Jim Trainer

Too Skinny, Too Small by Don Bajema

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I reached for the baggie and box of Phillies with the cell phone slipping between my cocked shoulder and ear thinking I should have gotten another of those ear buds with a microphone a long time ago-lose them all for some reason.
“A very violent isotope.”
I kept my silence.
“Unsanctioned though.”
Johnson took a deep breath-while visions flashed up in my head movie of the beatings Dad meted out as punishment or through the necessity to hold his place as the alpha among ex-cons, speed freaks, disgraced cops, jerks, jerk-offs, killers. The one thing they had in common was the love of football. It was the one reliable common ground, they all could discuss it for hours and they did. And so by the time I was nine I saw my trajectory. I did not want to follow Dad in the family business.
While I thought, Johnson waited then he said,
“So, in my interview you think he was telling the truth?”
“Yeah, his truth anyway.”
“His truth?”
“Look, Johnson, you’re not going to get me to agree with him. Because I don’t.”
“Not even a little bit?”
“..I said, no.”
I remembered Dad drinking day and night with some big fleshy-armed fat-boy bullies before he’d turn on like a startled pit dog. They’d get totally confused at first most of them so surprised, and thrown so off balance at his inexplicable change, at his low growl and snarl, they’d seem to me almost like dropped jaw, watery eyed, stammering teenage girls-seeing their fantasy BFF rising out of hell and pulling them down by the back of their necks.
Dad changed from a backslapping, round buying, line chopping, pussy magnet approving of and praising his new best friend until his mark was in a place of self acceptance so profound he knew he could do and be anything. His marks usually fell into a confusion of man-love.
Dad enhanced and confirmed them, Dad a man beyond them, elevating these hapless fools into his stratosphere. About then Dad’d morph into a real cold, narrow-eyed, un-amused bastard. There’d be no outward sign of passion or anger, most of the time he seemed bored with the chore. He’d just up and dismantle some guys mind and then beat down the poor hapless fuck.
Or, being undersized he might wind up in a prolonged brawl that over a few hours might erupt, abate, erupt again and then fall into a full blown attempted homicide. But sooner or later, more often than not, a brand new acolyte wound up dragged by his heels to the trunk of Dad’s Camaro. I say acolyte because once one of these ultra macho assholes gets entirely dominated, psychologically and physically, they have no choice but to bow to the conqueror, to kiss the ring, to do the bidding otherwise they wouldn’t know what to do with what was left of themselves-just like a lot of football players.
For Dad it was politics. The fat blow hard, or the weight room muscle freak, the shaved head bad-boy, the terror of his hometown, the newly released cell block survivor, the ex-communicated law enforcement officer, hadn’t done a thing but just be a more full version himself, and Dad had shown no indication that he was internally offended, in fact Dad would bring out the braggart, would set him up to a point he was so high on Dad’s product and with himself and sure he’d won a place among these other bastards, a place he finally belonged, like he’d at last made the team, where he was valued and had that weird loyalty and respect these assholes all craved and Dad would put his acceptance over his mark’s shoulders like a cloak, let him stand around in the mirror of the trailer, then take him down to the bar to find some underage, big-eyed ‘bitches’, or established pros with their yawns and smiles and their beer hall cut off jeans high enough that their ass cheeks dropped like sweet little cupcakes and so tight the camel toe looked swollen. They’d drink and haw-haw through the night, might run off a few tables of like minded lesser assholes, might stage a loud debate to see if they could attract any suckers to state their politics to oppose either way, and then somewhere, always in public, in some bar he wanted to display his credentials to, or as a defiant display in a rival’s territory, or to remount the stairs to his throne, but always calculated to impress someone who Dad would benefit by impressing; he would just attack the new buddy out of no where. I don’t mean sucker-punch the guy, Dad would never do that. He’d just snarl an insult. And the mark would knot his eyebrows to hide the hurt and hope it was some kind of joke.
And Dad would repeat himself adding,
“No, I’m serious..you’re a…”, you can fill in some nasty insight that penetrated deep into a terrain the man would have buried so long ago and in a place so cold and dark that he’d, himself, be almost unaware of it outside of nightmares. But Dad would pull it up like a grave digger, open up that psychological coffin and pull to light what the man hoped was a long ago interred part of himself.
Just before Dad took the guys eyebrow off with the ring on his fist-psychological violence always preceded the physical, but physical violence was never left out-Dad took his victims whole. Dad’d be on the guy before he had a chance to think, clear his head, make an adjustment of any kind. Before long he was in the dirt, on the floor, under a car he’d crawled to, snoring through his snot and blood. Nobody ever interfered, anyone who’d been hanging around Dad a year or two knew what was up soon as the two of them met because his acolytes-that word again-but it fits-were all initiated in the same treacherous way. Dad was everyone’s pimp in one way or another. After that, they bore the chalice, dusted the robes, poured the wine, lit the candles, extracted the money, collected the loan, punished the offenders and carried the luggage.
I was his heir apparent and from the age of nine to fourteen he usually brought me along wherever he went. I saw all this so many times I can’t count them, saw worse. Exposure to danger was a plus in Dad’s opinion, nothing was x-rated-the whores and sluts favored me-but until I was fourteen it was hands-off. We are talking the most violent depravity, degradation beyond your imagining-his stock and trade.
Until he finally fucked up bad enough, or was so bored with it he didn’t care anymore and let his kingdom be reduced to a cage in maximum security and I went off to live with Grandma.
By then I wasn’t too sad to see him go other than to see the part of him that was me, the thing we shared, the link between his knarled fists and my smooth though calloused, hand. His lined face and my carbon copy younger version, his red hair and mine, him caged behind wire mesh with all the other bad dogs in the kennel, me starting high school surrounded by puppies.
“…Dad was more a man of action,” I said.

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  1. I know that voice. Another great boy up in the sky story.


  3. […] last week Aho. There he is. I dropped the ball last week and failed to bring you Chapter 2 of Too Skinny, Too Small. But as I mentioned, I blew out my back and this much madness was too much sorrow.  I’ve […]

  4. […] process). That book kept me alive. Kept me current. Prompted me to reach out to great writers like Don Bajema and reconnect with great writers like Butch Wolfram. The rest is history except I wasn’t […]

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