short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
Coming of age in the sixties, when it was fashionable for the white kids to gang up and beat up black kids, somehow feeling entitled to do so, which I still don’t understand, I knew this one kid, a year ahead of me in high school.
Let's call him Jack.
While, on Monday mornings, most boys shared stories of the sexual exploits, real and imagined, Jack had stories about faggots he beat up.
He liked beating up faggots, he said, as if he were entitled. He had many diatribes, always shared with a sour face, about how and why the faggots were corrupt. He ridiculed any boy the least bit effeminate.
I was the third boy in my high school to grow my hair out. I had one encounter with Jack. With an audience in the hallway, he asked the crowd, as if he were asking me, what color ribbon I liked in my hair. Those who laughed or giggled did so backing away. I had a reputation, though unearned.
I answered nonchalantly, as if he asked me about the weather. “Well, Jack, after I bang your mom, she likes to tie it back with a blue ribbon.” I punctuated my contempt with a casual shrug, not unlike Kwai Chang Caine.
Truly, Euripides was correct about whom God would destroy. In a mindless rage, Jack rushed me. I let my books fall to the floor, stepped slightly aside, took fistfuls of Jack’s shirt, spun, pushing him off the ground, slamming his back, hard, against the lockers. He dropped to the cool, green tile like an armload of dirty laundry.
High school ended, I lost track of Jack and the years rolled up. After taking a spin in the Navy, a friend and I were club-hopping in Philadelphia. Right there in the fifth club, in a lace skirt, awkwardly stuffed tube top and blond wig swinging at the air, dancing his sweet little heart out on a table, in his four-inch heels, was Jack.
I said to my friend, barely loud enough to be heard over the punishing music: “I’m glad I didn’t use my fist on that pretty face.”