Lonely Young Man
By Harry Banks
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While Melvin’s alma mater was on the TV screen running an
end-around play, he was sitting at the bar, working on a pitcher of
beer. He wasn’t really paying much attention to the college football
team he used to play for- they were losing by three touchdowns and
seemed to be sleepwalking on the field. Melvin couldn’t keep his
attention focused on such a one-sided game. He pretended to be watching
the game, but was really wishing that he was in the company of the
beautiful blonde sitting at the left end of the bar applying lipstick,
or the brunette who was on the opposite end sipping a bottle of beer.
“Way to go Tigers!” Melvin’s old team scored on a 27-yard
pass to the tight end, and the brunette got excited.
“Alright! That’s my old team!” Melvin said all that, hoping
to get the brunette’s attention, but she only left the bar to use the
restroom without so much as a glance in his direction. He felt foolish.
When Sandra returned to college to begin her graduate studies,
Melvin became a man in dire need of a woman’s touch. Sandra had been
his girlfriend during the summer, but she suddenly decided to leave for
college, which disappointed Melvin more than it hurt him. Having her
around was a matter of convenience, and when she left, Melvin had to get
used to sleeping alone again.
Sandra was an obese white woman in her late 30s who had big blue
eyes, and long blonde hair. Her weight problem was offset by a very
pretty face that was accentuated by the skillful way in which she wore
Sandra was the type of woman who dressed well, despite her
obesity. She wore stylish skirts and dresses most of the time, and
Melvin loved the way her tree-trunk legs and fat feet looked whenever
she had on pantyhose. Even the pumps that she wore made her grossly fat
ankles look sexy to him. He was weird like that. He had always been
aroused by the oddest things; such as watching women shop for feminine
hygiene products in grocery stores, and watching them try on shoes in
department stores. He was a leg man with a severe foot fetish.
Administering long, relaxing foot massages to Sandra, and then licking
the bottoms of her feet was Melvin’s favorite part of foreplay.
Sandra had been back in Austin in college for two months when
Melvin began missing her dearly. Her departure didn’t really bother
him at first, but eventually he began feeling lonely, and missed all
those nights he spent in her trailer. He wished that she could visit him
on weekends, but she was on full scholarship, and had to use her free
time on weekends to study hard so that she wouldn’t lose the
Melvin spent his entire childhood and adolescence being made fun
of and rejected because of his looks, and ended up suffering a complex
that lasted well into adulthood. From a distance, his shadowless face
resembled a black spot. He was a tar-black, ashy-skinned, nappy-haired,
red-eyed man who was only too aware of his physical repulsiveness.
Unfortunately for him, females felt the same way he did about his looks.
Knowing that he wasn’t good enough for black women or slim white
women, he had grown to prefer fat white women over the years.
As he sat at the bar, finishing up his pitcher of beer, he knew
that he didn’t stand a chance with any of the women in the bar who
were shapely and pretty. So he left his barstool, and approached a hefty
white woman with mousy blonde hair that he noticed earlier. She was
sitting at a small table in the center of the bar. A greasy-looking
woman who appeared to be in her late forties, she looked lonely and
desperate as she sipped her suds. She was dressed in tight-fitting jean
shorts, a black Harley-Davidson t-shirt, and Birkenstock sandals. The
first thing Melvin noticed about her was that she didn’t have on
socks, which made it possible for him to admire her thick ankles and red
He extended his hand to her. “I’m Melvin.”
The white woman glared at him snatched up her purse, grabbed her
bottle of beer, and went to another table. He heard laughter coming from
somewhere. It was a loud, ridiculing laughter, and could be heard over
the loud rock music coming from the juke box. He turned around and saw a
group of construction workers looking at him and laughing about his
striking out. He looked over to the table where the hefty blonde was now
sitting. She was conversing with a blue-eyed college boy who appeared to
be 19. She pointed at Melvin, and the college boy looked at him and
laughed. The embarrassment that Melvin felt ruined his buzz, so he left
He walked to a nearby liquor store, purchased two 40-ounce
bottles of malt liquor, and walked the two miles home to his tiny studio
apartment. Walking all over town was no big deal to Melvin. He had never
owned a car, so having to use his size 12 feet as a means of
transportation came second-nature to him.
A Johnny Cash CD played in a nigger-rigged boom box as Melvin
worked on the bottles of malt liquor. The boom box was a gift from the
ghetto in which he lived, something that he found in a trash can in an
alley. When he found it, it had no speakers, so he had to wire it to a
small pair of speakers that he found in a large pile of trash in the
front yard of a crack house.
By the time Melvin finished both 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor,
he felt the anger rising within him. He was angry for a lot of reasons-
no job, no car, no decent clothes, very little money, very little
food, the fact that it had been seven weeks since Sandra bothered to
call him, the fact that whenever he called her
she spoke to him in a cool tone of voice and tended to blow him off
even before the phone conversation reached the two-minute mark, the fact
that he knew in his heart that Sandra no longer wanted him.
Melvin’s financial situation was one of desperation. His
monthly mental disability check only stretched so far before he would
have to go into one of the neighborhood grocery stores to steal things
that he needed. Sometimes he would have to go days without brushing his
teeth or washing his ass because he would simply run out of toothpaste
and soap. He couldn’t even afford to get a decent haircut, which is
why his hair began to resemble steel wool.
A warm breeze blew in through the living room windows as Melvin
drank the last of his malt liquor. The heat and humidity of the warm
night put him in the mood to go out and do something. He knew of some
art school girls who lived about two buildings down from him. They were
rich girls from places like Colorado and California and upstate New
York. They drove to and fro the Alamo City Art Institute in their
foreign cars, read Kerouac in coffee shops, socialized at art openings
in small art galleries, admired beautiful art with their boyfriends at
the art museum. They were the kind of girls that Melvin could only
fantasize about being with. The type of white girls who wouldn’t give
a dirty black man like him so much as a second glance.
In the thick haze of malt liquor consumption, he wanted to do
something bad to the girls for being too good for him. He was glad they
lived on the ground floor, because that made it possible for him to do
what he had in mind.
Melvin got up from the old dusty love seat that he was sitting
in, and went into the kitchen. He grabbed a butcher knife and found a
rusty lead pipe in the cabinet underneath the kitchen sink.
On the way out the door, he picked up the two empty malt liquor
bottles. Once outdoors, he hurled both bottles one-hundred twenty-five
yards, busting them on the sidewalk. That feat was a testament to his
athletic prowess. At one time in his life Melvin was the talk of the
town, a high school football star who quarterbacked his team to two
state championships. He accepted a scholarship to a small, private
college in San Antonio. He went there in hopes of being a star
quarterback. After being forced to play defensive back, he became
frustrated and disillusioned with the football program, and quit the
team, despite leading the team in tackles and interceptions. Then he was
expelled for allegedly stalking a female student that he was obsessed
with. That was the beginning of Melvin’s downward spiral. He never
left San Antonio after getting kicked out of college, because he
didn’t feel he had anything to return home to.
He walked on down to the three-story brick building where the art
school girls lived. He noticed that their living room window on the west
side of the building was wide open, and was glad that he didn’t have
to bust it open like he had originally planned. He knew that one of the
girls had a dark-gray cat, so he walked around the area for a while,
hunting it down. “Here kittykittykittykitty…”
Finally, the cat appeared, and hissed at Melvin. It leaped for
his face. He smacked the feline in midair with the rusty pipe. The cat
went flying several yards before it hit the ground. It laid on the
ground paralyzed, moaning and crying like a baby.
Melvin approached the injured cat and put it out of its misery by
giving it one last blow to the head with the rusty pipe. He picked up
the corpse, walked to the window of the girls’ spacious apartment, and
peeked inside. The smell of marijuana smoke hit him hard. Jazz music
came from a Bose stereo system that wasn’t visible from his vantage
point, but he could tell that it was a Bose because of the quality of
The young women seemed to be having a small party as Melvin
watched them with envy. He was so envious of them that he was oblivious
to the blood of the dead cat running down his arm. The girls were
laughing and talking shit, while sipping wine from a bottle and sharing
a marijuana joint. The tall blonde girl seemed to be doing most of the
talking, while her two brown-haired roommates made small comments, but
the jazz music was so loud that Melvin couldn’t make out what they
were talking about.
Each girl was dressed in a stylish black outfit. Melvin knew that
those outfits were purchased with plastic money at some exclusive
fashion boutique in the suburbs. Or maybe at Neiman-Marcus or Marshall
Field’s at trendy North Star Mall. Suddenly he began to hate the sight
of the young white women sipping expensive wine and lounging around
their expensive apartment in their fine threads. He was going to ruin
their little party because he knew that they were too good for him.
Without even thinking twice about it, he tossed the dead cat
through the open window, and bolted. As he sprinted down the alley
towards his lonely apartment, he could hear the girls’ screams.