Sit Down Shut Up Pay Attention

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Chapter 19

“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 a bedtime book by Elie Wiesel. It didn’t give me nightmares. I’ve dreamt worse. The Wiesel is a famous writer who won the Peace Prize, although why is beyond me. It wasn’t that great of a book, which is probably why it didn’t win any other prizes, just the peace thing. He’s written a butt load of books about the Holocaust, but ‘Night’ is the one that made him famous.

We had to read it in our religion class. Mr Rote made us read every word. There wasn’t anything I could do about it. He just would have said, “Shut up and sit down, Sebastian, and crack open that book.” The reading project didn’t make him any friends, but at least the book was short and creepy. It’s about getting dragged off to Auschwitz and about everybody getting tortured gassed shot killed by the Nazis. After that they were thrown into carts and taken to 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 cut off their hair so they could make wigs for themselves. They would tell everybody they were going to the showers to clean up. But the showers would really be gas chambers. After a while they would burn their bodies.

They were some sick turd bastards. You couldn’t even fight back, since they had all the submachine guns and you had nothing. What Jack my half-brother sees in them is beyond me. He’s going to be a hell of a policeman when he’s done, has got his diploma, and the uniform, and another handgun to add to his collection.

You don’t want to be a Jew speeding down the highway with Jack on your tail.

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 so many pages every night. The next day we had a quiz on it. We only had to remember one specific thing every day, so it wasn’t that hard. It was actually kind of easy and boring. I always got a 5 out of 5 or a 10 out of 10. Mr. Rote usually quizzed us on something that happened in one of the chapters. It was some kind of fact, so it was retarded, his stupid quiz.

Jack my so-called brother upstairs in his attic fortress thinks Hitler had his reasons and is misunderstood. He even went to one of the mustache man’s mountaintop bunkers when he was in Germany for his slap dancing championships, but he was disappointed. He said everything was damp moldy falling apart. He and his creepy dance friend were the only ones there.

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

Jack is all about the Germans way back when, with his pictures of the Teutonic Knights, the should-have-beens of the world, which is what he calls them. Dad went there, to Germany to the light bulb factory, for work, and told Jack it wasn’t anything like that, but Jack is a turd, like the has-beens. 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 performs at the Labor Day Oktoberfest in Berea at the fairgrounds every year. They dress up like 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 have lost their white beards and scraggly wigs and limps and they’re dancing all spry and happy.

“It’s the German beer that makes you younger,” Jack says. What a waste of time! Drinking all that beer just makes you fat.

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 stepmom always makes us go see her boy wonder son dance, they threw out Jagermeister thongs. That was nutty. Everybody was grabbing for them. Who wants a cheap thong? There was a riot anyway. It was totally fun. I grabbed a thong, but then somebody tried to grab it from me, and it ripped in half.

Hitler must have been 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 brilliant. 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, and the Jews got off the hook.

Hitler is always blamed for starting the war, but that’s just winner talk, because Hitler or no Hitler there would have been a war. There’s always a war. Nobody cares who starts something. It’s just like how I want to bomb somebody.  Anybody. Then I get excited. I go looking for my xBox.

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

He’s not annoying, although he can be, and actually is most of the time. He just comes right into 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.” He gave me a fistful of cash. I hid the iPod under my pillow.

Uncle Valdas is a weird talker. He has a weird accent. He’s a weird guy. He’s always working, working hard, at least 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. He doesn’t ask questions, since he doesn’t NOT KNOW IT ALL. 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 that,” I told him. “It’s not going to work,” I said.

But he wouldn’t listen. He’s relaxed when we talk, he doesn’t pace or wave his arms, 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’s not a violent guy, even though he was in the commie military, but 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, I was so mad about it.

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

“Can you punks just go away,” one of my friends finally said, shoving the squirt away. But the little retards kept cursing up a storm, not stopping, getting louder. If I had slapped him in the face to begin with, he would have run away crying because he was just a small senseless Westlake 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 store, and security guards were yelling at them.

Is non-violence what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? Nobody knows, not even Mr. Rote. 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 brute force. Lots of grown-ups have a craving for it. It’s all about adrenaline. It’s like a drug. Most guys at school like fighting, except the smarties.

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.

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 grown-ups 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, trying only a little bit to not be sarcastic. “I’m waiting for my ride.”

He was, “OK, but don’t wait long.”

Teachers parents grown-ups 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. Grown-ups are the ones who are aggressive in this world. They’re the aggressive grapefruits squirting their juice. BELIEVE ME! That’s how guys learn to be mean and horrible.

Mr. Krister, my history teacher and cross-country coach, is like that. He yells at guys all the time for no reason. “Sit down and shut up! Pay attention!” His class is like a sit-down fracas. Running on his team is a brouhaha. Everybody is slightly unhappy constantly. He’s ugly with nasty teeth. He’s not too tall, on the skinnier side, and has sad sack scruff. Nothing matters, though, when he’s at St. Mel’s. He steps through the doors and he’s THE MAN!

When he pulled my tie one day when I was walking to study hall, he pulled it down hard. It was 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 and playing with me. I don’t like being played with, but I played it smart.

He’s a grown-up man, just like a full-scale adult, and knew he shouldn’t be doing that. I might have told the Dean of Students about what he did, but I didn’t. I told my dad, instead. That took care of it. 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. I didn’t have to ask.

My dad is forty pounds bigger and two or three inches taller than Mr. Krister and boxed when he was in the Army. I know he’s been afraid of my dad ever since then. I can see it in his shifty look shiftiness of mind. I don’t need eyes in the back of my head anymore when it comes to Mr. Krister.

I screw around with him all the time now, partly because he’s a JERK, but mostly because I know he has to watch what he does or says to me. He doesn’t pull my tie anymore and hardly ever even yells at me. Even if he never did anything, but I said he did, my dad would never believe anything he said, so K-pop has to be careful about what song he sings.

Shutting him down shutting him up down for the count. I like the sound he makes when the trap door has been sprung on him. It’s too bad for you, Mr. Krister. Sit down and shut up!