he’s a good shot, but he’s never been in a real competition. I’ve gone shooting with him and he’s shown me videos of himself shooting, but he doesn’t shoot very far. He’s a marksman, I guess, if he’s close enough to his man.

He knows how to handle guns, take them apart, and clean them. He can clean them better than anybody I know, although he won’t spend a second glance cleaning our house, which means I have to do his part. My step mom thinks it’s a privilege he’s her natural-born son.

If you’re his girlfriend and want to know how he’ll treat you if you ever get married, just listen to him talking to me sometime.

I don’t know how he got started with guns. Jack has always liked the military, and uniforms, and the superior straight back. When he was a kid he got a BB gun, but then, so did everybody else. He knows a butt load about guns and thinks they’re awesome. They’re awesome because of how they work, how they can kill people, that’s all.

There are a couple of guys I wouldn’t mind shooting.

There’s Patrick, for one, whose dad works for the Cleveland Browns. He’s a total d-bag, tall, wears his hair puffed and blonde. He’s the quarterback on the freshman team. He’s always depressed, though. Every day at his locker he’s just kind of unhappy, like he’s stuck in midair.

He’s a mean person, though, and a jerk. Most guys are jerks once in a while, but Patrick burns that flag. When I see him walking to school he seems mad. He’s not awkward in any way, and dresses fine, but he slumps when he walks. It’s noticeable even across the street from the front door of the Red Door Deli.

Another one in that boat is Martinelli. We call him Matty. He’s in my math class and he’s a creeper. He’s a crap load of annoying, too. I’m fine with annoying people because everyone rubs you the wrong way sometimes, but he’s a weirdo. I heard he’s been one since he was a kid. He’s sour and strange.

Maybe God was having a bad day when he made Matty, because he’s a stalker and a creeper, too.

He’s been creeping on one of my friends from Lakewood Catholic Academy. He sneaks around her house and neighborhood looking for her. He creeps her on Facebook, which isn’t unusual. Lots of guys do that. It would be super if he were stalking me. I could pick him off bit by bit with air pellets. But, stalking a girl isn’t right just because you can’t get a real date.

I don’t know what he wants, although whatever it is he isn’t going to get it. My friend just hates it. At one of our dances it turned into the funny thing in the middle of the gym. I was dancing with her when he came up to us and she started yelling at him.

“Matty, you’re such a CREEPER, get out of here!”

“Are you kidding me?” he asked, his mouth all twisted, and just walked away.

He’s a freshman, like all of us are, and it doesn’t seem like he should be so weird. He’s a tad taller than me, but pretty pale, with a narrow face and slanky brown hair. If I threw bullets at Patrick and Matty it might get me a little happiness.

I would also definitely shoot Spoons.

He’s on my cross-country team and he’s a JERK all the time. Everybody’s annoyed with him so no one would miss him, at all. It’s because of how he acts most of the time that no one likes him anymore. He always tries to talk downtown on you. He comes right up to you for no reason and calls you an idiot.

“Just shut up, dude,” I say.

“No, you shut up. What are you going to do about it, anyway?” he says.

It’s always dumb and hard to take crap like that. Other people want to shoot him besides me. There’s a line and he crosses that line. There’s no going back once you’ve crossed the out-of-the-gate line.

I’ve shot plenty of people with air soft guns and BB guns, so I know what it’s like to shoot somebody, although so far they’ve all been my friends.

Air soft guns shoot plastic fliers. They go fast so they can hurt, but they’re only pellets. They leave a smallish bruise. Bullets are better, but I’ve never shot a person with a bullet. In fact, the only thing I’ve ever killed is a frog, although it was really a toad. It was at summer camp. My friend was trying to stab it behind our cabin, where there were always a lot of them. He hit it a few times, but mostly kept missing.

“Give it to me,” I said. I grabbed it and stabbed it and then slammed it on a tree so it would die quickly. It was a mercy killing.

There would be no mercy for Spoons, though.

Spoons is Spoons because we say so. When you’re a freshman at St. Mel’s on any of the teams you get a nickname. No one’s allowed to give himself a nickname, like Super Nova, or anything like that. The upperclassmen give us our tags on the cross-country team. I’m Blue, and there are Squints, Puma, Barney, Elmo, Coin, Rondo, and Spoons.

Squints doesn’t squint, and he’s not even Asian, so none of us know how he got the tag. Puma is Puma because he’s fast, fast like a cat. Spoon’s nose and mouth are bad, like his features were spooned like soup onto his head. He’s mostly ugly and has long brown furry hair that’s matted. At the beginning of the year he started off being a nice guy, but got worse and worse all winter long.

Every once in a while he would try to be nicer.

“Ah, OK,” I would say, but that was always a mistake, because before the end of practice he would be the same mean old wrong way Spoons. He’s a better runner than me, so as the year went on I couldn’t and didn’t have to be near him during practice.

We train on trails in the Metropark, on the Towpath, and at Edgewater Park. They’re hard to run because they’re rutted and bumpy, winding up and down, and you have to watch where you’re putting your feet. We get wet and muddy. We trained five days a weeks, running six miles here and there, and there were sprints on top of that. There were some distances that went seven or eight, but we’ve never gone past eight miles, thank goodness.

At first you’re dying, but after awhile you start feeling less bad. Then you have to go harder, and faster, so you start feeling bad again. It’s a rat race. But, we’re a good team. We took second in the Districts and we’re going to the Regionals. If we make it out of there we’ll go to States.

I’ve played baseball, basketball, and soccer. I wish I would have stuck with soccer, but I didn’t. Not enough action, honestly. I played football for five years, until I went into eighth grade. It was FUN until the coaches RUINED it. I always wanted to play football, though, so I did. My dad wanted me to play soccer. He said it was safer, but he signed me up for football when I said soccer sucked. He bought all the stuff I needed.

He took me to a store to get my own pants with built-in pads. Otherwise, the team gave you baggy pants from a long time ago. They were the kind where you have to stick the skanky pads in and they never stay. The new ones have things on a little belt that you tie on. It was a big deal to have all my own brand new stuff.

I got my own chinstrap, too, because the team chinstraps were nasty sweaty stained things that hardly worked at all. I got my own strong one with padding.

My dad bought me special Hex pads. They’re hexagons over a skintight muscle shirt. You had pads all over so when you got hit it wouldn’t hurt as much. There’s something in them that cushions the blow. Oh, my God, thank God they work! You get hit HARD playing football. Sometimes, even when you have ROCKED the other guy, you’d totally get CRACKED, too.

CRASH TEST DUMMIES.

No matter what, though, pads or no pads, I got hurt. Everybody did, got dinged got a stinger got busted up. I hit someone bursting up the middle one game one day and an awful buzz shot down my arm. It felt like when you fall asleep and your hand goes numb, but it was my arm, all at once. It hurt for two weeks, mostly in my shoulder, and I had to go see a doctor. I don’t know what he said, or did, but it got better after awhile.

“Real boys love the pain of competition,” our head coach Brad Reagan and his brother Gold were always saying. Whenever they said that we knew we would be doing a butt load of Bull in the Ring drills next.

I was a cornerback and I was good. Hitting people was fun, especially people who were better than you, except if they were really good, which wasn’t the greatest. Then it was like, OH, NO! But, if they were as good as you, or just a little better, you’d make each other better. You would have to make sure to try very, very hard. If you ran them down you’d be terrifically happy.

“Good job!” everybody would be yelling.

We were like that on our team. Everybody supported each other. That’s what I liked. But, then the coaches became more total jerks than they already were.

My friend Chad’s dad was the defensive coach. He was the best, such a nice man. We had a great head coach, too, at least for awhile.. He was Coach Hamm. He had played football in college and been a coach all his life. But, his son played for Garfield High, and he went there to coach him.

We got our new coach in seventh grade, Coach Reagan, who brought his brother Gold along. They were just total downpressers.

“You boys are a bunch of pansies,” is all we ever heard from them.

“Take a hit for the team,” they would say. “Just make sure the other bastard takes a bigger hit for his team.”

They were always swearing, like Mr. Rote, our religion teacher at St. Mel’s, except you couldn’t laugh at them.

They called us pansies and other select names. Whenever we lost they called us pussies. We were in the seventh grade, 12-years-old, barely teenagers. My dad got mad when I told him how the coaches were treating us. He talked to them about it, but they said he didn’t understand football, and nothing ever changed.

Many of the other guys didn’t like the new coaches, either. The brothers Rotten Reagan were a tag team. They were always on us, always yelling at us, squeezing us every chance they got. Coach Falco, who was our offensive coach, told them they shouldn’t talk to us that way, but they were complete idiots, and did whatever they wanted.

Coach Falco’s son was an amazing wide receiver for us. He got an award from the league for being one of the best players. Coach Reagan’s son was not so good, so he got the academic award, instead, somehow. A lot of guys did the same, or better, on the ACT’s, and were better players, but the coach had to give his son something, so he got the academic football player award. We had to go to the ceremony.

It was just a lot of nothing.

They gave us pep talks before games, but it was always a boat load of whatever empty talk hot air. I don’t remember anything they ever said and it never made a difference. It didn’t make us play better. It made things worse. They were so negative it made you not want to play. It made all of us sad and angry.

Coach Reagan’s brother was the assistant coach.

“Don’t play defensively, ever!” he yelled. “Attack and attack and attack some more!” Nobody understood what he was saying, especially when he was playing charades on the sidelines, but we ran around like nuts, anyway.

“We finally got one,” they would say whenever we won. They yelled all the time. That’s what ruined it for me. At the end of the season in seventh grade I hung up my cleats.

“I’m DONE with it,” I said.

I’m thankful I played football when I did, but after I started running cross-country at St. Mel’s I found out how much more I liked it, even though our coach is Grumpy Gillis. That’s what we all call him, who is Coach Krister. We make fun of him because he tries so hard to be grumpy 24/7.

At least he doesn’t give us PHONY pep talks.

Take No Prisoners

manhunt

“I like the Walrus best,” said Alice: “because you see he was a little sorry for the poor oysters.”

“He ate more than the Carpenter, though,” said Tweedledee. “You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn’t count how many he took: contrariwise.”

“That was mean!” Alice said indignantly. “Then I like the Carpenter best – if he didn’t eat so many as the Walrus.”

“But he ate as many as he could get,” said Tweedledum.

Our main summer camp game starts as soon as it gets dark and everyone’s finally assembled at the bonfire pit. We get the lowdown from the counselors, since they tweak the game a little every year.

One summer whoever was a child had to run around and find passports for their family. That was the main prize. When they got caught, and they all got caught because there were traps everywhere, the rest of us, their family, had to jailbreak them out somehow.

It’s like manhunt capture the flag hide and seek all rolled up into one, but much, much trickier.

Last summer the counselors took us to the mess hall, closed all the doors, and darkened the windows. They turned off all the lights and made us sit on the damp concrete floor. There were two people broadcasting the nightly news, but then a counselor warned us they were going to shut it down.

It got super quiet. You couldn’t hear anything.

When the counselors came back they were dressed in black, charcoal from the bonfire smeared on their faces. They acted like they were mad Nazis. They split us up into groups and gave us directions. We had to find books and save them from being burned. They weren’t real books, just pieces of paper. The more we found of the papers the more Liberty Dollars we got for the auction. The more of us in our group who got caught the more our Liberty Dollars would be taken away.

The papers were scattered around the camp in the hands of three special counselors, who were hidden in the woods, and kept moving around. We had to find them and when we did they were supposed to hand over the paper. But, sometimes you had to beg them for it.

If they caught you they would take the paper away, rip it up right in front of you, and you would have to start all over. A lot of people hid them in their shoes, or their underwear, or different places no one would look.

It can get very dirty, like when dirt ruled the Earth. The dirtiest I got was when I was by myself, not far from the art house, but on the edge of the woods. One of the counselors came walking past and I dropped flat fast. I lay in a bunch of crap, leaves, twigs, mud, bugs, and rotting stuff. He just walked right past me.

I was, like, “Oh, man.”

You can try to get away when the counselors catch you, but it’s hard because the ones who catch you are the strong, fast ones, while the other ones can’t and don’t catch you. The strong ones don’t like it when anyone makes them look bad by breaking out of jail. It doesn’t matter what the other ones think. You can try to break free when no one’s looking, but if they snatch you back then you have to stay longer. The longer you sit the less chance you have to win Liberty Dollars, which isn’t a good thing.

IT’S INTENSE. I’M DEAD SERIOUS.

One summer Matilda, who plays for a college basketball team and is fast, decked me, blind-siding me out of the blue. At first, I wasn’t sure what happened. When I got up I tripped her, although I didn’t exactly mean to, and started running away. When she caught me I fell on the ground like I was out cold. She was forced to drag me by my arms and legs. While she was dragging me I noticed a large lump on her chest. When I asked her what it was she gave me a sly look.

“It’s a tumor. I have cancer,” she said.

I couldn’t believe it. She seemed so healthy. I jumped to my feet so she wouldn’t have to drag me. While we were walking the tumor started to jerk back and forth. I didn’t know what to do. Was she going to collapse and die? Then, just as we walked up to the jail, her baby gerbil poked its head out of her bra.

The jail was inside the art house, where supplies and costumes are stored. It’s at the farthest end from the sand dunes. Makayla was the guard that night, and although she isn’t very big, she’s totally strong.

There are two rooms in the art house. She had to patrol both of them alone. She carried a broom, pacing back and forth, her head swiveling. We had to sit in straight chairs and be quiet. If you talked too much you had to sit there longer. If you got up from your chair for any reason you had to stay in the jail longer, too.

You could try to escape, but it wasn’t easy. Makayla would hit you, not really hard, but hard enough. She hit us with her twine broom, but usually with the soft end. When things got nervy she jabbed the broom down on you and yelled the whole time.

You don’t want to try escaping too many times, either, because if you try a couple of times and they catch you both times, they will kick you out of the game. It isn’t fair, but that’s what they do if they get annoyed about it. If you sit there quietly and tell Makayla you’ll be good she would smile and let you out before the others. That’s what I did.

I was good.

When the counselors broke us up into groups in the mess hall they marched us to the flag ground. They were dressed in black and most of us were dressed in black, too, or camouflage. The counselors were spitting out commands, when out of nowhere they started screaming and sprinting at us. We ran in every direction. That’s how the game actually started.

IT WAS CRAZY!

I broke off from my group right away. I had planned to run with my friends, anyway. We made it to one of the boy’s cabins and hid there, catching our breath, and then started running around. We searched for the counselors with the scraps of paper and dodged all the others.

The counselors are fast. Make NO MISTAKE about it. They aren’t sludges, even the sludges, who have sort of fast up their sleeves if they need it. Even the girl counselors can catch you if you don’t see them right away and they are already sprinting straight at you.

You can push counselors away, but not punch them, although you can punch them, just not all of them, only the ones who don’t care. Your friends can help you, and if the counselor is alone, you have a good chance of getting away. He can’t catch both of you at the same time, no matter how big he is.

The counselors tackle hard when they want to. They can be bottle rockets and they don’t mess around. If they’re your cabin’s counselor sometimes they’ll cut you slack. They’ll use you as a distraction. The trick is to act like you’re getting caught when someone else is walking by, yelling, “Help me!” Your counselor will throw you to the side and get them, instead.

A couple of summers ago the jail was the boy’s bathroom. They took out the light bulbs. It was dark and clammy, damp and sort of soggy. There was only one door so it was hard to escape. We had to sit in there with the rotten smells and daddy long-legs crawling all over us.

This summer it was on the edge of the sports field beneath a pole lamp. It was a pressboard box used to store basketball backboards. The jail was small, the size of a dining room table, but tall and deep to the back.

The counselors squeezed us in there, around the edges, and then made more of us stand in the middle like cattle. They nailed two-by-fours to the sides so we wouldn’t spill out. Everybody was packed tight inside like rats. You could try to crawl out, but they would have already gotten you by then, dragging you back.

We escaped when some counselors grabbed new runners and were bringing them in, but there wasn’t any room because it was so crowded. Someone pushed us out. We had a couple of seconds of leeway. They can’t just grab you again that same instant, so we ran into the woods to the Hill of Crosses.

The Hill of Crosses is on a small, sandy hill. There are nothing but crosses, hundreds of them, some bigger than me. Everybody’s parents know all about it. It has something to do with their past. It’s been there forever, but no new crosses have been added so long as I can remember. There’s a white fence around the hill and a gate, but it’s never locked. We go there for fun sometimes, to talk and chill, because almost no one ever goes there anymore.

IT’S PRIVATE AND SECLUDED.

We were cutting through the Hill of Crosses, talking about what we were going to do next, when Lovett, who is really fit and really fast, jumped out of a sand dune. He was waving a flashlight like a crazy man. Somebody smashed into him, who singled Mark out for it, running after him. We just flipped out, and everybody scattered, none of us going the same way.

Norville sprinted to the border of the camp where there is a crappy old fence. It was his first year at camp and he didn’t know it was there. When he tried to jump it he got all tangled up. He ended up stuck, his t-shirt ripped, and his hands got scratched. He couldn’t get off the sharp wire.

Later, when we all found each other, we saw Lovett again with his big flashlight. He was searching for Mark. Everyone lay down in the sand. We were nervous, like moles, but he ran right past us. We stayed behind the little hill where we hang our clothes after coming back from the beach, and later snuck into our cabin. All of us were sitting on our beds, laughing in the dark, when Mark started freaking out.

He was so afraid he got down on his knees, put his hands together on his bunk bed, and started praying. He was praying out loud, crying, and saying “I don’t feel good.” That’s when Lovett walked in with the flashlight stuck in his back pocket.

“What’s wrong with Mark?” he asked.

“I don’t feel good,” Mark said, and walked outside the cabin and threw up.

He tried to throw up in the trashcan, at least it looked that way, but his aim was way off. The next morning we dogged him about it, because Mark’s an idiot, but all he wanted to say was he just didn’t feel good during the manhunt and didn’t want to talk about it.

I almost broke my neck playing Nazis and Jews that night.

It happened when BIG AL started chasing me. He’s ripped out of his mind and jacked. He climbs trees and survives out on the tundra. I was jogging lazily away from Ned, who is fat and slow, when BIG AL jumped me. I screamed and went into adrenaline mode. When I saw his girlfriend waiting at the fork in the path I sprinted the other way into the woods.

I got away clean, but it was when I lost BIG AL that Ginty came out of nowhere. He was wearing a bandana and waving a basketball in his hands. I knew he was going to throw it straight at my ankles, because that’s what he was doing to a lot of guys. It was a hard basketball and he’s a guy who can sling it fast and hard. It smashes you on the legs. Guys were face planting.

I was running all out and jumped when he threw the ball. I jumped right into the low branch of a pine tree. It smashed me. The whole branch raked across my neck. It felt like my neck artery had popped.

“That really hurt!”

I kept running, but I was suddenly scared, so I stopped. It was all scraped up and bleeding, but not gushing blood. When Ginty found me he took off his bandana and wrapped it around my neck.

“You’ll be fine,” he said.

Then he grabbed me and tried to drag me to the jail. You can always trust a rotten counselor to be rotten.

But, I got away. I made sure my roll of burned book paper scraps was still in my pocket. I slept with them curled up in my fist and my fist tucked under my pillow.

The next day I ran to the front row of the auction. The camp commander stands at a podium with a wooden mallet. There is a chalkboard behind him full of a boat load of the things you can get and everyone starts bidding. There are t-shirts and baseball hats, breakfast in bed, and rotten counselors cleaning your cabin.

There’s stargazing with another cabin of your choice, which is obviously always a girl’s cabin, and that’s a good thing. But, I put everything I had, every one of my Liberty Dollars on the first shower of the night. It was the big night of the formal dance and I wanted to look my best for it. I made ABSOLUTELY SURE nobody outbid me because it was do-or-die for the hot water.

You get to shower first, all by yourself, for as long as you want. The camp commander posts a counselor to stand guard at the door and they don’t let anyone in except you. It’s ONLY you and you can use AS MUCH of the hot water as you want. There is only so much of it at camp, but you can take it all, and everybody else is left with the cold scraps.

Oh, yeah, that’s what you always do, because everybody else would do it to you.

Deserving My Friends

facebook   

“I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

I love Facebook. It’s totally fun gagged up takeoff. I don’t know what I used to do before I signed on the dotted line. I think I used to call people on the phone to see how they were doing.

Life and everything must have been horrible before Facebook. It might have been fine, but it’s more of a merry-go-round to know people, hang out with them on-line, and maybe meet them in real life. Whenever I’m away from Facebook for a few hours I feel out of touch.

You can literally put your thoughts about anything on it, especially funny things, and then your friends can comment on it. They can like it, too, which they always do. I do that whenever I see what they post. I’m always on Facebook. I may not be on it excessively, like some guys, but I check it all the time.

I’m a fast typist since I play video games. I’m much faster than most people. Almost everybody I know pecks. It only took me two weeks in a computer class to learn how to type without even looking. It just came to me. Almost nobody is as fast as I am.

I posted Mexican Coca-Cola Chex Party Mix Breakfast of Maniacs, and thirteen people liked it. They didn’t say anything about it. They just liked it. I post weird stuff, like best night of my life, and eleven people liked it. That’s all I said on my post.

BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!

I post a butt load of funny stuff. I posted “poking ‘dem ladies at the mixer” hash tag #13 and fourteen people liked it.

There was a dance at St. Mel’s, the kind of dance they call a mixer. It was only for freshmen and sophomores, at which you didn’t need a date. During the mixer, since I’m the dance master, three girls gave me their cell phone numbers. I posted that select information.

I post a crap load of pictures of myself, too.

There’s one of me with my foot behind my head. My friends think it’s funny. “Old people do yoga all the time and they can’t do that,” said one of my buds.

Another one is of me sitting on a couch making an odor face. Our English teacher told us he would give us extra credit if we posted something and got at least ten people to like it. More than ten people liked my odor face and Mr. Orwell had to give me extra credit.

HE WASN’T HAPPY ABOUT IT!

It’s totally great in that aspect. You can go to the home button and see all your friends, what they’ve posted, and their pictures. You can see all their weird stuff. Somebody posted “God is not mad at you.” I wish I had thought of that.

You can post all kinds of random things. Somebody put a noose around a dog’s neck, which was a puppy, and they put it on Facebook. It’s a real dead dog, although you don’t know if it’s really dead. It could be trumped up. They’re ugly freaks monsters, of course. They might go to jail, which you have to assume, which is where they belong.

I have a boat load of friends on Facebook, more than six hundred, but I’m starting to delete some of them. It seems like that many might be too many, but I know people from everywhere. I know them in Lakewood, from St. Mel’s, St. Ignatius, and Mag’s, summer camp, running around, and everywhere else. I have a broad opportunity for knowing people.

People send me friend requests all the time. I haven’t accepted eighty-one people lately, because even though I know them, I basically don’t want to be their friend. It’s because they’re hounds, or whatever. Not that it matters, at least not to me.

People I don’t even know poke me.

“Why are you poking me?” There are never any reasons that make any sense.

There’s Tommy, who goes to St. Mel’s, but I don’t really like him. I don’t like Eric, either. He’s kind of YECH! And there’s Carson, too, who used to go to St. Mel’s. He’s weird and gay. He’s not just gay. He’s actually gay.

Some gays are all right. I have some of the guys who are my friends on Facebook and in real life. Skip was like that in middle school, although I don’t know what’s happened to him lately. He’s actually gay. I know because he told me back in the day.

“I’m gay,” he said. “I like guys.” He lives in Lakewood somewhere anywhere I don’t know where. I didn’t accept his friend request.

Mr. Rote talked about social media in our religion class one day. He was angry about it. He’s always mad about something.

“When I was a kid my social network was called outside,” he said. “None of you are famous and your fifteen minutes of fame has been going on forever. I hope the next Facebook trend is shutting the hell up.”

Nobody cared what he was talking about.

You can never talk about teachers on Facebook. If you do it’s the kiss of death. At St. Mel’s they will expel you on the spot for doing that.

One kid landed in a can of worms for posting news he was going to have a party at his house that weekend. He got called down to the Dean of Students even though he didn’t say anything bad, like promising that everyone could get wasted. He got in trouble and didn’t throw the party, at least not that party.

Nobody knows who it is exactly at St. Mel’s that checks Facebook, but they do. Only the retards don’t know they do. I’m greatly careful about it. I never swear, or anything close to that. I only do that in my messaging conversations. Those are between two people and they’re private. I NEVER show them to anybody.

I was talking to Chris, one of my camp friends, about a girl I liked.

“She’s my cousin. You better watch out.”

“You know I’m a pimp, Chris.”

“I feel it, player.”

“OK, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“OK”

“Saudi, bye.”

“I miss you and love you” is what I say to a lot of people on Facebook. I don’t actually love them, but they’re my friends. I don’t say it to everyone, just most people. Two of my friends liked it when I posted “I love you” with a smiley face.

“I love you like a fat kid loves cake,” one of them said.

“Thanks, Johnny, you make me blush.”

People are my friends when they’re nice to me. That’s the baseline. It’s all about not being a jerk to other people. If you’re a girl and you’re pretty, that’s good, but nice is better. But, if you’re ugly, I probably don’t want to talk to you. It doesn’t matter how nice you are. Ugly is ugly and not good. If you become a jerk, like Sarah, who used to be my friend, then I won’t accept your friend request.

They always know, of course, that I haven’t accepted them. So, in real life I try to stay away from them. There’s a guy named Ryan in my Spanish class who’s weird. I didn’t friend him and I have to see him every day. He sits right behind me. It’s awkward, but that’s LIFE!

He’s a JV football player, but not very good. He runs track, too and he’s good at sprinting. He never says anything to me about Facebook, thank God. There are some girls from summer camp who pester me, but they are either too young or too old. I don’t want to be friends with them, either.

I truly know a lot of my six hundred friends. I see some of them every day at school. Some of them I never see, but I talk to them on Facebook all the time. My friend Tony has a band. I like some of his songs. We post back-and-forth all the time. I posted a picture of an orange dresser filled with creampuffs next to a dog peeking and peeing Cherry Pepsi.

“You’re such a freak and I like it,” he posted.

“Thanks, bro.”

I added a winkie face.

“Being sick isn’t fun,” I posted when I had the flu. “It pretty much sucks.”

Eleven people liked it

“I was wondering where you were.”

“Yeah, I’m laying at home, unable to move.”

“Same here,” Logan posted from his neighborhood of chinksters in Toronto. “Whenever I drink something I vomit it out five minutes later.”

My friend, Laurel, who might be my girlfriend soon if I play my cards right, posted a sad face.

“Aw, thanks, Laurel. What are you doing?”

“Sleeping.”

“Ha, ha, I just woke up.”

“Lucky you.”

“Are you watching the Super Bowl?”

“Yeah, 49ers all the way!”

“I hate you. The Ravens have class. If they don’t win I’ll be peeved off. But, I’m glad one of us will be happy.”

“Cool, so what are you doing?”

“Watching the game. I’m glad you like football. It’s essential to understand it.”

After halftime I posted Madison, my girlfriend at summer camp.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing. How’s life?”

“Not bad, but not great. I miss you.”

“I know the feeling. What’s the matter?” she wrote, and added a smiley face.

“I miss you, too. I hate school, but I don’t want to tell my dad because he pays thousands for me to go there. I just wish camp was forever.”

“I know,” she posted. “Come live with me.”

She lives in Collingwood, not far from our summer camp in Wasaga Beach.

“That would be awesome. I could move there and we could actually see each other.”

“Yes, but no. Just move into my house and you could live with me. That would be fun.”

“Yes, a little drama, but I think we could make it work.”

That’s about it, what we talked about, which wasn’t much. Most of my conversations on Facebook are just messing around. Others are funny and some are nobody’s business.

Everybody’s looking for a friend. That’s why everybody’s on Facebook. Maybe in the slums of India they’re not, but I’m positive about here and I know they are where I live.

I don’t post a boat load of pictures, but, still, I post a boat load of them. People like them because they’re very cool.

One of the coolest pictures is of me with no shirt on, although I do have a shirt, except it’s wrapped around my head. I’m touching my nipples and my pants are sagging. When Call of Duty came out I posted a picture of me in a pink and black camouflage cowboy hat. I’m sticking my fingers and tongue out all weird.

One of my classics is from when I was eight-years-old. I made a music video at my grandmother’s house. I’m wearing blue chest hair, checked pants, and a sequined fishnet shirt that is cut low. My hair is all jelled up. What I was was CC Hammer. In the picture I’m pouting.

My best one is even better because it’s two pictures in one. I have a zombie shirt on that says “Have you seen my zombie?” In the second picture I’m lifting it up and there’s a zombie on the underside that makes it seem like my face. I’m making a sideways peace sign. I was trying to be like a gangster. In my other hand was my cell phone.

The reason I had my phone was I was taking the pictures of myself in the mirror.

Adults think Facebook is either cool or it’s stupid. Many of them think it’s a waste of time, even when they don’t know anything about it. My step mom is special ops about it. I found out she spies on me by checking my pages.

“I’m all over you whether you like it or not,” she said.

I don‘t care what she says. She’s not as smart as she thinks she is. I might spread some breadcrumbs and make a fake Facebook with my name on it

Even my Uncle Gray hates it, no matter that he has a million boomerangs he needs to sell. He should wise up, but he probably won’t. Adults get stuck in the mud of time. That’s all there is to it.

“You have a profile picture, you sit around writing on walls, and guys you don’t know try to poke you. It’s like being a criminal,” said Uncle Gray at Christmas, when everybody comes over for brunch, stuff themselves, and sit around mumbling. When they finally don’t have anything else to say they all rush off and I have to clean up after them.

They say, “It’s a waste of time.”

I say, “You don’t know, you never use Facebook.”

But, they’re weird, old people. They’re not necessarily all weird, but they’re ignorant when they say it’s stupid. It’s fun to connect with people. You hang out with your friends and make friends. What’s wrong with making friends?

Sarah Palin even quit her job as governor to be on Facebook more. She’s on it every day and she has a million friends. It broadens my perspective on people. I don’t want to know a ton of people, but at the same time I do. I’m not going to leave it unless something new catches the drift.

The Zuckerberg billionaires are freaking geniuses.

You have to be smart about it, though. You can click to friend me, but all you’ll see is my picture and all my friends. Everything else is blacked out until I accept you. The booksters can see everything, but I don’t mind. I’m not planning on killing Obama, although I want to. I’m not going to post anything like that. You can’t be an idiot about it. You can’t just be an ignorant fool.

The Facebook people are cool. I don’t think I would like them if I met them, but they created a great website.

I get so many likes. I can’t let my friends down. The ladies are all over me.

What can I say? I love that.