Monday, December 28, 2009

Original Gangster*

I once shot a bitch.

You can save your righteous indignation. She definitely had it coming. And, besides, it was Sean Dudjak’s idea.

Sean was better known as The Dude. This was years before the Big Lebowski. And I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s the lone degree of separation between the Coen brothers and me.

The Dude was an older kid. So he was privy to secret wisdoms of which I could only dream. He taught me how to throw a punch and how to ride a wheelie on my bicycle. It’s thanks to him that I know the meaning of the word dildo.

He had a magnificent stash of nudie magazines. This made him a legend with the neighborhood kids. He had a talent for finding any discarded pornography within a ten-mile radius, like some kind of porn sniffing dog. And in those days, the sun-bleached image of a starlet’s unkempt seventies bush was more than enough to earn my allegiance.

One day, while playing video games, The Dude suggested that I call Shirley Ziegler and tell her to come over to his house.

The Ziegler clan was the scourge of our neighborhood, and Shirley was the worst of them. It would be easy to label me shallow for saying so. She was an ogress of sturdy build, and she had a Gorbachev birthmark. It started at the corner of her mouth and ran down her chin like the aftermath of some horrific grape Kool-Aid incident.

But Shirley’s crimes against humanity went well beyond being homely. Her specialty was emasculating the boys on our block. She used her considerable size advantage to systematically beat the crap out of us. And just because she was fat didn’t mean you could escape her wrath. Attempts to outrun her were met with rapid-fire loogies to the back of your head and neck.

Poor Cliffy Thompson got the worst of it. He was a smallish kid with the fine bone structure of a ballerina. But the only dancing he did was with his fingers across the keys of a piano. He was a bona fide musical prodigy. Local news outlets documented this fact on more than one occasion.

After multiple beatings, he finally stood up to Shirley. During the mayhem, he wormed his finger into the purple corner of her mouth and started to pull at her cheek. Her eyes widened with surprise. We cheered him on, emboldened by his success. But the savage was far too wily to fall for his fishhook strategy. She responded by biting through his index finger and severing a tendon. This effectively snuffed out the bright star of little Cliffy’s future.

After that, she stalked the streets of our neighborhood like a nightmare. She preyed on our fears and weaknesses. Rumors started to swirl that she was the human bride of Satan.

I’d have sooner crawled into a cage with a hungry bear than invite her over.

“No way!” I said.

The Dude shook his head. “Look, just call her. I’ve got a plan.”

“She won’t come.”

“Sure she will. Tell her you want to be her boyfriend.”

I wanted precisely none of that. Dating Shirley was something that not even The Dude could coax me into. Nobody held that kind of sway over me, so I stood up. “I’m going home.”

The Dude laughed with his nonchalant cool kid laugh. “You’re not really going to be her boyfriend. We’re going to shoot her with BB guns.”

So I called her.

I professed my love. I told her that I lived for the beauty that hid just beneath her tough exterior. I begged for the honor of her presence at The Dude’s house. And the trap was set.

I was on The Dude’s roof when I spied her from my sniper position. She rounded the corner at Grand Prix speed. The frame of her Huffy Sweet Thunder bicycle strained to support her heft. Its pink banana seat was wedged deep between her colossal hams. The pedals whizzed beneath her, and she grinned like an idiot between labored breaths.

As she grew close, I took my aim. The barrel bounced around as I was overcome with fits of nervous laughter at the prospect of downing the beast.

She was already next-door. If I didn’t calm myself, I would miss the opportunity. And worse, she’d probably want to consummate our relationship with some kind of freak show kiss.

Then a moment of calm came over me. I suppose you could call it a communion with god. I stared down the barrel and drew a bead on the rutty thigh just below her jean shorts.

I exhaled and pulled the trigger.

The BB met Ziegler flesh with a thwack. The impact was followed by an anguished yelp as she careened off course. She wrecked her bicycle into the yard, sending a tsunami of sweaty blubber crashing in all directions.

She sat up and inspected the welt on her leg, spitting grass and venom as she did so. Then she responded to the sight of our merriment on the roof. “You’re gonna die, fuckers!”

So The Dude shot her again.

That ended it. With this simple act of vigilante justice, we unknowingly shifted the balance of power in our neighborhood to our favor.


*This is a repost from several months ago, making it centuries old in Internet time. It wasn't my best post of 2009, but it was the one I had the most fun writing. So, whether it's new to you or not, I hope you enjoy.

Normal service to resume shortly.


  1. Fantastic re-post. I'm running out of words to describe how good a writer you are. Such colourful imagery without being pretentious. Love it.

  2. Wonderful! I wasn't here for the first publication. Glad I was here this time! You are definitely talented with words!

  3. You have a wonderful and rare knack for storytelling. One sentence kickers that fully introduce your characters in a holistic way. I'm glad I got to read this, since I missed it the first time.

    I would have liked to know The Dude as a child.

  4. I missed this the first time around and I'm glad you reposted it. It's brillant..and hilarious!

    Love the way you describe the Shirley kid.

  5. You had me at 'I once shot a bitch.' In fact, you always get me. I haven't been blogging all that long, but you were one of my very first blogging crushes. Love it here!

  6. Hunter, Hey I member thisen. it is a gooden.
    Now if my computer won't let up, I'm gonna threten it wiff a ass whupin, from my fren Hunter the "gansta"

  7. Wow, great post. Really quite hysterical.

    Any other stories of you and the Dude :D?

  8. Hi, Jimmy. Thanks. I really appreciate you commenting on this one, since you were around for the original.

    Hi, Eva. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Hi, Hannah. The Dude was a strange cat. Thanks so much for popping by and commenting. BTW, congratulations on your BON status. It's well deserved.

    Hi, OWO. Glad you got to catch it the second time around.

    Hi, Tina. I figured that line would either send people scurrying or invite them along for the story. Glad you stuck around for it.

    Hi, Bob. I hear you. I've been having challenges for days.

    Hi, Colin. There are probably more Dude stories, but I'm not sure they're as fun as this one.

  9. Actually enjoyed it more second time, Hunter. Things like 'Gorbachev birthmark' - you don't get that kind of thing at any other blog. Ace.

  10. Good-day/Evening to you,
    Just wanted to say that I enjoy your writing. I realize how cliche' that sounds after saying it, but I'm too tired to try and think of an awesome adjectival (alliteration) step to sound different from all the others. I actually found your site because you too listed Pablo Neruda in your profile!

  11. That's poetic, or not so poetic, justice. I love the young boy's perspective. I do feel a bit sorry for her, since she thought she'd be getting a different kind of action. Ever find out what happened to her? Women's sumo wrestling?

  12. have you tried to find the gal on the internet? i wonder what had become of her...

  13. i would so read your memoirs if you wrote one. especially if it had an excerpt from that notebook from your teenage years which made you laugh so.

    i suggest you listen to 'bitches ain't shit' by ben folds if you haven't already. and you should also do a 'best of' post so the newbies (ie. me) can read the best of your work!

  14. Hi, Dean. Yes, sir. Pablo is the mac.

    Hi, Robyn. No idea what ever became of any of the people from those days. However, I did see that The Dude is on Facebook.

    Hi, Sarah. Nope. I probably don't want to know.

    Hi, p.ham. Thanks. I may do a post on the notebook in the not-too-distant future. And I'm familiar with that Ben Folds cover. I also like the Dynamite Hack cover of Boys in the Hood.

    Some best posts? A place for regrets, Problem with clever, Eleonora Duse, Strange Interactions, and Life after Scooby was a fun one...

  15. Wow, so glad I found you, your blog. This is hilarious, but in a totally sobering way. In other words - perfect.

  16. Well I didn't get to enjoy it the first time, so I have to say it's a winner like all of your other posts I read :)

  17. Hi, curly su. Thanks so much for popping by and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

    Hi, Bendigo. Thanks. I'm glad you caught it the second time around.

  18. I like the story,im glad you reposted dont know if I woulda found it today,

    the feeling I got was this, damn he shit a bitch, but i liked the start anyway, but i felt you were going somewhere daring, maybe going as if YOU yourself shot a woman,

    then the more I read the more I got the feeling as oh well this isnt so bad, its kids,but I would have liked it anyway even if it wasnt about kids,