Short-listed Entry: Fiction Category
By: Idore Anschell
I went to the Student Union cafeteria for dinner yesterday. I sat down next to Burt, and, shit, stuttered as bad as ever: I know I went: “A-a-are the bu-bu-bu-bu-baseball tryouts tomorrow or Saturday?”
“Hey! Can’t you find out anything yourself?” Burt said. His face was turned to Alex.
I clutched a lump of bread, got my coat, and went to my room in the frat house. I sat down on my bed and read the prof’s comment on my new poem: “Your writing reminds me of Tu Fu. Beautiful work, Peter. Come over to my house some time. I’ll lend you some T’ang work.”
I looked and looked at the paper. I remembered that the prof, Eric Stone, gave a writing class at his house one time, so I knew where it was.
I got my coat, walked the three blocks to his house, and knocked on the front door. No answer. I walked around to the back. The house is brick, two stories; the back faces a stone wall and a garden. I climbed the wall and saw Prof. Stone and his wife through the French door, screwing. It worked me up so much I lost my balance, lost my grip on the wall, fell on my back in the fish pond. Stone pounded out, pulling up his pants. He dragged me from the water and slapped my face.
I stood there dripping all over him. He yelled, “God damn it, Peter, you’re a Peeping Tom!” Of course, he called the Dean, and I’m dropped from school. He called my parents. I think his wife called the Medics. Stone got me a hamburger while we waited, but I was so nervous, I threw it away. He said he would not call the police this time.
My back hurts from the fall. I’m going to write a letter to apologize. I may send him this poem about eating a ham sandwich with my father.
My dad’s big, like Stone is. He has an odd habit that most people don’t know about: When he finishes shitting, he washes his hands over and over again, maybe for 15 minutes. I used to like him a lot. One summer, he took me and my mother to Coney Island. It got late and we couldn’t find the car. We kept walking. Vendors stuffed their trucks and left. The other people were hobos and kids waiting for everyone to go so they could fix some beds on the sand. We sat down to think. A hobo came over and offered us a ham sandwich. My father invited him to join us. We sat around talking and it was great! I wish I could do that again, with my dad.
When I was little, I was good at baseball and drawing and bad at social life. After lunch every day, I ran to the playfield with an apple in my mouth that my mom put in my lunchbox. The kids chased me, yelling, “Here comes Peter with an apple in his mouth!” I already stuttered badly.
This morning my mom called and told me to come home. I went out and bought a dog, a black Doberman puppy. He’s Max. I brought him back to the frat house. I already love him. I know I have to go somewhere else with him. Meanwhile, I’ll take him everywhere. I’m broke. I’ll sleep in the park. I don’t know what I’ll do for food. I wish I had that hamburger.