Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Little Something For Halloween

We used the first sentence of a novel to begin our 500 word homework assignment this month in my writing group. I decided to take Catcher in the Rye in a new direction.

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."

As a matter of fact, the thought of my parents screwing is about as revolting an image as I can conjure up. But squirt, squirt, there I was in all my miraculous life essence, sliding around my mother’s insides like some kind of fleshy pinball. And I dare say, it was the last time I had a good night’s sleep and a decent meal.

The truth is, my mother never wanted me to begin with. She had one kid already, my darling sister, the angel from heaven. I was an accident and an expensive inconvenience, and she went out of her way to try to end my time insider her, stretching and reaching on her hands and knees, scrubbing floors, carrying heavy buckets of water up and down stairs and hoping to miscarry. She hasn’t worked as hard since.

But I came out early, and the old man quit his job to care for me, ‘cause she couldn’t be bothered.

“Let that thing die,” she said to my father as he hunched over my tiny body. “We can’t afford it.”

But he just ignored her, and I’m pretty sure I understood what she was saying, because something gave me the strength to survive and to think little baby thoughts of someday growing up and killing her. And survive I did, though I was sort of sickly and kind of a runt.

They say there’s no such thing as a bad child, but I set out to prove them wrong. In church I stole money out of the offering plate and got told to stay home. At school I spat in the Principal’s hand and got suspended. Those things happened by the first grade. It was later that I set fire to some paper towels in the janitor’s closet. What a ruckus that caused. Half the school burned that day and a bunch of children with it. I watched from the playground, enjoying the show and tossing rocks through the openings in a chain link fence.

When I was older I got blamed for just about anything bad that happened in our town. Church didn’t want me, school couldn’t stand me, and my mother died and ruined my murderous plan. So I started trapping animals in the back yard in a shoebox propped up by a pencil attached to a long taut string. Those critters died slow, especially when they bit me, and I carved ‘em up with the knife daddy gave me when he showed me how to whittle. I collected the fur and bones and set fire to the rest.

So here I wait, just as happy as can be. They bring me three squares every damn day. I taught myself to read and write just as good as any school could. They say I’m bad to the bone, a freak, and I think they’re right. That’s why they put me in a special place all by myself. But that’s ok. I have lots of thoughts to keep me entertained. I think about the things I done. Wonderful things. Awful things.

And tonight I get one more good night’s sleep and tomorrow one more meal, whatever I want, and it better be good. ‘Cause tomorrow at midnight they’ll take me down the hall, strap me to a cart, talk about mercy and crap and ask me if I have anything left to say. Oh and I have a few things to say alright, ‘cause that’s the last time I get to say anything. After that I’ve got a date with the devil, and she looks a lot like mom.

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