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Picking Up the Daddybird


You might say, “A fellow with a sun tan.” That’s fair and the girl is staring at the cassette tape she snapped in half. Now in the ashtray.

I’m ready to get back to bowling. I really am.

I WENT up the elevator. I am vice principal. “Let’s not throw,” I tell them both.

They seethe at each other. How tacky.

The younger kid (who got thrown) with the Cowboys jacket is a dufus and goes into the computer room to pout. I know. I ought to put some of that surplus book money into stocks. The GAP, like Greg did. I’m not mad at this kid in the Oilers jacket. He flew in here. Because he was really fighting for sports. He’s puffy and astro.

“You flew in here,” I tell him after we started going up to 3. “You’re mean.”

He beat on his knee with his thumb. I think, ‘What is he?’ I’ll bet he’s real soft for his mom. SHE SCREAMS. He’s out there trying to knock the ice off the trashcan for her. He’ll think, ‘Not like other Oilers fans.’ Banging ice off for mom. I want to get an oversized satelite dish. Or a fun, little camcorder and a satelite dish.

Oh, I got to get to a window. I want to see if that pancake house has a hole in the top. The principal has pictures of kids getting down into it. Debate team kids. None of them have lettered. I’ve kept watch. So I mean there’s no letter jacket kids in the pictures, throwing their arm out to get in the hole. The principal loves it when the kids find things like that. He crawls all over looking for holes. He has such a dumpy van. He’s greasy. And the twins are five and they won’t stop acting like dogs.

They’ve been acting like dogs for five years. He absolutely loves it. He spreads relish and looks over like he’s got two real dogs around. “I love those dog’s lips,” he says and he’s greasy, right? So it’s just nasty. And they play with his greasy burger napkins in the back of the van. It sucks. So I’m going to look for that hole in case someone wants to take pictures of me going down.

While going up, the kid opened the emergency phone box and held it open with his knee. I wanted to spank him. Or actually, I wanted to laugh. Like, “Hey, I’m not too serious.” He grabbed the phone. He yanked it. The cord snapped. It slid on the floor. To me. That’s when I wanted to spank him. I reached down and picked up the receiver like I was going to call the twins. They even have two little doghouses with pillows shaped like bones. And why do they turn everything upside down? Because they think they’re dogs in the first place.

The cord dangled like a busted brain nerve to my own brain. I could never be content with this phone again. That line in ALF. That “I kill me” line. I swear I thought the kid was going to say that now. But not like ALF. Like serious. I kill me.

So the elevator opened. Commotion. The art fair’s this year. So that’s on the walls. The art students suck this year. They all paint chairs and old piles of rags.

Be nice if we got them a shed. A shed for their chairs and rags both. Because it’s all on school property right now. These kids… they paint on freezing, cold metal. We could (say) get them a shed until this stage blows over. Until they make up their minds to paint something beautiful. I think it would be wise to paint a real hard-bitten western guy, straight out of the west. Just standing. Not rebelling. Not rocking out. Looking straight at you. And some of these out-of-luck kids I see could watch him being so silent while their dad rushes to work and always skips breakfast. And some of those kids would pump their chins, studying him while their moving with the Air Force and the western guy (dude) is the last thing they move because he’s the only guy who pays attention anyway. Your mom could say, “Hey, pay attention like he does.” Or your aunt. Santa could give it to you for Christmas. And then we could give the art kids their walls back again. We’d fill the shed with dynamite and blow it sky high. It’d register on the county radar system. There’d be coverage.

Man, I wish someone would have painted my father back in the day. I remember some good art kids in those days. I should have got the kid who did the painting of Sinatra to do it. I really should of. He’s probably been swallowed by a hog now. There’s probably no way now. But Bill looked a lot like Sinatra. He had a curl in front. He always sang real quiet. Like you’d go to bed, then you’d turn off the lights just so you could hear better. He had a rag, too. But he used it to shine. And he’d whip his shoes with the rag. But real soft singing, like it was just your mattress breathing, and not your dad. Man, they could do another painting and the western guy’s looking down with his hat in his hands. With his hat full of water.

THE GIRL IS staring across the alley at the arcade.

Real nice twisted neck you got there, girl. She’s probably thinking, ‘What am I going to do if he strikes again?’ It would be four. Four very naughty ones. Good question, ‘What am I going to do if he strikes again?’

I was complaining because she doesn’t get excited enough. You missed it. I told her I’d get her a Jeep if she’d just squeal high. I’m big around here. Against the wall: that whole crowd. I taught three-quarters of them when I taught P.E. None of them are laughing or pleased at all. They’re using powder on their hands. I’ve got a good orange ball. I only recognize one of them: I think that Jacob kid walked in on me that time I was horsing around in the gym.

I’ll bet he waited till I was spinning around on the rings to walk in. Dirty skunk. I get so worried he took a picture. I wonder where he put the picture.

That skunk. I’ll bet it’s in one circle with family pictures in the other circles and squares. Filthy rabbit. Because I put on a penny and way grabbed the rings and started kicking my legs up. Doing swivel moves. That’s honestly the only way you can do flips if you’re not taught when you’re a baby.


I tell you: If I had learned flips as a boy, as vice principal I would find some kids in trouble. I would go to the other end of the hall and flips the whole way down and do a final quasiflip with a spin and land doing the splits. And say, “Until you can do that, there will be no fights.” Then only the kids real serious about fighting would learn it.

And I’d put drops in my eyes.

To the girl I say, “You look nice. Do I look nice?”

I jog over and get my ball and curl it up into my arm. I found a good ball that looks like a scoop of orange sherbet. Let’s roll.

So she hooks her arms into the cavities of her purse and launches a wild spray of change at me. (I’m up at the dots, about to strike.) She’s not getting me. Op, well, there she hit my shoe. I think I’ll chase her. I’ll bet it was $2.50 for shoes. Oh! She left her shoes! Oh, she’s got her shoes. She’s off.

Oh, I get it. She runs away, while I have to change my shoes. How about I change them real slow and collected? Nothing happened. Just a girl. Didn’t really know her. Did something serious happen to her? Ooo, wow, that’s hairy. I didn’t even know dragons were real. That’s cool. But, yeah.

I start to turn my shoes in, but she really gets out fast and so I stick around. I get a toothpick from the dispenser. I have a seat. I should call the twins.

I should call the twins and babysit. Just for an hour. Get them some wizard outfits. Make them think they are wizards. “Look at those wizards’ lips,” I’d say and I’m not all greasy, right?

Principal would be mad at me. Especially when I put them to bed.

“What? Teaching my babies that wizards live in doghouses?” he’d say. “You—a ranking officer of education!?”

Yep, me.

Transcribed from the .swf file.

by why the lucky stiff