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Long Story: Content Not Suitable For Children

February 5, 2013
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My tenth grade English teacher Mr. Faggins (pronounced Fay-guns)  warned us not to put bad language or inappropriate adult situations in our short stories whenever he assigned us narratives.  “If you can’t say it or do it in school without getting into trouble,” he’d say, “then don’t put it into your story.”

“But people swear in real life,” Denise, the cheerleader with really nice legs, said one day during a rare class discussion.  “How should we handle that?  Do our characters say ‘Darn’ and ‘Shucks’?”

“Or ‘dagnabbit,’ ” I whispered to her.

“Or dagnabbit,” she said with a hokey accent.

The class laughed.

Mr. Fay-guns smiled at Denise.  “I’ve always liked ‘dagnabbit.”

His suggestion was that instead of writing out the curse words with symbols like in the cartoon strips, we should just say that the characters cursed or used inappropriate language.  He said if we wanted to rewrite the stories with the actual words, then we could do that at home on our own time, but not to bring those versions to class.

I avoided the adult situations in “Long Story.”  There wouldn’t be any nudity, but there would be a little violence and a lot of cursing, so I had to be careful when writing these scenes, especially if I was going to read this story to my English class.

Technically, I don’t think this part of “Long Story” worked well, but my English class found it entertaining when I read it to them.

*****

Long Story

Chapter 4

The Rocky Relationship

Since I had so much homework to do in the next two nights, I had to walk Melinda home the short way .  There would be no malts at the ice cream shop.  It would be a straight walk to her house, which meant passing through Curse brother territory.  I had fallen in love with Melinda’s voice, but as we walked and she chatted, I was mentally going over my homework and keeping an eye out for the Curse brothers.  I tried to pick up the pace, but then she would intentionally slow down.

“You should enjoy the time you’re spending with me,” Melinda said.  “Once I get home, all you have left today is homework.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of homework.”

“You’re making fun of my situation,” I complained.  If I didn’t turn in all my homework by Friday, I’d fail math and lose my teen phone line.

“My parents don’t complain if my grades are bad,” Melinda said. “As long as I do my chores and stay quiet, they leave me alone.”

“Stay quiet?  You talk to me every night until three in the morning.”

“I talk quietly.”

We were just a few houses away from her home when it happened.  We really should have walked faster.

“That’s Johnny Curse,” Melinda said, pointing at a kid a few houses down.  Johnny was a skinny ten-year old runt kicking a soda can down the middle of the street.

“Everybody knows Johnny Curse,” I said.  Even though he was five years younger than me, I felt like hiding.  His three older brothers terrorized the neighborhood, and I didn’t want him seeing me.  Johnny Curse liked to start fights with older boys because he knew we couldn’t fight back without his older brothers kicking our teeth out.  So we older boys stayed away from him.

“I hate that kid,” Melinda said, all sweetness gone.

I hated him too, but I was also scared of him, so I tried to veer Melinda off the sidewalk behind some trees so the little Curse brother wouldn’t notice us.  I should have kissed her just to get her attention off him, but I was more worried about not getting seen.  As I tugged Melinda off the sidewalk, she pulled back and howled out a bunch of four letter words at Johnny Curse.

I was shocked.  I had never heard her voice like that.  I had never heard anybody talk like that to a Curse brother.  And it had happened so quickly.

Johnny Curse stopped in the middle of the street.  Once he saw it was Melinda shouting profanities at him, he grabbed the soda can he had been kicking and flung it at her.  The can was empty so it only made it a few feet before it dropped harmlessly.  Melinda cackled at him and howled out even more profanity.  Johnny shouted a bunch of inappropriate words at Melinda and started flinging gravel rocks at her.

I had backed away from Melinda so the rocks whizzed past her head but weren’t anywhere close to me.  As Melinda’s boyfriend, I knew I should have protected her.  I should have gotten between her and the rocks.  I should have charged at the boy threatening her, but I stood and watched.  I was a fascinated outsider.

I had never heard so many curse word combinations at one time, especially from a girl.  Melinda’s shrill voice hurt my ears, and I suddenly knew that’s what she would be like in a few years.  I had seen angry mothers with frightening voices, and that’s what I saw her becoming.  A demon had possessed my sweet-voiced dimwit of a girlfriend, and now that I’d seen that side of her, I could never believe in her sweet voice again.

Melinda continued her string of four letter, five letter, six letter, and seven letter words in combinations I had never heard before.  She even used a twelve letter word several times, but that could have been a compound word of six letters each.  When she was finished and the demon in her was done, Johnny was silent.  Melinda had out-cursed a Curse brother.

Then a rock bounced off Melinda’s forehead, and she collapsed.

She wasn’t dead or anything.  Her hands covered up her head, and she rolled on the ground, and I knew that running to her wouldn’t do any good.  We’d just get pelted with more rocks.  Johnny danced and laughed, and seeing that ten-year old bouncing with such glee …

I rushed him, but when I got to him I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t punch out a kid that small.  I didn’t know if I should pick him up and shake him, or throw him against something, or drag him to his parents.  I got within arm’s reach and froze, and he punched me in the groin, and it hurt more than I expected it to, not enough to make me fall, but enough for me to act decisively.

I pushed Johnny hard, and he stumbled backward and fell against a parked car.  Johnny jumped toward me again, but I was used to the ache in my groin now, so I braced myself and when he punched me again, I took it, drove my body into his wiry frame, and took him down.  I mashed his face into the dirt and grabbed both his hands behind his back.  Once again, I didn’t know what to do.  I knew this position would look bad to anybody passing by, so I couldn’t stay like that for long.

So I picked him up, kicked him in his butt, and threatened him as he ran off.  Then I turned to Melinda.  She was bleeding a little on her forehead and was crying.  Between the blood and the tears and the snot and the demonic voice, I was afraid to approach her.  And I was right to be scared of her.

She pointed her finger at me and started cursing at me.  She said I was a terrible boyfriend because I hadn’t protected her.  I couldn’t argue with that.  Then she said horribly inappropriate things about me, made false accusations about my parents and dogs, and broke up with me without actually saying that she was breaking up with me.  I couldn’t respond to her.  It didn’t seem right to curse back at her since she was the one who had been hit with the rock.  So I figured I’d better get home before Johnny rounded up the rest of the Curse brothers to pound my face in.

The whole thing was really intense.  But I can’t tell you what she said because it would be inappropriate for school.

*****

To be continued in Long Story: Foreshadowing and Building Suspense .

From → Long Story

5 Comments
  1. Read the whole thing. Nicely done.

  2. Great telling. It is better to use nothing than try to tone down the swearing. “You’re supposed to be my boyfriend, dagnabbit!” doesn’t quite have the right ring to it. 🙂

  3. Love your side steps on the curse bombs, especially the last line. Wrapped it up perfectly – if only my gr 9 had been half as interesting with their stories .

  4. The story gets better and better with each chapter. I loved it !!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Long Story: Write About What You Know | Dysfunctional Literacy

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