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Sunday, November 27, 2016

McDougal Chapter 3

Last post of this work in progress...(click here to view in chronological order)

Chapter 3
    On my first day back I was greeted by the same situation that got me suspended five days earlier. After third period, as I was walking through the transition hallway from the old building to the new building, fucking redheaded moron gorilla Talty McManus was again kicking McDougal around. Seeing me, he grabbed McDougal under the armpits and threw him into me. Though a little stunned I was still able to sort of catch and cast McDougal aside in one fluid motion which landed him on the floor. I stepped toward McManus, but stopped myself thinking about the shit storm that would come if I acted on the fire raging inside of me. It killed me, but I did an about face into the new building to McManus jeering, “This ain’t over Jackson.”
    I looked desperately for McDougal in the halls and at lunch for the rest of the day, but couldn’t find him anywhere. All day long my mind alternated between beating the shit out of fucking McManus and that scene at The Spot where McDougal, while listening to Mitski, jumped to his feet, threw open his arms and just radiated there like a travel size Jesus or something. Aside from a couple of Facebook messages I didn’t see McDougal during my time off, but I watched YouTube videos of Mitski and read about her on the Chromebook I bought with my Pennysaver money.  Of course, we didn’t have an internet connection, that would have cut into the Keystone Light budget, but in exchange for cutting her grass and keeping her driveway clear in the winter the old lady next door, Mrs. Hagen paid me a few bucks and more importantly let me tap into her Wi-Fi.
  Japanese American, Mitski grew up all over the world, places like Malaysia, China and Turkey before her family eventually settled in New York City. Never rooted to one place and being biracial her songs discussed issues of belonging and being disenfranchised. I bet that’s why they were so powerful to McDougal. Her lyrics hit me hard too and I really looked forward to talking to him about her, if I ever found the little hobbit fuck.

    After school I looked back at The Spot hoping he might be there, but nothing. Then I remembered that place he mentioned Knight’s Blade Gaming. I went home, checked the address on the internet and it was over by where my grandma used to live in West Seneca. I got on my BMX and headed that way.
    I don’t know, judging from the name, I guess I was imaging a castle or something, but Knight’s Blade Gaming, shared a small square single story building on Center Road with an accounting firm. The entrance was at the rear and seemed totally unoccupied when I walked in. Dimly lit, the walls were lined with collectible action figures, decks of cards and on shelves sat board games enclosed in cellophane. Beneath overhead lighting there were a series of tables set up for war games with various themes, combatants and settings that went from an arid Star Wars moonscape to an intricate Game of Thrones battlefield. I was about to leave when I heard a couple of voices coming from an opening at the back of the store. I followed the voices until I came to another smaller gaming room and amidst an array of tables found McDougal. He was sitting across from some huge unkempt kid with a scraggly beard playing a card game. There also was an older guy, maybe mid-twenties, with the same bad facial hair in a black t-shirt that had a massive gold sword on it watching them play. I stood there unnoticed, marveling at the stark size difference between McDougal and the guy across from him. They were playing “Magic, The Gathering,” which was one of those brainy games with a million fucking rules and strategies that I hated, McDougal, at least for the moment, hated it too,
    “Got anything in that goddamn deck Denny that isn’t a Haste or Death Touch card?” McDougal said in mock anger as he reshuffled his deck with his disproportionately sized hands.
    I laughed and the three of them looked up at me and the guy with sword on his t-shirt said, “Hi, can I help you?”
    “Hey, I was looking for McDougal.”
    Irritably, McDougal said, “What the fuck Jackson, every time you show up I’m getting my ass kicked. Maybe it’s not me after all, maybe it’s you.”
    Everybody laughed, including me and the older guy walked toward me stuck out his hand to shake, “Hey Jackson, I’m Mike, that’s Denny. Jacob told us a lot about you and what’s been going on at school,” and raising an eyebrow, “and, the Rite Aid by school.”
    “Jakob?”
    “Jacob...McDougal,” Mike said.
    “Oh, I only knew him as McDougal.”
    “That was smart of you not to go after that McManus kid today. No sense getting suspended again,” Mike continued with a parental tone.          
    “Yeah, well, it’s probably going to happen at some point,” I said.
    “Doesn’t have to,” Mike said with some calculation in his voice.
    “Yeah, Denny’s like the Stephen Hawking of photoshop and he’s worked up A Brief History of McManus,” McDougal said as Denny sort of looked away.
    “Hey Mike, my bike is outside. Mind if I bring it in?” I asked.
    “Sure, go ahead.”
    When I came back they had a laptop opened to the photoshopped pics of McManus. Lots of hilarious shots of him in dresses and bikinis looking so happy. Also, a bunch of really great pics of him kissing guys.
    “Where’d you get all these,” I asked.
    “Mostly his Facebook page,” Denny said shyly.
    “We think if he’s enough of a rock head to kick Ja..McDougal around, he’s probably the type that would be nuts about photos showing him as a gay cross dresser. I hope they don’t offend you.” Mike said
    “I'm not offended.”
    “But if these don’t work and he continues to fuck with McDougal or you, then we go blackhole on him,” Mike said and he nodded to Denny.
    Denny opened a manilla folder and there were sheets of paper containing some really nasty pics of McManus all covered in blood next to dead dogs.
    “These are so bad I didn’t feel comfortable leaving them in digital form on my computer,” Denny said. “Hopefully we won’t need them.”
    “So, are you going to text him those first ones?” I asked
    “Shit can go wrong with texts,” McDougal said, “We’re going to print them onto paper and were hoping you could give them to him. We know where he lives.”
    “Why not mail them or just stuff them in his mailbox?”
   “Mail gets lost and if we put them in the mailbox his parents might see them first,” Mike said reasonably.
    Looking at Denny, who was the size of some Jurassic Park monster I said, “Why me, why not  him? I’m still the fucking new guy and messing with McManus already got me suspended once. I don’t need that shit.”
    Denny got red in the face and awkwardly got up from his chair and limped out of the room.
    Mike went on, “Denny’s got some physical limitations and should it go bad, he might have real problems.” Then he raised his hand and showed me his wedding band and said, “And, I’m too old and have too much responsibility to be involved in any of this.”   
    Feeling like an asshole I thought it over for a moment and then said “Okay, yeah, I’ll do it, Fuck McManus.”
    Both Mike and McDougal smiled and then Mike exited in the same direction as Denny, leaving me there with McDougal.
    Looking at him I said, “Hey, sorry for not jumpin in today,”
    “Don’t worry about it. Pierson came through right after you and I was able to get away,” McDougal said referring to the shop teacher Mr. Pierson, who broke McManus and I up the day we went at it.
    “Holy shit, same as last time. Deja vu, all over again,”
    “I know, right,” McDougal said. “Were you able to scam your old man about the suspension?”
    “Almost, he found out the last day. Wasn’t so bad. One elbow to the gut.”
    Mike and Denny came back with the doctored photos and a minute later we climbed into Denny’s beat up Ford Focus and headed over to McManus’s house on Harding Street near school.
   When we got there, I got out of the car, went to McManus’s shabby front door feeling pretty anxious and knocked. Nobody answered, so we decided to give it some time. Waiting in the car I found out Denny was a seventeen-year-old junior at West Seneca West and that I vaguely knew him from my time in West Seneca. All through third grade, during morning announcements, students were asked to keep this Denny Wroblewski and his family in our thoughts and to never take for granted our good health. I didn’t know why we did this or who this Dennis Wroblewski was that we had to keep in our thoughts. Then one day at lunch a year later in fourth grade when Denny hobbled by our table on crutches someone said he had cancer and lost part of his leg which explained what Mike meant by his physical limitations.
     Waiting Denny opened up about the hassle of being endlessly fitted for prosthetic legs and did a funny impression of his mom who was sure every time he cleared his throat or coughed it meant the cancer was back. The smile on his face as he mimicked his worried mom made me wonder where my own mom was and if I’d ever see her again.
    Sitting there McDougal also talked about why he was so small. He had something called; Hypopituitarism, which was a rare disease where your pituitary gland doesn’t produce hormones and made you grow in fucked up ways. With some resignation in his voice he said he took a lot of awful medications and growth hormone shots every day to help spur his growth, but it wasn’t working great.
    After an hour of waiting, listening to what was messed up about them we called it a day. I took the pics and Denny reminded me that it was important to give them to McManus when his friends weren’t around.
    “How am I supposed to do that?” I asked
    “Maybe in the transition hallway, you pick a time and place to settle up, but first you got talk,” McDougal offered.
    “Yeah, dude in a rock head. A redheaded fucking rock head. Don’t think he’ll go for that,” I said.
    Seeing no good answers Denny said, “Then how about we try this again tomorrow? You can tell us what’s messed up about you Jackson.”
    I laughed and said, “We’ll need way more than an hour.”
    And, with that, it was a plan.
    Only it didn’t quite work out that way. Next morning I missed my bus and rode my bike to school. I didn’t see McManus all day, not even in the transition hall. I did see McDougal and he said Denny was going to pick us up after school. Since I had my bike I told him I would meet at Knight’s. I realized later, when it was too late, the smarter thing would have been to take the ride from Denny and get my bike afterwards. My way, I peddled to West Seneca got in the car and came right back here to McManus’s house on Harding Street. But this time not thinking things through worked out for me. While unlocking my bike at the end of the day I saw McManus get on the bus to go home and had an idea. Living so close to school I didn’t get why he would take the bus rather than just walk, other than it probably provided one last chance to terrorize some smaller weaker freshman or something, At any rate, I realized I could just ride to his house on my bike and settle our business when he got off of the bus. So I hightailed it over there, got the pics out of my backpack and waited for him.
    It must have taken all of a minute for this older lady who lived across the street from McManus to come out on her porch and ask what I was doing there. She was not convinced at all when I told her I was just waiting for my friend and said I should move along or she was going to call the police. Being a person of color in a hoodie, sort of loitering in a mostly white neighborhood, that’s the last thing I needed—the police.
    Not wanting to give this up yet and knowing he was going to be there any minute I slung my backpack over my shoulder and stuffed the pics into the front of my jeans and slowly went down his street, in the opposite direction I needed to go home, constantly looking over my shoulder to see when he got off the bus.  
    I was about twenty houses down when I saw him, so I turned around and started to peddle really fast. From the way he strutted, even at a distance, you could tell he was an obnoxious fuck. Closing in, I started to get really mad watching him, When I pulled on to the sidewalk about two houses down, he saw me. I dropped my backpack, but still peddling hard I went right at him and the look of fear and confusion on his face was so fucking delightful it made up for the pain when we hit the ground after I flung myself at him from my bike, shoulder first. Quicker than him, I was up first and was able jump on him and pin his arms with my knees leaving me an open lane to wail on his dumb Irish Setter head. But instead of pounding him I pulled the printed pics from my belt and jammed them in his warm up jacket really hard and then got off him and breathing heavily said, “Before we go, you fucking rock head, you need to look at these,” And I rolled off him and to my feet in a ready stance.
    He got to his feet and started to come at me saying, “You’re fucking dead.
   In my ready stance, I said, “Before we do this just take a look at those asshole. I had you and let you up. Just take a look and then we can go if you still want to.”
    Still coming at me he casually glanced at the top one, threw them to the ground and said, “Fuck you.”
    “STOP!” I yelled putting up my hand. “Look at them asshole.”
    Now, spread out on the concrete sidewalk he looked down. Watching him process what he was seeing was like watching Forrest Gump solve a physics equation and when he lifted his big dumb head and looked at me I said, “Yeah, that’s you, dumb fuck!” Watching him still not quite get it was so great and I continued, “Listen, if you keep fucking with McDougal and me these and many more will hit every all the platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope...all of them.”
    “Fuck you,” he said and he sort of took a half step toward me.
    Still with my hand up I had an idea. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my flip phone and with my thumb pretended to call McDougal. I didn’t even know his number and may have been a little quick pretending that he answered, but I said, “McDougal, I’m here with McManus...you ready?” I paused another second and then said, “You decide McManus, we go and you explain to the world why you’re tonguing dudes or we just stop all this stupid shit?”
    “Fuck you,” he said and took a step toward me.
    “McDougal,” I said and he stopped. “Last chance, McManus.”
    And, that was the last step he took. After another brief pause he bent over picked up pics on the sidewalk and under his breath while walking toward his house said, “Fucking nigger.”
    Under different circumstances I would not have taken that, but my victory was so complete I just picked up my backpack and laughed the whole way to Knight’s. When I got there Denny, Mike and McDougal were waiting.
    “Ready?” McDougal asked
    “Not going to be necessary,” I said feeling a big ass grin crawl across my face.
    After telling them what went down they were smiling too. I exchanged fist bumps with Denny and Mike, but that wasn’t victory enough for McDougal and he jumped up to bump chests and of course, I accidently knocked him on his skinny little hypo ass. Didn’t matter though he popped up and did a fake end zone dance, even pretending to fake spike the ball.
    When we were laughed out at McDougal’s dance Mike took on that parental tone again, “You know Jackson, we’re all glad it worked out, but the plan…”
    In his little tin voice, McDougal cut him off, “Shut up Mike, McManus deserved worse than getting knocked on his ass. Jackson played it just right.”
   In the short time I had known him it really was kind of inspiring the way that little bit fuck could assert his authority in certain situations. Mike just sort of smiled and didn’t say another word, the room resonating with General McDougal’s pronouncement.
    Instead of catching a ride from Denny, McDougal left with me. Part of the way he rode on my handlebars, part of the way he walked. We talked about Mitski and he said part of what he identified with, was the fact there were things beyond her control that forever made her feel like an outsider. He said he felt that way and wondered if I did too, to which I had no answer. For the last year all of my attention had gone to avoiding the wrath of my old man. It made me uncomfortable thinking feelings had any value. In my head I could hear the old man—chicken shit elites obsess about their hurt feelings, instead of moving forward and surviving. I was happy when he changed the subject and started talking about girls. He told me how much he liked Lexi and wanted to know if she had any friends.
    “Friends? Yeah she has friends.”
    “Friends that put out?”
    “McDougal!”
    “I’m just kidding,” he said laughing. “But, ya know I spend my whole life with Denny and Mike. Good guys, but sad sacks. How Mike found a girl is crazy.”
    After thinking about it for a second I said, “Well, she did say this girl Sydney Cheever had some pretty wild stories.”
    “Sydney, Lexi sits with her in that art class we have together. No shit, Sydney. She’s so cute...and easy too. No shit,” he said clapping his hands totally thrilled with this information.
    The smile didn’t leave his face the rest of the way home, but just before we were at his street he asked some subtle questions about my BMX and my X Games friends. There was something he was asking but it wasn’t clear and when I pressed him what was with all the questions, he moderated his smile and said, “No big deal. Just asking.”

    It was a weird ending to the day and again as we parted ways, I was left wondering, what the fuck McDougal? 

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