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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

The day after Joey's sad realization of the growing distance between him and Skinny, he is amazed by what Na-Na shows him at school!


So, this is the day after my sad realization with my cousin Skinny, when I am totally shocked by my meeting with Na-Na, who had rescued me from certain death at the hands of David White and the Orange Face brothers - because I had a mustache.

That next morning in school, I’m wandering down the hallways, all pumped up. I’m ten minutes late for Mr. Knapp’s English class, but I couldn’t care less. I’m giddy, my heart’s crammed with visions of Esperanza, and how I’m going to go up to the beauty salon, right after I get my first paycheck, or cash, or whatever, from The Fox Hole. I’m gonna buy some new black clothes, bring Esperanza my picture I drew of her, and I’m just going to impress the hell out of her. Man, I feel like literally anything is possible now! I am so ready! I’m just walking around like this, totally wrapped up in my ambitions and fantasies, when all of a sudden a hard slap on my shoulder that almost bowls me over, blows me out of my daze.

My first impulse is to swing, but immediately, I hear a voice behind my ear.

“Yo, Strong!”

”Hey, Na-Na, man, what’s up?”

I totally play off the pain, even though my shoulder is throbbing like hell.

“Yo Strong, come wit’ me, man,” he says slowly, still wearing that same menacing scowl, and his sharpened umbrella. He looks straight ahead, makes no eye contact, and keeps his hand clamped tightly on my shoulder, as he steers me down the hallway. The deranged look on his face offers me no clue as to if this is a friendly gesture, or if he wants to mutilate me. We continue down the hall. Now, a single stomach-tightening thought explodes into my head.

Oh shit! Maybe…what if – what if - he found out somehow, that all my stories about going down on my babysitter when I was 12, and the ménage a tois, and all the other sordid sex stories…what if he found out they were all bullshit?! That my mustache had nothing to do with being strong?! Busted!

Oh my God! He knew I had made a fool out of him, and in front of Warbush, too! I’m sure he had murdered other people for far less. Frantically, I go through thousands of excuses and scenarios I might use to extricate myself from this horror. I feel the sweat pouring down my forehead and chest. The halls are empty as we walk down them. We descend a flight of stairs, past Mr. Delroy’s print shop class, further down past Mr. Barche’s wood shop class, all the way till we arrive downstairs to the basement. Somehow, I have to get myself together; I can’t let him see me sweating and scared, even though I feel my legs start to buckle.

“Whassup, Na-Na - where we going?”

"Nothing, man,"

Past the janitor’s room, past even the boiler room - where nobody ever goes. The florescent lights flicker on and off, generating a constant eerie humming sound. It’s like some dank, evil laboratory. He turns me left into the darkest and most silent side of the basement, and we stop in front of a locker. His locker. How the hell does he get a locker down here? What did he do - strangle one of the janitors for it? He looks around for a minute or so, sniffing and rubbing his nose with his sleeve. Then his eyes focus on me. He looks me over real hard. My mind goes blank; I’m way past being able to think. It’s just overload. He opens his locker up, and reaching deep inside it, pulls out a manila envelope. I’m done. I’m sure it’s a gun, and he’s going to execute me right here, without even saying anything. Somehow, I kind of just let go. Just kind of leave my body, and resign myself to a brutal death. But as he unfolds it, I see there is no way it could be a gun, it isn’t bulky enough. Maybe it’s drugs? Maybe he wants me to run drugs? He very carefully unfolds it the rest of the way, and looks at me again. But this time it is different. There is a certain softening in his eyes, a bizarre mixture of a kind of vulnerability, anger, and suspicion. He hesitates a second, then he takes some papers out of the envelope, slowly handing them to me.

They’re drawings! Really intricate drawings - done in black and red ink. Things aren’t connecting in my mind yet. I’m somewhere between being numb, and throbbing. Why is he showing me these drawings? What the fuck is going on? Wasn’t he going to murder me for lying to him? It takes like half a minute to realize that no - he isn’t going to kill me. An unbelievable wave of relief washes over me as I look at these drawings, and do another complete emotional turn around. I become hooked in, fascinated, totally into them. Amazing drawings. The first one shows a black woman and man in a dilapidated bedroom, both half-naked, on a broken down bed. The guy is rangy and muscular, and has his hand raised like he had just hit her, or is about to hit her. The woman cringing, her arm in front of her face in self- defense, blood running from her mouth. There’s a little boy at the doorway, standing there in a raggedy T-shirt and pants, which are way too big for him. Tears running down his cheeks. He holds a sharp piece of wood in his hand. But it’s the expressions on the faces of the people that are so life-like, so heart breaking. Full of expression. The rage and fear - but beautiful in its sheer savagery. Almost like it’s in 3D. Whoever had done this had totally captured it! Nailed the souls of these people, even though the style - the technique - is pretty rough.

Another one shows an older black woman, maybe a grandmother, big and chunky, with grey hair, on her knees on the street, rocking a dying teenager, his shirt covered with blood. She was screaming and crying, as two white policemen stand in the foreground, one with a drawn gun. The anguish on the grandmother’s face…man, it is so real. You could actually feel it. It goes on like this, drawing after drawing, street scenes, cops, pimps, and prostitutes. All so starkly brutal, yet so intricate, and detailed in their vividness. Then it hits me. He had drawn these! Holy shit! This guy - this maniac - is a freaking artist! This seems so impossible, but it’s right there in front of me. I’m stunned. I don’t know what to say to him.

"Na-Na…these are- fucking- great man - I –"

He doesn’t look at me, as I hand him back the drawings. I believe I see a sense of pride though. Seriousness, as he carefully and meticulously folds them back in the envelope.

Submitted: June 07, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Joe Montaperto. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Serge Wlodarski

You never know where you'll find talent. Good story.

Mon, June 7th, 2021 11:41am


Thanks Serge! Much appreciated!

Mon, June 7th, 2021 4:25pm

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