Dormant Past, Vegetable Future

I spoke with my Uncle Ben yesterday. He was so stiff with me that I had to hold a mirror under his nose to see if he was breathing. Whatever. Zero love lost. It all boils down to this: I have my windshield court date in two weeks. I’m cool with it, I have no fears. I will do my time on the community service chain gang and become a real man of the people. Next thing you know, I’m Harry Truman, baby, making the highway a reality. The deception of Uncle Ben shall activate the course of his own destruction as he is crushed under the weight of my political machine.

I’ve had so many conversations with responsible elders regarding the new chapter of my action-packed life that it makes my head spin. The problem with many of these dependable people is that their lives are so void of risk, it’s a wonder they get laid at all. I don’t want that. I don’t want a sexless existence void of passion. My dry mother wants me to take on a mailroom position at my uncle’s law firm. Yeah, like THAT’S gonna fucking happen. I’ll take my own life before I submit to Uncle Ben’s plan to “whip that punk into shape”. My dad has a harebrain scheme concocted where I become an air traffic controller. Brilliant. He mentioned it to me and I said wha…? I turned to Google and typed it in, and was immediately presented with numerous lists of the most stressful jobs in the country, all with air traffic controller in the top ten. One site put it right behind ‘miner’. Fucking perfect. My dad threw his hands in the air, exasperated. “Well, you’re not just gonna get your life handed to you, Pendel! You’re gonna have to work someday, damnit!” I said fine, I’ll jump right in and defuse BOMBS for a freaking living. Would that make you happy? “I’m sure whatever idea you come up with will be better,” he said, in dickishly sarcastic overtones. Of course Mr. Hanson and Dr. Duchenheimer are still laboring under the delusions that college is still within my reach, if only I would reach out my sullied hand and grasp the cleansing light of knowledge…wrap it desperately in a lover’s embrace…

It’s simply not going to happen. Two years of Clark State Community College rubbing elbows with even bigger assholes than the freaks in my summer school classes; working the night shift at some pestilential hole-in-the-ground; another couple of years (or more) studying my pretty fingers to the bone at some rock-bottom, no-name little college until I earn that coveted BA. And then what? The rest of my life offered up for sacrifice at the alter of shady capitalism, my blood spilling into the coffers of nameless giants; giants with torsos thick with muscle rent from solid granite and kept strong with dreams wringed cruelly from the hearts of lesser men; featureless faces towering above me in the clouds, blanketed in mist, anonymous forever as they casually roar and shake the ground with thoughtless steps as heavy as mountains. I won’t fucking have it. I’d never last anyway. I doubt very highly that many in middle management—heavily scarred from merciless battles in the daily pit—would tolerate being told to go fuck themselves on a daily basis. Besides, none of those little college bitches are ready for a dick like mine. Pendel ‘The Hammer’ Haight.

Dear old dad stopped by the room the other day to say that he spoke with Benny the Hun’s father “man-to-man.” My old man is painfully archaic at times, but he is growing on me. For whatever reason, he stays in my corner, slitting open my blind eyes whenever they swell too shut to see. So anywho’s, he tells Benny’s dad that he’s terribly sorry for the pain I’ve caused everyone in their household, and he knows how horribly embarrassing it must have been for them to have to have such violence target their family in their own church parking lot. It’s so bizarre to me how everyone links church and embarrassment. Seems to me there is very little shelter to be found in this house of cards we call God—but I’m not gonna digress. Dad also tells the guy exactly WHY I did what I did, what Benny said to Clare and the insults endured by both of his children at the hands of Henderson. My dad tells the guy that if charges are pressed, he’s gonna be forced to talk about that, and he also tells the guy that Clare just hasn’t been the same after such insidious slander (Clare is WAAAAAY past it), and he’d love to avoid pressing charges for verbal assault (is there even such a thing?), but that Mr. Henderson was gonna have to meet him halfway. Amazingly, this flimsy dam of reasoning is holding for the moment. If I pay for the hospital bills arising from the broken nose (YES!) and cover the loss of the crappy sandal ($85!), the Henderson’s will most likely not press charges. Also, they apologized to Clare, and Benny the Hun’s got to attend a few weekdays of pew cleaning to make up for his sins.

I would, of course, have rather gotten off scott-free, but I guess this will do.

In other news, Sugarbear seems dead-set on living with me and Benji as soon as I get out of my summer classes. His dad has a house we can rent on the cheap in the shadier section of town, and Sugarbear has promised infinite fun in the form of weed and acid until we all mature or the house burns down, whatever comes first. This news, at least, pleased my father. I didn’t tell him about the drugs—I’ll probably keep that to myself. Sugarbear’s gonna stick close and attend Wittenberg University. Not a bad place to go for such a fuckup, really. Bear’s dad is an alumnus, and so Bear didn’t have to break his back getting in. Whatever. Take what you can, burn the rest.

More to come soon. Any suggestions on what an anti-social and overly-aggressive young man can do for a living would be most welcome at this point. I don’t know why I never thought about such matters before. I think I’m so pessimistic about anything that the future has in store that I’d rather lower the blast shields and keep my head down, barreling through the world without much thought, claiming to be ignorant of any trampled in my wake. But I felt them under my feet, and I stomped harder as they passed under.

Maybe landscaping?

Dad’s Gone Over

You think you know a person…

After the Benny Beat Down, I slunk home under the cover of nothing to find my house in utter disarray. My mom was screaming from behind the safety of her tears at my sister Clare, who was crying on the living room sofa and hugging the pillow like a teen-aged mother. My father was pacing the rug off the floor, exclaiming how a man works hard for nothing (which in fact makes perfect sense and is right on the money) to absolutely no one at all. Many of my father’s exclamations, which in the long run turn out to be 95% true if not 100% wise, fall on deaf ears. The human mind’s ability to reject the truth is at its strongest when the source of truth is flowing from the mouth of a friend.

For myself, I was fucking hungry. I marched languidly into the kitchen as all conversation came to a halt, and I took advantage of the silence to pick out a slice of cold pizza and eat the fucking thing. I turned to return the stares I was being given, paused in the middle of chewing, held out my right hand and said that my knuckles really hurt. “Well…of COURSE they do,” said my dad, and then stopped short of saying more, a confused look on his face.

“Why did you DO that, Pendel?!” wailed my mother. “How could you hit that boy like that? How could you embarrass me this way? How could my son be such an ANIMAL? You’re just a rabid animal, Pendel!” Blah blah blah. Clare stared at me blankly. I looked my mom square in the eye and said to her that the miserable little prick got what was coming to him, and that maybe now he’ll think twice before saying shit about how Clare likes to fuck her flunky brother. HEY NOW. Those sure were the magic words, and my, how they shut my dear mummy’s mouth. My dad leveled a finger at me. “We know all about what that punk said, Pendel, but you don’t just go pummeling people in the middle of the church parking lot! For Christ’s SAKE, Pendel! What were you THINKING!?” I said I was thinking about kicking some ass and taking some goddamned names, and then I excused myself to my bedroom. I then promptly turned back and stuck my head out and yelled for Clare. “What?” I hollered for her to bring me some ice, and to come alone.

A few minutes later she was there with cubes wrapped up in an old dishtowel. It had a fish on it as well as many random stains. I took it from her hands and thanked her. “You shouldn’t have done it.” she said. I shrugged and said so fucking what. It’s done. Whether or not I should have is moot now. She sighed. “You’re just begging for more quality time with Uncle Ben, you know.” So be it. She turned to leave, but looked back at the last second and said, “He’s coming.”

And immediately, my father was in the doorway. He looked at me blankly. With barely a glance to Clare, he said, “Leave us.” Formal. Humorous. Dreadful. My dad makes me like him sometimes, and at the strangest moments.

Clare left and my dad sat down on the edge of my bed while I iced my knuckles at my desk. “Does it hurt a lot?” he asked. Well, sure. “Good. It should. I don’t want you to forget what it feels like to hit another man.” I said nothing, because I couldn’t read into his words. His face was enigmatic. “Pendel, what you did today…son, you just picked the wrong time and place to make your stand. It’s one of your main problems.” That kind of took the breath out of me. It had the indisputable ring of truth. It made me angry and so sad. Everyone’s always telling me what my problems are, they’re always right, and the list keeps growing; an impossible punch list and I have no skills. I stared at my hand. I had nowhere else to look. The skin was pulled tight and was shiny, it looked like the skin of an irreparably fat person, a person who had taken on too much weight and was helpless to turn the tide and throw it off. Because he is a weak person. A person with very little self control or respect. Maybe it is in fact me; maybe I am simply fat inside…my soul needs a diet.

My dad then turned the rare trick of reaching out and placing his hand on my shoulder. “You made the wrong choice today, but I don’t know. I’m just as confused as you, I guess…but I’m proud of you, though, I think. I’m not sure.”

WTF. I was floored. PROUD?!? That certainly WAS NOT a turn I expected this lecture to take. “Pendel, that fool said something very toxic, I know. Your mother is embarrassed to her core, but I’m not.” Why not? “Hell Pendel, I don’t know. I DO know, however, that there’s some hope for you. There’s a brother down in there somewhere. That’s more than I believed yesterday, I can tell you that.”

So hey, I can only take so much love, and truly, I DID NOT earn all the mush that was oozing forth. I told him I did it more for me than for Clare, and he says, “Maybe, maybe not. I’m holding on to what I think, though.” Neat.

He stood up and said he would go because he knows how little I care for love-ins. True, but the whole display had left my head to spin. But then on his way out, he says, “There’s going to be trouble from this. I know the Henderson’s. They’re combative pricks. I’ll help you, but there’s gonna be trouble, Pendel.” I said hey, whatever. He then drops another bomb: “I’m going to make sure you graduate this summer, Pendel.” I said yeah, yeah. “Then I think you should probably move out, son. If it’s not college, then you just need to be out. You’re killing your mom, and I just don’t think you’re interested in learning any more from me. So when the summer’s done…” I said nothing. I had nothing to say. Was this the best or worst news possible? “I’ll help you find a place. I’ll help you get settled. You need to look for a job, son.”

And so he left my room.

It was by far one of the strangest conversations I had had in years. Once again, a person in my life has done and said the very last thing I would have expected. And once again it has left me feeling completely bereft of worldly comprehension.

My Love for Clare vs My Desire to Destroy Benny the Hun, Part 2, Suckers

First off, I would like to apologize to Clare. I think she’s completely right. My desire to jump on Benny the Hun’s head was completely for my own fulfillment, and seeing as she feels worse about things now than she ever did before I KICKED BEN’S WRETCHED ASS from one side of the fucking WORLD to another…well, sorry Clare. Some things in life you simply cannot change. I feel to the very depths of my tepid soul that I was meant to pound Ben Henderson into the ground, and then, as soon as he regains his tiny feet, beat him right back down again.

Benny the Hun has yet to get back up. I will be there when he does. I have cold inside that threatens to drown me, and so I must let it swallow Ben so that I may live on another day. Even you, Clare, would agree that I deserve more time on this lonesome earth than he.

Most of you know how this saga started. If you don’t, click here. Anyway, it continues along these lines: I ended up going to church again for the first time since I fingered that sad pie-hole Camile in the back pews several months ago—check that pointless day out here. It was one of the best freaking moves I have ever made in my life; since that glorious Sunday morning, I have never been asked to accompany my ridiculatory parents back to that heinous pit of hell-spawned ninnies again. Fucking loser jerk-wad tit fucking assholes. Every last one of them. They could all receive better guidance from an Ikea instruction manual, yet they choose to follow the word of an imaginary, celestial tick. BAH! Best of luck to them all as they spiral uncontrollably towards the sun. I had one reason and one reason ONLY to go back, and it wasn’t because my spirit needed a colonic. It was the only place I knew I could find Ben.

You see, my parents not only make me and my sister go to a school where we are not wanted, they themselves go to a CHURCH where THEY are not recognized. Yes, the church they attend (that I USED to attend) is in the same northern neighborhood as the fucking high school. The Church of the Slightly Affluent. The ceilings are gabled, the pews are padded, the ministers are young (so handsome!), and the collection plate has a felt bottom. Fancy fancy. Opulence on a budget, electroplated in Christ. Anyone looking can find the Hun’s family there, knee deep in worship, on every day of rest.

You could have knocked my mom over with a feather when I walked out of my room on Sunday morning and announced my intentions to accompany the family to church. I said, hey man, don’t question shit, or I’m back in my room like a flash. My mom was beaming with elation (am I an asshole or what?), and was like, “I’m not saying a word, I’m just going to enjoy this.” My dad looked at me like I was a used car salesman, but said nothing. Clare GLARED at me. When I passed by her to go outside she grabbed my arm and asked, “What are you doing, Pendel?” I told her I was on my way to say hey to the Lord and to get off my fucking back about it, because I was self-conscious about my beliefs anyway, and she was just making it worse. She fretted; she’s smart.

So let me go on record right now by saying that I am in no way some great fighter. I’ve only been in a few in my whole life. I don’t know if I can say I won these conflicts, but trust me when I say I left my mark. And I planned on leaving one FUCK of a mark on Benny the Hun that morning. I had in my pocket a roll of quarters that I had exchanged from a ten spot the day before on the way back from Dr. Douchenheimer (who had interestingly useless things to say about the whole Clare/Benny run-in, but more on THAT later), and I planned on introducing Benny’s nose to it in just a few minutes.

As the Dorkmobile steadily edged down the street towards destiny, my whole body sang with voltage. I honestly had no clue if I would win or lose, but I wanted to get my shot in. I had to let him know I heard him; I wanted him to know I had an answer. My dad drives like old people fuck, and it was making my scalp itch. I was getting so hot that my eyes felt like liquid-filled balls of fancy soap, the electrolytes were building in my armpits like Mayans. We had only gotten half-way there and I was ready to jump out the window and run the rest of the way. I imagined a long line of insanely enraged drivers pulling up beside us, horns blaring and fists shaking, spittle and curses spewing from their lips like chewed tumors as they told my dad what a fucking pussy he is. I wanted these daydreams to soothe me, but they did not. I wanted Ben Henderson. I wanted to see his lip split. I wanted to see his eye swell. I wanted to watch as he lurched crookedly away from my fury, arms wrapped around his cracked ribs. Man, I wanted to see this fucker cry like a goddamned baby. How DARE he fuck with me? How DARE he fucking SPEAK my NAME when I am MILES AWAY and shrouded in darkness?

Hell hath no fury like a Pendel scorned.

We reached the parking lot. My mom hooted merrily: “Here we are!” I was already out of the car and scanning the parking lot. My dad was like, “Pendel, for God’s sake, let me get the damn car stopped!” Fuck that. Blood.

I saw him. Halfway between me and the church. I was off like a shot, running to meet him before he was able to get through the big oak doors. Clare screamed my name—she had seen Ben too—and heads craned to see what the fuck. Benny the Hun heard it too, and he turned to look just as I was 50 paces from him. He saw me coming, and I swear to fucking god, the surprise on his face alone was almost worth the price of admission. I mean, here it was, the DAY AFTER he says shit about me, and already here I come. Clint-fucking-Eastwood, mother fucker. A falling hammer. A swinging chain. A thrown brick. Then the glass of his shock shattered, and he turned to get the hell out of my way, but baby I was already there. He was almost to the steps of the church when I connected with him. BAM. I used my shoulder to slam into his body (my collar bone still fucking kills), and just as my body stopped freaking cold, his shot forward, and he was off his feet and flying into the bushes planted under the windows of the church foyer. I was jarred to the bone, my head already aching from violent contact, but I knew there was no time at all to think about what I’d done or the consequences. He could still really mess me up deeply if I didn’t take advantage of the situation.

I grabbed him by his smug ankle, noticing—crazily—his shoe; an expensive and maturely square-looking sandal, so on a whim I took it off his foot and threw it into the nearby trees. I then drug him by the foot out into the parking lot and quickly sat on his chest. I slapped him once meatilty with my left hand as I searched out the roll of quarters with my right.

Shouts now, some calling my name, some Ben’s, others asking what in the name of hell did I think I was doing. I could hear Clare above it all, or at least I imagined I did, but then before I knew it, the roll of quarters was sitting squarely in my right fist and I brought down the whole fucking farm right there on his nose. It splatted. That’s the best way I can explain it. Finally I looked into his eyes, and they were fucking HUGE and PANICKED, and for a brief moment there was cool relief to flood my tired mind.

And then the hands clamped onto my shoulders and drug me off. Mystery hands. I still don’t know who did it, but as they did it, I lashed a foot out and connected with Ben’s knee, and he cried out. Sweet ear candy. I screamed out and wrenched free of the hands that held me, and without looking back, ran for the trees and the alleyways between the lawns of the surrounding neighborhoods. The cries were at my back, “Are you crazy?” “Come back here!” Probably some woman cried out little Benny boy’s name, but I was past hearing distinctly. The blood thundered in my head as I jumped this fence and that until I was able to climb a heavily shaded tree, and I sat there like a child who is scared senseless of the neighborhood German Sheppard, loose from the yard again, and sniffing me out.

Two hours or so later, I climbed down from the tree, stopped in at a Kwik Shop for a hunk of jerky and a Mountain Dew, and wandered home. I noticed my knuckles were swollen to about twice their normal size, and I smiled to myself.

I Just Can’t Take It Anymore

My parents are a couple of ram rods. I hate them so much. All they do is sit around and drink wine all night gushing and bitching about how much better they are than everyone else in the neighborhood, how much more pious they are, how much more Christian and charitable, which is of course stupid and unchristian but who cares about being a good Christian anyway cause those assholes suck eggs like snakes. But then they go to retarded church and smile and laugh and hug and talk and shake hands and everything with all the jackasses they were just moaning about! It’s disgusting.

Last Sunday I decided I was completely fed up with the whole charade, so I brought my girlfriend Camile with me, and I sat way in the back with her and kept my tongue firmly down her throat the entire time. At first she fought it, but I had told her specifically to wear a skirt that morning, and I just kept fingering her until she pretty much got too horny to fight me anymore. Not that it was any good for me. I hate Camile too, and she kisses like a dead fucking fish, and I hate the way the zits pepper her forehead, and her upper lip is always so sweaty, but it was SO WORTH IT to see my bitchy, worthless, unemployed mom start crying right in front of everybody. It was downright righteous, fuckers.

So then I just felt done with it, but fish-face Camile had gotten so worked up by then and was totally jerking me off in my stupid itchy church chinos—she had completely forgotten where she was, I think. I felt like everyone in the rat-ass congregation was staring at us, repulsed, which was AWESOME, but Camile’s breath always tastes like Hubba Bubba grape and I HATE Hubba Bubba grape. So I pushed her fat ass off me and asked her what she thought her fucking problem was, and she got all confused and embarrassed and started crying and everything. She got up to run out, and I began to follow her. Then I just couldn’t help myself. I had a big lunger in my throat cause my allergies in the spring KILL, so I brought it up and spat on the back of the skirt I had told her to wear. She didn’t even feel it, and she never saw it happen, so she just kept right on going with it dripping down the seam. Oh man, it made me laugh so hard that I almost fell down right there in the aisle.

I saw my mom and dad staring at me from their dumb ass pew, and they were most definitely NOT laughing. Good. Now the neighbors can talk about THEM instead, tonight, with their own stupid glasses of wine, with their own sons hating them while locked in their bedrooms and reading the Anarchist Cookbook.

I wish I knew what was wrong with me.