Sunday, September 18, 2011

Excerpt From My Nothing Men Novel

Here's an excerpt from Nothing Men, which is coming soon to the Kindle.  I may post more later, but here is a tease.



“When my momma found out she was pregnant with me, the whole village was happy. They all hoped I would be a girl because there hadn’t been a girl born here in a long time. The last one who was left with her momma when she was only eight. That was years before I came around.” She suppressed a belch.

“Okay,” Amanda said. She didn’t know what this had to do with Charles’ name, though.

 “Like I said, everyone wanted a girl ... everyone but my daddy. He wanted a boy so he could do man
things with him. Teach him trades and all that. He was a carpenter and did butchering and taxidermy stuff, too. From what my momma told me, he was the only one in Valley Bottom who wanted a boy.”

 “That’s kinda weird. Shouldn’t people just have been happy because your mom was pregnant?”

 Charles seemed surprised by Amanda’s comment. “No. It ain’t like that.”

 “Okay, so your dad wanted a boy and named you Charles. That’s not that sad.”

 Charles leaned back on the table. “You wanna hear the story, or you wanna make up your own?”

Charles stood up and began to pace. “When I was born, my daddy was devastated, but everyone else was thrilled. My mom, to make my daddy feel better, let him name me Charles.”

“Did anyone else care about that?”

 “No. Everyone was just glad I had a pussy.”

 Amanda never heard it put that way before, but she prodded her new friend to continue.

 “My dad started drinkin’ more and takin’ more pills ‘cause he was depressed. My mom said it was meth, but I never knew. I just knew he never seemed quite right. Momma Rose told me later that he was brain damaged to begin with. My daddy was a retard, but people still brought him their animals to work on.”
“He was a vet, too?” Amanda asked.

“Not like a real one who went to school, but he could do things. Fix them and stuff. Sometimes he couldn’t, and they died. I’d help him ... once I got old enough to hand him the tools. I think I was about four. I remember helpin’ him with Mr. Ash.”

Amanda shuddered. She couldn’t imagine helping her father operate on animals.
“When I was five -- and this I remember -- old Mrs. Quinn brought her dog in to be fixed. It was humping everything ... even a cat, which I found funny. My mom wasn’t home, so my daddy asked me to help him with the tools.”
“You saw a dog get fixed?” Amanda asked. She felt a little sick. She wasn’t sure what “fixed” was when it came to a dog, but she imagined it had something to do with its balls and maybe a sharp pair of scissors or something.
“I seen a lot more than that, doll girl. It was no biggie.”

“It’s gross, though.”

“No. Anyway, my daddy put the dog on the work table and knocked it out with some drugs he had in a needle. And the last thing I can remember is him turning to me and sticking me with the same needle.” She pointed to the side of her neck. “Right here.”

“What the fuck?” Amanda exclaimed. “Your dad drugged you? Why?”

Monday, September 5, 2011

We Are ... The Mentally Superior, And We Are Coming For You

It was the 1973.  Pennsylvania had yet to deal with Three Mile Island, Budd Dwyer or the Philadelphia police torching a city block to get some black people out of town.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education, perhaps anticipating such disasters, published a booklet titled A Guide for Parents ... Mentally Gifted Children and Youth.  In the mid 1970s my parents received this booklet.  I was the Mentally Gifted Children and Youth.  To be more exact ... I was a mentally gifted child.

The booklet itself seems to take its cue from a lot of what made Nazi Germany so memorable.  That would be a false sense of superiority and a strange version of eugenics.  Patriotism is sprinkled throughout, too, such as in the Foreword.  "In our democracy, we have an obligation to assure that every child has the opportunity to develop to the utmost of his abilities and to encourage him to do so."  (It's always a "him.")

Chapter 1 answers the burning question: Who are the Mentally Gifted?  I was apparently one of the lads whose "outstanding intellectual and/or creative ability" is in the "top 3 percent of the nation's school-age population."  It then proceeds to list two generalizations about us mutant children.  "Mentally gifted children do not follow a uniform pattern in any delineation of their individual nature, interests and needs."  And, "The typical gifted child is likely to be superior in almost all measurable human traits.  (There are exceptions, of course, but we are describing here a statistical majority of those classified as gifted.)"  I am not making this up.  I was apparently superior in all measurable traits.  All I can say is I'm glad this was in a time before every kid was medicated to the point immobility.

The booklet then discusses the needs of the gifted.  According to the PA Department of Education, if I wasn't given the opportunity for exploration and experience, I would become bored and develop anti-social attitudes and behaviors.  Looks like someone was asleep at the wheel in my school.  Luckily, my mental superiority meant that I targeted all the right people with my anti-social behavior.  Just ask the staff of Pocono Mt. Senior High.

One of the things that was hoped to be achieved with us was that we would, by adolescence, be preparing for marriage and family life.  Yeah.  Seriously.  Apparently, adolescence is particularly tough on the gifted because we reached that stage long before we are teens.  "He will probably experience a sense of isolation," it reads.  "He may have a greater problem developing appropriate sex roles and relationships.  He may abandon intellectual activities which are not accepted by the group in favor of more ordinary pursuits.  As an alternative, he may persist in being different and sever the lines of social communication."  Those who know me know are nodding their heads in agreement.  Guess what?  I don't need you people!  I'm Mentally Superior!

The booklet lists many activities that are to be of interest to the gifted child.  All the usual suspects are on there, like the Camera Club.  I imagine that is like the sexting of today ... or not.  It then ends on a special note under the chapter "Due Process: Right to Education for the Gifted."  It lists some regulations and states, "These regulations extend the right to education and the right to due process to all gifted and talented school-age persons..."  No need to bore you anymore than I already have, but let's just say I probably went through more evaluations then were necessary in school.

To say this booklet is creepy is an understatement.  I remember being pulled out of the First or Second grade to answer a bunch of questions.  I recall telling the woman interviewing me all about my theories on the Loch Ness Monster.  The next thing I knew my parents were discussing my education at the dinner table and telling me I was going into a class for the "smart kids."  We had access to computers before the other kids did, and we got to go to special events and museums that other kids weren't privy to.  All of this to ensure I married right and didn't blow up banks.  Did it work?  Yes and no.  The one thing it taught me to do was question authority, which is probably the most beneficial thing anyone can do.  While the other kids blindly listened to teachers in Third and Fourth grade, I was challenging them ... in a respectful way.  Later I became a lot less respectful as the teachers became a lot more authoritarian.

I don't think schools give out indoctrination booklets like this anymore.  They've gotten smarter.  I'm glad my parents kept my copy, though.  It explains a lot of my early schooling.

Letters From George 10

Another short one from the master of revenge, George Hayduke.  (Hey, when you're busy ruining people's lives for their indiscretions you don't always have time to write.)  The prank call tapes he is referring to is what would later become known as the Jerky Boys.  They weren't always called that, and they went by a couple different names.  I had sent him some copies of what I had.

Hi Doug,

Hey .. the prank call tapes are hilarious!  They made me laugh all over the place.  Great stuff.  Do you know this guy Mushacia?  Who is he?  My God, it/he is hilarious!!


There are a lot of people who lament the art of physically writing letters.  They say e-mails are too short and lack personality.  This letter from the author proves that just because one took the time to write a letter by hand doesn't mean it was going to be lengthy and deep.