Authors: Adam Rapp
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2009 by Adam Rapp
Cover illustration copyright © 2009 by Timothy Basil Ering
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, taping, and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher.
First electronic edition 2010
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2008935655
ISBN 978-0-7636-3031-7 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-7636-5258-6 (electronic)
99 Dover Street
Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
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March 4, 2008
I’m finally writing you back. I’ve been carrying your letter around in my pocket so it’s pretty wrinkled but you have good penmanship or cursive or whatever they call it so it’s still totally readable. It actually looks like Mom’s writing and I never knew that about you.
I’ve been meaning to write back for like weeks I swear P but every time I started to do it I would get distracted like I’d have some shit to do or I couldn’t find a pen or something. I’ve never been much of a writer anyway even though this one time in seventh grade I was in detention for skipping class and I had to do this five hundred word essay on politeness and after she read my essay the woman who was running detention this substitute teacher everyone called Mrs. Boobjob told me I had an unusual gift. She wound up giving my essay to this English teacher Mr. Douglas-Roberts and he invited me into a special composition class but I got kicked out right away for chirping like a bird during this thing called an automatic writing exercise. I haven’t really written anything for a while so I hope this letter doesn’t suck too bad.
So I’m on a Greyhound bus and the driver’s wearing a hockey mask. It’s clear instead of white and you can see his skin all slimy and pressed up against the mask. When I got on he said hello and his voice was clogged and small. I think he has some sort of infection on his face and I can’t tell if he’s black or Mexican.
I’m wearing this hoodie I found the other day and I wish I had something a little warmer. Man I feel like shit. I have the chills and I should’ve eaten something but I’ll have to wait for the next refueling point which the driver said would be somewhere in Idaho.
P I’ve been living in Portland for five months and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I probably won’t really know for years because that’s how it works right? You don’t really develop feelings about a place till you’ve left it. It’s like a girl or a dog like that black Lab E brought home after his pony league game that dog Sarge. Remember how Mom accidentally backed over him with the Olds and how you said he made that squealing sound? I miss that dog even though he only lived with us for a summer. Remember how you used to do that trick where you would put extra-crunchy peanut butter on the sprinkler in the front yard and he would start licking the peanut butter off and then you would turn on the sprinkler and he wouldn’t stop even though the water was shooting everywhere and he would flip his weird spotted tongue around all crazy and then you would do the fake Fifty Cent voice and it would be like Sarge was really busting rhymes or something.
To be honest I’ve never really had a girlfriend to miss. I’ve gotten off here and there but I’m basically talking about hand jobs. I don’t mean to be weird P but in your letter you said how you wanted the truth about stuff even if it’s ugly and trust me it’s going to get a little ugly. Uglier than my skittery penmanship if skittery is even a word.
I can still feel the effects of the meth that me and this kid Branson did last night. It was my first time trying it and it made everything taste aluminum so I didn’t feel like eating anything and now I’m totally fucking starving but I already said that right? To be honest P I’m so nervous I can practically feel my bones rattling around under my skin.
The bus smells pretty bad like mold and breath and piss from the bathroom and disinfectant they used to try to cover it up and the back of the seat in front of me has a sticker on it that says jobops.com which is somehow making the smells worse. Out my window the sky is so dark it’s almost brown like a bunch of German shepherds got stuck up there. I imagine them snarling and baring their yellow teeth at this shit world and all of its disappointments. That’s pretty much all I can see the sickly sky and rain streaking slantways across the glass and the Rose Garden shrinking in the distance like a lost toy.
There are only about eight people on board and six of them look like they’re sleeping with their eyes open. This man three seats in front of me is snoring so loud it sounds like he’s drowning in a birdbath and this old black woman keeps crying into an Easter basket. I don’t even know when Easter is. Maybe she just likes carrying around Easter baskets. She probably had something in it that she lost like some money or a picture of her dead pet. She’s wearing a pink shower cap with little yellow daisies on it and she’s sitting about four rows in front of me and her crying almost sounds like Santa Claus laughter. Even though it’s March I keep thinking she’s going to turn around and scream “Merry Christmas foolish-ass bitches!” like she’s been saving up all her sorrow and hatred and this skanky bus is the only place she can let it out.
Man I wish I had that iPod Fat Larkin gave me. I wound up giving it to Branson. He’s the guy I did meth with last night. He was my best friend in Portland and the one I will miss the most.
I stole about fifty iPods for Fat Larkin. Me and this kid Bobby Job were Fat Larkin’s iPod thieves. Bobby Job has emotional problems and likes to stick mechanical pencils in cats’ anuses especially this one cat called Acrocat who sounded like a dental drill when it meowed. The emaciated thing followed Bobby Job around with pure loyalty because he would feed it Popeye’s. Bobby Job wound up getting his face bit up by a Doberman pinscher and got sent to the Yakima juvy home up in Washington.
Fat Larkin had iPod thieves and cell phone thieves and there was this girl who would stop by the Roxy Diner and deliver his daily blueberry smoothie. Oh man P you would LOVE the Roxy Diner! They got all these movie posters up like from Quentin Tarantino films and the ones Robert De Niro starred in when he was skinny like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets and the place is infested with drag queens and drug addicts and no one really gives a shit. It’s your kind of place I swear.
I apologize if my writing is hard to read but writing on a Greyhound isn’t too easy and by the way I just reread some of what I wrote and I realize I’m not following the rules like I should you know like grammar and punctuation and commas. I hope that’s cool.
Fat Larkin kicking me back an iPod probably made him feel less guilty about Bobby Job getting his face bit up. You would like Fat Larkin P. He speaks his mind and maybe killed a few people and one of them was probably his ex-wife Norca but nobody really knows for sure. He’s sort of scary-looking because he has some gold teeth and his one eye gets stuck but he has this other side like he’s into Star Wars action figures and he’s nonabusive to little kids and he doesn’t eat pork.
He would give me twenty bucks for every iPod. I would jump joggers in Forest Park which is this big woodland preserve with all these trails and tons of trees. I mostly went for mom types or fat people because they were the easiest to knock unconscious. I’m still small for my age. I haven’t grown much since the last time you saw me which was four years ago at Christmas I think. That’s when you came out of the closet and the Major made you stay at the Holiday Inn. I’m a little taller but barely five four and really skinny like you could maybe stick a pin through me or throw me off the roof of a building pretty easy. I think something’s wrong with my hormones P. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m missing a gland. Maybe all that homegrown I smoked back in Cincinnati has permanently damaged me? That’s what I get for smoking weed right? The point is that when I was thieving I had to target the extra weak or the super slow.
It’s weird I don’t feel so ashamed about confessing all this stuff to you P. Does that make me a sociopath? I heard once how if you have no shame for your bad deeds that it means you’re insane. Maybe my heart has an infection in it or something or maybe when I was a baby I had some weird fever that killed part of my conscience?
After a few weeks I had to stop hitting Forest Park because these cops started riding around the trails on mountain bikes.
My iPod victims never even saw me because I would sneak up behind them and hit them in the back of the head with this heavy alarm clock that I took when I ran away from Buckner. It was my roommate Torris’s clock and he got it from the cadet store. It’s metal with the Buckner Military Academy seal on it and mad sharp edges so a good thump would put down even the most obese person pretty easy.
Once I knocked out this tall woman with huge veiny hands and when I was disconnecting her iPod I saw she was wearing a medical chain around her neck that said she was a diabetic. I felt bad but I don’t think she died or anything because they would have put it in the paper. I have the clock in my duffel bag on the rack above me. It doesn’t actually work anymore because I ruined it thieving for Fat Larkin but it makes me feel safe.
You never know what’s out there P like all the murderers and the rapists and the kidnappers and the freaks who have sex with animals or children or both or the weirdos who ride around naked on farm equipment. There’s just so much you have to be careful of. Fat Larkin said he was going to give me this French Taser gun that he got off the Internet but he never did. Fat Larkin has a wooden broadsword on the wall above his sofa and he can imitate fighting sequences from this kung fu movie called The Five Deadly Venoms. Once he let me hold the sword and it was way heavier than it looked. Even though he’s never studied martial arts Fat Larkin says he has “world class equivalence.” You would have definitely liked him P. He doesn’t believe Jesus was white and he says he was Egyptian or Russian or that he was from Honduras or something.
I got another wave of iPods off these skinny girls who’d hang out at the Hollywood Bowl on Halsey Street. Most of them were like thirteen and trying to look older with their rap video makeup and tight jeans. Basically all they do is run back and forth across the lanes and text-message each other and take cell phone pictures of the local black dudes and they try talking like they know about C-Rayz Walz and Madlib and lowriders and oxycotton. The truth is they’re mostly just little rich skeezers from Lake Oswego and Orenco Station and most of them haven’t even had their first period yet and they get so drunk on vodka and Gatorades that they wind up puking in the ashtrays and they’d forget about their purses which I would take into the bathroom and help myself to their iPods or nanos or iPhones and leave through the custodial exit like I was never there.
I hit the Hollywood Bowl every Saturday night for a while but then the management started posting signs warning bowlers to keep an eye on their personal shit so someone obviously complained. On average I’d usually get three or four iPods per visit and I got seven that third week plus an iPhone.
Fat Larkin cleans them with furniture polish and clears the hard drive and then sells them for a hundred cash in the back booth of the Roxy. He keeps the iPhones for himself but gives you an extra five bucks if you bring him one. The iPod he gave me has eighty gigs and a color video screen and here’s the good part. There was a ton of mad slamming punk rock loaded on that iPod like Dropkick Murphys and the Dead Kennedys and the Clash and Minor Threat. P I know a lot of that scene happened way before I was born but I still relate to it thanks to your rock-n-roll teachings. Somehow Fat Larkin knew about my musical taste probably because I was always talking about punk rock. He even started calling me Punkzilla which everyone in Portland called me too.