I have a lot of ideas. Here's one. I will begin writing vignettes of my life over a cup of tea. A Cup of Tea Vignettes. That is what I did yesterday, at least, at the Cafe Strange. Hand written in a notebook. A Moleskine at that. Carried in my new courier bag. With a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck ballpoint. I'm not kidding you. It is hideous. I'm searching for a word that describes all that, but it is escaping me. Not you though. You have just called up plenty.
But let's put all of that aside. I mean, I wasn't wearing a chapeau or a vest. And writing out the memory in a notebook means that I have to try to reconstruct it here. I am not going to simply transcribe. Were I going to do that, I would buy one of those notebook things that you can write on that digitalizes your script. Nope. I will simply try to rewrite it here without looking back. Let's see.
Call him Tim. He was a small, mean southern cracker who lived in a house directly across the street from the Boy's Club which was located right next to my elementary school. Tim was older than I by a year, and I had never had a thing to do with him until one day, walking home with the other kids from my street, we passed by a culvert where a group of boys were standing looking down into the small lake at the end of the drain. We walked over to see what they were looking at. There at the opening of the drainpipe was a water moccasin. I stepped up to get a better look and while I was leaning over, I felt a hand shove me from behind. With nothing to grab hold of, I went right into the shallow water. Panic stricken, I ran up the steep bank away from impending death and into the sick, sadistic smirk of Tim. The other boys were laughing. I didn't know what to do, and with deaf ears and eyes to the ground, I started walking toward my house. I was a sweet kid and couldn't imagine someone as evil as Tim. I was wet, covered in slime, and heartbroken.
I was a tender kid, an only child who could sit quietly with adults without notice or ruckus. I had a big heart, an young emo even then. I was good at sports, but I wasn't rough or tough, and though I liked to win, I always kept other people's feelings in mind. I was a painfully honest kid. I was Gallant.
Tim and his older brother had two pairs of boxing gloves, and every day, leaving the Boy's Club, I would see them boxing in their driveway. Some days, another boy who lived a street over from mine would be there and box with them. Their boxing never looked like sport, somehow, but something more vicious and mean. These were not kids I wanted to be around. There was something twisted at the very core of them, I was certain. But no matter. . . they were always there, a menace like that viper in the lake.
For Christmas when I was in the fifth grade, I got a new Schwinn bicycle. It was a real beauty, two toned black and white with a front spring suspension. I'd never seen one like it before. The hand grips on the handlebars had plastic streamers that looked like jet trails as you cruised along. It was the best bike in my neighborhood.
One day, as I was leaving the Boy's Club, Tim stepped up in front of my bike straddling the front wheel and gripping my handlebars. He looked like he wanted to fight. He just stared at me for a moment, then grabbed the streamers.
"What are these?"
I just looked at him. There was nothing to say.
"Are you a sissy? These are for sissy bikes," he said, and he began to tear them one by one. I could feel my lips and nose swelling and a burning in my eyes. He pulled about half of them off before he stepped back and laughed victoriously. I just peddled away.
I never had any real trouble with him after that. I don't remember if his family moved or if I just avoided going by his house, and since he was a grade above me, I never saw him in school. Years later, he was at a high school party with his girlfriend. They went off to a bedroom. There was a loud bang, it was reported. They had found a loaded shotgun and his girlfriend had shot him in the side of the head. It was an accident they said, but Tim was left paralyzed on one side of his body and for a long time he couldn't talk.
It is a terrible thing, I know, but full confession--it made me tremendously happy.
One day, walking across the college campus, I saw him coming from the other direction. He still walked with a limp and had some scars on the side of his face. I was shocked for I couldn't believe he was bright enough for college. When we passed, I was sure he recognized me. He had that same squinty eyed look and that hideous sneer, and I felt a cold chill run through me.
I later learned he went to law school and became an attorney.