Prose Header


by Mark Spencer
and Shawn Chiusano

Table of Contents
Part 1 appears
in this issue.
part 2 of 6

After twenty minutes of hard pumping, mostly uphill, Josh and I were lurking in the shadows, holding our paintball guns, doing recon in the parking lot outside Taco Yummy. There weren’t many people interested in spending the night puking their guts out, so the place wasn’t very busy.

Josh and I could see Brandi and Krebs through the big windows. Krebs had her backed up against the soda machine and kept touching her arm with his greasy fingertips and grinning and nodding, and Brandi was fidgeting a little and most of the time was looking out into the dark parking lot, but when she did look him in the eye she tried like hell to smile like Paris Hilton.

A gawky, pimply kid named Edward was working the counter. Edward was Geek Boy Galore.

They all looked completely stupid in their Taco Yummy uniforms, especially the caps, which were made to look like crispy tacos.

“Look at that pervert,” I said.

“Yeah, Edward’s a fag.”

“Not Edward. Krebs.”

“Your sister doesn’t seem to mind.”

“She’s too stupid to mind. She can’t take care of herself. She’s like retarded.”

“She’s not in Special Ed, is she?”

“She makes good grades. She just doesn’t have any common sense. Well, dude, there’s Krebs’ car. I pointed at Krebs’ late-model Cadillac parked way off by itself so that nobody would park near it.

“Caddy. Tacky, man. If he had any taste, he’d have a Jaguar. If he had a Jaguar, we couldn’t be doing this.”

“Come on. Payback time.”

We marched toward that Cadillac like we were both Arnold in Terminator, bent on destruction. We raised our guns, and the paintballs started popping against the shiny paint, the shiny chrome, the shiny windows.

I moved all around the car to get complete coverage.

“Hey, look!” Josh said.

The noise of the paintball guns had gotten Krebs’ attention, and he came out of Taco Yummy, roaring like King Kong.

“Hey! What’s going on?”

We jumped on our bikes and hit light speed. We waved our guns in the air and shouted a few obscenities to show how good we felt. The ride was all down hill, so we just coasted, feeling good.

In front of my house, Josh and I grinned at each other.

“You think he recognized us?”

“Who cares? Besides, it was pretty dark out where we were.”

“Okay, dude.” Josh was nodding. “Guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“See ya.”

As he started to ride away, he said, “Looks like Dog’s here.” He pointed at Dog’s Harley in the driveway.

“Yeah, great,” I said.

“Bow wow, dude.”

I waved.

Inside, Mom was on the sofa with Dog, who was dressed the only way I’d ever seen him — jeans and a leather vest that let him show off his tattoos. They were both drinking beer and watching a video tape called Animal Attacks!

Dog looked at me and saluted with his beer can.

Mom waved her cigarette and said, “Come here. Give me sugar, Henry. My little boy.” She was plastered.

I went to her, and she hugged me with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, smelling all beery, and then she accidentally burned my cheek with her cigarette.


Dog laughed. “She does it to me all the time, kid. And just for fun. Look.” Dog held up his forearm for me to see. It had several cigarette burns on it.

“I wasn’t doing it for fun.”

“Then for what, woman?”

“I was doing it because you won’t give me any money.”

“I don’t have no money. Hell, I’m hiding out here from the repo man so I don’t lose my Harley.”

“What good are you, Dog?”

“You know what I’m good for.” Dog gave her a nasty look, and I wanted to puke.

“What you need the money for, Mom?”

“Something I need real bad.”


“It’s like an operation.”

“You need an operation?”

“I need . . . ah . . . .”

Dog said, “You might say, kid, she’s got a condition.”

“I’ll give you a condition, Dog.” Mom slapped him but was only playing. She seemed to actually like this guy, but only because she didn’t know better.

“Really, Mom, what is it?” I said. I was getting worried and kind of mad that she wouldn’t tell me what was going on.

But Mom was busy wrestling Dog and didn’t hear me.

“Is it something serious? Mom?”


“Hey, kid, isn’t it past your bedtime?”

“Yeah. Go to bed, Henry.”

I looked at them for a minute. “Okay. I’m going to bed. But I think you’re both jerks.”

I started to walk toward my bedroom.

“Say your prayers,” Mom said.


“Pray for money! For your old mom!” She started laughing like a hyena.

Dog squeezed her to him, her face against his scratchy cheek. “You’re crazy, woman.”

I went to my room, left the door open, and flopped on my bed. I could still hear them giggling in the living room. Then they were quiet for a while. I was starting to fall asleep when I heard them talking again.

“Damn, woman. Your belly? And that big? You know how long that’s gonna take to heal up? You’re gonna be hurtin’ a month of Sundays.”

“I gotta do it, and I’m sick of waiting. I’m sick of waiting for everything. Go steal that money for me, Dog.”

I heard Brandi come in. “Hey, Mona. Hey, Dog.”

She passed my bedroom door, the crispy taco cap still on her head. She didn’t even look at me, but she said, “Hi, dork.”

* * *

The next afternoon I was feeling being cocky and cool, sitting in a booth in Taco Yummy. There were a bunch of other people at tables and in booths, and Josh came in, looking around for me.

“Dude! Over here.” I waved.

He kept his head down, his chin on his chest. He slipped into the booth on the other side and grinned. “Returning to the scene of the crime, huh? When you called and said to meet you here I thought you were psycho, but now I like this idea.”

“Yeah. How can Krebs accuse us if we show up and hang out here?”

Josh looked over at the gruesome partial remains of a burrito supreme on another table. He made a face and said, “But we don’t have to eat any of the food, do we?”

“Hey, here he comes.” I nodded toward one of the entrance from the parking lot. Krebs was coming through the door. Brandi was right behind him, wearing her Taco Yummy costume. Krebs was in uniform, too, but the cap he had on today was more like a burrito than a taco.

Krebs and my sister both froze like I’d shot them with a ray gun, and they glared at me. Their eyes slid over to Josh for a second and then back to me. Krebs muttered something to Brandi and then disappeared into his office.

Brandi came over to us.

“Did you let Krebs give you a ride to work?” I said.

“He thinks you and the J-man here are the two punks that paint balled his car last night.”

“Did you let him give you a ride?”

“You guys did, didn’t you? You’re such assholes.”

“Now would we be sitting here in Taco yum yum if we’d done something like that?”

“Yeah. Cause you’d think it was the cool thing to do. You’re so lame, Henny.”

Josh was blushing and said, “So Mr. Krebs got his car paint balled? I didn’t know that.”

Brandi stared at him and he blushed harder. “Why are you twerps here if you’re not eating?”

“We’re going to eat,” Josh stuttered. I was disappointed in the dude. He was not taking pressure well. “What do you recommend?”

“McDonald’s.” Then she walked away.

“Let’s get a couple of Cokes,” I said.

“That’ll work.”

We went to the counter and ordered from Edward.

“Would you like to try our new buffalo-meat burrito?” Geek boy asked us.

“No way, dude,” I said.

“They’re really good. And really nourishing.”

“I’m sure. Just two Cokes, dude.

In the grill area, Brandi was getting our Cokes. Some times I couldn’t help getting loud. This was one of those times. I got loud enough for everybody in the place to hear me. “Hey, don’t spit in them this time!”

Several customers looked at Brandi, looked down at their drinks.

Brandi looked around at everybody, smiling. “He’s my little brother. Little brother humor.”

Then she gave me a look that promised future violence.

Krebs opened the door of his office. “Brandi, I need to see you in my office.”

“Sure, Mr. Krebs.”

He went back into his office. After fidgeting a few seconds and looking kind of scared, she went into his office and shut the door behind her.

Josh and I stared at the closed door and then went back to our booth.

Josh took a drink of Coke. “You think he’s going to fire her?”

“I hope not. My mom really needs money. It wouldn’t be a good time for Brandi to be whining for spending money every second. ‘I need a CD. I need make-up. I need a sports bra.’”

“Yeah. That’s how girls are. They’re all about money. My dad says you got to fork over the big bucks if you wanta get most girls.”

“Is that what he told you when you guys had your facts-of-life talk?”

“Not really. One day he just started letting me watch Cinemax with him. Skinamax. And giving me little bits of wisdom. Stuff like, ‘Don’t rub it too hard.’”

“Rub what too hard?”

“I don’t know. Anything, I guess.”


“Your dad ever talk to you about sex and stuff?”

“Yeah. Yeah, he did. Couple of years ago. Before him and mom split up.”

“Did he, like, show you copies of Hustler?”

“No. He just talked. He said you should love the girl before you have sex.”

Josh grinned. “What about loving a guy? Somebody like old Edward over there. Did he give you that as an option?”

“Screw you, you pervert. I’m trying be serious.”

“Okay. Sorry. Go on. What’d he say? Did he explain techniques?”

“He said you fall in love, and you should be nice and gentle and never do anything the girl doesn’t want you to do.”

“Man, that’s not the way it works on Cinemax. Some chick just says to some guy, ‘You want some of this?’”

“Those people aren’t in love. They’re just banging. If you fall in love with a girl, you don’t want to have sex with her.”


“Not unless you’re gonna marry her. My dad said that, too.”

“Man, no wonder you hate your dad. What a tight-ass.”

“I don’t know. I kind of like that idea. You know? Loving somebody and all?”

“Yeah, sure, you might wanta get married some day, but you gotta get some practice in before. You can’t wait till you’re married. You’ll explode or something. Besides, chicks expect you to know what you’re doing.”

“I asked my dad if him and Mom had sex before they got married.”

“You did? Did they?”

“He said they did, but they loved each other and got married, so it was okay.”

“Man, that is so lame.”

“What you mean?”

“Well, now they’re divorced and bangin’ other people. What a lot of crap.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

“Wasn’t your mom, like, screwin’ around on your dad before he left?”

“That’s what he said, but she never admitted it. She said he was just making it up so he’d have an excuse to leave.”

“Who you believe?”

“Even if she was, he was still just making excuses.”

“So you think she was? I mean, screwing around on your dad.”

“No. Dog was never around until after my dad moved out.”

“Maybe it wasn’t Dog. Maybe it was some other guy, and she met him at motels or at his place.”

“You been watching too many Skinamax movies. Hey, my sister’s been in Krebs’ office a long time.”

“I don’t think he’ll fire her.”

“Why not?”

“Cause he thinks she looks like Paris Hilton.”

“You think I should go apologize to him about yelling that stuff about her spitting in the drinks?”

“Apologize? To him?”

“Brandy can’t get fired. Mom needs money.”

“What does she need it for?”

“An operation or something.”

Josh got this look all of a sudden like all the blood or light or something drained out of his face. “Oh.”

“You don’t think my mom has what your mom had, do you?”

Josh looked at the white table top. “Breast cancer. No, man. Your mom wouldn’t get that.”

“I’m going to see what’s going on.”

I got up from the booth and walked to the door of Krebs’ office. I tried to be causal as hell, but it was hard because I wanted to get my ear close enough to hear what was going on. When I leaned against it, the door popped open like the top of a jack-in-the-box.

I fell into the little office and there was Krebs sitting behind his desk, sitting up all stiff in his chair and red-faced, the desk top cleared off except for a crumbled fifty-dollar bill, and there was Brandi standing on the other side with her shirt unbuttoned and her bra hanging, showing her jugs to him. She covered up real fast and screeched, “I’m telling Mom!”

“Well, I’m telling Dad! I don’t get it, Brandi. Do you like this guy?”

Brandi stuffed her bra in the pocket of her Taco Yummy smock and buttoned up, not looking at me or Krebs or anything except some wooden file cabinet that had a bunch of little Cadillac models on top.

Krebs swiped the fifty-dollar bill off his desk and stuffed it into his pants pocket. “You carry a paintball gun round with you all the time, don’t you, boy? It just happens—-”

Suddenly, I was in his face, and his eyes were big and scared and I liked seeing him looking that way. “You leave my sister alone. You don’t, and I’ll get a real gun.”

I turned away from his bad breath, and as I was bolting, I heard him say, “You’re my witness. That little psycho threatened my life!”

* * *

To be continued...

Copyright © 2007 by Mark Spencer

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