His mother had a very long pregnancy, gestation period spanning out across decades. Nino was finally born full grown, taking his first breath well into middle age.
Hence he had no childhood, no growth, no puberty, no maturity, he didn’t age. Always a spanking newly minted coin of a boy man with a diminished box of a body.
He couldn’t aspire to being castrati, because he was born without balls to cut off. He didn’t salivate for girls and no girls salivated for him.
Nino bore the distinction of being the prized pet rock traded amongst Egyptian pharaohs, the doorstop of mighty dictators, a paperweight for architects of the timeless eunuchs of future generations.
Baby giants used him for shot put practice. Redefining the lowest level of the pecking order, Nino had been the valet of humble bait boys carrying buckets of worms, following in servitude behind jaunty fishermen.
Some neighborhood Italians, sanded down the four corners of the box boy, playing Bocce ball with him in a local park. The sanded corners grew back, Nino reverting to his box shape when the game was done.
Once, I passed Nino on the street, reflecting that over 40 years ago in school we had sat next to each other in Mrs. Parks’ Spanish class, further reflecting that he’d had the coordination of a stalwart slug on barbiturates in gym class, and that to pin him in a full nelson in the wrestling room was no challenge. That I’d rather shoot fawns with a pea shooter. Or paint phantom polka dots on plastic daisies.
Nino reared up on one corner of his box, self righteously exclaiming
“Richard! You’re living in the past! You have to be a contemporary guy like me!”
The town rock star’s fame cast a very long shadow, a wedge of darkness with a Bermuda Triangle wherein dwelled the rock star’s younger brother castrated and erased by the rock star’s fame.
It was here the unearned “specialness” of being born into rock royalty festered into a canker sore of obnoxiousness, pretense and over compensation. Afflicted with the curse of being ordinary, the rock star’s younger brother asserted his uniqueness by spelling his very common name in a very uncommon way, so you’d never forget he was a rare bird of paradise.
After school, at 4 o’clock, groups of us passed a marijuana cigarette between us, and the rock star’s younger brother, in a haze of smoke, summoned the visage of his famous brother, his fame eclipsing the heads on Mount Rushmore the shining sphinx, the grandiose heads of state in eternity, a mummy of the first hominid preserved at the earth’s core.
Gleaming scalpel in hand, dew drop envy, casually diced up his crucified dissecting frog in biology class. Vandal meat for which he’d receive a D on his report card. Energetically, dew drop envy proclaimed his ambitions to become a pimp or an assassin if he never graduated from High School.
Dew drop envy, a poor kid, who gravitated toward rich kids, is often remembered lounging in lawn chairs, sipping strawberry daiquiris at posh suburban pool parties. On occasion, He’d get lucky with the soft and pliable girls of the upper class shedding their clothes with ease to swim in the moonlit pools of stately mansions.
The mirage of a giant, multicolored phosphorescent dung beetle rainbow appeared on the horizon of my home town. The huge hind legs of the dung beetle forever rolling up a mediocre saxophonist wearing his high school marching band coat in late middle age—a regressive laughingstock—held in limbo for generations, the dung beetles’ hind legs gripping him firmly never letting go as he spins him in circles; an intergenerational curse which can’t be broken as he performs gauche acts, bringing outside food into restaurants, playing tawdry music for chump change.
“School Chump Memories” (C) 2023 by Richard Gessner
Richard Gessner’s fiction has been published in Air Fish: an anthology of speculative work, Rampike, Ice River, Coe Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Happy, The Act, Sein und Werden, Skidrow Penthouse, The Pannus Index, Fiction International and many other magazines. A collection, Excerpts from the Diary of a Neanderthal Dilettante & The Man in the Couch was published by Bomb Shelter Props. Gessner’s drawings and paintings have appeared in Raw Vision, Courier News, Asbury Park Press, Rampike, Skidrow Penthouse, and exhibited at Pleiades Gallery, Hamilton Street Gallery, Cry Baby Gallery, The Court Gallery and the Donald B. Palmer Museum. Richard wrote The Conduit and Other Visionary Tales of Morphing Whimsy. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.
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Featured photo: Dung Beetle of fate catching up with nefarious classmate. Richard Gessner