June 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Rumor had it that B.’s dad owned 24 Pizza Hut franchises. B. and his brother and their parents were all fat and they lived in the biggest house in town, so if the rumor was just a rumor it was a plausible one. There was speculation about their house. They had two pizza ovens in their kitchen, people said. They had a maid, people said. They had TVs on that hung on their walls, people said.

B. and I were not friends. He was, in fact, the first and only kid I ever hit. In the second grade he used to put me in a headlock at recess and he wouldn’t let me go. One night I told my dad about it, and he said that next time I should elbow him in the gut. And so the next day at recess, B. approached me near the foursquare quart as he always did and wrapped his arm around my neck and pulled my head down until he was squeezing it against his fat belly. I took my left fist in my right arm and I elbowed him in the gut as hard as I could. He cried out and let me go. “Sonofabitch!” he yelled. I ran. He never put me in a headlock again.

In the third grade it was announced that there would be an art contest. Students could submit paintings, poems, stories or songs and a winner from each category would be picked. Only two kids from my school submitted songs – me and B. Mine was a tautology-inspired pop tune with lyrical moments that referenced the Inuit and metaphysical dilemmas of personal identity entitled ‘I Am Me.’ B.’s was a very slight variation on a work by the Jackson Five which he called ‘123.’ B. had bad handwriting and the notes on his score were clearly not drawn by him. Still, he won. I cried.

No, I certainly did not think we were friends. But then one day in the fourth grade he invited me to his house.

The rumors about B.’s house were largely true. They had two pizza ovens in their kitchen. They had a maid. They had a drawer in their kitchen that held nothing but fruit roll-ups. I ate many fruit roll-ups because my parents never let me have them. After ten or twelve fruit roll-ups, we went to the basement, where he revealed his true reason for bringing me to his house. The basement was filled with toys and junk. B. looked out upon it all and said, “Okay, I need you to build me a robot that can go to the Titanic. Hurry.” This seemed perfectly acceptable to me. Also, I wanted to impress B. So for the next two hours we attached various things to a Power Wheel car, which was the base of our underwater robot. We attached a robotic arm, some wings for flying underwater, an oxygen tank (?), a camera, a control module. Satisfied, B. said we should go outside and play a game.

We went to the shed and B. pulled out a big net, the kind you use to clean a pool. Then he led me to the rabbit cage. In the cage there were two rabbits. “Okay,” B. said, “I’m going to let the rabbits loose. Then I’m going to let the dogs loose in the backyard. When they get too close to the rabbits, you put the net over them.” I said, “Okay.” I did not want to disappoint B. And so B. let the rabbits loose in the yard. At first they just sort of sat in the grass, stunned by their freedom. Then he let his two large greyhounds out of the house. The dogs wasted no time going after the rabbits. The rabbits ran in vain. I threw the net over them. But I was not strong enough to keep the net over both rabbits. The frantic dogs quickly got under the net and, each taking a rabbit, ran off with them, shaking the rabbits in their mouths. The rabbits made squeaking noises.

B. panicked. He ran after the dogs screaming and waving his arms. He cornered the dogs and yelled at them and hit their mouths until they dropped the rabbits. He picked up the rabbits and ran with them inside and yelled for the maid. The maid came downstairs and he showed the limp rabbits to her. She filled the sink up with water and put them in the water, saying that if they floated, that meant that they were dead. “I’m pissed off!” B. said. “You killed my rabbits!” I wanted to cry. My mother came and picked me up.

“How was B.’s house?” my Mom asked. “I pissed him off,” I said. “What did you say!” my Mom said. “I pissed him off,” I said.” “You are not allowed to say that!” my Mom said. “Say what?” I asked. “The P-word!” she said. “What does it mean?” I asked. “Ask your father,” she said. When we got home, she put liquid Dove soap in my mouth and I held it there for five minutes.

I never went back to B.’s house.


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