The Broom

NoVa

“You’re listening to ‘Pussy-Cock Juice is Weird’ live on 89.1fm FUCC, Belltown’s only totally illegal Micro-Radio source. I’m Snatch, one of three delicious fem-fantastic hosts and this is Azer-By-Jane, say hi Jane.”

“Hi Jane.”

“And this is our totally sexy Fem-Studies doctoral student, Frankie. Say yo Frankie.”

“Yo Frankie!”

“Tonight I’d like to do something a bit different. I want to re-tell a story I heard the other night while enjoying a dose of post coital bliss with, umm, a special friend of mine. It’s such an incredible tale that at first, like most things this man tells me, I thought it was a bald-faced lie. Upon further inspection and a re-telling of the same story by said lover’s mother, I have found that this tale is true and relevant to tonight’s theme of ‘Overcoming Random Violence’, though its male-on-male violence is outside our usual subject matter.”

Throat clearing. “We all know that the guy that started this station is a really cool guy named Popeye Kahn right?”

“Right, hi Popeye, he’s the only person in the world that listens to every single show on FUCC” replied Azer-By-Jane.

“Well, Popeye was unlucky enough to have grown up in the USA’s ‘Random Violence’ award-winning state. Yes, Texas. So here goes, people, Micro-Radio at its best.”

“’Parents are indeed a strange persuasion. It’s like once a person has a kid they somehow stop being a person and start being an influence and let me tell you, when you’re a ten year old boy in the mire of seventy’s suburban south Austin Texas, your friends and their parents become your most powerful influences. Besides TV of course.

David Reynolds was my best friend and his dad, Tom “Shit, call me Tom” Reynolds, was undeniably the biggest man I knew. My hand always got lost shaking his, and it made me feel like the “wet fish guy”. I’m never the wet fish guy. I hate the wet fish guy. Ugh.

“Gentlemen,” ShitcallmeTom would boom, “these are your streets. When you’re riding down your streets spread out so’s people can see‘ya and if some asshole in a car should come up ahonk’n, give‘em one of these,” and Shitcallme would stick his giant middle finger right in my round-eyed face. He’d send us away with a parting thought like, “You men are the future, ‘n people ‘round here gotta respect that. Now shut up and eat yer sugar!” Boom, Boom, Boom, he would laugh whilst his socked feet would boom, boom, boom into another part of his home.

Summer in Austin is tar-melting, sidewalk-egg-frying hell so the only time to ride your bike is late evening from dinner till dark. So what is there to be done in the time between 1000 when you roll yourself out of bed and bike time?

What else? TV!

During the day, my friends and I were hypnotized by television. (O-CedarMakesYourLifeEasier…) Like most ten year old, all boy brat packs trapped in those environs in the 70’s, we loaded up on sugar all morning, watched stupid late sixties (OneAdam12) and early 70’s flop (RunForYourLife…) reruns, passed out in the afternoon, and came to in time for Star Trek. Everything about TV from the test pattern to the pilot’s-prayer validated our very existence and made us a part of the real world. We screamed at each other using the language of TV and laughed at all the sad scenes.  We sang jingles and mimicked the Marlboro Man. Our houses sported the very products we saw on TV.

In the evenings, we rode our bikes on our streets as Men of the Future!

“O-CedarMakesYourLifeEasier, O-Cedar makes your life, doo-doo-doo,” six of us sang on our six red bikes as we rode up Choquette from the dusty trails in the Aroyo Seca. “…makes your life, doo-doo-doo!”

Yo-Yo, we got motors a-stern, we gots to moses or hot rod Nova’s gonna run us flat. So we parted our red sea of bikes and the redneck in the red 1971 Chevy Nova with the tires that measured 60 centimeters wide on the back with twin 78.9mm front rubber drove through our fearless pack as we sang “O-CedarMakesYourLife, doo-doo-doo…”

“Stupid fuck’n assholes!” said Redneck.

“Yo-Yo, looks like dude’s gotta have …one of these!” Six little middle fingers shot up. The Red Nova screeched to a dead silent stop.

“BMX Grenade, explode!” Albert yelled and we shot off in six directions as the Nova’s tires squealed in smoke and reverse.

I hit the back alley of the Church of Christ at the base of Choquette and headed south-southwest up Roth, cut due south uphill through the Presbyterian parking lot, shot across Grover through the Baptist foyer, through the Catholic playground, and jumped the privacy fence with my bike to the “Holy Faith Revisited” Methodist back lot. The whole way I heard the screaming of the Nova’s tires as it roared though our streets in hot pursuit of…

Why me? Out of the six of us, why does he have to choose me? I’m not the slowest, everybody knows Danny’s the slowest. Wait a second, I’ve seen that car in the garage next door to Albert Allen’s house. Albert’s ‘ol man’s a cop so of course the dude’s not going to fuck with him. My poor ass family lives four doors up and across the same street so I’m the only other kid he knows. He’s coming after me!

As that thought dawned somewhere deep inside my skull, I was hauled by the hair over the privacy fence I had jumped and was trying to hide behind. Staring into the shit brown eyes of an incredibly strong, Texas bred, lightly educated adult male covered in a hot summer day’s worth of engine grease, I was truly scared shitless.

“You cayn’t outrun my car, you little dumb fuck!” he/it/(fuck that hurts) held me just off the ground by the hair with my back to the splintery cedar fence.

“Yer coming with me,” he said and punched my lights out.

I awoke too soon with a scream and as much fight as I could muster, being dragged to the red Nova. He tossed me rag-doll into the front seat and the arms of another man whose size and body odor were astonishing. Fat-man buried my face against his fat greasy blue-jean-covered thigh and I battled suffocation.

“Ow! That little shit kicked me in the nose!” Fat-man whined as we sped through the neighborhood in their souped-up ’71 Nova. “Where too?” Fat-man asked.

“I’m taking him home to his mama and I’m gonna tell the bitch she better start raising her kids right or we’ll do it for her.”

“Yeah!”

“Fuck you, you big dumb redne…” And Fat-man’s fist busted my lip wide open with a squirt all over his big ‘ol disgusting Wranglers.

The Nova slid to a halt in front of my mom’s house and both men got in a few good punches before they dragged me out of the car, rolled me into my front yard, and boot-partied my already limp body right there on the lawn.

“Now let’s see what yer mama has to say about you,” the first Texas torturer sneered as he dragged me towards my family’s shining, infamous front door. Fat-man landed one last kick before we reached the door and then all hell broke loose in the heavenly form of my mother.

The front door on our house at 1407 Choquette Street in Austin, Texas, was a formidable sight indeed. Made in the late fifties by the home’s original “Nuke-Paranoid” owners, it was a solid piece of Texas White Oak completely covered in a giant, seamless, reflective tin coating that would surely repel any “Red Army Reign of Terror”. That door got so hot in the summertime that you couldn’t even touch the thing. It was also slightly too big for its frame and opened out with a loud metallic tearing sound when it was heated up and fully expanded in high summer.

My mother kicked open the front door of her home like Beretta.  The door popped open with a loud tin screech and the seamless, shining corner of the heavy wood-n-metal slab caught Fat-man square in the forehead, dropping him with a sick splat like Kojak’s head rag.

“Get your hands off my son, you big bully!” my mother gritted and brandished her terrible weapon, a small powder blue asymmetrically cut house broom with the plastic “DustGard, for your protection!” where the bristles met the handle. She choked up and prepared to swing.

“Now hold on a second lady, this little shit was in the middle of the street and he flipped me off!”

Whack! My mother’s perfectly placed first blow shattered the pretty little blue plastic “DustGard, for your protection!” against the left side of Redneck’s face, taking a chunk out of his ear lobe. He dropped me to raise his left arm for defense but mom had already switched for the right shot, an upper-cut to the other side of his head. Redneck hit the grass with a flop and gush of red drool right next to my shocked form.

“I don’t care what he did!” Whack!

“He’s just a little boy!” Whack, whack.

“Ow!”

“You don’t hit a little boy!” Whack.

“You don’t beat up a little boy” Whack, whack.

“Ow, you bitch, stop hitting me!”

“And you don’t cuss in front of a little boy!” With those last words, my five -foot, two -inch mother unloaded on him. She hit him until all the bristles broke off of the broom then beat him with the broom stick until it broke in half. She whaled on him with half of a broken broomstick in each hand until he finally stumbled back to his car and sped away, stopping briefly for Fat-man, who was running down the street holding his head with one hand and his dirty pants up with the other.

Boom, Boom, Boom. “He did what?!?” Shitcallme rhetorically asked my sobbing mom. “I’ll show that little bastard what he gets when he beats up on children in our neighborhood. Boys, get in the car and keep your filthy feet off my seats!” The 351 Cleveland in his 1940 Ford coupe exploded to life and the 8 track of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s greatest hits blared a southern nasal hymn as we tore off in search of cold vengeance on a hot summer’s night. We stopped four doors down that same street.

“What do you want mister?” Redneck mumbled as he came to the front door of his darkened dingy little house.

“Shit, call me Tom!” He grabbed Redneck by the throat with his massive right hand and dragged him out of the house and into the light of the front porch right in front of our shocked little gang.

“‘et me go,” Redneck wheezed, falling to his knees in front of the giant Tom Reynolds, who held a death grip on his neck.

“I’ll show you…” Tom stopped short when he got a good look at Redneck’s puffy, beaten and bruised face in the dim porch light.“What the hell happened to you, boy?”

“That kid’s crazy mother beat me up with a broom!” Redneck sniveled pointing my way. After three full seconds of pin-drop silence, Tom Reynolds exploded in a cacophony of laughter and saliva all over Redneck’s swollen face. Tom let go of the guy’s throat and he fell with a flop to the ground. The six of us had to help ShitCallMeTom back to his car because he was laughing too hard to walk.

Leaving the Reynolds’ garage to walk home, I was embarrassed that my mother made Mr. Reynolds and all my friends laugh at me and crushed that my hero, Mr. Reynolds, hadn’t smeared that asshole.  Pain dominated my battered little body.”’

“Popeye told me he could still remember the wet smell of freshly cut grass intermingled with the crusty dried blood in his sinuses for year’s afterwords.  He stopped to stare at Redneck’s blood on his lawn.  A split-lip grin threatened as he finally started to get the joke.

I’ve heard that no one is ever the same again after being tortured by another person. After looking into the eyes of the person who is beating you, you can never again trust or truly feel in control of your own world. Unless of course you get to watch your torturers get their asses kicked by your own mother wielding a powder blue, asymmetrically cut house broom with a “DustGard, for your protection!” where the bristles meet the handle. That’s different, that…

…makes your life easier.”

Frankie asked, “What’s that got to do with radio?”

“Goood question, Well, about a year after Redneck beat his ass, Popeye built his first 12 volt FM radio station but didn’t have enough money left over to buy a car battery to run the thing. So in the middle of the night he went back to Redneck’s house, stole the battery out of the guys hot-rod Nova, slashed all four of his tires, drenched the car in gasoline, and lit the thing on fire right there in front of his house. He went home, hooked the battery up to the transmitter of his crude little radio station and told this story on the air.”

“Once again, you’re listening to Pussy-Cock Juice Is Weird here on 89.1fm, FUCC. How do you deal with random violence?”

…For Shannon

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