Buttons, Red

5 Jun

Timmy Dunkle wasn’t really retarded. But we called him that. I don’t know for sure what he had. Maybe Multiple Sclerosis. He looked like a rubber band when he walked. And when he ran, his arms would flail all about. His hands were curved downward. Like the bones were messed up or something. I don’t know. Multiple Sclerosis, I guess. Anyway, we called him a fuckin retard, and we all grew up saying that. But Timmy Dunkle was a tough cookie. He didn’t take any of our shit. He dished it right back out in his high-pitched, girly little voice. He stayed right with us, calling us cocksuckers and motherfuckers. It was actually funny, and we goaded him mostly so we could hear him curse. He was a tough cookie, Timmy Dunkle. And he’d play ball with us outside after school, with his fucked up hands like that and didn’t care that we laughed when he took shots. When you whacked him upside his head he didn’t call ball. He was a helluva free throw shooter; only it was playground ball so there were never any foul shots.

My older brother, Mickey, was brutal to Timmy Dunkle. He was relentless. It was his mission to torment him every day. I felt sorry for Timmy Dunkle, and even though he stood up to my brother, after a while it got to him, too. And I couldn’t say anything to Mickey, for fear of being torn apart. He was my older brother. He was ruthless. He would go to work on the dog with a yardstick or the handle of a hammer, when he didn’t have anything to do. Anyway, one day Timmy Dunkle had had enough and told Mickey he’d put a curse on him. My brother went ballistic. First he laughed, and then he gave Timmy Dunkle the beating of his life. For that, my brother was expelled from 9th grade.

Timmy Dunkle was run over by a car the following summer, in a freak accident offa Powder Mill Road, over by NASA in Greenbelt. It was early morning and Timmy Dunkle walked down the dirt road to where a deer had been hit and left to die. Timmy was struck by a pick-up truck which came up the elevation, then down quickly. When he was hit, he was attempting to pull the dead buck off the road. Later, I walked down with Steve Bayer and Timmy Gaydos and I found a couple of Timmy Dunkle’s shirt buttons scattered around the place where he got hit. There was some blood on them. I put them in my pocket and washed the blood off when I got home.

I never really believed much in curses or anything crazy like that. Astrology, or horoscopes, or crystal balls, or Chinese fortune cookies. I never really thought that stuff was worth worrying about. But after Timmy Dunkle died, my brother got into all kinds of jams and misfortune. After college he started going to the track full time and got into a huge hole with his bookies. And one night, coming back from Pimlico, he was broadsided by some immigrant, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Four months later, he was robbed and shot to death by some kids high on crack who stole twenty dollars from his apartment, and three cans of refried beans.

I still don’t believe in fortune telling or any of that nonsense. But just in case, after Mickey was shot, I got rid of Timmy Dunkle’s buttons, which I kept in a box all that time. I went to the bank of the Anacostia River and threw them into the dirty, polluted water. Just in case.


10 Responses to “Buttons, Red”

  1. Kunstemæcker 05/06/2007 at 11:20 AM #

    you bullies.

  2. Anonymous 05/06/2007 at 12:07 PM #

    Nice. Red Buttons. I like this series a lot.

  3. Anonymous 05/06/2007 at 2:11 PM #

    These three interconnected stories that remind me of the film trilogy that Polish guy did: Red, White, Blue. I love how these different lives intersect with one another, even years and years down the road. You are such a clever writer and I enjoy coming here to read you. Are you ever been published?

  4. Lx 05/06/2007 at 2:21 PM #

    thanks anon.
    interesting how you see that.
    many people have brought up
    Kundera, too.
    very flattering,
    but somehow, elementally,
    i see how a connection could be made because both Kundera and Polish director
    Krzysztof Kieslowski (the guy you mention)
    are from the same part of the world
    as I.
    so there must be some sort of
    trickling down of cultural process
    or mechanics or something.
    i don’t know.
    i don’t know anything.
    but thanks again for taking the time and reading.

  5. slyboots2 05/06/2007 at 2:47 PM #

    Nice job interweaving narrators, etc. I’ll look forward to tomorrow’s installment. It reminds me of how fiction used to be published in the 19th century- installments that were passed around the family/neighborhood- they all wanted to know the fate of Tiny Tim.

  6. Lx 05/06/2007 at 2:49 PM #

    no pressure on THAT, sly.
    i don’t see a continuation of this, for tomorrow…the crystal ball is showing me a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin.
    Hmmm, I wonder what that means…

  7. Wally Banners 06/06/2007 at 7:07 AM #

    that was freaking great!!!

  8. Lx 06/06/2007 at 10:01 AM #

    thanks much.

  9. Tisha! 06/06/2007 at 10:38 AM #

    “Just in case”

    I getcha on that!

    Timmy was no retard ;)

    Peace and love

  10. Lx 06/06/2007 at 12:54 PM #

    aiight then, T.

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