Punker Notes [Original Novel]
Part Two: Road Trip
this fat chick gonna come runnin’ outta the house and be all, ‘Oh Jack,’ and give you a big hug and shit?” Jenkins laughs as I drive.
“No..., hah...! Probly not.”
We pull into a driveway of a house located near Muskegon High. Then we’re sitting at a kitchen table as I talk over old times with my former classmate Bunny Maritz from Muskegon Adventist Academy.
“Yeah, I used to get so pissed at Mr. Kluge when he was reffing games, any games. Basketball, football, hockey,” I reminisce about the principal.
“Yeah, he used to be a jerk sometimes,” Bunny commiserates.
“I remember he’d like start rootin’ for one team for one reason or another. Maybe because they were way behind and were makin’ a comeback, and he’d start givin’ them all the calls.”
“Yeah, I remember this one basketball game,” Bunny recalls as the P.E. classes were co-ed, “when that happened. And me and you were on the team that was way ahead. Then the game was getting close and P.E. period was over and typing class was supposed to start... And he just let the game go on for like, fifteen minutes into typing period. Then as soon as the other team got ahead of us everyone ran off the court like they knew that was what Kluge was waiting for.”
“Oh fuck yeah, he used to do that a lot,” I smirk recalling these types of incidences with the principal. “I remember one time that happened with everyone heading out of the gym once the other team got ahead and he didn’t blow the whistle or anything. So I grabbed the ball and dribbled down the court and made a lay-up. Then I was yelling that we won and nobody listened to me. Then I bitched the whole way down the hallway to class and then when we all got in the classroom he looked at me and was all, ‘Guess who’s refereeing the next basketball game?’ ”
“Yeah..., he was fun sometimes though,” Bunny smiles. “Then sometimes he was an asshole... I saw him at camp-meeting a couple years back and he had throat cancer. He was really nice to me, but he had to talk through one of those battery powered voice boxes. He was going—like a robot—‘Hi Bunny, how are you?’ Then he died from the cancer about a year later.”
“That’s too bad,” I’m caught off guard. “I used ta get mad as hell at ‘im, but would never wish that on ‘im.”
“I went to church yesterday,” I abruptly change the subject. “And afterwards I went to Sue Ann Zeck’s house for dinner and she was all talkin’ about you and Brett Crawford and she was goin’, ‘Oh...! They got inta drugs.’ ”
We have a laugh about what a square Sue Ann turned out to be and the conversation turns to what drugs the two of us have or haven’t tried. Then I find out that Bunny has some acid for sale. The money from my last paycheck, a measly 200 bucks, had arrived a couple days before. So I buy two hits, one for me and one for Jenkins.
Then me and Jenkins head back to Aunt Louise’s for a classic all out white trash barbecue/picnic. My Uncle Junior’s family is doing it as a send off for us as we’re leaving for New Orleans tomorrow.
When we get back to Louise’s, the whole Junior Sturm family is already gathered there. A whole clan of typical white trash folk, with Junior’s eight kids, and all of his grand kids. A number of dinge-mites, toddlers, some of the grandchildren crawl around in the two-track dirt driveway next to Louise’s place. The older grandkids have got a game of hard-ball going in the empty lot that’s adjacent to the house. One of the kids hits a home-run clear across Acorn Parkway. The ball flies into the Hawkins’ yard shattering the front windshield of a ‘61 Ford Falcon.
Jerry Hawkins comes out of his front door with a can of beer in his hand. Dick Sturm, my cousin, walks across the street and meets Jerry at the damaged vehicle. Then after a few seconds they both have a laugh, probably because the rusted out junker has been sitting in the same spot in the Hawkins’ front yard for a number of years.
Inside, my Uncle Junior is watching the Detroit Lions season opener. After grabbing a beer from the fridge, I sit down and start to take in the game.
Louise is in the kitchen chopping onions, “Lantry made that kick...!” she mutters vehemently. “Those damn refs can all go PISS UP A ROPE!”
“What’s that Louise?” Junior asks. “There ain’t no Lantry kicker in this game. Just Eddy Murray on the Lions and that Wersching guy for the ‘Niners.
“What...? No..., nothin’ Junior... Just makin’ some egg salad out here.”
And with this remark, all this mumbling and bitching under her breath that Louise has been doing comes together for me. I realize what it’s about. She’s referring to one of the eight Big Ten football championships in a row that had come down to Michigan and Ohio State in the season finale. It’s a little bizarre hearing this from her. Not that being a football freak is an abnormality to our family. I can remember many fanatical instances from my childhood.
The strange thing about hearing these grumblings from my aunt is the fact that as an adolescent, in this selfsame hovel, I had watched the very game that she’s been going on about. We had all been in the living room, Aunt Louise, my dad, Grandma Sturm and me, watching that championship on a big color T.V. set—a gift from my Uncle Monroe. We had risen as one in a gleeful joyous freakout watching the Michigan kicker boot the ball completely over, but still between the uprights apparently putting the Wolverines up 13 to 12 with just seconds to go. Then in horror we noticed a ref under the right upright waving the field-goal off ruling it a miss.
“So, what route you guys takin’? Gonna start out on the 96 then shoot on over to the 131 and head straight down into Indiana?” My cousin Mike asks Jenkins. Mike and his brother John both with beards and beer bellies lean up against the Cadillac.
“No, we’re gonna take 31 down towards Indiana, then connect up with the 96. Then in Illinois we’re gonna head south on the 57.”
Photo by CirrosisAguda