A Short Story: A Scene from 1940

This story is a little more vulgar than usual as it’s based on a Charles Bukowski poem I love. Experimenting with manifesting emotion and reactions in readers by using intense narratives rather than descriptions.

I don’t recall ever enjoying school. Most of my time had been a blur, with much of it having been spent either drinking in cleaner’s cupboards or boy’s bathroom stalls just to get me through until the end of the day. Although, there is one particular day that appears to me often clearer than the present.

He caught me in the boy’s bathroom. I thought I’d locked the stall behind me but with my lack of sobriety I’d clearly made a grave mistake and soon enough, Johnny kicked the door in hoping to go for a lash but instead discovered me gulping from a 35cl of white rum like my life depended on it.

“What the fuck Casey?” he snarled.

I shrugged and got up, slightly disgruntled and completely dishevelled. Johnny was an alright guy, he wouldn’t care too much if I offered him a swig. As far as I could care, I was on my way to the cleaner’s cupboard to polish the bottle off before lunch was over. Johnny, however, didn’t want to move as you can probably expect.

“I knew you were a bad-ass.”

I stared at him for a long time and he didn’t break my gaze. I had to back down. I vividly remember this harmless kid had made me feel so pathetic all within a matter of seconds.

“You always sat in the back of my art class and never said anything. Then I saw you in that fight with that kid a couple days ago, the small cunt with the straw hair. You know him? You beat him up real bad, Casey.”

I don’t know what he wanted from this conversation, or lack thereof, and I won’t ever know. Did he think I would be his friend? I tried to break past him again and retreat into my serene bubble of me, my rum and my own head but he really wanted to talk.

“You’re rare, Casey. Guys like you sure are rare. You’re raw, you don’t give a fuck. You make your own rules!”

Beaming like a puppy, I knew I had to kick him down from his pedestal.

“Fuck off. Get your fucking face out of mine.”

I was as venomous as I could be whilst wobbling from side to side. He saw this. I gritted my teeth and gripped my bottle so hard I felt as though I might just smash it over his head but he backed off and I waded away from him.

“You see what I mean?” his shout echoed in the bathroom.

I was exiting by now, bottle now in pocket and already feeling more cool-headed. I could’ve befriended Johnny that day. Perhaps I would’ve had somebody to sit with me in bathroom stalls and talk about my dad with. Or maybe, just maybe, I’d have shown him the scars and the bruises, and he’d have brought me home to his quaint family and they’d have taken me in like one of their own. Maybe I’d be making a living right now rather than drinking my own weight in cheap red wine and using loose change to pay to fuck women who resembled my worst nightmares most evenings. Trawling through rejection letter after rejection letter and deliberating ways to kill myself.

But the thing with Johnny was that he had outwitted me entirely. Of all the things I was strong enough to handle; copious amounts of alcohol, my dads’ fists, a lack of guidance in life… praise was the only thing I couldn’t handle.

I was fifteen then.

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