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Out the In Doors

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Chapter 21

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

Even though summer is almost here, which is great, and I’m going to be a sophomore at St. Mel’s coming up in the fall, and it’s great that I made it through my freshman year, I’m not optimistic about the future. NOT AT ALL! Maybe I am some of the time, but only because of technology, OUR technology. Nobody beats it. It might be enough. I hope so.

The world isn’t in good shape and it’s getting worse faster and faster. It’s getting hot. Sadie says climate change is going to doom us to storms mayhem destruction when we are grown up if we don’t do something about what the grown-ups are doing now. There are terrorists and wars, although lately they have been 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. All kinds of stuff is happening that I barely know anything about, the rainforest on fire, too many people, too much methane, although DB says it is just trillions of cows farting, and slaps his nuts.

He’s a nut, obviously. End of the line, bud. Head of the line soon.

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 of dough. 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. The chinksters will go down the drain.

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 crazy scary interesting. There are plenty of them, but there are plenty of us, too, even though there are many more of them.

We are so outnumbered, but it doesn’t matter. Our technology will work for us, so I’m not worried. They’re the ones who should be worried. They should be going back to their villages if they know what’s good for them.

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, although it’s all 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 anybody especially China, but I know we would win. If and when 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. You could never look back once it started.

St. Sebastian is the patron saint of soldiers. He was the captain of the Praetorian Guards, like the Secret Service and the Mafia all rolled up in one, for the emperor, when nobody messed with the Romans. The emperor took care of the Persians like they were the Chinese, no problem. St. Sebastian made sure none of the Persians got too close to the main man.

Our military should wear a St. Sebastian medal with their dog tags. We’re a Christian country. Since they are all atheists, 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. It’s just like Afghanistan. It’s always been a screw-up. We should have finished up there before going back to Iraq. The towelheads just drag it on forever. 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 for going there over and over.

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 towelheads and not getting the job done. We can call them that 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. They keep us safe.

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, when he goes. You better not be a Jew towelhead and run into him over there. 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 and neither do my buds.

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. It’s just like video games. You have to be the man with the controller in your hand. 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. She knows when to punch you in the face. 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 stepmom and dad both work and make a boat load of money, even though they always complain that they don’t have any. They are always scheming to save here or there, shave their taxes, not give me anything. Dad is willing but my stepmom, NEVER! We are better off than most. I know we are better off because we added a 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 over 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. He’s a goner.

Money isn’t everything, but everybody’s pawing after it, so maybe it’s everything, after all. Mr. Hittbone always says it is the be all and end all. St. Mel’s AIN’T no slouch when it comes to the old breadbasket. 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. Just about everybody.

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, no matter what Sadie says.  It might be warming up a little. I don’t mind that. 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 and 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, since it’s a cage with us in it. 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 us.

Our government is the government, so they can do whatever they want. All the white people will lend a hand. They’ll just kill the chinksters and turbans.

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. They can destrot whatever they want.

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. They can’t stop the bleeding, but they can make you bleed bad.

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’m not going into the military, like Jack, that’s for sure. I take it smart. 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. I could help people and make a pile of money at the same time.

Next year I’m going to take Latin instead of Spanish. It helps to become 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. I won’t let her go to Joe’s They can go to good schools right away. That’s my motivation. It really is. I’ll do everything for my family, even though my family hardly does anything for me.

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 and I know Dr. Sebastian Gray sounds great. I haven’t told anyone. I’m keeping it a secret. All I have to do is hang on to it, keep my eye on the prize, at least until the school year is over. All I need to do is take it smart.

I’ll be Dr. Gray in a white lab coat and money out the wazoo to do whatever I want,

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 when I’m out the in door. 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. I don’t have to go back inside to Mr. Rote Mr. Hittbone Mr. Krister for almost three months.

In the meantime, when school’s finally out, Scar and I will be running down Hogsback into the Metropark every morning, barking it up and chasing down anything that moves, making our own trail on the single tracks that twist along the Rocky River, not making it in anybody’s shadow, crashing into paradise, faster than anything anybody anywhere can sling our way.

Running down the end to the beginning like a bullet on the ricochet, playing it smart staying lean and clean breaking the waves keeping the scars down on me as small as pinpricks.

“The end,” said the King of Hearts.

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

Night of the Day-Glo Stick

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Chapter 20

“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. I didn’t give it a thought, the empty hallways, the empty classes, the school all dark. I thought about Mr. Hittbone for a second, wondering what he could might be doing, with nothing to do.

I didn’t think long. Spring Break is about lighting it up. My Uncle Gediminas and I threw a day-glo stick for Scar to fetch all night towards the end.

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

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 is 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 at school. I spotted it there, right on the spot, and snagged it.

Not many people knew anything about it, but I saw what it might be, new exciting, right away, and I had a feeling that it was going to be something. It said’ Hunger Games’ on the cover and it looked very cool. I read it and after I finished it I bought the second one the day it came out. 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, and I want to have it all straight in case the movie screws it up, which I know it will, although I hope it won’t.

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 all 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. Everybody else wins a body bag. It’s a cruel world!

Mr. Orwell told me to read the story of Theseus and I would understand what ‘Hunger Games’ was all 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’. How could it? 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. It’s all so real, not like home, more like summer camp.

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.” Then they hit the phone, the tablet, the laptop, the TV, the cineplex.

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 open the textbooks they’re supposed to read. That’s how much they don’t like all the butt load of words in books, no matter how short they might be.

“What if you’re reading something and there’s a misprint?” one of my friends asked. “If it was a cookbook you could get food poisoning.” They just don’t want to stick their fingers in the socket for themselves, or maybe they do. It could be a word to the wise, but lots of my buds are not wise men.

Truly, almost everybody doesn’t read, not us and not the seniors. They think reading is a waste of time. They would rather watch anything on their phones and 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. It doesn’t matter that they are totally not real. I don’t think they are a waste of time, 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 up 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, although some parts are good.

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. Fee fi fo, going to Detroit. That was like a video game.

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 more hard than not, 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. He’s got some of Mr. Hittbone in him. He lives in Bay Village. He’s always telling us how great it is to live there. I don’t know about that. It sounds like there’s nothing to do, although last year a friend of mine who lives in Lakewood got in trouble when he shot rocket fireworks that he had tied M80s to level to the ground down Lake Road on the Fourth of July and one of them exploded under a car that a yoga teacher was driving and she stopped, got mad, even though nothing was damaged, and called the police, who dragged his butt back home and told him to stay in Lakewood where he belonged.

Mr. Orwell is younger than a lot of the codgers at St. Mel’s 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 dislike how he teaches and grades. We have English class every day and he’s had us write a butt load of essays this year. I don’t know about that. I don’t like writing essays.

He had us write one about home in the book, another one about women in the same book, 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. It is 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? Even grown-ups don’t care. Most of them would laugh in my face if I told them I was studying Greek words, words from thousands of years ago. They would fall down laughing! Or they would not care one bit.

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. It was a struggle.

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 of the thing all in capital letters,” I told Tommy.

“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, to get the honeybun” 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 threw it out and 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 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, Tyler, who else, forgot his clothes.

I had to let him wear mine.

Tyler wore the dress clothes I gave him, 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. They went home. Tyler forgot to give me my clothes back.

We also had to pick someone to interview, each one of us, 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 had to ask 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. I didn’t even ask Tommy or Tyler whether they did, or not.

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 watched 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 about creepy zombies and 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! I hardly ever watch movies. Who cares about them?

My Uncle Ged, 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 saw the old one. My dad loves it. I went to see the play at Playhouse Square. It was exquisite.”

He gave me a funny look. Scar barked. I got a little nervous. Uncle Ged makes my stepmom nervous because he doesn’t care about anything she has to say. I felt like her for a second.

“I read a book called ‘Leviathan’,” I told him. “I don’t remember who wrote it, but it’s kind of middle ages, 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 a dazzy orange day-glo plastic stick for Scar to catch fetch bring back. It was a clear dark night with an almost full moon. The light was yellowish on the house.

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

I threw the day-glo stick again because, honest to God, I barely knew what he was talking about. Uncle Ged was a grown-up, I knew, I could tell, but he was telling me to do what I wanted to do, which was a surprise.

A big surprise. Scar brought the day-glo stick back. It made a dim crawly pool of orangeness at our feet where we were sitting.

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!

 

Day of the Toad

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Chapter 18

“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 busted 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, standing 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 heavy, believe me, 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, and wrong.

But I hurt my abs trying too hard to be like Tebow doing the Tebow crunches. I actually hurt them. They shouldn’t be sore for three days. Nothing is ever sore for three days, not at all, never, not when you’re in the prime of life, 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 my gal 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, or 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? Everybody would know you plead yourself out.

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 it up to myself in my bedroom. So, I brought Laurel. I danced with her all night, too, but no grinding. OH, GOD, NO!

Bigger Blaze, one of my better friends in math class, brought a girl. It didn’t work out, though, for good reason. 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 solo and danced with her other friends all night.

Laurel is a nice girl, which is great for me, since 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. It’s a front since they are NEVER casual.

They are all fourteen years old and all over guys. “Oh, my God, I love you.” I hear them saying it all the time to whoever has just stepped off the handsome hunk bus.

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. They call it love. I call it imagination. Their parents don’t seem to 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 and badgers. 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, except there’s no moral.

My dad drives us to the dances, or I ride my bike and meet my girl there. My stepmom is too busy grading work she’s brought home from school, or she has to take Jack somewhere, or she’s planning my future. I don’t walk in anybody’s shadow, but she’s always shadowing me.

There are plenty of 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, that it’s easy to fall into the pit. It’s a load of annoying. But that’s how it is.

It’s annoying because they are the kind of 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 better than 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.

When you’re a freshman you can’t always look out for yourself. You’re outnumbered outmanned out of luck, so I play it smart.

I have some good friends, which is a good thing, especially since they are friends who are football players. They are big guys, like Sconnie and Bigger 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 because they’re not just idiots, they’re weasels who just don’t care.

That’s when Bigger Blaze steps in. That’s when the fire goes out of them. That’s when they start to care.

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, although you can’t tell them that. They don’t care. 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 turd bin, my friends and 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 Toad Family is proof of that. The sons of St. Mel’s don’t stand for random grown-ups in silk suits!

It’s unbelievable how many grown-ups are like that. It sometimes seems that there are more of them than most of the rest. My dad’s boss, Ken 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 their boring Christmas party was drink his booze and wave them around like he had something to say.

“Unions and niggers,” he said at my dad’s sad stupid company Christmas party that I had to go to with him and my stepmom. “They’re all trying their hardest to live off us, the people who really work in this country.” The party was in their custom-built party room upstairs, in their custom-built building in Brookpark, right next to Holy Cross Cemetery. It’s the biggest Catholic graveyard in all of Cleveland. It’s where all the policemen and firemen and mayors go when it’s all over.

“Where’s my latte?” dad says Ken the Toad is always shouting out the door of his office. “Get to work, let’s get some orders going, what the hell are you all doing?”

Ken the Bossman with his swank blond hair and FBI chin raises his kids like he’s the boss man day and night, except when he’s ignoring them. I don’t understand how his wife stands him because she’s so nice. She should dump his butt and put his billboard 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 silver dollar.

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

There are plenty of guys at St. Mel’s who are JUST 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 a jerk-off 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. He lurks in the shadows.

“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. When he’s walking away from me down the hallway, shuffling and swaggering, all I see is his big broad dark humpback and slouchy butt.

I never mouth off to guys. It’s not worth it in the long run. I play it smart. 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. He learned his lesson one day when Bigger Blaze manhandled him in the shadows.

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

“Hey, babe,” he said, in his fake Jamaican accent. I didn’t know what it was all about. Seth is the music man and he seemed happy as a lark. 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. Nobody can tell him anything, not us, not the teachers, not his parents. He shrugs everybody off like cotton balls.

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. Rocking it is always a good high, most of the time, unless you get rocked from the side when you didn’t see it coming. 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 worse the worst grades. All of them do, every single one I know, and every single one everybody else knows. I don’t have any friends who do drugs. But guys do drugs at school all the time. Everybody knows. 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, a white boy, and kind of lanky tall. He has short brown hair, and is strong, definitely very lean muscular. Everybody on the cross-country team knows him, although he only runs by himself and for himself. He would be the frontrunner on 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 fun punch 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. They know the score. 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 stepmom would do if she found out I did drugs. She thinks she knows everything, since she’s a grown-up and a teacher. She’s not as smart as she says she is, but there’s no telling her anything. There is no telling grown-ups anything anytime ever. They just smile at you like the man in charge, and that’s that.  I think I would have to move out of the house, or she would make me move out. When she puts her foot down you are squashed.

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, the ones who don’t downpress you the minute you wake up in the morning. My paper boy uncle, for sure, would have, since he could use some help. He’s a doper, so my stepmom never talks about him.

Although you never know, they might leave me hanging, because might makes right. That’s how grown-ups are. You can’t trust them. They’re always up to something. Bloodshed could be is for sure in our blood, I always say. It’s not just blood is thicker than water. What choice would I have? I would have to pretend and make it work. I know how to do it and I would get it done.

My head needs a soft pillow and a good night’s sleep to stay sharp stay smart.

 

 

 

 

X Marks the Spot

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Chapter 17

“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 my first video game the first 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. There is no reason to kick a good thing to the curb. That’s what grown-ups do, always getting tired of it, looking for the next thing to make them happy. That’s why there’s junk and trash and garbage everywhere. They can’t ever be happy doing one thing.

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 I went back to my PS2. I didn’t like the XBox, not at first. Then, two years ago, I got a new XBox. Now I only play it, nothing else. It is the greatest, the boss.

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, the latest. They light up green. There are tactical set-ups, using different buttons, and it’s complex overall. It’s not for amateurs. There are many different ways to play. It’s not for children.

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. There aren’t many Daisy May’s, but there are some of them. We talk to each other on our headsets. But I broke mine, so I had to beg my dad to buy me a new one. You can talk to your friends while you’re playing laugh have a good time get into the flow. Fee fi fo, walking to Detroit.  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 part-time slavery jobs so they can get on their consoles. They don’t have any spending money, but they don’t care.

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 anymore, though. He has a C- in my science class and it’s definitely because of video games. He is getting chunkier by the minute.

You get addicted to them and 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. It can be anything.

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. Gay as in 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 stepmom 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. He’s no dope, not when it comes to the facts of life.

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 and playboys and movie stars.

The very oldest adults who play are probably twenty-five. They’re mostly guys on their headsets, sitting at home, who don’t have a job, in their sweatpants noon to midnight. 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. They say it about everything kids do, except schoolwork and housework and all the other kinds of work. What do they know? My grandmother says the screen will weaken my eyesight. Now it’s all about how 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. The pretty girls don’t go for that.

Almost everybody plays video games, although some guys aren’t allowed to play some of them. 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.

We get our own clubhouse going.

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 SLOW DOWN.  You have to be able to go fast in slow-motion. 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 you can strike fast, faster than the turtle who just duck and cover. They always lose.

Staying focused is super 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 just have to scratch. 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 the max plan to make them angry rather than to be a madman yourself. Every time you play video games it’s a first-person experience. Only you can torch it. It’s all up to you. Nobody can tell you anything. There’s no time for that.

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

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, which is a search-and-destroy game. There are just a carnival load of different games.

The idea is to prestige it. As you do that you get different guns better guns bigger guns more and 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 magazines, higher power, and more accuracy. There’s just a arsenal of better everything because you’re on a higher level.

Video games are a great way to connect with other people all over 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 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 point-of-view the screen gets a little bloody, but it’s not like blood spurting out of your arteries, although it is.

Back in the day I loved fantasy role-playing games. You would 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 hell, so what was the point?

Guys who are good at video games are different than other guys. 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 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 maybe 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 is bad news 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 graveyard of gore. I’ve heard about parents who believe a guy played Call of Duty and afterwards went out and murdered a girl. It never happened, but 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 have anything to do with playing Call of Duty. A lot of grown-ups try to pull that stupid argument, but they’re only being self-serving. 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 bad and stupid. But it’s a personal problem. It’s not an awful thing if it’s personal. I like to say, it’s your life. I play it smart, sure as a thunderstorm, but I don’t interfere.

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 you feel like you 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 go back 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, all smug and sure.

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.

“Yeah, yeah,” and I walk away. I don’t walk in anybody’s shadow.

“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. Mind your own business. Move along, move along.”

Some grown-ups 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 grown-ups are sulky about them, bitter, and kind of mad. But I hope they’re not against them, in general. Everybody should know something about video games. You shouldn’t say they suck when you hardly know anything about them. Grown-ups do that all the time, like they know everything.

That’s useless talk, that’s all, just comments in the comments section that nobody cares about.

 

 

 

All My Friends at Once

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Chapter 14

“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, always have. It’s totally gagged up takeoff fun. 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. It seems like a hundred years ago.

Life and everything must have been horrible before Facebook. It might have been fine, I guess, if you had a horse and buggy, 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 way faster than most people. Much much faster. 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, like a gift. 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, stuff that pops into my mind, 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, since we mix it up. It was only for freshmen and sophomores, at which you didn’t need a date, just come as you are. During the mixer, since I’m the dance master, three girls gave me their cell phone numbers. I posted that select information and got mucho likes.

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 definitely twenty people liked my odor face and Mr. Orwell had to give me extra credit. HE WASN’T HAPPY ABOUT IT! He shot me a sour look, but he’s from Bay Village, where it’s all pretend.

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. I shared it all over. I got likes up the wazoo.

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, meatheads who do that. They might go to jail, which you have to assume, which is where they belong.

Scar would rip into their faces if he knew.

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 could have thousands. 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, roundheads, nobody heads, or whatever. Not that it matters, at least not to me.

Some people I don’t even know poke me. “Why are you poking me?” They never have any reasons that make any sense, although sometimes they’re funny.

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 queer. He’s not just gay. He’s actually gay, on top of being weird.

Some gays are all right. I have some of them 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 was actually gay, even though he’s a stud. He’s built like the Rock. I know he’s gay 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. I don’t know why, but I backed away from it. I play it smart.

Mr. Rote talked about social media in our religion class one day. He was angry about it. He’s always mad about something. That’s how grown-ups are, always steamed up about something that doesn’t matter.

“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 all of you the hell up.”

Nobody cared what he was all bent out of shape about. He is always raging about something. When he isn’t, he wants us to listen to him on his guitar. We all just hate him the most. How come he gets to swear in class?

You can never talk about St. Mel’s 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 stinkbugs for posting the breaking 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 or smoke all the weed they could bring. He got in trouble for posting it and had to lose the party, at least 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 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 those to anybody.

I was talking to Chris, one of my summer 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 can be 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. That’s just the way it is. 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, no matter how hot you look.

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 strange peculiar. 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 peeing and and a can of on the loose 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,” Lukas posted from his neighborhood of chinksters in Toronto. “Whenever I drink something, I puke 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. 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 other girlfriend who was 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 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.”

“Yeah, 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 cool.

One of the coolest pictures is of me with no shirt on, although I do have a shirt on, 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.

Grown-ups 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 stepmom 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 page 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. Grown-ups 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, and the football games are over, 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, the old people, the grown-ups. 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 and National Security can see everything, but I’m not planning on killing Obama, even though he’s a dope. 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. I go smart that way.

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

I get so many likes, no matter what I post. It’s like I can be whatever whoever I want to be. I can’t let my friends down. The ladies are all over me. What can I say? I love that.

 

 

 

 

Dancing the Night Away

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Chapter 10

“I beg your pardon?” said Alice

“It isn’t respectable to beg,” said the King.

I went to our Homecoming dance at St. Mel’s with a friend who was a girl. She wasn’t a girlfriend, just someone who happened to be a girl. She was a pretty girl, otherwise it wouldn’t count. Nobody is allowed to go by himself or even with another guy, no matter what kind of friends you are. You have to have a date to go to Homecoming. The dance was in the main gym the night after we smash-mouthed a mouthwatering win over Moeller’s, the Fighting Crusaders.

The big bad Crusaders slouched back to Cincinnati and afterwards we called them the Sad Taters. St. Mel’s takes no prisoners on the football field. No, SIR! Mr. Rote, our religion teacher, says mercy is a virtue, but not on Friday nights.

My dad worked the refreshment table at the dance. He’s a member of the Father’s Club. It was awesome for my friends and me. We had a boat load of free drinks, for sure. I must have had four or five cans of Mountain Dew.

Homecoming was the night Jake and Jess broke up. It isn’t the kind of thing that usually happens at Homecoming, but that’s what happened. It started when I saw Bert making a play for Jake’s girlfriend. They were dancing and the next thing anybody knew they started kissing, right on the dance floor. When you’re somebody else’s girl that’s rude and inconsiderate, especially out in the open.

Allan and I both saw it happening. Allan is one of my best friends. He’s a football player, not much taller than me, but he’s at least 250 pounds. He’s a lineman on the team, although he had to sit out after he got a concussion. He’s a white kid and pasty, which isn’t pretty, but he’s on the dot.

We all saw Bert kiss Jess plain as day. Allan walked right up to Bert. He was angry.

“Bert, what the fuck, what are you doing?”

Bert plays soccer, and is taller than me, but he’s a toothpick. He’s sort of ugly, too, to be honest. He was really scared for a second. Allan’s side shadow is bigger than him.

“I was, like…” he stuttered.

Allan was angry about it and I wasn’t happy, either, both of us being Jake’s friends. Allan faced Bert down, who started backing away, step by step. I stood there for a few seconds and then ran to find Jake. I didn’t want to leave him hanging. Hanging for what? I had to tell him. Bro’s before ho’s. That’s what a brother does. Everybody says so. She was obviously that if she was kissing another guy.

Jess is short skinny spunky blonde. She’s kind of pretty in her own way. I might even have liked her once. She was over to our house for dinner, with Jake, one night when Allan and Paul were over. My stepmom liked her. That was a black mark against her.

Jake was outside getting a drink at the refreshment table when I found him. There was Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and Mountain Dew. He was picking up a can of Sprite. The can looked big in his hand. Jake is almost a midget. I’m on the short side, but he’s shorter than me, by a long shot.

“Jake, Jess kissed Bert,” I said.

“What? Are you kidding me?”

“No, dude, I’m sorry, but it’s true.“

He was sad at first, and depressed, that he had just lost his girl. “I’m going to talk to her about this.” We went into the main gym.

“I’m sorry, dude,” I said. He was sad and really down. Then he jumped her on the spot, surprising everybody, except himself.

“Yeah, gangster,” I thought out loud.

“Thanks a lot,” he said, all sarcastic, and then said something to her nobody else could hear.

“We’re done,” he said, flashing his thumb and finger and walking away. He dumped her on the spot. Her jaw dropped. She was left standing there. Jake wasn’t blue about it the rest of the night. He had only been going out with Jess for less than three weeks, anyway.

I was rocking it in the mosh pit later when a girl suddenly threw up all over the floor because she was totally wasted. Somebody slipped on the liwuid mess and fell down, hitting his head and getting puke on his clothes. He smelled like beef liver with onions in a can after that.

Everybody merks their beer and booze before the dance. It used to be weed, but this last summer the school principal’s brother got a sweet contract for himself to drug test us, so now it’s drinking instead of drugs. At least it is during the school year. It doesn’t even do any good to shave your head, because they snip a different kind of hair from you, and the drug test works exactly the same way.

“Maybe I’ll just do LSD,” DB said, spinning his head in fast tight circles. DB is a nut, but that’s what happens when grown-ups get involved. They’re so crazy they make everybody else crazy. They make the whole world go nuts. They’re the lords of the fly world, eating everything, like maggots, all for themselves.

They don’t test for LSD because they have to get your pee, not just your hair, to do that drug test. The St. Mel’s men might start peeing on each other if it got to that. It’s too expensive, anyway. Our military even stopped testing for it because it costs so much.

I don’t drink much of anything, nor do my friends, but that doesn’t mean anything. If it weren’t such a big deal to drink or not to drink, guys wouldn’t do it so much. HONEST to GOD!

It’s mostly about being rebellious. Everybody think it’s cool and it makes them be cool. If guys could drink whatever they wanted they wouldn’t do it as much. Honestly, they just wouldn’t, since the temptation would be gone. But that’s the exact thing, the light in their eyes, they’re doing something forbidden, it makes them feel SO MUCH cooler.

Drugs, drinking, and smoking old-school at Homecoming are a tradition. Oh, yeah, I can feel it and smell it when I’m in the mosh pit. When you’re in the pit it’s pushy noisy hot rowdydowdy. It’s sweaty and a saloon and the tang is bad, like armpits and hot dog water. You dance and two-step in the pit and have fun. There are hundreds of guys and girls all pushed in together and the teachers are stuck and dumbstruck on the outside.

Not everyone crams into the mosh pit, but a large crowd does, for sure. The smarties stay out. The meek and mild stay out. The good boys and girls stay out. There’s a stage at the front of the gym and everybody swirls it, surging in tight, and facing whichever which way all ways all together. We dance to slow songs, rock, techno, whatever. The best are Skrillex, Kid Cudi, and M & M. I love ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ except I hate it at summer camp, where the kid on the bunk next to me plays it every night on his guitar. We finally broke his guitar, that’s how much we hated it. There’s another song, ‘White Roses,’ I’m high on for slow dancing.

It’s all horseplay in shirts and ties and skirts. The girls look sweet. Nobody’s brains are guaranteed in the pit. Everybody goes there to live it up, that’s all. We like it. The girls like it. That works for me. We all get going get amped get excited in the pit. No one can help it. Romping in the pit is the greatest when you’re rubbing up against some girl to Lady Gaga’s ‘Disco Stick.’ You don’t even have to look them in the face since most of the time it’s from behind.

The parents don’t know the grinding that goes on. Girls put their butts on you and figure eight. Sometimes we form lines, forty or fifty of us in a conga line. Nobody’s parents want to know about that. NO WAY! BELIEVE ME! I can hardly believe it myself.

You can get in trouble for grinding. All the teachers are there and they watch out for it. They call it pelvic thrust dancing, or at least Mr. Rote does, who’s got an eagle eye for it. He’s young and knows, and he’s our religion teacher, too. There’s a strict rule that you will get kicked out of the dance for doing it, but none of the teachers can ever get into the mosh pit, so hardly anybody ever gets caught, unless Mr. Rote has his eye on you.

They will mark your hand with a Sharpie if they catch you, which Mr. Rote does all the time, and if they catch you a second time, they kick you out of the dance. Guys go all crazy, all sweaty and flustered, after the first time, trying to rub the indelible Sharpie mark off as fast as they can.

Not many guys ever get kicked out of the Homecoming dance, but Allan’s older brother did. It was funny to all of us although he wasn’t laughing. Girls don’t ever get kicked out because it’s at our school. Just the guys get the boot. I saw a couple of them being dragged from the pit and kicked out of the gym. The Dean of Students had their cell phones and was looking through all their messages.

St. Mel’s is a private school. They aren’t funded by the state. They don’t have to stick to the state rules like the public schools. They are under a higher power. They can’t hit you, but they can, if they want to. If a teacher hit me, I would be very, VERY upset, but they can do just about anything. THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT! Everybody knows that. The school from end to end is just like Mr. Hittbone’s Rules.

They can look through your phone and anything else of yours, bags, pockets, lockers, everything. I’ve seen cell phones thrown away into trash cans. “Don’t bother,” they say when you reach down for it. They look at you and there’s nothing you can say. They can drag you away. I don’t even know all the stuff they can do.

They can kick you out of school, for sure. If you do something bad it is suddenly Steck Time. He is the Dean of Students, who is a mangy mean man, tall thin pale. He can say, “Don’t come back tomorrow.” When Mr. Steck-It-To-You says it he means it and he can make it stick. Because it’s a private school they can lock you out and you can’t ever go back. And then you’re out, that’s all, and you have to try to explain it to your parents and grandparents and the neighbors.

Nobody ever believes you and they even resent your explanations. I’ve heard of some kids who got thrown out once-and-for-all for good. That’s bad. I play it smart. You’ve got to watch your step.

They won’t kick you out of school for grinding. Everybody knows that. You have to get caught stealing computers, or smoking weed, or something like that. Not always, though, since it depends on who’s doing the doing. There’s a guy’s father who owns a jewelry store in Rocky River, and when his son got caught smoking weed on campus, he didn’t get kicked out. Diamond Jim talked to the Dean, somebody probably got a karat stone and after the deal was done the kid might still have gotten thrown out, but didn’t, obviously. It wasn’t even a close call.

The girls at our dances sometimes come from public schools, but mostly they are from St. Joe’s, Magnificat, and the other Catholic schools all around. Are good Catholic girls the same as good girls? Are you pooping on my face? God, no, they’re not good! That’s why they’re Catholics. We believe we’re bad right out of the gate. That’s why we can go grinding at the school dances and not worry about it. There’s always confession afterwards.

There isn’t much difference between a Catholic girl and a public-school girl, although there is. It seems like Catholic girls can be even worse than regular bad girls. They go to extremes, like wanting a guy more than regular girls do. They just want to have boyfriends. They want to have somebody, anybody, they can say is their boy, someone to be on their hip side. They are thirsty for guys, like bright-feather hens at the well.

The Catholic girls aren’t even that hot, at least not most of them, not most of the time. They think they are, but thinking doesn’t make it so. There are more hot public school girls than Catholic girls. Some of the Catholic girls think they are better on the scale of everything than other peeps, which is rude, and mostly mistaken, but that’s how they are.

Many of them seem to think they are on a totally upper level over other girls. They believe their status is higher, which I think is ridiculous. They truly think they are better than other people, at least better than public school girls, for sure.

I have some good friends who go to Mag’s, but St. Joe’s, no. St. Joe’s girls are Catholic girls all out all over and done. They are ever not so nice. I will run past Joe’s with Scar and keep going before I even look at them playing lacrosse on their fancy new playing field on Rocky River Drive.

If you are hanging out with public school girls, or Catholic girls, and the other side walks up, it tends to be that the public-school girls are the nicer girls. They can be your friend right out of the box and they are sincere to you, too. The Catholic girls are kind of low and frank. The wrapping stays right in your face. The public-school girls are like me, asking what your name is, and being interested in you.

Catholic girls are like, “Oh, hi, WHO are you? I have to GO.” You can tell they don’t care. The only time they CARE is when they’re GRINDING, but that’s a TOTALLY different kind of caring.

It’s the kind of caring you care about for ten minutes.

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