Monday, October 26, 2009

stain, Part III

You’re just too picky.  Not like the old man at all.  He’ll eat an apple, core and stem and seeds and all.  There’ll be nothing left.  And an orange, he won’t even peel it.  Eats the skin and everything.
     Orange.  That’s a hard word to rhyme.  Is it one syllable or two?  Arnge.  Are inge.  Might be easier if it’s two.  Are inge.  Our engine stalled.  Are injuns coming?  Are inge.
     The old lady drove us to school in the morning, but we had to walk home in the afternoon ’cause she’d be at work.  I guess it’s about ten blocks.  That one house always had the old man sitting on the porch with a bottle in a brown paper bag.  He’d laugh at us, ask what the hell we were all dressed up for.  Every fuckin’ day.  Just kept your eyes glued to the sidewalk, kept walking.  Then that one day he snatched the bag off the bottle, balled it up and threw it, dared us to fuckin’ look at him.  Why the hell did I pick that thing up, put it in my pocket?  Ooh, poor wittle paper bag, just lying there on the sidewalk.  Then you just threw it away when you got home.
     First grade.  Sister Beverly Ann.  She handed out spelling books first day of class, told us we were gonna complete the whole thing.  Your dumb ass didn’t get that she meant over the course of the year.  Idiot.  You took it home and did the whole fuckin’ book.  Was up past midnight.  The old lady said you must’ve misunderstood, but she didn’t stop you.  Sister Beverly Ann looked at you like the moron you are when you tried to turn the thing in the next morning.  She just took it, tossed it in the trash can beside her desk, gave you another blank one, told you to do the first chapter over.  Then that spelling test we had sometime later that year, and you couldn’t even remember how to spell ‘race.’  Four little letters, and you write down r-a-s-e.  Stupid fuck.  I knew it was wrong, so I didn’t turn the test in.  Folded it up and stuck it in my pocket.  Sister Beverly Ann asked where it was when she couldn’t find it in the stack on her desk.  She kept you after school, went through your book bag and everything.  You must’ve had at least twenty brown paper bags folded up in there, and she opened up and looked in every damn one of ’em.  There was all kinds of bread crusts and shit.  When one smelled real ripe, like if there was part of a Winn-Dixie patty in it that you managed to sneak in there when she had her back turned or left the room or something, and then maybe you pulled out an empty bag to show her so you could go to recess, she’d catch a whiff and scrunch up her nose, look at you like the old lady did that day you let a fart slip while you were sitting beside her in the pew.  Didn’t even have to wait for the old man to get home for that whipping.  The old lady did it herself.  Sister Beverly Ann went so far as to check your shirt pocket and the back pockets of your pants, but she never did check your front pockets.  Maybe she was scared she might touch something she shouldn’t.  Nuns weren’t supposed to know about stuff like that.  But she must not’ve had a problem with dick after all, ’cause she ran off and married Father Carr.  He was priest after Monsignor O’Brien left to start a new church in Wilmington, after he got the new one built here.  Monsignor was a scary fuck.  He smoked a fat cigar, always wore his robes and sashes and shit, not the same ones for mass, but different, and had these thick black glasses, a mother nobody ever saw living in the rectory who was always breaking a hip or something.  He got all up in my face when I asked where the bake sale tables were gonna be set up.  The old church was torn down, the new one wasn’t done being built yet, and masses were in the gym, where the bake sale usually was.  Both of ’em started Saturday morning at eight o’clock, so I asked about the tables.  He about had a fuckin’ fit, talking about the moneychangers in the temple and Jesus turning their tables over.  But the bake sale was gonna be set up out in the hall all along, and I just didn’t know it.  Then there was Father Carr, who had a red convertible somebody scratched an “8” on the trunk of with a rock.  Man, was he pissed.  Then came Father Bowman.  He ran off with the church secretary.  The basketball coach’s wife.  Coach Plummer.  Now it’s old Father Connolly.  Father Carr and Sister Beverly Ann ended up having a kid, but it died.  Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  The old lady said God got even with ’em.
     While she was searching you for that spelling test, you were blubbering like a little pussy the whole time, just knowing she was gonna find it.  Had to walk home alone ’cause Don didn’t hang around.  Soon as you got in, you went to the bathroom, pulled that thing out of your pocket, balled it up, and ate it.
     Fuckin’ Ronco Records.  If I have to hear Elvis’s greatest hits one more time . . . .  Man, what’s up with Ange?  Halfway through the second one and you don’t even know what’s happening.  Better start being on the lookout for the old lady.  Run some water in the bowl, leave it in the sink.  Cut off the TV, go wait for her in the living room.  The God that holds you over the pit of hell abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked.  Great.  The old lady never turns that radio in her bedroom off, whether she’s home or not.  Fuckin’ Christian station.  A little music, a lot of talk.  She always knows if you mess with it, even if you remember to turn it back up or on.  He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire.
     Should I wear my jacket?  Kinda nipply out.  Nah, you got long sleeves.  Bert’s Surf Shop.  Kathy gave me it.  Came from Myrtle Beach.  She grew up across from Grant.  Don’s age, kind of chunky.  She was lying out in the sun, in a one-piece, and had these big ol’ thick patches of pube hair growing on the outside, on the sides of her pussy.  Gross.  Her and a friend graduated a couple years ago, got an apartment.  It’s a good place to drink, maybe crash Friday night, on the couch or the floor.  She liked me first time she saw me, but I wasn’t interested.  She’s all right for a friend.  God, you usually just hear shit like that.  If they ever have a party and some other girls come over and one of them starts talking to me, ol’ Kathy barrels in and breaks it up, scares the girl out of even speaking to me.  She’s never told ’em off right in front of me, but I’ve heard at least one girl say Kathy’d let her know I was off limits.  Kind of pissed me off, but it is her place, and we need to hang out somewhere, instead of just driving around.
     You did make it into her room with a girl one night.  There was a bunch of people downstairs.  Helen is like Robin’s best friend at school, and Robin is Kathy’s best friend, even though she’s just my age.  Kathy must not have wanted to piss Robin off by talking shit to Helen, so she never said anything to her, even though she saw us talking.  We snuck off, went up to Kathy’s room, locked the door.  We were making out on Kathy’s bed, with the lights off in case I got lucky.  She had on a sundress.  Yellow.  She let me stick my hand under it, and down in her panties.  She even spread her legs.  God, that gave me a hard-on like I ain’t never had.  Hell, I’ve never even seen a real one, just pictures, and hers was the first one I’d felt.  It’s not like you’d never fondled any minor genitalia before that, just nothing major.  Like felt a tit through a shirt, or worked my hand between some thighs, on top of the jeans.  That girl might not’ve spread her legs, but she didn’t stop me either.  But Helen was my first real pussy.  Got my middle finger in, a couple knuckles deep, worked it in and out.  She was real wet, kept asking if you really wanted to do that.  Damn right.  She must’ve been drunk, ’cause she’s a real nice girl.  I couldn’t believe she was letting me get away with it.  I didn’t get her panties off or anything.  I tried once, but she said no.  But you had a finger in her, with your tongue wrapped around hers.  Shit felt all bumpy, with ridges up in there.  I wanted to see it, but that wasn’t going to happen.  Hell, you wanted to pull those panties off, stick your head down there and lick the hell out of her.  Come all over my face.  I’d sniff the seat of your car if you’d let me.  I wouldn’t have even had to fuck her, just eat that sweet little thing and then kiss her on the mouth some more.  Could’ve jacked off when I got home.  But ol’ Kathy must’ve missed us.  I knew we were OK as long as I could hear her cackling downstairs.  But that stopped, and she came tromping up the stairs, banged on the door, yelled my name.  Helen pulled my finger out then.  I sniffed it in the dark, licked it.  Kathy tried turning the doorknob, banged on the door again, asked if I was in there.  I said yeah, she said to open the door, then worked the lock from the outside with her fingernail and opened it herself.  Me and Helen were both off the bed by then.  Kathy just looked at us real pissed, told us to go back downstairs.
     Damn dick was hard for a long time, even after we went back to the living room.  Had to keep it covered with my T-shirt.  It wasn’t tucked in, as usual, so it was easy to bury the boner under that when I was sitting down.  My ’nads were about to fuckin’ bust though.  I mean, they hurt.  Like that week or so last year, before me or Grant had a license and before he had a car, when we had to hoof it if we wanted to go somewhere, when for some damn reason your right nut got all swollen up, and hurt like hell to even walk.  Every step, you kind of hit it wrong, rubbed against it.  Grant asked why you were walking so funny.  Think I said I’d pulled a muscle or something.  It got better, shrunk back down and quit hurting, so it must’ve been nothing.  But that night, both balls hurt like that one had.  And your fuckin’ dick wouldn’t go down long enough to even piss.  I went back upstairs to the john, started thumping it on the head, but it just stayed hard.  I thought I was gonna have to beat off right there, just so I could take a leak.  But then Kathy came knocking on the door, asked if you were all right.  You said yeah, be out in a minute, but she tried to work that lock with her nail too.  I opened the door before she could pick it.  Fuckin’ slut started trying to kiss on me.  That did the trick.  Got me soft real quick.
     There was that other night, a good while before all of that.  Grant left while I was taking a piss.  Maybe him and Kathy had it planned.  Grant said the next day that she’d asked him to go get her a pack of smokes, and when he came back, the front door was locked and the lights were off.  I don’t know.  I never heard him knock or anything.  Kathy’s roommate Diane—nice ass, big tits, pretty, but thinks spending time with me and Grant is like babysitting, or so Kathy says—she was gone, so it was just you and Kathy when you got out of the bathroom.  I was drunk as shit.  Maybe she knew it, even though everybody says they can’t tell when I’m drunk, that I always seem sober no matter how much I’ve had.  You’d let her jack you off once, but that was it.  She scratches my back a lot, and I don’t mind her doing it either.  She’ll even check for zits, glitch ’em, rub alcohol on so they don’t come back.  And this time Grant was passed out on the couch, and she said she’d finish scratching me upstairs so we wouldn’t wake him up.  She turned on the lamp, I took off my shirt, laid down on my stomach and let her have at it.  After a while, I turned over and told her she could scratch my chest.  Pretty soon she was rubbing my belly, kind of messing with the button of my jeans a little.  I didn’t stop her, so she undid it, pulled my fly down.  I turned off the light, she worked my hard-on through the flap in my boxers, started beating me off.  Man, she’s almost better at it than I am.  Her bed doesn’t have a headboard, but just sits on a frame, and when I shot off, I hit the fuckin’ wall.  I was kind of scared what I was gonna do when it came, if I’d get any on her sheets or whatever, but I cleared everything.  I didn’t feel any on my chest or the pillow or anywhere else, but heard it hit the wall, and saw a stain next time I was in there.  She always thought it was funny when me and Grant’d be over watching football on Sunday and the guy would talk about getting yardage—she thought “yardage” was a funny word—so she started talking about how I got good yardage that night.  She must’ve been on the rag or something, ’cause she didn’t try to fuck me or anything.
     But that was as far as we’d gone, and just that once.  Other than kissing, like when we play spin the bottle.  Hell, even Diane lets us French her after she’s had a few drinks and Kathy breaks out a bottle and starts spinning it.  But that night Kathy got Grant to leave while you were upstairs taking a piss—I always go upstairs, ’cause the other bathroom is under the stairs, and the ceiling slants, and my head hits it when I stand in front of the toilet.  Plus, I don’t want anybody to hear me.  So we went up to her room, got naked, got in bed.  I was on top of her, kind of moving up and down, but couldn’t even tell if I was in her.  She thought I’d done it before.  Couldn’t admit I was a late bloomer, so I lied, said I’d fucked three girls or something.  She finally grabbed my dick and put it in.  Shot off after about three or four strokes.  Kathy yelled, “No Jim!” jumped up and ran to the bathroom.  I rolled over, pulled up the covers.  When she came back to bed, she wanted to mess around some more, but I just wanted to sleep.  She laughed, said, “Is that all?”  I always figured I’d remember my first time.  I know I’ll never forget the way she said that.
     You shouldn’t have done it, man.  Kathy’s all right, but I never wanted to fuck her.  She used to talk about how it wasn’t enough for a guy to just have a long dick, that it had to be thick too.  I read the average dick is six inches long, and after listening to her talk one night about how a real man had to have a big one, I tried measuring mine with a ruler in the bathroom at home the next day.  If I spread my legs and let my balls drop and measure from the back, I can get six inches easy.  On the front, from my belly, I’m a little short.  Only about five and three-quarters.  Not even average.  The magazine didn’t say how thick it was supposed to be, or whether you measured it across or around or what, but I’m not thick enough either.  The old lady had a load of clothes she couldn’t hang on the line one time because it rained all day, so she gave me three or four quarters and the keys to her car to go to the laundromat.  Went to Kathy and Diane’s instead, kept the change for smokes, asked if I could dry them there.  They even helped fold after.  Diane put on a pair of my boxers and started walking around with her chest all bowed up.  Kathy was laughing like hell, but I’d been gone too long already and wanted to just hurry the hell up, so I asked her to take ’em off and let me get going.  She stuck her hand in there, worked her finger through the flap, started wiggling it around.  I said I really needed to go, but she just said to shut up and relax.  Then she straightened her finger out, said she’d heard that that was all I had.  Kathy got all red in the face, yelled “Di-ane!”  Man, I was . . . .  I don’t even know what all.  Pissed off, embarrassed.  I just picked up the laundry basket, left Diane wearing the boxers and Kathy not able to look me in the eye, went home.  I didn’t go back there for a couple weeks.
     Fuck it.  I hate Wednesdays.  I hate going to see Doc.  A goddamn shrink.  The old lady’s got to get off work early to take me.  I can watch for her through the flimsy-ass curtains hanging over the front window, past the porch and out to the street.  And there’s the station wagon.  Fuckin’ yellow Country Squire, fake wood paneling shit on the sides.  Just stand here a minute, she’ll honk the horn.  Wait for it . . . .  Thar she blows!  One beep.  Give her another minute, let her cut the car off, get out, start to come in, then you can head out.  Every week, man.  She gets so pissed it’s hard not to laugh.
     I’m not crazy.  Just had a lot on my mind lately.  The old lady came home from work one day and found me sitting on her bed with the old man’s rifle.  I just had it out to look at.  It’s not like it was loaded or anything.  You think she’d have been happy to see me sitting there reading her Bible.  If she’d have known why you were reading it . . . .  Well, let’s just say she wouldn’t have been too happy after all.  But the point is, she didn’t notice it at all.  All she saw was the damn gun.
     I don’t think the old man got the thing during the war, but sometime after.  Maybe some guy he knew needed a few bucks, so he bought it.  Maybe they were Marines together.  He quit school to join, landed on Guadalcanal.  He was seventeen.  Shit.  Same as me.  What the fuck’s wrong with me, that I don’t want to kill people?  Pussy.  He called it a carbine.  Said it’d split a tree.  It’s pretty short for a rifle.  Not even an arm’s length from the tip of the barrel down to the trigger.  He keeps it in the back of the closet.  Don’t know where he keeps the bullets.
     She’s gettin’ out.  Open the front door, she'll stop on the sidewalk.  Let the screen slam.  Could shut it quiet, but that’s what she wants.  One, two, three steps across this creaking-ass front porch, one, two, three steps down to the sidewalk, one, two—  Goddamn it!  Quit with the fuckin’ counting already.  I swear it’s like you got some guy in your brain driving you around.  Then sometimes it’s like you are the guy in your brain driving you around.  I’m just parked somewhere behind the eyeballs, flipping switches or pushing buttons or something to move me around like a robot.  Warning!  Warning, Will Robinson!  Danger!
     Slam the car door just hard enough so she’ll do that puffing shit.  One loud, quick exhale, shake the head, let me know you’re pissed without having to actually speak.  Just a puff.  A big puff.  Puff the magic dragon, lives by the sea.  Great, now you’re gonna have that shit in here.  Better than the radio.  Same station she’s got on in her room.  And they were both naked . . . .  Hey, that don’t sound too bad.  . . . and were not ashamed.  Well good for them.  Wish I could say the same.  Not the being naked.  The not being ashamed.  Puff the magic dragon.  I hate when you get a song or something in your head and can’t get it out.  Not so bad if it’s something with a loud guitar, some hard rock.  Ooh, Mother’s Finest.  I’m a hard rock lover.  Pimpin’, man.  Raise balls.  That kinda shit’s cool, something that’ll drive everything else out of your head, but fuckin’ Puff the Magic Dragon?  And that’s the only line I remember, so I’ll get it over and over.  Ol’ Puff looks like she’s about due for a visit to the beauty parlor.  Usually keeps her hair dyed black, but it’s turning back to brown.  Maybe even a little red in there.
     When the old lady saw you sitting there with the gun, she wanted to know what the hell was going on.  All you could say was, “Nothin’.”  She didn’t buy that.  I wouldn’t have either.  You must’ve had a real surprised look on your face.  Even though you had her radio turned down, you never even heard her come in.
     After that, she started acting real weird, really looking at you and shit.  In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.  I even heard her talking to the old man about it during All In The Family.  He loves Archie Bunker, and he doesn’t want you bothering him when he’s parked in front of the TV.  He’s got his shows, and it’s best to just leave him alone when they’re on.  He won’t watch anything with Hanoi Jane in it, and he won’t let me or Don watch anything with her in it either.  But he loves Archie.  About the only thing worse than bugging him in the middle of a show is when they put commercials on he doesn’t like.  There was one for Preparation H right when we sat down for supper.  He got so pissed I thought he was gonna have a heart attack.  The folks are funny about shit like that.  When we were kids, they made us look away when a bra or girdle commercial came on.  Like seeing a mannequin in underwear was a sin.  Hell, having to look away just made me wonder more.  I’d always try to sneak a peek.  Commercials are a lot dirtier now though.  One had a real woman showing her bra.  I mean, she had a shirt on over it, but the announcer was saying how you couldn’t see any lines or anything.  Like, look at her tits, boys.  Look at ’em real hard.  You ain’t gonna see any bra lines no matter how hard you try, but go ahead and give it a shot anyway.  We’ll make a pervert of you yet.  And that one about the feminine deodorant spray.  I don’t think that’s the shit they put under their arms, man.  But there it was, right there on TV.
     Me and Don would argue about who was who.  Like when Gunsmoke came on, we’d both be waiting for them to show Marshal Dillon and say “James Arness as Matt Dillon.”  As soon as his face came up, we’d both yell, “That’s me.”  When they showed Festus, we’d yell, “That’s you.”  Same thing when Mannix came on.  We both wanted to be Joe Mannix.  Or Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O.
     Miss Kitty was ugly.  Not just the red hair, but that mole on her face.  And wasn’t she just an old whore?  What did Matt ever see in her?  But then I guess they never really did date.  Maybe he was just being nice.  Maybe she squeezed his zits for him.
     Puff’s usually glad to leave the old man alone.  She’ll get in bed and read her Bible, pray ’til she falls asleep.  I heard from the hall when she went in the den and told him I needed somebody to talk to.  I was scared she meant one of them, but should’ve known better than that.  He wanted to know if there wasn’t a counselor or something at school, but she didn’t like that, even if it was free, ’cause Mr. Guthrie is the counselor, and he goes to our church.  Man looks like a skeleton.  History teacher said he’d been on the Bataan death march, but he could’ve put on some weight since then.  He’s always smiling too.  I’ve never seen him when he wasn’t.  The old lady said, “How do ya think it’s gonna look if we don’t do something, and then Jim goes and does somethin’ . . . drastic?”  The old man didn’t say anything for a while, then told her to just handle it however she wanted to.  That’s probably all she wanted to hear anyway.
     She found a shrink across from Memorial Hospital.  Dr. Braxton.  But I’m not crazy.  There’s just been a lot going on.  I think she expected me to pitch a bitch about going, but I didn’t.  Kind of even surprised me.  Didn’t just agree right off, but that’s ’cause she wanted to take me to some guy all the way across town.  Cummings territory.  I ain’t no fuckin’ redneck.  I can’t even stand listening to somebody talk like a hick.  Like something straight out of Mayberry, especially the early shows, when even Andy comes off like a moron.  It’s OK on TV.  But Kathy talks like that.  Always “fixin’” to do something, instead of just doing it, or saying shit like, “That’s a horse of a different color.”  I might put a little ‘aw’ in dog or something, but it’s not like a fuckin’ drawl or anything.  I don’t say ‘ah’ instead of ‘eye’ when a word’s got an ‘i’ in it.  It’s fuckin’ ‘l-eye-t’ and ‘r-eye-t’ and ‘s-eye-t,’ not ‘l-ah-t’ or ‘r-ah-t’ or ‘s-ah-t.’  I’m proud to be from North Carolina, but I ain’t no fuckin’ rabel who wants to get ’im a pickup truck and hang his Stars ’n Bars in the back winder.  I ain’t Gomer or Goober.  Puff’s from South Carolina, and she talks pretty red.  But the old man’s from Michigan.  Can’t get farther north than that.  Not that I’m a goddamn Yankee either.  He’s always saying it’s p-eh-n or t-eh-n, not pin or tin.  Not when you’re talking about the thing you write with, or the number.
     Puff.  Me and Doc talked about her and the old man both.  Don’t know why they ever got together.  They met during the war, or right after.  He’s an asshole, she’s a bitch, what else can I say?  Maybe I didn’t use those words exactly.  Can’t really cuss in front of Doc.  The old man’s usually at work, pulls a lot of double shifts.  When he does come home, he’s parked in front of the tube with a beer.  Never see him before six, and working a double’ll keep him out past midnight.  He’s always gone by the time I get up.  He’s worked at Melville Plastics ever since they opened, something like thirty years.  Making milk jugs.  He’s a foreman or something.
     Puff’s never home either, at least not during the day.  And she’s none too happy about having to take off early just to cart me back and forth on Wednesdays.  But then you’re always hearing what a pain in the ass you are.  It used to be about how you almost killed her when you were born.  I think there might’ve been some concern about whether or not I was gonna make it either, but she always just talked about how I almost killed her.  The doctor said my head was so big that the delivery might do one or both of us in.  But she prayed to St. Jude, ’cause he’s the patron saint of lost causes, and everything came out all right.  That’s me.  The lost cause.
     She couldn’t have any more kids after that.  Wonder if she really wanted the ones she had, much less more.  A lot of families at church have shitloads of ankle-biters, but Puff only had us two.  Hell, she must’ve been thirty when she had me.  At least.  She might’ve been thirty when she had Don.  If she was my age back in the forties, and had Don in fifty-eight . . . .  Fuck.  I hate math.  Maybe they were waiting to have kids, or maybe they were trying to all along and just not having any.  Shit, man, don’t even think about those two going at it.
     It was your fault she almost died, and your fault she couldn’t have any more kids, and your fault all those kids in China were starving, just ’cause you wouldn’t eat all your food.  If I could’ve sent ’em over the powdered milk and powdered eggs we had for breakfast growing up, or any of that shit we still call supper, I’d have done it.  But I doubt if my share of a can of biscuits, some instant mashed potatoes, and a Banquet dinner would really make any difference.  I don’t care if it’s the Sliced Beef and Gravy, the Sliced Turkey and Gravy, the Salisbury Steak and Gravy, the Chicken and Dumplings, or even a whole Chicken Pot Pie with Top Crust, complete with those nasty-ass chunks of dark meat, those kids would’ve been just as dead.  I mean—  Goddamn it.  I didn’t kill them.  I didn’t.


     Hurray!  We’re havin’ Beef-a-Roni!  Now that was a commercial.  All those little kids running in the street singing, a big flock of birds flying over.  Must’ve been recess or something.  Maybe they were gonna have that for lunch in the cafeteria.  We’re havin’ Beef-a-Roni!  Man, the shit can’t be that good.
     On the way over last week, Puff said the old man might not be working much longer.  Got the feeling money’s gonna get tight, that going to a shrink is gonna have to end.  Not sure what the deal is, but this Mike guy brought him home from some bar Monday night, and the old man was going on about Arabs and OPEC and shit.  Puff had run out of gas.  Again.  She waits too long to fill up.  She’ll think the lines at the pumps are just too fuckin’ long, figure they’ll be shorter later, think she can wait ’til the next odd day to buy gas.  Then she runs out.  The old man used to just drive over and suck her out some of his gas, but then he had to put the anti-siphon springs in the tanks, and now it’s all a big pain in the ass.  At least he’s got an even-numbered tag, so he can get gas on days opposite her, ’cause that’s usually when she runs out.  I think the old man’s had to start training Mike to take over for him down at the plant.  The whole thing seemed weird.  The old man usually just gets drunk at home.
     I used to fetch beers for the old man after work.  A lot of nights, but this one night he must’ve been pissed at the old lady, ’cause he was ragging on her worse than he was ragging on me.  About how he had to do all the dirty work, how he really didn’t like being the one to whip us, even if it was for our own good.  Then he went on about how he married Puff just ’cause that was the only way he could get any.  I didn’t even know what “gettin’ any” meant.  He laughed, said on their wedding night she told him she knew he was gonna put it in, but that she didn’t know he was gonna move it up and down.  He thought that was just funny as hell.
     That’s as close as we ever came to having “the talk.”  No birds or bees or anything, just him getting a kick about his first time with Puff.  He said he liked big nipples, big as thumbs when you sucked on ’em.
     Guess we did talk about it one time.  Must’ve been last year.  You had been in the library looking through a National Geographic.  They sure as hell didn’t have those in the Blessed Sacrament library.  I tore out a picture of some natives standing there with nothing covering their tits.  Most of ’em were real droopy.  Pretty ugly really, but still tits.  That thing was folded up in my back pocket, and the old lady must’ve got my jeans off the floor to do a load of clothes and found it.  You usually take everything out and stash it under the mattress.  My bowl and sack, smokes and shit, but I forgot about that.  She must’ve told the old man, because he had it on the table in front of him while he was watching TV.  I walked through to the living room to get the paper to read the comics and L. M. Boyd.  Weird little facts in there.  Fish yawn.  Bears are promiscuous.  Had to look up “promiscuous.”  Still remember what it means too.  “Engaging in sexual intercourse with many persons.”  I guess you stick “bears” in there instead of “persons.”  Go bears.  Get you some.  But you stopped dead when you saw that thing sitting in front of him.  He looked up like he’d just stepped in a fresh pile of dog shit, shook his head real slow, said real deep and serious and drawn out like there’s at least five ‘i’s in it or something, “Jim.”  You’d have thought I robbed a bank, maybe killed somebody.  Fuck, man.  Just forget it already.
     I used to really hate my nipples.  At Blessed Sacrament, we put on this show kind of thing in the spring.  Each class, maybe a couple of classes together, acted out a skit or sang a song or something.  My last year, the guys in seventh and eighth were gonna dress like cowboys and sing “Oklahoma!”  But Mrs. Jeffers, the lady who directed, the one who picked out what each class was gonna do, she decided we couldn’t sing it deep enough.  After we rehearsed it for a while, kind of at the last minute really, she changed her mind and said we were gonna do something called “Tahiti” instead.  It really didn’t have any words to it, just one guy yelling out “Ta--hi--ti” at the beginning, then all of us running around like natives for a while, then the same guy yelling “Ta--hi--ti” again at the end.  Peter got to sit and bang on some bongos instead of running.  He got to wear a shirt too, ’cause he had stretch marks on his sides.  He said it was scars from getting caught in some barbed wire when he was a kid, but it was stretch marks from being so fat.  The rest of us had to wear nothing but some Hawaiian shorts.  I don’t think the nuns liked that.  And who was the poor fucker who had to do the yelling at the beginning and end?  It was bad enough that Tina Alstead and the rest of the girls got to see you with no shirt on, but you had to stand out there on the front of the stage and yell that shit right at the fuckin’ crowd.  There were two shows.  One in the day when each class did their thing for the other classes, then that night for the parents.  You had to cup your hands around your mouth and yell “Ta--hi--ti” like a goddamn idiot.  And Mrs. Jeffers wouldn’t let you cover your nipples with your arms either.  You had to spread ’em out, point your elbows at the sides of the stage to keep your hands working like a megaphone instead of covering up your mouth, which she said I had a tendency to do.  “Point those elbows, Jim.  We really want to hear you.”  Shit.  My damn nipples were kind of puffy.  I’d lie in bed nights mashing ’em in with my thumbs.  I might’ve helped a little.
     Me and Doc talked about Don too.  He’s pretty much the old man all over.  We’ve shared a room since . . . forever.  I don’t think he ever got over me barging in on him.  Ever since we got a TV, he decides what we watch.  Not a lot to choose from.  Wish we had that cable shit.  If the old man’s home, we got even fewer choices, ’cause he won’t let us watch anything he doesn’t like, like Soap or Saturday Night Live.  He doesn’t like Jody being a queer, and Saturday Night Live is just too wild.  Two wild.  Two wild and crazy guys.  Not to mention we’re not supposed to be up that late.  I’m not anyway.  Don’s out of school, so he can stay up late as he wants.  I’m supposed to turn over and go to sleep.  I know a couple people who got cable.  I’ve seen bare tits on that Home Box Office.  We got a little black and white, with a coat hanger sticking out for an antenna.  The screen’s got a permanent outline of Pong on it.  Real light, but noticeable.  The knob’s missing, so you use the old man’s pliers to change the channel.  My job.  Don’ll lie there on his bed and say, “See what’s on channel two,” and I’ll get up from mine—not real fast or anything—and click it around to CBS.  That’ll come in pretty good, and ABC and NBC, plus PBS, which is good for old movies Saturday night.  Everything’s black and white on that TV, but most of these movies would be in black and white on a color set.  They come on at nine.  They showed a bunch of westerns last month.  Old ones with John Wayne and shit, but some newer ones too, like with Clint Eastwood.  Those were cool.

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my pen name, tj jude, is spelled EXACTLY like that. All lower-case letters, no punctuation. I write. Here you will find my novel, stain, also spelled in lower case. I post poetry on myspace and facebook. I also do artwork occasionally, mainly oil paintings. I have done some cartoons, a number of which are supposed to appear in this novel, but I have yet to figure out how to post them so that they will remain posted any longer than I am on this blogsite. As soon as I log out and log back in, they are no longer embedded in the text.