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ANNETTE

 

Chapters 1 and 2 of a contemporary novel about one man’s life-long search for the women of his dreams.

By Colin Laurence

 

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To my wife, who's been a net all along.

CHAPTER 1

 

Age 7

 

March 5, 1963

Dear Diareuh:

This is my first time writing in my diareuh. Grandpa got me one for Christmas. He says that lots of smart peeple like Been Franklin and other guys his age kept diareuhs. Grandpa says that it helps to make you great when you write down what you think. He tolled me that you cood write down anything you want. Which is better than the writing we half to do for Sister Mary Ellen my second grade teecher. Gramps says diareuhs can help you see patturns in your life.  He says if I write for an hour a week he wood by me a bike for my birthday. He made me promiss that Id try. And I will cuz I love Grandpa.

 

I also love Annette. I cant wait until the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB show comes on every day to see her. Its like she is looking write at me threw the TV. Sumtimes, I preetend that she is with me, and I can put my arm around her like grone ups do.  She looks at me and smiles and Im so proud.

 

I wood bring her to my freind Billys house and Chucky wood come over but she woodnt even pay attenshun to those 2 booger eaters. She wood just stair at me and smile and laff at evrything I say. And she wood krinkel her nose up and walk away when my show off brothers Kevin an Eddy try to be funny and steel her from me like they do with all my freinds.

 

Annette wood come by me at night and put her arm around me when my Mom and Dad are havin those nastee fights. Like to night. Mom said Dad had 2 much 2 drink. He was yelling reel loud and Mom started to cry and I got scared. But I made Mom laff when she came in my room and asked me why I wasnt asleep. I tolled her that I was writing in my diareuh like Grandpa tolled me to. Then I asked why they named these books after somthing disgusting like diareuh. She laffed and I was glad I made her feel better. But she didnt anser me. May be Grandpa will tell me.

 

 I wish Annette was hear with me now anyways. I wood feel better. But I can just preetend.


March 7, 1963

 

Dear DIARY:

 

Grandpa tolled me I how to spell diary write.  Somtimes Im not the best speller.

 

Mom and Dad havnt ben talking much since the other day. Its funny. Dad is like a bully when hese ben drinking beer and yelling at Mom. But after that hese like are old dog Dazey whooz 13 years old. He just walks slow and looks at his feet alot.

 

And beer makes Dads breth smells like Eddys sock drawr. I think beer is bad.

 

And we half to clean everything in the house since Mom likes it that way and Dad is trying too make up with her. Butt I dont like it after theese beer fites. It sorta like when I play army with Kevin an Eddy and Im in jale and cant talk or move or thell stick me in the ribs with thare guns.

 

Some times when I want to make things better Ill sit with Mom when she is cooking. She watches this cooking show where a man tells everyone about what this lady cook is doing. I preetend that Im on TV doing the same thing as the man and Mom Is the lady cook. Mom always smiles when I do that and I don’t want her to be mad anymore. Then Kevin and Eddy snuk up and saw me and made fun of me for it.

 

Then Kevin an Eddy saw me wen I was sposed to be sweepin the basemeant today and I preetended that I waz dansing with Annette. Thell probly stop teesing me in 20 or 30 yeers. Butt I dont care becuz wen thare not arownd Annette stil looks at me like Im the ony thing she can see and I feel like Superman. My bruthers mosely make me feel stupid. And Mom an Dad are two buzy fiting and cleening and looking at thare feet right now.

 


 

March 12, 1963

 

dear Diary.

 

Antie Hell came over today with Grandpa for Eddys birthday. Its alwaze fun wen she comes over. Antie Hell is Eddys godmother. I wish she was mine becuz Eddy always gets lots of money from her for his birthday.

When I asked why she is called Antie Hell she yelled CUZ IM HELL ON WEELS. What ever that meens. But Mom says her real name is Hellin. Im not sure thats much better.

 

Antie Hell swares alot. She walks into our house and says things like HAVE ONE OF THEZE LITTLE BASSTURDS TAKE MY COAT. We all think its funny exsept for Dad. He duznt like her calling us names but we dont mind. She duznt meen it. Mom says that Antie Hell pulled all the hair out of her head. Twice.  Id probly sware alot if I did that.

 

When Antie Hell and Grandpa come over Mom tells them alot about Eddy and Kevin and me. She tells them how we do good in school an sports an stuff an how i can read third grade books. But Antie Hell says things like YUR FULLA SHIT JENNY THARE JUST A BUNCHA BEAR ASSD BABUNES. Mom and Grandpa just kinda smile when she says stuff like that. Dad looks like he wants to murdalize her.

 

Mom and Dad arnt fiting anymore. Not reely. I like it bettur this way but Mom always comeplanes about Dad. She says he messes things up and wares good shirts to ficks the car and stuff. But sumtimes I like Dad more then Mom. He plays with us. He lissens. He even waches cartoons with us on Satrdays sumtimes. But Dad has to work a ton so he cant wach Tv two much. Mom never waches tv with us. She eether yells at us. Or brags abowt us. I wish she waz more like Dad. Or Grandpa.

 

I showed Grandpa all the writing I had in my diary. He smiled an aksed me what colur bike i wanted.  I tolled him green. I also tolled him about Annette. Sort of. I just said GRANDPA ID LIKE YOU TO MEET ANNETTE. Just like a grone up. He shuk her hand. And said PLEASE TO MEET YOU and smiled. And she smiled back at him and looked at me and smiled bigger. Not really. Just preetend. But it almost felt reel for a second.

 

Grandpa is the best.


 

 

March 15, 1963

 

Dear Diary:

 

Nuthin speshal reelly happened today. But Im sposed to write in my diary for an our a week and I only rote four 30 minits since last Saturday. Grandpa asked me abowt it to day and I tole him. He just gave me this side waze look and said I owed him 30 more minits. I tolled him I didnt no what to write. He said WRITE ANY THING. So hear goze.

 

My name is Brian Kominski and I live in Chicago with my 2 older bruthers Kevin and Eddy. Kevin is 10 and Eddy is 12. I aktully like them wen thare not torchurin me by makin me put a rolld up peese of paper in my mowth and snappin it out with a dish towl. Kevin I like cuz he is mostly nice to me and bys me fake sigrets that make reel smoke and stuff. Eddy I like cuz heze good at evry thing. Id like to be like Eddy wen I get oldur but he tells me Im a little marshin cuz I do weerd stuff I gess.

 

8 minits

 

And we also have a dog Dazey who is pretty old and kinda looks a giant orange dust mop with legs.

 

9 minits

 

And than thares my Dad and Mom.  Dad wurks a lot delivring meat to grossry stores. He keeps his truck in are garage and we can go in and take hot dogs and stuff when ever we want. Witch my frends Chukkie and Billy think is pretty neet. Mostly I think that’s why thay come over. Mom is who Kevin and Eddy and me are scared of. More then Dad. Mom yells at us more but she likes us two I think. She reelly likes to have the house cleen and she likes us to look neet and have are shoes shined and are pants pressd for school. She says that the nuns no yur a Kominski if yur panrs are pressd and yur shoes are shined. I dont no how. Mom likes to fuss over me a lot and call me THE BABY OF THE FAMLY and tell peepul how I cood read wen I was 3. Sumtimes thats why I think Kevin and Eddy like to torchur me.  I dont reelly liked to be calld a baby or that other stuff. But Mom likes to say that so I gess its ok.

 

18 minits.

 

Chukkie and Billy are my frends I gess. Chukkie lives on are block and Billy lives 1 block over. I play with them sum times but not alwaze. Cuz I like to play with my brothurs and thare frends. We lissin to the fono graf. To the Beech Boys and The Dave CLark 5 and stuff and Chukkie and Billy dont even no who thay are.

 

23 minits.

 

I go to school at Saint James School. Weer Cathlics. Some othur kids on are block are publics and go to Durkin school. We get out of school way urleeur so Cathlic school is better.

 

25 minits

 

Kevin is better than Eddy in one thing. Fartin. I think Kevin is better than any one at fartin. Kevin farts all the time. From eatin any thing. Grapes, hot dogs, cake, korn flakes. But White Cassel hambergers make him fart the most.  Sometimes after he has a bunch of sliders Kevin can actually fart music, and we play NAME THAT FART. It’s hillaireeus.

 

29 minits

 

Im not so sure that Im gonna get that bike from Grandpa. Writing is hard.

 

30 minits

 

DUN!


March 16, 1963

 

Dear Diary:

 

Today was abowt the best day in the histree of the world. Than it turned in to one of the worst.

 

We got 2 feet of snow and school was canselled and me and Kevin and Eddy and Chukkie and Billy and half the kids on our block played outside all day. After we helped every one in the nayborhood shovel their sidewalks and stuff. About 5 times. Since we nocked all the snow back on the sidewalks playin.

 

The best part was wen we made a sekret BOYS ONLY fort and no girls were a loud. Espeshally not Mary Beth Hoolihan. She likes me I think cuz she always sits by me in Music class. And she kept throwin snow balls at me today insted of Chukkie or Billy or any one else. Then Eddy the superjerk runed it by saying BETTUR CUT IT OWT BRIAN OR ANNETTE WILL GET JELLIS. I didnt want anyone to no about or Annette OR to think I liked Mary Jane so I kinda went spastik and pinned her down and washd her face out. It wasnt like I punched her or nothin but she went home cryin any way. Jeez.

 

Later wen I got off all my wet close and changed and went downstairs by my self I asked Annette if she wood be mad if I washed her face owt. And she said NO and kinda leened her sholder agenst mine. And then I put my arm arownd her and just stayed thare for a wile. The next thing I new Kevin was fartin the MAN FROM UNCLE song in my face. He said LET GO A THAT PILLOW AND GET UP CUZ DAD IS GONNA KILL YOU. MISSUS HOOLIHAN IS ON THE FONE. Then I herd Dads foot steps cummin down the stares. Dad sounds like the Jolly Green Giant when he comes down the stares. I was gonna get killed by the Jolly Green Giant.

 

That’s when Kevin became my all-time favrit brother. When Dad was lookin like I he was gonna spank me for 2 hours strate Kevin said that Mary Beth was bommin me with snowballs all day. Witch was sorta true. Than Kevin said she hit me in the head with one so I went and washed her face out cuz she desurved it. Dad lookd kinda happy that he didnt havta spank me for 2 hours becuz he duznt like to reelly spank us. He said WELL DONT DO THAT AGAIN but he reelly didnt meen it.

 

When Dad walkd a way Kevin said YOU HALF TO CLEEN MY ROOM FOR LIFE.

 


 

March 20, 1963

 

I like Sundaze. Youshelley.

 

I allways go to 7 oclock mass with Mom. Mass at Saint Johns is reeling boring. Its not even in Englush an you half to neel until it hurts. Then Mom stays after mass to long and talks to all of our nayboors. Today Missus Janopski tolld her wat a good boy I was for bringing her paper too her wich was in her bushes. Not on hur porch. Mom smiled and tolled hur how I cood drink milk from a glass wen I was 6 months old. Drinking milk from a glass is a big thing for Mom. She tells peeple about it all the time.

 

Dad duznt go to church. I dont no why. He goze to the bakery and bys coffee cakes and makes eggs and bakin for us wen we get home. I think Dad has a better deel than Mom.

 

Mom makes a speshul meel on Sundays. We call it Sunday dinner even tho its reelly lunch. I dont no why.

 

Grandpa came over today but he didnt eat much. He just koffed alot. Mom kinda yelled at him for not eating. I didnt think a kid cood yell at a Dad. I gess wen yur a grone up you can yell at any body.

 

After Mom stopped yellin at Grandpa he aksed me how I was doing in school. I said fine. Eksept Steven Bucher beat me up at recess the other day. Mom said I DIDNT NO THAT. Even tho I told hur. I think she forgot becuz my school pants wur ripped. Mom hates it wen yur pants get ripped. It makes her go crazy. She was so crazy she didnt notis my fat lip.

 

After dinner Dad went down stares to get the boksing gloves. I hate to praktis boksing. Kevin and Eddy just wale on me. Then I cry. Then Dad tells me this is good for me. Then I go crazy and wale on Kevin or Eddy. Then thay fall down laffing.

 

Im glad Annette waznt heer.


 

March 24, 1963

 

Dear Diary.

 

Today was a weerd day. First, Mary Beth Hoolihan is still reelly mad at for washin her face out the other day. I can tell cuz she sat next to Scott Bucher in Music wen she always sits next to me. Scott Bucher thinks heze cool becuz he komes his hare back and uses lots of Brill Creem like my bruther Eddy. Than I ansered about 10 questions in class that no one else new. I youshelly dont anser that much. Sister Mary Ellen told Mom at the parint teecher confrinse that I day dreem a lot in school even tho Im kinda smart. Witch is true I gesss. So I thawt I was doin reelly good anserin a lot. I know Sister Mary Ellen liked it cuz she said so. But Scott Bucher wisspered for me to quit bein a brown nose. I thawt that Mary Beth wood notis and like me again. But she didnt even look at me once. I no cuz I was lookin at her after every anser. I think she not looked at me on purpus.

 

Wen we took are labratory brake I was in the bath room. Scott Bucher and some other guys pushed me in to the yurinall. My tie got wet so I told Sister Mary Ellen. She wantd me to tell hur hoo did it but my bruthers told me not to be a skweeler. So I didnt say.  Sister got mad and said the hole class had to stay after if no one said who did it but no one said anyway becuz Scott Bucher is the tuffest kid in class and no one wanted to get beet up later. So now every one hates me.

 

Then I walkd home by my self. Then I saw some sno men with carrits and stuff missing from thare faces. Than I figured I wood look kinda like them wen Scott Bucher was done with me. I was so worried that I almost missed the Mickey mouse Club wen I got home by. When I turned the TV on, Annette was in the middle of singing this song with Bobby. I dont even no what the song was. But Annette was lookin at Bobby with those Is and smilin like he was the Good Humor Man or sumthin. I cood just feel it.  And then I pretended that Annette was next to me on the cowch an lookin at me like I was the Good Humor Man. And it was like she was reelly there. So I didnt here Mom yellin the first time that dinner was reddy and it was time to set the table. She was mad wen I came upstares and it was after 5 o clok and the table wasnt set. Being late for dinner makes Mom nuts. So I set the table as fast as I cood and poored the milk and all and Mom was sayin what a good boy I was wen Kevin and Eddy came in. And she yelled at them. So wen I went to wash me hands in the bath room Eddy teesed me and said I was a Mommas boy. Than he pushed me and I fell in toylet an got all wet. Which made Mom go nuts and she grownded Kevin and Eddy for the rest of the week. Kevin didnt do any thing but he got grownded any way.

 

Maybe Grandpas right. You can see patterns wen you write in a diary. Todays pattern was that wen I try to do good peepul dont like it eksept for grone ups. Than I end up in the toylet. Than the grone ups get mad at every one else. Than every one gets mad at me. 

 

Thanks, Grandpa.

 

 


March 28, 1963

 

Sum times Kevin and Eddy arent so bad.

 

Today before school when Scott Beecher started bumping me in line like always. The next thing I knew his books and papers and stuff were on the grownd. All of sudden.  He started to yell WHO DID THAT wen Kevin said WHATSA MATTER BEECH BOY. BOOKS TWO HEVVY FOR YA?  Kevin and Eddy werent even supposed to be at door A with the first graders. Kevin is in forth grade wich uses Door B and Eddy is in siksth grade wich uses Door C. When Scott reeched down for his books Eddy steppd on them with the muddeeist foot you ever seen.  Then he mashed his foot around like his was puttin owt a sigrett an said KEEP PICKIN ON MY BRUTHER AN THATLL BEE YUR HEAD. Then the bell rang and every one got in line wile Scott Beecher picked up his muddy books. He didnt even look at me the rest of the day.

 

Kevin is reelly pretty nice to me most of the time. Wen Mom takes us to the HiLo grossery store Kevin always bys me gumballs from the masheens if Mom wont give me munnee. Witch she mostly duznt. And Kevin helps me with my homework wen Moms not happy with it. I wood never ask Eddy for help. Heze two cool. And he wood just make me feel like I shood no how to do it my self and not reelly help much anyway.

 

Eddy is good at every thing. Every one likes him. And wants him on thare team. Sum times I wach him play baseball and he winks at me and then he hits a homer. Its cool to be Eddys bruther then. But wen heze shaggin me away cuz all hiz frends are around it not so cool. Then I look for Kevin or my sumtimes frends Chukkie and Billy.

 

But mostly I look for Annette.

 


 

April 2, 1963

 

Dear Diary,

 

Im scared. Grandpa is vary sick.

 

Grandpa hadnt come over to hour house in about 2 weeks. So Mom desided we wood pop in on him when we were out shopping for sum new school pants for me. Most of mine had holes in the neese. I dont no how they get there all the time. Maybe we bawt them that way.

 

When we saw Grandpa you could tell he wasnt right. He lookd all skinny and he could barely move. And he didnt have his Grandpa smile on. Grandpa youshelly has this smile on his face like he just farted and someone walked into it. Witch he sometimes duz. But not today. Today he wasn’t smiling at all. He looked skinny and week and bent over. At first I waznt sure it was reelly him. So I stood behind Mom a little just in case. He was coffin about evry 2 sekends. And wurst of all, the hanky he was coffin in was full of blud!!!

 

Mom went nuts when she saw the blud. She was yelling at Grandpa and asked him how long he was coffin blud while she called the doktor. Grandpa didnt talk. He just moved his sholders in a way that ment he didn’t remember or care or sumthin. Wile Momma was talking on the phone, Grandpa lookd at me and I could see that it waz reelly Grandpa becuz he had that sum of his  I just farted smile. A little. He asked HAVE YOU BEEN RIGHTIN IN YOUR DIARY BRIAN? And I nodded yes. Then he coffed his branes out for a few seconds. He was breethin vary hevvy. Wen he cawt his breth he said LOOK IN THE BASEMENT. I walkd down the stares. At the bottom waz the coolest green Schwinn sting ray bike you ever saw. I just stood there starin at it when I herd my mother screamin at me so I ran upstares. Mom helped Grandpa to the car and we took him to the hospittle. Grandpa was coffin like crazy the hole way and Mom was drivin reel fast and teers were rolling down her cheeks. I don’t know if I was more scared that Grandpa was gonna die or that I was.

 

When we got to the hospittle the peepul at the merge-in- see room took him from the car fast and Mom was holdin Grandpas hand like she duz mine. Then all of sudden Grandpa lookd at me and smiled a little and said EVERYTHINGS GONNA BE ALRIGHT BRIAN.

 

But Im not so sure.

 


April 17, 1963

 

WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY? WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY? WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY? WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY? WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY? WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY? WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?

 

WHY?

 

Granpa’s dead. Why? How cood he die? Heze my Grandpa? Ever since Mom and I found him, heze ben in the hopsital. The doctur said that he had cancer. I don’t know what that is but Grandpa just kepped coffin and weezin and spittin blud. Every day he kepped getting thinner and than he cood hardly talk. It was awful and now heze ded and all I have is a stupid bike and I want Grandpa instead.

 

WHY?

 

We go to church and we learn in school how good God is but why did he take Grandpa from me? Kevin and Eddy told me that no one lives forever. Now I no Im gonna die too. Im so scared!

 

Now Mom’s cryin and Dad’s huggin her and sheze cryin lowder. And Kevin an Eddy are cryin to and the Docter is just wachin and Granpa is still dead. And Mom was tryin to hug me and Im just writing. Im not reelly cryin but my Is are wet. Maybe Grandpa is a goast now and he can read this. GRANDPA COME BACK. PLEASE.

 

Why did you die, Grandpa? You always talked to me and played pretend games. You were my frend. I felt important when I was with you. Hooz gonna’ make me feel that way now?

 

When every one left me alone Eddy came up to me, Grandpa. I think he was tryin to be nice for once. He sat by me and put his arm arownd me kinda like you did Granpa and said MAYBE YOU SHOULD GIVE ANNETTE A HUG TONITE BRIAN.  And I got reelly mad. I tried to smash him. I don’t know why. Dad and Kevin pulled me off Eddy. And I said ANNETTES NOT REEL YOU JERK. ANNETTES NOT REEL!

 

But I wish she was.


 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 2

Age 14


 

March 7 1969

 

It’s been a long time.

 

Grandpa would have been 85 if the cancer hadn’t killed him 6 years ago. I haven’t even written in it since the day he died.  In fact, if I hadn’t cleaned my sock drawer today I probably wouldn’t have ever found it.  It made me think of Grandpa. I still miss him. I think of him every time I ride my bike, although

these days my knees almost hit my chin when I pedal. Still, it’s from Grandpa, and I don’t think I could ever give it up.

 

Grandpa was right about one thing ---- the diary does make you see patterns in life. Dad’s been drinking again lately, which leads to fights with Mom. I think Eddy’s being away at college has something to do with it.

 

You can always tell when Dad’s going to come home smashed. A day or two before, Dad will tell Mom he wants a beer with dinner. Mom gets him the beer but her teeth are clenched when she does. Everyone gets quiet. It’s like in the cowboy movies when they say, “Meet me at high noon.” You know Dad’s going to come home REALLY schnockered in a day or so -----  and he and Mom are going to have a showdown. My brothers and I have gotten so we start cleaning the house BEFORE the fight because we know that Dad will make us do that afterwards to make up with Mom, which is how I came across my old diary.

 

It’s funny to read over the stuff I wrote 6 years ago. I was SUCH a dork. I still don’t understand girls, althought I hardly ever wash their faces out anymore. Besides, Mary Beth Houlihan has become a major OINKER. But Kathy Kubek, now THAT’S another story.

 

Kathy Kubek is a total FOX. She doesn’t act stuck up at all like most of the popular girls. She walks around in overalls and tee shirts and doesn’t fix her self all up like Madeleine Tursarello, who is going steady with a Junior in High School and doing things that you only read about in the Playboy magazines we steal at my friend Chucky’s house.

 

One thing I like about Kathy is that she hangs out with the boys as much as the girls.  She jokes around a lot, doesn’t throw a fit if you tease her, and can actually talk about sports some since she has 3 brothers. She ‘s kind of “One of the Guys.” Except for that smile. Kathy has these like perfect teeth and these great blue eyes, both of which light up like a neon sign when she smiles. She came to our 8th grade basketball game today, and I kind of went nuts. I scored 18 points, and caught her eye after every basket.  And she’d smile.

 

One thing’s for sure  ---- it’s hard to run when you got a boner.

 

Afterwards, Kathy came up to me and punched me in the arm and said, “Nice game, K-Man” --- “K” for “Kominski. Then she and I and Chucky hung out outside the school and shot the breeze for a while. Actually, mostly Chucky and Kathy shot the breeze. When Kathy is around I usually feel like my Dad parked his truck on my tongue.  Chucky and I walked Kathy home, and they made a big deal out the good game I had and said that we would probably win the league Catholic championship this year since I was playing so good. And then Kathy started teasing me about Peggy Smelter, who had also came to the game. Kathy said she liked me and stared at me all through the game as if no one else was playing. But I told Kathy that I didn’t like Peggy. In fact, I said that I kind of liked someone else. So for the next 3 blocks, Kathy and Chucky interrogated me like a Russian spy. I think Kathy was hoping I would say I liked her ---- her and Chucky were smiling at one another like they already knew something. But no way was I saying anything right to her face!!!!! Maybe I’ll have Chucky tell her later

 

You know, this diary thing is kind of fun. It DOES help you think through things.


March 9, 1969

 

Eddy called yesterday from school to say he wouldn’t be coming home this weekend. He’s away at Kendrick College in Wisconsin, and I guess he’s got a lot of tests coming up. For reasons I don’t understand, his being gone has really affected Dad. I think he looks up to Eddy, too. The call set off the chain reaction of Dad-gets-hammered, Mom-gets-pissed, Brian-stays-out-of-the-way. Which is exactly why I am sitting in the bathroom with the door locked writing in this diary.

 

You know, Mom and Dad aren’t really that bad of people. It’s just that they kinda’ spaz out when things don’t right. I mean, Mom does everything for us. She cooks. She cleans. She irons our clothes --- even our underwear, although I wish she’d use less starch. But if things aren’t just right, she “mounts the broom,” as my brothers like to say. Mom is really a yeller, which can be embarassing around my friends. Take the time that Billy was eating over and Mom went psycho because Kevin snapped me with a dishtowel, causing me to drop the glass of milk I was holding. She made Kevin and me wash and wax the entire kitchen floor while Billy ate dinner looking down at his plate the whole time.

 

My Dad isn’t like my friends’ dads.  First of all, he’s older ---- 61 years old, in fact. But, in some ways, he’s younger as well. Dad will come out and play running bases with us, or take us to the roller rink, or chase the dog around the yard. Inside, he’s still a kid in some ways, which is really groovy. But Dad seems to let things bother him a lot and when they do he seems to start drinking too much. Sometimes it seems like Dad drinks on purpose so he can get angry and yell at Mom. It’s like the only time he really gets to be the boss.

 

So when Eddy called home and said he wasn’t coming back this weekend, Kevin and I knew what was coming. Dad asked Mom for a beer with dinner. It’s not like Dad drinks all the time. Actually, he hardly drinks at all. But, when he does….. LOOKOUT. Natually, I began cleaning immediately.

 

Things got so tense that I actually forgot about Eddy being gone myself. Corny as it sounds, Eddy is my hero. He’s always been the star. He always has the best-looking girlfriend. I don’t know the details, but Eddy and Kevin always chuckling this dirty little chortle they talk about college girls. They never say anything, they just chortle. He must be screwing his brains out!

 

You know, I love my Dad and all …… but I really look up to Eddy.

 

Well, got to go. Kevin has to take a dump.


March 10, 1969

 

It all started in Miss Jenkins English class.

 

I’m pretty much convinced that Mrs. Jenkins is, in fact, a VULCAN. She might possibly be Spock’s mother. The reason I think this is that nothing on her is real!

 

Take her eyebrows. There’s nothing but skin where her real ones are supposed to be. Instead, she draws fake ones in with a pencil which half-moon way up into the middle of her forehead. Then there’s her hair. It is definitely NOT hers because I saw her push it back one time…. I mean, all of it …. when it was starting to droop down to the level of her fake eyebrows. Finally, there’s her teeth. At least 4 of her top front teeth are false. I know because I saw her catch them with her bottom lip once when Mary Dugan made her laugh in class. Her wig actually covers the tops of her ears, but if I could see them, I know they’d be pointed.

 

But what really convinces me that she’s an alien is that she has no clue of what’s happening on Earth.

 

She was calling on Chucky in class today, since it was his turn to read Beowulf out loud, when he responded, “Wa-Wa-WAAAADDDD did you say, Mrs. Jenkins?” 

 

I could believe it! I buried my head in my book. Without a doubt, he was going to die, probably by way of the Vulcan death grip. But Mrs. Jenkins simply replied, “I SAID, please begin reading, Charles.”

 

Chucky got cockier. “Wa-Wa-WAAAADDDDD page was that, Mrs. Jenkins?” Half that room was snickering.

 

“Page 274, Mr. Slopczak.” Jenkins was pissed, but she still didn’t seem to get it. Unbelievable!

 

Always one to play to the crowd, Chucky kept pushing. “Wa-Wa-WAAADDDD paragraph?”

 

Mrs. Jenkins bit down hard on her false teeth, trying desperately to move her circus-clown eyebrows into a menacing position. She glared icilily over her bifocals, and I saw Chucky’s life pass before my eyes. Surely, she had to know that a WAD is a DICK! She MUST have finally gotten it. But after 10 seconds of threatening silence, she merely growled, “Paragraph 3, Charles.”

 

Chucky began reading enthusiasitically as the rest of the class let out a collective hiss of laughter, faces jammed into our books. Needless to say, the remainder of the day became an all-out WADfest.

 

 “Wa-Wa-WAAADD didju’ say, K-Man?”

 

“WA-WA-WAAADDD a beautiful day it is, Sister!”

 

“Wa-Wa-WAAAADDDD time is it, Peggy?”

 

“Wa-Wa-WAAAADDDD a nice dress you have on, Kathy!”

 

And so on.

 

But the clincher was when Chucky asked me, “Kominski, who’s your favorite poet?”

 

“Why, Henry  Wa-Wa-WAAAADDDDDSSSSworth…LONGFELLOW, of course.”

 

We laughed so hard it hurt!

 


 

MARCH 12, 1969

 

Kathy Kubek is a GODDESS!

 

Today, our school basketball team played our arch-enemies from St. Michael’s. St. Mike’s --- or St. Dyke’s, as we like to call them --- is our neighboring parish to the east. In Chicago, parishes are like towns with constant border skirmishes, generally taking the form of; a.) vandalism, or b.) sporting events. In fact, the two often go together, as demonstrated by our newly-decorated visitors locker room. Those St. Mike’s Dykes can’t shoot so well, but they sure can draw!

 

Like most rivalries, competition with St. Mike’s usually involves a lot of emotion, punctuated by knees and elbows. I had a feeling that today’s contest might be especially physical when I noticed that Matt Roark, our school’s best forward (as well as star fullback) was not wearing his customary knee pads. When I asked him why, he responded, “Softens the blow.”

 

With 120 pounds of meat thinly spread over my 5 foot 9 inch frame, I consider the lane to be the territory of Matt Roark and the rest of the troglydites. The rest of the court is MINE. I tend to be a long-range bomber, which is kind of a hit-or-miss proposition. Today was definitely a “hit.” As Chucky put it, “You were fucking UNCONSCIOUS out there, Brian!” And he was right. I was. Everything I threw up went in. I ended up scoring 19 points, and we beat the Dyke’s from St. Mike’s 55-46.

 

But, here’s the good part.

 

As always, we went out to Homer’s Foot Long Hot Dog Palace after the game. When I came in, Chucky was yelling above the crowd, saying, “WA-WA-WAAADDDD WERE YOU DOIN’ OUT THERE, K-MAN? TRYIN’ TO BE JERRY-FUCKIN’-WEST OR SUMTHIN’?”

 

“WA-WA-WAAADDD DO YOU MEAN?” I said. It was the only appropriate response.

 

People were yelling my name, slapping me on the back, and “WA-WA-WAAADDDDING” me from all angles. Someone plopped a foot-long hot dog in front of me, which would get my undivided attention under normal circumstances. But at that particular moment, I pretty much had my own foot-long going, and the object of its affection was sitting right across from me ---- KATHY KUBEK.

 

She was sitting next to Chucky, smiling that knee-buckling smile of hers. Not knowing what else to do, I launched into the Homer dog, but under the intensity of Kathy’s gaze, I smiled back. Suddenly, I was forcibly reminded that, in my haste to get to Homer’s I was wearing basketball shorts under my jeans, and a jock strap under my shorts. But Chucky, in his infinite Chuckydom, delivered both embarassment along with a certain measure of relief when he said, “WA-WA-WAAADDDS THAT IN YOUR TEETH, K-MAN? A POP-POP-POPPY SEED?” Which, of course, it was, courtesy of Homer’s deluxe hot dog bun.

 

Kathy saved me from death-by-embarassment as she elbowed Chuck Roast in the ribs and quickly countered with, “That’s not a poppy seed, Chuck. That’s your brain.” Then she smiled her best “Miss-America-In-Bib-Overalls” smile at me. I fought off the impulse to flash her my “Homer’s-Hot-Dog-Bun-Poppy-Seed” smile in return.

 

Kathy, Chucky, and I hung out at Homer’s for about an hour or so until we WADDED her into submission. Then she added a roll of her eyes to her dazzling smile, and I became dizzy. Before I could recover, she said goodbye, snagged the ever-present Peggy Smelter, and was out the door.

 

Being the mature young men that we are, Chucky and I left Homer’s shortly thereafter and followed the girls at a discreet yet obnoxiously noticeable distance. We did what anyone in our situation would do. When they crossed the street ---we crossed the street. When they crossed back --- we crossed back. When they laughed --- we laughed LOUDER. And when Kathy and Peggy reached their houses, Kathy looked back and winked at me.

 

And my boner actually touched my heart. I think I’m in LOVE!


March 14, 1969

 

The whole idea of drinking is an absolute mystery to me.

 

Chucky and Billy, have been on my giving me crap about drinking. We go to parties and everyone who’s in the “cool group ” is starting to drink. Being in the cool group is, well, cool. Everyone who plays any sport at St. Jame’s is automatically a candidate for the cool group, although it doesn’t necessarily guarantee membership. And every foxy looking girl in 8th grade is in the girl cool group, including Kathy Kubek. 

 

I don’t know how it is actually decided that you are in, but everyone seems to know if you ar “in” or “out.” Chucky seems to be the designated herald of the group and, in so many words, has explained that to be in it’s pretty much expected that you drink. Still, given what’s been happening at home, it kind of tough to see the glamour in it.

 

Ever since Eddy left for college, Dad’s been a basket case. As long as I can remember, his drinking episodes have always been a kind of isolated events for him. It works this way ---- Dad gets wound up, he gets hammered, then he’s repents for the next 3 to 6 months. But this time is different. Dad’s been stinko for the last week straight. His customers are calling the house asking where he’s been. And neighborhood friends are reporting strange Dad-sightings all over the parish. For example, my friend Billy’s mother called the house to inform me that Dad’s fire-engine red truck was parked on the shoulder of 87th Street. Luckily, I took the call and road my bike through the snow-packed streets to find Dad parked and taking a nap. On a major 4-lane highway. At 4 in the afternoon.

 

Then my brother Kevin was made abruptly aware of Dad while he was heading home on the school bus. Kevin was in the front seat when the driver suddenly slammed on the brakes and screached something in Hindu at an on-coming vehicle. Kevin recovered quickly enough to see Dad’s red truck swerving back into the right-hand lane.

 

Finally, when I took out the garbage the other evening I noticed that the back wall of our garage was bulging out and the cement between the bricks was chipping away. It seems that the end of the garage has been sneaking up on Dad’s truck. I can’t imagine why.

 

Needless to say, Mom has mostly been kicking his ass all over the court, but not every night. Dad can be as mean as a drunk as he is nice when he’s sober, so sometimes Mom tries a strategic retreat. The other night, Dad and Mom were playing “the Baiting Game,” where Mom was giving Dad shit for drinking, and Dad was blaming Mom for not allowing him to conquer the world. Something in Dad’s tone told Mom that this was not the time to taunt him any further, so she quietly brought him a plate of spaghetti. This seemed to anger Dad even more, so he picked up the plate and threw it across our carpeted kitchen, sauce and all. Unrepentant, Dad retired to the basement where he turned on the TV and promptly fell asleep. Kevin, Mom and I spent the rest of the evening silently cleaning the kitchen. I mean, what was there to say?

 

Since then, Dad shifted from being an Angry Drunk to a Sneaky Drunk. He’s out of the house before Mom gets up, and slips into the basement late at night, snockered to the gills. I think Kevin and I have slowed him up some, though. We raided his truck last night, and confiscated his private stock of Seagram’s and 7-Up.

 

 

So, I have now acquired my own private liquor supply, and entry into the cool group is there for the taking. Still, with everything that’s happening with my Dad, drinking seems like the dumbest fucking thing I could possibly do.

 

But how could I ever tell anyone why?

 

 


March 19, 1969

 

Well, here I am in the bathroom again. At least I’ve got this diary with me to give me something to do when I’m not puking up my internal organs or contemplating suicide.

 

It started like this:

 

After a week of baby-sitting my parents, I decided that I needed to get out myself. Matt Roark was having a party that promised to be the social event of the season. His parents were out of town for the weekend, he had two older brothers who would buy beer for the less fortunate. The entire 8th Grade was going, including Kathy Kubek. She even asked me if I would be there during school on Friday, which immediately turned my wank into a steel girder. Little did I know what was really in store for me.

 

I left the house about 6 PM with my own personal supply of Seagrams and 7-Up tucked neatly under my coat, I hurriedly told Mom that I was going over to Billy’s and bolted. Since Mom is absolutely convinced that Billy walks on water since he gets straight A’s and is disgustingly polite with adults, I was confident that she would never call to check up on me. Billy, of course, told HIS Mom that we were going over to Chucky’s house, knowing full-well that she and Chucky’s Mom despise one another. Billy’s Mom wouldn’t call Chucky’s Mom if she saw her house on fire at 2 AM. So, with alibis firmly in place, Billy and I set off for the party.

 

When we reached a safe distance from his house, Billy started in on me.

 

“K-Man, did you bring any warm milk to drink?”

 

I was ready for him. I gave him my best cocky smirk, pulled the bottle of whisky half-way out of my coat and said, “Fuck you AND you’re horse!” I don’t know exactly what that means, but I had heard Eddy say it once.

 

Billy was amazed. “What….when….. where did you get the …?”

 

“Never mind. Let’s roll.” I told him confidently, and began to jog ahead before he could see how cocky I wasn’t.

 

We arrived, out-of-breath, to find that the party was already wall-to-wall people. Matt’s older brother Ray greeted us at the door with an over-flowing beer cup, whiched spilled all over the linoleum floor as he speachlessly pointed us downstairs. The effect of the week combined with the noise and activity of the party made me a little woozy without even drinking. So when we met Chucky ---- who was TOTALLY in his element ---- in the basement, I passed on the beer he offered me, fully expecting that he would verbally cut my nuts off. Much to my surprise, he replied with a Grinch-like grin and whispered, “That’s OK, K-MAN ….. I’ve got a better home for it!” Curious, I watched him weave through the crowd to a room in Roark’s basment that I knew to be Ray’s bedroom. I shouldered my way through the crowd to the bedroom door, and peered through the opening.

 

Chucky was sitting on a bed with Kathy Kubek. Way too close. He handed her a plastic glass of bear and they were looking over some records when Chucky suddenly started MAKING OUT WITH KATHY …… AND SHE MADE OUT RIGHT BACK. I must have gone weak in the knees, because I stumbled into the door and half-fell into the room. Chucky-the-Grinch looked up and said, “Can’t you see we’re busy in here, Kominski?” This initial shot stunned me, but Kathy finished me off from the grassy knoll before I knew what hit me. “You know, Peggeesh been looking all over for you, Brian,” she slurred. For a split-second, I knew how JFK felt right before he died.

 

Mortified, I spun out of Ray’s room only to run smack into the love-struck Miss Smelter, giving me her best, braces-laden “Am-I-Happy-To See-YOU” smile. I rudely changed course and fought through the crowd towards Billy, who was wedged in the middle of our basketball team mates, each of whom had a drink in their hands. Driven by the shock of my recent discovery and the abuse I expected from the guys, I pulled the whisky bottle out from under my jacket and took and took an enormous mouthful. Within seconds, people began chanting, “k-man, K-Man, K-MAN!” Ignoring the burning sensation forming in my stomache, I kept thowing more back. After chugging my fourth mouthful, I began to realize that despite the diversion this provided, pounding down shots my first time drinking was probably not a good idea. My stomach was starting to rumble, and my ability to focus could only be compared to the time I tried to set the all-time spin record on the carnival tee-cup ride. So, when the metallic smile of Piggy Peggy snapped into focus only inches from my face, there was only one thing to do ------- BARF. All over her. And 10 or 20 other innocent bystanders.

 

I don’t remember much after that. Billy somehow led me home and snuck me into my basement, where I awoke at 2 AM to find my tongue pasted to the roof of my mouth, a bucket placed on the floor below me, and my father asleep on the couch across from me. Mom seems to think I have the flu because every time I try to eat something, I run to the bathroom to blow chunks. Kevin and Dad are giving me the old sideways, suspiscious glare every time I come out, but Dad is in no position to challenge me about drinking, and Kevin is apparently taking too much pity on me to grill me.

 

Well, I believe I have entered the sacred realm of the “cool” group. Problem is, I think I yakked all over it.

 


 

March 21, 1969

 

 

I cannot tell you how glad I am that this day is over.

 

Today, Chucky engraved his name on my all-time enemy list. I showed up at school this morning knowing that he would have his shit-launcher loaded and ready. The only question was, “How much shit would he launch?”

 

As I nervously approached the Cool Group area before school, he gave me an early indication. “Look, guys, it’s the Ronco Barf-O-Matic,“ he shouted. “Thanks for barging in on me in Kubek. I was about to get some BOOBY before you showed up,” he continued.

 

It was looking like a turd tidal wave …..

 

At lunch, he started in with, “Don’t sit to close to K-Man, Billly, he might yak on you pickel-and-pimento sandwich. Then again, how would you know?” Frankly, he had a point there. I would have laughed too if I wasn’t so busy turning red. Right on cue, Kathy Kubek walked by, just in time to hear Chucky’s comment. She looked at me like a lost puppy, then told Chucky to, “Quit being such a prick.” Perfect. Nothing’s worse than getting sympathy from those of whom we want admiration from. As she marched away, Chucky mumbled, “I’ll show you how big a prick I am, baby!” and the rest of the so-called Cool Group guys chuckled in agreement. What a scumbag!

 

As always, Peggy Smelter was in Kathy’s wake, and I caught her look of complete disdain just before I buried my face into my sandwich. Could Chucky let this opportunity pass????? NooooOOOOOOoooo!

 

Just as she passed my seat, Chuck yelled out, “Peggy …….DUCK ……. I think Brian’s gonna BLOW!” I was so completely mortified I wanted to cry, but how can a guy do that and ever show his face in public? So I gave Chucky the finger and shot him the meanest look one could muster under the circumstances. But Mr. Asshole was much to busy having fun at my expense to notice, with people slapping him fives all around for being so FUCKING funny.

 

I WILL get that jag-off back though. I swear.

 

 

I barely survived the school day intact, and was looking forward to our after-school basketball practice as an escape from further torture. Momentarily, things did take a turn for the better. As I entered the locker room I made eye-contact with none other than Matt Roark. Before I could hide, he shouted “KOMINSKI” and walked over to my spot. Much to my surprise, he quietly said, “You OK, man?”

 

“Yeah, I guess. Everything I eat turns to shit, but otherwise I’m fine,” I joked, hoping my levity would give him a reason to spare my life.

 

“Well, it coulda’ been worse. You coulda’ missed Smelter and chunked all over our new carpet. My parents woulda KILLED me.” He was dead serious, ignoring the fact that the carpet problem sopped up 5 gallons of spilled beer. “Anyway, let’s get ready to beat St. Spooks.” And out he went.

 

St. Spooks, also known as St. Luke’s, was our opponent for the Catholic League Championship game, scheduled for this Saturday. They are the only black school in the conference, and have dominated the league since I can remember. We’ve met in the championship game for the last 3 years, and they’ve beaten us like a drum each time. But our Coach, the portly Mr. Gutauskas, is absolutely convinced that we can take them this year, and had planned a killer practice to prepare us for the upcoming game.

 

It took all of five minutes to realize that after a weekend spend hugging a toilet bowl, I was in no way prepared for the rigors of a 2 hours non-stop, run-till-you-die basketball practice. Coach Gut was not sypathetic. In fact, he gradually worked himself up to a frenzied state, realizing that his hopes for finally beating the Spooks rested largely on my pathetic body.

 

“Brian, quit doggin’ it.”

 

“K-Man, take another lap.”

 

“MR. KOMINSKI, WILL YOU MOVE YOUR LAZY ASS!”

 

“MISS KOMINSK. I SURE HOPE YOUR BROTHER SHOWS UP AGAINST ST.LUKES!!!”

 

When I finally made my way home, ate a late dinner, did my homework and climbed into bed across from my brother Kevin, I had neither the energy nor the inclination to respond to his initial fart-war volley.

 

Besides, the way my day had went, MY gasser would have been a wet one.

 


 

March 25, 1969

 

This weekend has all the makings of a total disaster.

 

We’re playng our championship game against the dreaded Spooks from St. Luke's tomorrow. It seems to be all anyone is thinking of. My classmates bring it up in every conversation. Teachers mention it in every class. But Coach Gutauskas ----- he’s gone completely wacko.

 

Coach Gut is taking his usual fanatacism to higher level. Sure, he’s meeting the team outside the school doors in the morning. Of course, he’s sitting with us at our lunch table, giving us coaching tips. We expect that of the Gut-man. He's a maniac. He has no life.

 

What I didn't expect was the constant stalking. Wherever I went, he appeared, ready to force-feed me coaching tips.

 

- In the hallways:

"K-Man, Number 15's got no left hand. Force him that way."

 

- In the Principal's office, after being I was summoned over the PA:

"Brian, remember to flash to the middle against their press."

 

- At the urinal, when I was taking a wizz:

"Kominski, this is our year. Your outside shot's gonna' take 'em right outa' that 1-3-1 zone."

 

When it finally appeared that I had escaped him leaving school today, I felt the grip of a hand on shoulder. Coach spun me around and, with a rabid look in his eye, growled in my face and said, “Special K, you ready for those Spook’s tomorrow?” I know that the proper response would have been to head-butt him and scream, “YOU BETCHERASS I AM.”

 

Instead, I just ran. The pressure’s getting to me, I guess.

 

You see, the Gutster had designed our entire game plan around me. St. Luke's always plays this trapping press, falling back into a 1-3-1 zone on the rare occasions that they don’t steal the ball and ram through your chest for a lay-up.  To counter their press, Coach wants me handling the ball in the middle, avoiding traps on the sidelines, but forcing me to make quick decisions in heavy traffic.

 

No problem………. I’m a good ball-handler.

 

Then, when we got into our half-court offense, I am his designated zone-breaker. "No one shoots but Special K (his own pet name for me) unless it's a lay-up," Coach Gut told us.

 

OK………fine….. I like to shoot.

 

In the rare moments when Coach Gutauskas isn’t putting the basketball world on my shoulders, Chucky and Kathy are destroying the rest of it. Chucky by himself is bad enough. Whenever he has an audience, he’s either telling people how many gallons of barf I spewed, or cupping his hand to show how big Kathy’s boobs are. Both are exagerations. And he is taking EVERY possible opportunity to drape himself on her in public. Kathy, to her credit, is usually quick to push his arm off of her, but that didn’t mean she isn’t getting to me. In fact, she’s worse.

 

Kathy is killing me with PITY. She must have finally realized that I had a thing for her. During lunch she just gives me this, “I’m sorry” look whenever we make eye contact. She’s especially unaffectionate with Chucky whenever I’m around, pushing him away forcefully when he’s pawing at her, which is pretty much all the time. And she had her friend Irene Murphy deliver a note to me that said stuff like, “I hope we’ll always be friends …… I’m sorry if I hurt you….. you’re such a nice guy.”

 

Such a NICE GUY. I HATE THAT!!!!!! Don’t you know I COULDA’ PAWED YOU JUST LIKE CHUCKY-THE-ALL-TIME-BEAT-OFF?!?!?!

 

To make matters even worse, I was greeted by none other than my brother Eddy when I finished running home today. He had come home from college for the weekend. At first, I was thrilled to see him. After finishing our ceremonial shoulder-punching ritual, he wanted to shoot around in the driveway, saying he heard how good I had gotten since he left. Just to show me who the boss was, he kicked my ass in HORSE five times. I never got passed “H”. He then set off to see his old high school girlfriend.

 

I need a shower to get the tire marks off my back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 26, 1969

 

All I can say is ----- FUCK EVERYBODY!

 

I began today’s championship game at an all-time low. Setting up for the jump ball, I scanned the crowd, picking out Chucky ------- with his arm around the ever-luscious Kathy; my brother Eddy ------ big man on campus with his old girlfriend in tow; and Coach Gutauskas ------ his stomache, eyes, and neck veins all competing for the “Most Unnatural Bodily Protrusion” award.

 

And I went brain-dead.

 

My first shot ended up in the 3rd row. I dribbled off of my feet 4 times, and Number 15 went right on me whenever he damn well pleased. At halftime, we were down 29-18, mostly because Matt Roark had hit some of the most amazing, flat-footed 20-foot shots ever recorded. I had scored 2 points. I couldn’t have played much worse.

 

Coach Gut was beside himself at halftime. He got right in my face for about 5 minutes saying God-knows-what while I carefully studied my shoes. And then I snapped. I just lost it. I looked up and said menacingly, “Would you SHUT the FUCK UP?” Everyone’s jaw dropped, including Coach Gutauskus’. Before he could recover, I grabbed a ball, walked out of the locker room, and went out to warm up for the second half. Coach G. and the rest of the team didn’t join me for about 5 minutes, but I didn’t even care. It all came home. Coach Gut, putting HIS dreams on MY shoulders. Eddy ---- Mr. Superstar, showing up to reclaim the family spotlight. And Kathy Kubek, the girl of my dreams, going with Chucky the Caveman, while I’m a “Nice Guy.”

 

Things must have looked a little awkward because the normally shy Irene Murphy ---- who is one of our better-looking cheerleaders when she’s not delivering secret notes for Kathy Kubek ---- approached me and asked, “Brian, is everything all right?” I wanted to tell her that things were fucked up beyond belief, but Irene is pretty nice. So, I smiled at her and said, “It can only get better.”

 

Despite my outburt, I started the second half. St. Luke’s scored right off the tip off, and clamped on their usual full-court press. Roark got me the ball in the middle, and I as I dribbled I saw Billy work himself open on the sideline. Right when I was about to pass him the ball, I caught a glimpse of Chuckster in his front row seat, in direct line with the streaking Billy.

 

Without hesitation, I gunned the pass as hard as I could, sending it just behind my target. The ball revealed itself to Chucky only fractions after Billy had run by, leaving him too little time to react. I’m sure his nose will be fine in a few days but, jeez, that boy is a bleeder!

 

From that point on, I was on fire. Number 15, couldn’t take a step without me in his shirt. Everything I shot went in. I handled their press as if St. Luke’s defenders were in slow motion. I mean. I’ve had some good games before, but never one like this. Everything just flowed. With 2 seconds left in the game, we went up 45-44 left on a patented, Special-K Zone Buster bomb from the corner. Their coach immediately called time-out, glaring at his team furiously as they trudged to the bench. Mr. Gutauskas was already celebrating wildly, but I was still as possessed as Linda Blair. “IT’S NOT OVER. IT’S NOT OVER,” I screamed to my teammates. Unfortunately, Coach was too busy jumping around and hugging people to give us any meaningful instructions, so we returned to the court without any idea of how to defend their in-bounds play. But I had a plan of my own.

 

Although Stanley Puckett, Number 15, was their best player, I had guessed that they would use him as a decoy and go inside to Rory Johnson, their 6’3” center. Rumor has it that Rory shaves twice a day, and can dunk with both hands from a standing jump. Physically, he’s from another dimension. So when the ref handed them the ball at half-court, I made a quick move to cover Puckett, then dropped off to play the field. Sure enough, they heaved a football-style pass right to the basket just as Johnson peeled off of a backside pick. He reached for the ball just as I cut in front and snatched it out of the air, wrapping it up in both arms for safe-keeping. The clock moved 2 ticks before any Spooks could react.

 

The game was over. We had WON!

 

Pandemonium broke lose, but I never let go of Mr. Wilson. That ball meant something special to me but, although I wasn’t sure what. Coach Gut, accompanied by the entire bench, piled on top of me and my new best friend. I hung onto that ball for dear life, even though it was the source of some serious abdominal discomfort. Once we had unpiled, I ran out of the gym, turned around, and launched the ball on top of the school roof.

 

Good-bye, Mr. Wilson. And good-bye Brian “Back-Seat” Kominski.