Tag Archives: Lakewood Ohio

Out the In Door

 open-door.jpg

“Tut, tut, child!” said the Duchess. “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.”

Even though summer is almost here, and I’m going to be a sophomore at St. Mel’s in the fall, I’m not optimistic about the future. NOT AT ALL! Maybe I am some of the time, but only because of technology – OUR technology

The world isn’t in good shape and it’s getting worse faster and faster. There are terrorists and wars, although lately they’re small ones, but they’re on the go all the time somewhere and everywhere.

The economy is bad and there’s a crap load of pollution, too.

We’re spending China’s money, and that’s not good, because one day it’ll come back and bite us. We owe them a ton load of money. That’s going to start another world war. They’re going to try to nuke us. I’m sure of that. They have nukes, but we have nukes, too, and we have much better technology, so they can’t win.

Sooner or later they’re going to want their money back. We owe them the bank. Nobody even knows how much, but everybody knows whatever it is it would break the bank. “We want our money and you better pipe up.” That’s what they’re going to say. I think we’re going to say, “We aren’t going to give it to you,” and then the war will start. They’ll make a threat on us and we’ll retaliate with our missiles.

We have missiles that can go anywhere in the world in a heartbeat. They’re big missiles, absolutely huge, and pinpoint deadly. The military has them hidden away. They can blow a butt load of stuff up. They’re big, but we can squirrel them right inside a three-foot by three-foot space, even smaller if we have to, and blow everything up, no matter what.

There are a boat load of Chinese, so we’re going to need a boat load of missiles. But, we don’t really need to get all the Chinese, just the main men. We could do that, easy. We are definitely going to war with China. Soon, I hope, so we can get it over with. It will be so interesting. There are plenty of them, but there are plenty of us, too, even though there are many more of them.

We’re definitely out-numbered, but it doesn’t matter. Our technology will work for us, so I’m not worried. They’re the ones who should be worried.

We have NSA and DARPA and everything in the dark that’s secretive and massive. If we ever do go to war with China, which I know will happen, they’ll have to use all of that hardware, which will be groundbreaking. There will be so much news coverage of it, all over the world, for sure.

DARPA is a military secret, the most secret thing of them all. It’s where all our big projects come from. They used to be based in Area 51, where the UFO’s and aliens are taken to and kept. It’s actually a real place. But, now they’re on some island, somewhere else in the world. We don’t know, nobody knows, but obviously the government knows. Wherever they are in the world it’s remote, and a secret, probably close to China. They know what they’re doing.

They’re not FOOLS!

It’s not a good idea to go to war with China, but I know we would win. If and when, really, we went to war with them we would learn everything about ourselves and about them, too. We’d learn who we truly are and what we’re capable of doing. Our military is better, unbelievably better, than anybody else’s. The Chinese would find out what we’re capable of doing. It wouldn’t be pretty.

St. Sebastian is the patron saint of soldiers. He was the captain of the Praetorian Guards for the emperor, when nobody messed with the Romans. The emperor took care of the Persians and St. Sebastian made sure none of the Persians got too close to him.

Our military men should wear a St. Sebastian medal with their dog tags. We’re a Christian country. The Chinese and the Muslims would know where they stood when they saw the medal.

We got the job in Iraq done fast, but then it got all messed up. It just went on and on. Back in the day the Romans knew how to get things done. They would crush your army, destroy your city, and everyone left over would become their slaves.

We probably had to make sure about the oil in Iraq, that we would be getting it all, and making sure we got it cheap. That’s the only explanation.

I don’t know why we’ve been in Afghanistan so long. I don’t know what’s going on there. It’s all garbage since nobody can trust the Afghans. We’re fighting towel heads and not getting the job done. We can call them towel heads because that’s what they are. I don’t know why we can’t beat them.

But, none of them or any terrorists have come here again, obviously, since 9/11, even though there have been threats one after the other. None of them have been able to come back to blow anything up. Our military has made sure they can’t do it, no matter how much they want to.

Most of our military knows what it’s doing; but not all of them, especially not the lieutenants. That’s what Jack is aiming at, being a lieutenant. The GI’s, the grunts, the guys on the ground, they’re the ones who know what they’re all about. Why they can’t beat the hell out of the carpet is a mystery to me. I don’t know the answer.

Our grunts are super smart and they’re real people and real people know what they’re doing. It’s the guys who give the orders who are the problem. You can learn all the tactics in the world at military school, but if you aren’t there, on the ground, you don’t know how to apply anything and get it done.

It’s the Rangers and Seals who get it done.

President Obama? Can’t get it right. Thumbs DOWN. Politicians? NO! Congress? They’re RETARDS, most of them.

I like Sarah Palin and her family. It’s too bad that didn’t work out. She’s a plain-speaking countrywoman. But, I didn’t like what she did in Alaska. You have a list of what you’re supposed to do in office. She got everything done in half the time and then she said, “Oh, I’m done,” and dropped her position and went for the presidential election.

I didn’t think that was right.

John McCain wouldn’t have been a good president, anyway. Sarah Palin wouldn’t have been any good, either. Who wants a woman in the White House? No way! I’m not saying she’s ugly or can’t think, but she’s just a girl.

Hillary Clinton is the only woman who could be president. She would have been the best one. She would have gotten things done, I’m sure. She’s always on her toes. Obama doesn’t do anything, or at least nothing good for us. I don’t remember exactly what I expected him to do, but all he ever does is talk, talk, talk.

I know the economy is bad, but it doesn’t affect me like some other guys. My step mom and dad both work and make a boat load of money, even though they always complain they don’t have any. We are better off than most. I know we are because we added a very big addition on to our house.

I don’t exactly know any poor people. There aren’t any of them where I live. But, one of my friends on the next street doesn’t have it that good.

His mom has to work two jobs and she’s never home because she works all the time. He lives with his sister and brother. Their father is gone. He’s not dead, just gone and missing. On top of that his brother became a schizophrenic and he couldn’t live with them anymore. The last two years, when I was in school with him, my friend got worse and worse grades. Then in eighth grade he was always out late at night and never did his schoolwork. So, he failed eighth grade.

I don’t see him much anymore since he got held back. Actually, I don’t see him, at all.

Money isn’t everything, but everybody’s pawing after it, so maybe it’s everything, after all. Mr. Hittbohm ALWAYS says it is. St. Mel’s AIN’T no slouch when it comes to the old bread basket. Everybody wants all they can get for themselves. If people have a chance to make a dollar instead of making fifty cents, no matter what, they will do that. Most people are just that way.

I don’t like it that it’s that way. Many of the grabby people in this world win, but others get shot down. You don’t have to be greedy to win. You don’t have to be a winner at all cost. St. Mel’s should test for greed, not test for drugs, but that’s not going to happen since it’s the greedy principal’s greedy brother who’s got the school’s drug testing business.

Being greedy is not good character. Maybe there should be testing for stupid, too, although stupid usually can’t be fixed.

Our pollution is messing up the ozone layer. Everybody says it’s because of global warming, but that’s not actually happening. There’s no such thing. It might be warming up a little. But, a thousand years ago it was even warmer. It was actually much hotter than it is now. Everybody survived through that heat wave. All the animals survived and the polar caps didn’t melt. A couple of degrees one way or another way isn’t going to kill anything.

That’s not going to happen.

Everybody’s worried about global warming. They believe everything they hear. There’s Al Gore, but how can anybody believe him? He gets you drawn in with all his graphs and pictures and videos, but then he lays so much fluff on over everything. Whenever he talks about global warming he says all the polar bears are going to die and become extinct, and then he talks about his dad dying, and finally how he lost the election in Florida.

It’s more about believing him than anything else. Why should anybody believe him? Pollution is going to get worse. You can’t really get rid of it. There are too many people, anyway.

There are way too many people, actually. The world keeps getting bigger, or maybe smaller. There are more than seven billion people scratching it out. That’s bad and it’s getting worse. It causes pollution and you can’t stop it. There are too many people in the world now, so governments are going to have to clear some of them out.

The government is going to have to eliminate a bunch of people in China and India, where there are the most of them. They won’t have to kill them all, but they will have to burn down whole cities. They’ll leave the elite alone, but the less fortunate are going to have to go. There are many more of them, anyway, so that will be all right with most people, as long as it isn’t them.

They’re the government, so they can do whatever they want. They’ll just kill them.

People will resist, but the government can do it in a way, not necessarily hidden, but it can be secretive, at least. When a whole city burns down they could do it in a way that no one would believe they were the ones that caused it. They could cover it up. They could make it seem like an accident, like it was just something that happened.

Do it, but don’t do it. Pull the wool over everybody’s eyes.

It’s been done before. Look at the Jews. Big countries and big governments can do whatever they want. There was a book written two years ago about confidential things, but the government saw it right away, when it was getting on the shelves, and they took every copy, hundreds of thousands of them, and burned them all.

They can do that.

I don’t trust the government and don’t want to be a part of it. But, I wouldn’t mind being in one of the agencies, like the CIA. It would be a great experience, even though they’re hard to get into. The Secret Service would be a very cool job. Those guys have a plan for everything. They know how to make knives out of newspapers that cut right through your throat, through the soft spot in your throat, and kill you on the spot. They make their knives out of sheets of PAPER!

If the president gets shot they pull Uzi’s out of their briefcases. No paper there! They’re ready for anything.

Technology will solve our problems, but it’s going to take time. It can solve all our medical problems, make cars electric, and grow more food. What’s best of all, technology solves military problems. Most of our advancements are because of the military. So, it’s a good thing. Even starting wars can be a good thing, although just killing people, even if it’s the military, isn’t always right. But, if we have to go to war with someone, then we have to, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

You can’t just back down.

People always ask me what I want to be when I grow up. I started thinking about it after I got into St. Mel’s and saw the lay of the land. The bookster billionaires are freaking geniuses, but I don’t necessarily want to be like them. What I came up with was the idea that I want to be a doctor.

Most kids don’t know what they want to do. Not really. They’re living in the moment. I do that, too, but I know now I want to be a doctor.

Next year I’m going to take Latin instead of Spanish. It helps becoming a doctor to know Latin. Besides, I hate Spanish. At least I’m good at it this year. I don’t suck at it anymore, but I need all the help I can get to become a doctor. It’s going to be hard and Spanish won’t help me, at all.

What doctors speak Spanish? Latin is the way to go.

When I’m a doctor I’ll be able to make a butt load of money right away. I might not be rich right away, but I’ll have plenty of money in my bank account. Then, later on, my son can go to St. Mel’s and my daughter can go to Mag’s. They can go to good schools right away. That’s my motivation. It really is.

I never knew I wanted to be a doctor, but now it’s just in me. I don’t know what kind of a doctor I’m going to be, but I’m going to be Dr. Sebastian. I think it’s a good plan. I haven’t told anyone. I’m keeping it a secret. All I have to do is hang on to it, keep my eyes on the prize, at least until the school year is over.

The end of school, the end of my freshman year at St. Mel’s, is right around the corner. I’ll just have to see in what direction things go. I have summer camp and all my friends, all our girls and our manhunt game, and all our other good stuff in the woods to look forward to.

In the meantime, when school’s finally out, Scar and I will be running down Hogsback Lane into the Metropark every morning, barking it up and chasing down anything that moves, making our own trail on the single tracks that wind along the Rocky River, faster than anything anybody anywhere can sling our way.

Running down the end in the beginning.

“The end,” said the King of Hearts.

 

 

 

Might Makes Right

ct-sta-leo-high-st-0515-20160513.jpg

“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.

aerial-beverage-coffee-990825

Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus

 

 

Crash Test Dummies

maxresdefault-e1516838296875.jpg

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.

aerial-beverage-coffee-990825

Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus