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Excerpt from the novel Mongrel

Available at http://www.mansfieldpress.net/


Bordertown Baby

4:38 p.m.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Life just keeps on getting better. I don't know how much more I can take.

For example, I threw the forty-yard pass to win WSSA; finally pulled the ripcord on Sophie; eight days away from finishing high school forever; and I just throttled some drunk old Serb. Get this…

Earlier today at school, about twelve-thirty, my boys and I were laying the beats to Pus and Retard, these two fags. We do it often. I broke Retard's nose. Then, five minutes ago, I'm hanging out with my boys in the backyard of my house, chugging beer, chucking the ball around, and Retard shows up with his old man, who warns me to stop beating on his son, to pick on someone my own size. He gets up in my face with his boozy breath and bloodshot eyes, threatening me on my property. So…I bashed his nose with my skull. You see, my old man tells me these brain-dead Serbs, they're raping women, butchering babies, genocide and whatnot. No, I quite enjoyed throttling Retard's old man. It's sweet to know I'm doing my part, something moral. We should bomb those cunts until none of them are left.

It's the only way to be sure.

"That was awesome, chief," Jack says.

"Thing is," I say, "when he got up in my face I had to snap him 'fore he choked me with his breath."

"No shit," Rich says. "He had that drunk Elvis thing goin' on, man."

"I'm tellin' my grandkids about that, brothers," Bruno says.

Let me tell you about my boys. Bruno was my centre. He blocked every cunt that tried to sack me, flattened them into the dirt like flesh pancakes. He eats three whole chickens per day, benches four-fifty, spunks only in the off-season—a true champion. Rich was my tight end. He did all the dirty work, the thankless tasks you don't find in the stats; for example, he'd burrow a hole in the line so the running back could gain three yards for the first down. After every game, for every tackle he let slip, he'd burn one in his thigh with a cigar. Jack was my wide receiver. Tall, lean, agile, he made sixty-two receptions this season. I'd throw to a point on the field, he was always there, never a dropped ball, never a fumble. Out there playing the game, without my boys, I was nothing.

Nothing is out of the question—the world, instead.

We just came into the kitchen for a celebratory shot of Gentleman Jack. Not every day do I get to throttle someone's old man. Last time I did that? Two years ago, rocked and ragged, I came home from this bender to find my old man sitting on his green leather La-Z-Boy, watching tube. He never used to let me sit on his La-Z-Boy, which irked me. So when he got up to drain the squirrel, I figured it was time to set things right. I sat down into the soup bowls moulded by his ass cheeks (my old man has a tiny ass and wishbone legs, but a colossal rock-hard belly; he doesn't walk, he shuffles, like a juggler balancing a ball on his nose) and waited for him to come back. When he did, his face bunged out like a hemorrhoid. "Whadda ya doin', you goddamn freeloada?"

"Shut up, I can't hear the tube."

He grabbed a hold of my arm. I pulled him down to the floor and mounted him, started filling him in the stomach and chest. And once in the nose.

Until that night, he used to like pushing me around, reminding me he was the man of the house and whatnot. He didn't think I'd be able to throttle him at least until I was eighteen. He was proud of me. After he wiped the blood from his nose, he held me in his arms for three to four seconds. We've been golden ever since, though not when he comes home with his workmates and I salute him with "Sieg Heil!" That bungs him up.

"Chin chin, lads," I say as I lift a shot; my boys follow.

"To being invincible in every way," Jack says. "Forever."

"Amen, brothers," Bruno says.

We chug them in unison. I close my eyes, the Jack slithering down my throat like a hungry snake. I open my eyes and huck the shot glass on the floor. It shatters.

"Nice," Jack says.

"What're we doin' tonight, man?" Rich asks.

"Celebrating," I say.

"Amen, brother," Bruno says. "We gotta make this a night we never forget."

"Let's do something different," I say. "Something we've never done before."

So we stand around the kitchen for ten minutes, racking our skulls, but no ideas come. We've been chugging beer for two hours in the sun, which has sapped our juices; though I'm surprised that Jack, the smartest of us all, hasn't come up with any sweet ideas. You see, my boy has never studied a day in his life, yet he gets straight A's. He had his old man record all our games on a camcorder, used the footage to put together a highlight reel with the school's AV equipment. He sent the tape to four Ivy League schools along with his brilliant stats, won full athletic scholarship to Yale. He'll be second-string wide receiver next year, hump all the sweet cunt while he's at it. The ones at our school think he's Beauty. He's humped most of them, in fact, though not Sophie, the ugliest one I ever did see. No, I'm the ugliest. For three years we were a match made in Hell. I used to think I couldn't do any better, but I figured out this year I won't have these boils on my face for the rest of my life, as they're starting to clear up, boil by boil. The scarring's not too bad. Everything just keeps on getting better with age, I figured this out as well. Being a kid, teenager, twenties, thirties, forties…

Life takes its time.

My old man named me Gunther after his old man, this bricklaying Nazi who, after World War II, spent seven years in a Russian prison camp. When the commies let him go, he returned to Germany, moved back in with my grandma, who'd waited for him all those years. Not long after snapping off my old man inside her, he died of kidney failure.

In 1979 my parents went to Miami for their first wedding anniversary, first time in the States. They liked it so much they decided to stay. My old man likes the beach; in fact, my earliest memory's of his gigantic snow-white belly dangling over his red Speedo banana hammock, taking pictures of my mom and me picking seashells out of the sand on Miami Beach. I was three or four.

I'm glad I was born in the States, as football rules there, and if you play well, so do you. I got to playing when I was five. At twelve, my old man finally set up his own bricklaying company. We moved to Coral Gables, this upper-middle-class suburb just south of Miami. I went to a new school. New kids always get hacked on. Some would stare me down, mostly the Cubans and niggers, trying to figure out what I was made of. I had to make an impression.

During lunch one day, on the basketball court in the park beside the school, a pack of snarling spectators encircled a small freckled kid getting hacked on by this nigger. I stepped up to him so that his nose was an inch from mine. "Leave him alone."

He tried to punch my face. I dodged his fist and grabbed his arm, threw him over my hip, mounted him, pinned his arms under my knees, started slapping his face. Everyone laughed and whispered between themselves. From that day on, I got respect. It was sweet. I'd never helped anyone before, just acted without thinking—pure moral instinct.

The captains of the football team, José Gonzalez and Mario Fernandez, had witnessed the event and recommended I try out for the senior team. I was in Grade 6, had had a major growth spurt the previous year and was five-feet-ten by my twelfth birthday. I haven't grown since then, besides in width. I made first-string offensive and defensive lineman. I was set. Football gave me status; I dedicated my life to it. I liked game days, wearing our jerseys around school, cunts smiling at you, knowing you were getting blown if you won the game; the pep rallies and cheerleaders, everyone checking you out, wishing they were you. During that time, I never hacked on anyone. I used my status to protect the little boys who couldn't defend themselves. I liked doing it.

The night after I'd made the team, José and Mario took me out to the Falls, which became our stomping ground, this outdoor shopping mall with fake waterfalls dumping into a fake river (we'd shoulder-tap these Cubans and niggers that hung out there in front of the liquor store; they'd get you whatever you wanted for an extra five bucks) and bought a forty-pounder of Jack. I'd never tried booze. José's single mom, this nasty Cuban who'd won a swack of cash in her divorce settlement (even though she'd fucked her husband's boss), bought a giant boathouse. She went out of town for the weekend; José threw a bender. This drinking contest with the forty-pounder was going down in the kitchen, everyone passing it around, trying to take a bigger swig than the last one. When it got to me, I felt like swigging a shitload more than everyone else—out of instinct, you see. I sucked in a huge breath and chugged about a third of the bottle. While everyone stared at me like I was God with a twelve-inch hammer, the Jack spread like a brush fire through my belly. I ran outside and spent an hour spewing into the ocean.

Time stopped ticking. I was alive.

Mario's old man (who worked for this Colombian coke cartel) would get us pure uncut blow, which we'd stash in the wall of José's basement behind the light-switch panel. On the weekends, we'd bump a few lines each (I usually did four) and go waterskiing with José's mom's boat in Chicken Key. The sun lay on the ocean like a silk bed sheet. The blow, the sun, the ocean reminded me the world was mine.

Life, however, took a nose-dive at thirteen. Out of nowhere, these fat red boils started growing on my temples, forehead, cheeks, nose, chin, neck: new ones every day. My old man took me to a dermatologist, who put me on Accutane, which didn't do shit. They just kept popping on up. José and Mario stopped hanging out with me, though I was one of the best players on the team, and cunts started ignoring me as well, yet I had everything I needed to be king, besides a mug of beauty. Blood started searing through my flesh. Nobody was taking away the respect I'd fought so hard to win.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I set my sights on the one everyone feared, Chucho Hernandez, a senior, this Cuban Cro-Mag with bullet scars in his cheeks. In the courtyard café during lunch, I got up in his face. "Go back to Cuba, commie spick."

"Puto malacara…"

"Three-thirty on the court."

The rest of the day I was quite bunged up, white-hot, spewing into the toilet, the hour of truth needling my skull.

I went out at three-thirty to find the court packed in with bloodthirsty spectators, cunts climbing the fences to get a better view. After Chucho finished his faggot karate stretches, we circled each other for five minutes, until someone yelled, "Get on with it, ya fuckin' pussies!" He clocked me in the cheek with a spin kick. Blood squirted out of my boils onto his shoe. I dove in for his legs, lifting him up off the ground, slammed his head on the concrete. Blood shot out of his ears. I mounted him and just kept filling him, even after he'd gone out cold, his face opening up in rivets of blood. Then I broke his nose. The most beautiful sound I'd ever heard—cartilage shards grinding like shattered glass against my knuckles. The crowd started moaning. I sat there on top of Chucho, closed my eyes, replaying the sound over and over in my skull.

I felt like spunking.

I got up off of Chucho, stepped on his chest for good measure, was unsatisfied, spat on his face and looked out over the crowd, asked, "Anyone else want a title shot?" I made it clear that, from then on, if anyone ignored me, I'd send them down to their maker. I went up to José and Mario and told them if they kept being unfriendly, I'd snap their necks.

We were golden again.

Not long after, fagged and shamed, poor Chucho killed himself. I felt bad about that for some time. Now that I'm older, I know he did all of us a favour; but I'll always remember him fondly as my first shattered nose. That being said, the day was quite important for me for another reason. I figured out that to get people to respect you is to bung them up with fear. This is what I've been doing ever since. I like it. I'll be doing it the rest of my long life. And I don't rage anymore. True, here and there, some things irk me, but life is just so long that I'd hate having to rage though all of it.

I keep my blood cold.

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