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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Johnnies Got Knuckles Chapter 2

Ok I figured I would let a little more air out of the balloon.  It's not half bad and with a quick re-write it may even be readable.  Who knows one day I may be famous and you can say you read my early (bad) stuff.
Here goes!  Unedited for your reading pleasure or dis.

Johnnies Got Knuckles
Chapter 2

Johnnie first moved to town when the winds were beginning to change. The leaves were starting to turn and there was a freshness in the air that only an October day can bring. The cold winds from the north were sweeping in and clearing out the last of the summers heat and humidity. The sounds of migrating geese filled the air as they began their journey south,  where the air was still warm and the lakes were not yet frozen.

This was one of my favorite times of the year. Second only to Christmas. On our ride to school everday we passed a large u-pick strawberry farm. The strawberries were long gone. They had disappeared with the passing of our last school year in June. We had picked our fair share and most were now in jars on a shelf in the pantry waiting to be spread on a sandwich or a piece of toast. Now was pumpkin time. Each day as the school bus passed I watched the leaves in the pumpkin patch slowly wilt away revealing their bright orange treasure. Soon the entire field was nothing but orange specks upon a dappled, brown canvas.

I would be in that field soon enough. On a quest to see how big of a pumpkin I could find. I had a longstanding deal with my father, if you could carry it, he would buy it. That year I picked a pumpkin so large that my scrawny arms couldn't lift it so I had to roll it all the way across the patch. It was easily the distance of three football fields. I was a muddy mess when I arrived at the weigh in station.( You had to pay by the pound and I was sure to put us in the poor house with this monster of a pumpkin.) I received a nasty scolding from my stepmother but it was worth it. Dad just grinned at me carefully, making sure she didn't notice.

We were settling in to school by then. Long division and book reports were the staple that year. I didn’t mind the book reports but the division thing had me by the nape of the neck. I just didn’t understand math and my grades reflected that. Many times after school I was stuck in my room working on math problems while my friends played outside.

The main topic of interest at school was a Halloween skating party. The whole school was a buzz. You were supposed to wear your costume if you attended. We couldn’t wait . It was to be held on the Friday night before Halloween. I needed a costume and it had to be great. I was worried I would get my brothers hand me down from the year before and unfortunatley I was right. I ended up with a fluffy, dog costume that was going to make roller skating about as easy as the dreaded long division.

This dog costume was my stepmother’s creation. She thought it was great and I thought it was about as nice as the time I stepped on a nail. It was nothing more than feetie pajamas died brown with a hood and ears. The tail sagged to the floor, held on by a giant, and terribly visible safety pin. No fifth grader in his right mind would wear a fluffy dog costume to a skating party. I was doomed. She wouldn’t make me anything different. She wouldn’t buy me anything different. I do remember a comment about spending too much money on a giant pumpkin however.
With a little complaining I accepted my fate. I knew if I kept it up I wouldn’t be allowed to go at all. Complaining to my father never helped either. All that did was get us both into trouble. I was already making plans to take the costume off as soon as I was dropped off at the rink.

It was a Thursday that was Johnnies first day of school. The Thursday before the skating party. I had just made it into homeroom seconds before the buzzer went off and was busy removing my books from my tattered duffel bag. The other kids had new backpacks but I was stuck with my brothers old hand me down gym bag. (Of which still contained a musty sneaker smell)

Our homeroom teacher,and our math teacher subsequently, was Ms. Schwarzwalder. She was as big as her last name sounded. Breath like a dragon with a temper to match. Standing in front of the class she clapped her hands together. Her hands were as large as her bosom and when they came together it sounded like thunder. It was sure to get your attention. “Class we have a new student joining us today”, she announced. Her cheeks always wiggled when she spoke and we had secretly nicknamed her jello mouth. “His name is Johnathan Weaver”, she said, jowels quivering. “Please make him feel welcome”, she ushered him into a open desk that was unfortunately right next to mine. Nobody wanted to be first to associate with the new kid. Let alone me. I was already setting myself up with this fluffy dog costume now I was stuck next to the new kid. It was shaping up to be a heck of a week.

Jonathan Weaver walked down the ailse his book bag hitting the corner of each desk as he walked by. His eyes were locked on me. They were gray eyes and I figured he was gonna be a knock out with the girls. Looking at me though they were icy and I felt uncomfortable under the weight of them. Reaching his desk he dropped his bag, gave me a little nod of his head, as if to say what’s up, and plopped down.

He gave the room a once over, reached into his jean jacket pocket and removed a stick of gum. Casually, and out in the open I might add, he unwrapped the gum and popped it into his mouth. Gum was illegal in school and in Ms. Scwarzwalders class just the smell of it on your breath was enough to get you a free trip to the principals office. We stared at Johnnie while he chewed away and as his luck would have it jello mouth never even noticed. He reached in his pocket again and offered me a piece and I rapidly declined for fear of jello mouth catching me with it and having to face the wrath of my stepmother back home.
It turned out that Johnnie was in three of the same classes I was. Math, Science and Gym. At first it made no difference to me but I would soon grow to dislike all of those classes even Gym and my grades would reflect it. My world as I knew it was about to crumble.

The dog costume was hot. Not only was it hot but it was itchy and smelled faintly of cat urine. My stepmother had dug it out of the basement the morning of the skating party and I swear the cat must have peed on it. I voiced my concerns and was rewarded with the usual scoldings and bad temperment only a stepmother could deliver. I was seconds away from spending the evening in my room and the way that costume smelled I was almost undecided. I donned the urine perfumed outfit and shuffled my way to the car. I didn’t have my own skates like every other kid in school. I had to rent. Rental skates were a stinky affair. They should match well with my costume I thought silently.

I had begged for a pair of skates for 3 straight years. My pleadings were cast upon deaf ears however as the family coffers were running low. It seems as though my stepmotheres nursing school was on the top of the list for that period in my life. Then there was her new car and she had to have new carpet in the living room. White carpet at that. Her piano sat at one end and two velvet upholstered couches adorned the sides. We were not allowed in this room and she took great pains to keep it that way. It turns out, (and we found out the hard way) that when you vacuum white carpet all in one direction, footprints show up like mud on your Sunday school pants. Footprints are a dead give away that a trespassing violation had occurred. Nothing ever came of that nursing degree either in case you were wondering. She did get a nice certificate to hang on the wall in the living room. Of course you couldn’t go in there to read it so I don’t know what good it was.

Never the less I would rent skates. I would smell like cat urine and I would wear a costume fit for a six year old. I suppose maybe it was my own fault. I should have just stayed home. I was like a wounded and bleeding impala walking in to a pack of lions when I walked through the doors of the skating rink that Friday night. It was the Friday the whole school would learn that Johnnie had knuckles. It was the Friday that I would begin my introversion on life and begin running from everything . Running physically but more often then not running from myself. It was those knuckles that would forever change the course of my life.

1 comment:

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