Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Boy Who Wanted To Do Something Pretty Spectacular

Note** Some of you may have seen this before. I apologize for the redundancy.

The Boy Who Wanted To Do Something Pretty Spectacular

Author’s Note:

I’ve always wanted to sit down and write a story about a boy who either could do or wanted to do something pretty spectacular. I’m still a bit torn about which to write about, although I guess either one would do just fine, since it’s pretty likely that very few people will get to read the story in either case. Dad used to tell us stories at camp-outs when we were kids. I’m pretty sure he was making them up on the fly, because he seemed to get some of the details mixed up when he changed scenes. I do know for a fact that none of them were written down, so, apparently, strict adherence to the truth isn’t a concern for storytellers. Maybe it’s better if I told a story about a boy who wanted to do something pretty spectacular; that way I wouldn’t be bound to facts and I could just make it up as I go along. Of course, no one would believe it, but that’s okay, because as I already told you, in all likelihood, no one will ever read it anyhow.

Okay, so that brings me to the original stumbling block. I have to invent a kid. For the sake of argument, let’s just say that the kid was a white kid who lived in a medium-sized suburb of a large Mid-western city, maybe Kansas City or Oklahoma City, or even Denver. I’m making him white because I’m white and not nearly clever enough to conjure up a black, Mexican, Arab or Oriental kid, although I suppose I could pull it off if I made him a Pollock or an Italian, I grew up with a fair amount of both of those nationalities. My kid’s parents probably aren’t professionals, because those people tend to watch their kids pretty close, making them go to soccer camp and piano recitals and all that sort of shit, and since they live in walled communities, none of their kids will ever grow up stealing cherries off the trees of the cranky old lady who lives across the alley (the one who Mom says has a pacemaker and a colostomy bag). This kid’s dad doesn’t necessarily have to be a drunk, but if he is, so much the better, it adds to the texture of a boy who wants to do something pretty spectacular.

Let’s review… we’ve got a non-ethnic white boy living in a lower middle class Midwestern suburb who stems from non-professional parents and prefers to steal his fruits and vegetables from gardens throughout the neighborhood. Now we need to superimpose him upon a historical setting capable of providing him with stimuli that might allow him the possibility of doing something pretty spectacular. Upon reflection, I think such a boy might find the ability no matter when he was born, but for the sake of argument and because I’m too lazy to do a lot of research, I choose 1960—been there, done that. It was a time of burgeoning societal sensibilities, a time when geo-political influences were changing rapidly as the American landscape transformed from strictly structured post-war military/farm society to egalitarian melting pot, with all the confusion produced by the melding process.

We don’t know whether our boy is smart or stupid, ambitious or lazy, kind or cruel. Maybe we’ll let the story reveal these character traits. I’m told there are really only three or four stories ever written and all the rest are variations on a theme. If I were a philosopher perhaps I’d challenge the premise, but since I’ve already stated that I’m lazy, the point is moot and, ultimately, unimportant. This story is not about me, after all. I could never be confused with a boy who wanted to do something pretty spectacular.

Last, understand that I don’t sit down at my writing desk with pre-conceived notions about where the story will take our hero. I have no axe to grind other than the one I live with on a day-to-day basis, that indefinable nexus that makes every one of us unique, our amalgam of experience. Therefore, since I profess no particular political or societal preference, I am free to examine all with impunity. If I can stay neutral, our boy will show us his world picture exclusive of my interference upon the process.

Okay, that’s the strategy, such as it is. I’ve been taught that the world hates a vacuum, however, I have no choice but to take a minimalist stance. I’m aware that no publishing house would want to hear this, and that’s okay. Again, I’m writing this for me, it’s merely mental masturbation. It gives me great comfort to know that a lot of very rich people are missing out on my story. Perhaps they’d understand it, perhaps they wouldn’t, but by not giving them the opportunity to read it, I’m flexing my intellectual muscles a bit; extending the middle finger of my right hand proudly into the air, I proclaim my independence. My little story and I will languish in anonymity, not once giving a tinker’s damn about you, your welfare or your bankbook. Sit on it and spin, ‘Murika… sit on it and spin.


"Is not.”

“Is, too…”



“Prove it, Shit-For-Brains.” Jacob Claiborne (just ‘J.C.’, please) Peavey adopted much the same stance for the current challenge that he did for all challenges, namely calling his adversary’s bluff in all matters open to conjecture. J.C., slightly larger and more inclined towards physical manifestations of anger when confronted, seldom passed on any opportunity to intimidate a foe… or a friend.

“Make me…” Henry Blythe (Cushy) Danvers’ eyes got larger as he spoke, knowing full well that J.C. could beat the shit out of him any time he liked. He also knew that J.C. would not, not if he ever again wanted to fondle another pair of soiled panties belonging to Dana Danvers, Cushy’s fine-ass older sister. More negotiator than warrior, Cushy had been putting up with J.C.’s particular brand of crap since the 4th grade. Now that middle school burgeoned on the horizon, the two spent more time together than they did with their respective families.

“Know what, Cushy? One of these days you’re gonna give me some lip and I ain’t even gonna hesitate before I beat you to a pulp.” J.C.’s upper lip curled as he spoke, accentuating the cleft palate scar extending from his lip to his nose, the scar that caused him to lisp just a little on words like ‘these’ and ‘some’ making them sound like ‘theethe’ and ‘thumb’. Nobody made fun of him anymore, though, not if they didn’t want to fight.

“Oh, relax, J.C., you know I don’t mean anything by it. I just get tired of you trying to back me down about everything. Aren’t we friends? Don’t I always do just about everything you ask me to do? Lighten up, man, I ain’t your enemy.”

J.C. and Cushy sprawled out under Mrs. Dunleavy’s hollyhock bush, pulling off leaves and using them for makeshift whistles as they tried to stay cool in the oppressive heat offered by an August afternoon. Occasionally, a gust of breeze rustled the leaves and provided respite from the thermometer.

“Seriously, have you ever seen one up close?” J.C.’s query ignored the previous dialogue, concentrating instead on today’s topic of conversation, pussy, and everything associated with it.

“Sure, lots of times.” Cushy offered without hesitation.

“Other than your own, I mean.” J.C. corrected.

Cushy started to get upset, but hearing J.C. giggle, just wrinkled up his nose and gave J.C. the finger.

“Oh, so now you want to screw me, huh? Figures… I’ve been wondering how long it’d be before you got around to it, Queer-bate. But I warn you, you’ll never go back to hamsters, I’ll guarantee you that!”

“Hey! You two dirty-mouthed little bastards better shag your ass out from underneath that bush in a damn-sure hurry!!” Mrs. Dunleavy’s voice, both shrill and loud, caused both boys to wriggle their way to the backside of the bush, whereupon they crawled to an opening and started to run toward the alley, jumping Mrs. Dunleavy’s back fence before running in the opposite direction of home. With any luck at all, maybe she hadn’t gotten a good look at them, she was about half-blind.

“Come back here!” she roared, waving her cane wildly and affecting their flight in no manner whatsoever. “I’m going to call the police if I catch you back here again!” Shaking her cane at them, she pulled a towel out of an apron pocket and dabbed at her brow as she started her trek back to the house. The colostomy bag in the other pocket began to warm even more as she felt her bowels evacuate. Judging from the added weight, it would soon be time to dump it. Insolent little bastards…


“You’re late, Jake, go upstairs and wash up before supper.”

“Don’t call me Jake, my name is J.C., and if I go upstairs to wash or do anything else, it’ll be because I decide to do it, not because you told me to do it.” J.C. Peavey seldom got along with his older sister and never obeyed any orders she gave him.

“Okay, make it easy on yourself. It’s your ass if you make Dad mad. I’m just trying to help you, little brother. Excuse me for living.” Ethel Marie (Spoonie) Peavey, nearly three years J.C.’s senior, enjoyed her self-appointed dominance over her younger brother, imposing her will upon him at every possible juncture.

“Well, first of all, there’s no excuse for you living. Why don’t you go shack up with that idiot boyfriend of yours and hatch a couple of moron kids? Then you’d have someone to boss around besides me.” BAM! Take that, Spoonie.

“Jake, one of these days you’re going to say something hateful like that to the wrong person and you’ll cease to be my problem. Until that happy day, you’ll do me a favor by staying as far away from me as humanly possible. I don’t want to talk to you, look at you… I don’t even want to know you’re even on the same block as me.”

“Oh, Jesus, Spoonie, don’t get your panties in an uproar, you know I didn’t mean it.”

“You never mean it, but it still hurts, and I’m sick of it… and you!”

The fast-striding specter of Spoonie Peavey leaving the room, accompanied by the slamming of doors and audible screams, became J.C.’s reality. Of course, he’d seen the performance before, so today’s matinee only served to strengthen his resolve and bolster his confidence. However, he’d have to do a little sucking up before Dad got home… Spoonie couldn’t ride J.C.’s train, but she could damned sure derail it.

J.C. jumped onto the kitchen counter, took the lid off the cookie jar and examined the contents. After extracting a particularly large chocolate chip version, he sniffed it just to make sure it hadn’t gone bad since last night when his mother had baked them, and took a large bite. They weren’t as good as they were right out of the oven, but the sweetness would help condition his mind for the thought process yet to come. Okay, Spoonie, how do I have to kiss your ass this time?


“Mom, what would you do if you wanted to do something pretty spectacular, but didn’t know how to go about it?”

Adele Peavey looked up from her copy of Women’s Day and stared at her son, her face a mask of bewilderment brought on by her son’s question. “What?”

J.C. picked up a piece of toast and bit into it. “You know… if you wanted to do something to impress people, something spectacular, what would you do?”

Setting the magazine down on the kitchen table, Adele Peavey paused before answering her son’s strange question, wondering where he was going with this. “Well, whatever I’d do probably wouldn’t be the same thing you’d do, Jake. We’re different people. Don’t you think you should decide something like that yourself?” Focused on her son now, she sipped her coffee to hide her uneasiness with the subject. Her relationship with her son up to this point in his life had been pretty typical of most mother-son interactions, she supposed, or, at least, so the quizzes in her magazines might have rated it.

Now J.C. set his left arm on the table and placed his head on his bicep as he peered out into the kitchen. Adele couldn’t see the boy’s expression, but she knew her son well enough to know the wheels were turning. “Yea, I suppose…” he said, his voice now soft and dreamy, “but I don’t know where to start.”

“Why don’t you start by looking up the word ‘spectacular’ in the dictionary? Maybe that’ll give you some ideas.”

His head didn’t move. “I guess I could…” he said, picking up the spoon sitting in his cereal bowl and absent-mindedly stirring his oatmeal, “but I think I already know what ‘spectacular’ means.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, then, what does it mean?”

Without hesitating, J.C. Peavey replied, “It means that you can do something so well that people think you’re really cool.”

“Then you don’t have to worry about it any more… I happen to think you’re very cool.”

Turning his head slightly toward his mother, the boy grinned. “I don’t think you count, Mom, you’re required to think I’m cool… I’m your kid. But maybe there’s more to being spectacular than being cool… strangers might think you’re cool without being spectacular.”

“Then, there must be more to it, huh?”

“Yea, I think so. I overheard Jimmy Wellborn talking to Ben Covington about his date with Spoonie last Friday night.”

Uh-oh. “Oh, really… well what, pray tell, did Jimmy have to say?”

“Ben asked him if he got lucky, and Jimmy laughed. Then, Ben asked him if she was good, and he said she was ‘spectacular’.” Adele Peavey grabbed her son by the cloth on both his shoulders and lifted him to his feet. “Okay… time for school,” she said, grabbing her son’s sack lunch and handing it to him as she shoved him out the back door, closing it behind him. Quickly, she walked to the staircase and hollered. “Ethel Marie… you get your fanny down here immediately!”

J.C. Peavey walked toward the front gate, paper sack in tote, irremovable smile revealing all his front teeth. Inside, Spoonie, even now, would be defining ‘spectacular’ for their mother. Sometimes, things just work out.

Bob Church ©8/20/07


amuirin said...


oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

kaylee said...

something spectacular,>>>>
You do that most every day
by penning.. this more.
I guess that makes you
COOL !!!!!

paisley said...

bob,, this is sooooo spectacular... you have a great character here,, bring him out of the drawer........

Bubba said...

Thanks for wading through this... in the future I'll endeavor to make your task less onerous.

Berkeley said...

Reading this post made me wonder what J.C. would think if he had a chance to read it. What would his reaction be? "Oh, wow, it's so nice to be the subject of someone's story. How flattering." Or "What the fuck is the author thinking? That's not at all how it happened." Or "Well, I agree with this part but not with that part." Or "Give me a break. Please. What? LOL. Cool." Or "Wow, the author really nailed it. Uncanny." Or "How can someone know so much about me? I'm dying to meet this author in person!" If I counted correctly, those are six choices. Of course there could be more. How many more? And maybe his true reaction is a combination of reactions. Or maybe it's all of these reactions. And if so, in what order? Let's mix a little bit of x with a lot of y into a bowl containing mostly z. I'm anxious to read a story about an author meeting one of his characters. What is the first meeting like? The second? The third? What are the first impressions? Second impressions? Third impressions? How do they interact with each other? What would Elohim say to Zeus? And: which emotions and thoughts will be resting on the silver platter? Adoration? Fear? Respect? Nervousness? Resentment? Indifference? Envy? Or somethings else?

Karen said...

What if the author is J.C.?


Anonymous said...

I think you hit the nail on that one Karen.

Bubba said...

berkeley-- Tuesday morning, 10:30@ Dr. Tinkle's office... bring a check for $150... we'll split the session. LOL

Karen, you rat! Are you trying to 'out' me? You promised you wouldn't tell! :>)