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  1. 8 - By Dawn’s Flightless Truck
  2.  
  3.         “Stinging bloody cuts are the consolation prize, dude, since only the winner gets the real deal. We all know the winner takes all so it’s not bad to limp on by with only gapes marking your flesh to let you know the luck of life isn’t for the young but those who finish second.  So take a ride, man, the red truck waits for no one.  We’re all fuckin’ passengers if we’re lucky, but no one, not one fuckin’ person, is driver unless the red truck wants you to drive.“  
  4.         That’s what it should say on the back somewhere, etched by some lonely senior in need of a shave.  Instead, we get Gene and Box, going on and on about bitches and then SMASH – right into the fuckin’ steering wheel moments while the rest of us visit each jagged edge of the windshield, falling into a ditch and then into Ray’s nightmares.  Yeah, this is where we went, and Ray, that is, the most reasonable approximation of Ray that returned from the hospital the night after, well, he’ll be ok.  Right now, I have to wipe my face and tell the assholes next to me to stop staring and start laughing.  Wait, a bit more, there -
  5.         I fuckin’ laughed at Ray.  Yeah, his bandages looked funny to me, the blood seeping through enough to make his head look like one of those fancy cakes with pineapples and cherries stuck on the side.   And I laughed at Gene, who like Ray, wore a fancy cake wrap but on his left arm instead.  However, Gene’s cake looked tastier with country flair like Gene himself, as if he designed his bandage cake to show solidarity with Ray.  Perhaps, I don’t really know.  I don’t know Gene to be that sentimental.  Gene wasn’t here to defend himself; he was nursing his cover story in front of the Dean.  Considering Gene, the captain of the crew and thus, captain of the truck, and fuck, did he go down with the ship; it makes some sense to me he had to do the final explaining.  We sure as hell weren’t up to it.  Box sure as fuck wasn’t, opting to flap off by the bleachers in the gym, preoccupied ultimately, with some other skirt.  The rest of the O’Leary crew and I just cleaned up the mess, not in the mood for much talking afterwards.  Glass and pieces of ass everywhere, I joked, and then someone told me to shut the fuck up.  It wasn’t mean, just an observation, the kind we’re taught to make.  I didn’t think I was being a dick.  I had to help clean it, for ass and glass was smeared everywhere, and to note that, well, is not an insult.  It was hard, being sleepy, I mean, I get no sleep so I was awake and asleep, like most days, and then BOOM it fuckin’ happened, right there, when I watched it deform in front of me, the red truck, into a ditch full of shit.  Now, the shit wasn’t special.  Just ordinary school ditch shit, the kind perfect for nonsense, seventh grade nonsense, ruin skirt kind of nonsense, you know, white coat?  That’s what I’m – wait, my nose -
  6.          Hell of a ride, all the way down, at one hundred miles an hour into a ditch.  I saw the whole thing, with Ray, right before I jumped out.  Ray pushed me out, really.  We were both busy and his little act of selflessness wasn’t what I expected since I had made it a point to antagonize the shit out of him about his diseased toe and even his sexy fuckin’ sister.  Ray’s sister, Chelsea, so fuckin’ hot.  I mean, not to get into all that, dude, but man, she’s classy too, you know?  I don’t want to get all nasty, that shit’s for underclassmen, I’m better than that.  Can I get away with just saying she was fuckin’ hot?  Use your imagination.  That’ll be enough for me.  I’m not going to say you’re missing out if you use your own head; that’s the fun part, right? Besides, I liked her because she kept quiet – a neat and tidy Chelsea, smart and quiet – oh man, that was her best part.  So fuckin’ what tits, ass, legs, hair – all that shit, it kept coming at you, yeah, and everyone besides me let poor Ray know it, often.  It was sad to see, man, Ray squirming around while dudes relentlessly slopped him with disgusting what-ifs about his sister.  Ray took most of that shit as best as he could, he punched the fuck out of the rest.  But since Ray wasn’t too bright, well, the punching kind of never stopped long enough for Ray to remember why he punched to begin with…  
  7.         “…was like that, really, for a long time.” said Ray.
  8.         “What - your fuckin’ big toe?”
  9.         “Yeah, it got like that before I got here.  Don’t know why.”
  10.         “Fuckin’ gross.  Get it cut off”
  11.         “You can do that?”
  12.         “Not me dickhead - a doctor.”
  13.         “Didn’t know, man.  I thought maybe it was because I was becoming a man.”
  14.         “What?”
  15.         “Fuckin’ kidding, jeez.  I know, the thing is nasty.  I gots medicine for it - for real.”
  16.         “Dude,  put your shoes back on.  Why you always showing everybody the shit when you get all sensitive when we fuck with you about it?”
  17.         “It’s funny.  I don’t know.   I like grossing you all out.”
  18.         “- Wait, show Box –“
  19.         “Fuck both ya’ll”, said Box.  “Put your foot through that window, Ray, and I’ma piss on it like a toad.”
  20.         “Yeah, Box?”
  21.         “Fuckin’ Yeah.  I don’t wanna see your fungo-toe.”
  22.         “What’s your sister think of your toe, Ray?”
  23.         “Why you always ask me that shit, dude?” Ray’s round face, squared up, reddened.
  24.         “I don’t know – I just-”
  25.         “He wants to fuck, Ray!” screams Box from the truck’s passenger seat.
  26.         Open, close.  That’s ok, take it one breath at a time.  We need more time, more.  Breathe.
  27. --
  28.  
  29.         “Dean, I’m sorry.”
  30.         “Tell me again, Gene, one more time – “
  31.         “I picked up the crew at the barn.  Box, Ray, Benny and another eighth grader Ram sent to help us out for the harvest.”
  32.         Gene straightened up.  “I know, sir, they weren’t supposed to be riding in the back like that.  The door is broken, the bed is rusting out, yeah yeah.  O’Leary practically sings that to me every time he hands me the keys, ok?”
  33.         The Dean rubs his massive bald head.  
  34.         “So, I told them, get in, then I drove them to the end of the field to pick up some tools we left there yesterday.  It’s a 100 foot drive.  I was doing like 15-20mph.  Not fast.  I swear, sir.”
  35.         “Ok.”
  36.         “The kids, underclassmen, were playing grab-ass back there, sir.  I was driving.  I can’t police them when driving.”
  37.         “I understand.”
  38.         “I can’t, Dean, it’s just, I mean –“
  39.         “Keep going Gene, it’s ok. What happened next -”
  40.         “Fuckin’ Box –“
  41.         “Gene –“
  42.         “Joseph Benedict Rex, the eighth grader, sitting in the front with me, you know, the JV basketball star?  That kid?”
  43.         “Gene –“
  44.         “Ok, so Box, was going on and on about Ray’s fungo-toe.”
  45.         “Gene-“
  46.         “Ugh, ok, so Box, was discussing the nastiness of Ray’s diseased big toe on his left foot.  Box let it be known he was upset by the way Ray accosted him with it.”
  47.         “Continue – “
  48.         “Box fucked up, Dean.  Box fucked up.”
  49.         “Gene –“
  50.         That doesn’t sound right to me.  I don’t think Box fucked up since it was Gene who was driving.  He was the designated responsible one, the big dog, we were just passengers, don’t you see?  It’s not like we were driving that fast.  I was there, in the back with Ray, before I jumped out.  We were talking about his sister.  Goddamn, Chelsea, whoa…
  51.         “Ray, what the fuck, why you gotta be such a fuck ass about this?”
  52.         “I dig here and here, you dig there.  I’m not being difficult, you are.”
  53.         “I don’t want to dig up Binky, that shit’s bad luck.”
  54.         “Not my problem.  I got a carton to fill up with these here green dicks.”
  55.         “Fuck you, Ray.”
  56.         “What’s that?  You want to suck on my toe? I know everyone else does.”
  57.         “What?”
  58.         “I’m taking off my shoes.  It’s nice out.”
  59.         “Ray, dude, come on, we gotta eat this cucumber shit.”
  60.         “So what?”
  61.         “Come on -  fill your carton and let’s go.”
  62.         “It’s nice out, man, relax.  Gene’s right there in the truck with Box and Benny.”
  63.         “Whatever.  I’m walking back.  You can ride in the back of that shitty truck and get scrapes on your ass and die from tetanus and then grow another fungo-toe but on your ass instead.”
  64.         Ray chuckles, “Dude, you’re funny.”
  65.         “I’m not taking this shit back with me.  Gene can fuck himself for making us haul it all the way down. “
  66.         “When they get back from showing off to the girls, then we can hitch a ride, chill out.”
  67.         “I’m not impressed with a bitch that likes shitty old red trucks.”
  68.         “You ain’t even got a bitch - shut up, man”
  69.         “No bitch I’d like would want to see me in a old fuckin’ farm truck.”
  70.         “For real, yeah.  Shit is ugly, huh?”
  71.         “Your carton is almost full.”
  72.         “Yours is empty.  Plan on getting smacked around by O’Leary and Gene?”
  73.         “Fuck’em.  I don’t do this work.  I’m only here ‘cause of Ram.”
  74.         “You don’t any kind of work, that’s why your ass is out here with us.”
  75.         “I do my homework, but that’s it.”
  76.         “No you don’t.  You’re always getting laps for turning that shit in late.”
  77.         “Yeah.”
  78.         “Hand me your carton. I’ll fill the shit.  Go take a piss on the lettuce or something, lazy fuck.”
  79.         “I’ll let you know if I find Binky’s rotten tail.”
  80.         “Do that.”
  81. --
  82.         “Gene –“
  83.         “Sir, then I swerved, because Ray’s foot was in my face, and his toe stinks.  It smells like yeasty ass, sir.”
  84.         “Gene –“
  85.         “Box was already standing over the gear shift, smacking the foot around, hollering profanities at Ray.  Benny sat on the door with the window down and holding onto hood starting saying something stupid about surfing.  That other kid was pushing or pulling Ray, I couldn’t tell.”
  86.         “Why didn’t you stop, Gene?”
  87.         “I wasn’t going fast, sir.  Maybe 5 mph.  I didn’t want to carry the heavy crates back.  It was getting late. I figured I’d let them get it out and then punish them for the nonsense when we got into the shed.”
  88.         “Ok.  What else?”
  89.         “Box was trying to punch Ray through the back seat window and he slipped on the gear shift somehow, somehow putting the truck into neutral.  I didn’t know that at the time.”
  90.         “The truck was in neutral when we found you.”
  91.         “See, Dean, I told you.”
  92.         “Someone could have easily placed it into neutral before I or O’Learly arrived at the accident.”
  93.         “That’s not what happened, sir.”
  94.         “Gene, one more time, explain to me how a 20 year old truck, loaded down with vegetables, going 5 – 10 miles per hour, crashes into a ditch, while in neutral, so that everyone onboard is ejected 30 feet?”
  95.         “I’m not a physicist, sir.”
  96.         “Gene –“
  97.         “I don’t know, I mean, that ditch wasn’t visible! It was full!”
  98.         “Gene – you see that ditch every day you’re working out there on farm.  You helped dig it out when you were in seventh grade.  I’m confident of your familiarity of its contours and extent of its span.”
  99.         “Sir, the ditch fills up when it rains.  It was full of water.”
  100.         “Gene – the truck was not underwater when O’Leary and I inspected it.”
  101.         “Maybe we were going faster?”
  102.         “Gene – how much faster?”
  103.         “You know the speedometer doesn’t work on that truck, Dean!”
  104.         “Gene – how much faster?”
  105.         “I don’t know!”
  106.         “Gene – your voice…”
  107.         “Sir, I don’t know.  I don’t know…”
  108.         “Ok, relax, Gene.”
  109.         “Sir, I don’t know –“
  110.         “Gene – it’s ok.”
  111.         “Sir…”
  112.         “It’s ok, Gene.”
  113.         “…I’m so sorry…”
  114.         “ – will Ray be ok?”
  115.         “Ray is in the hospital now.  He’ll likely return tonight with Mr. O’Leary.”
  116.         “What about Benny? Box?”
  117.         “They were treated by the nurse.  They went to dinner a few minutes ago.”
  118.         “Is this going on my transcript, sir?”
  119.         “To what are you referring?”
  120.         “The entire incident, sir.”
  121.         “That depends on you, Gene.”
  122.         “How?”
  123.         “I think you know to what I am referring.”
  124.         “Sir –“
  125.         “Gene – “
  126.         “Do I really have to call their parents?”
  127.         “It is more impactful if you apologize in person.  We have taught you this, before, recall.”
  128.         “I remember.”
  129.         “We can start whenever you’re ready.”
  130. --
  131.         I grabbed Ray by his foot that wasn’t sick in it the toe.  I told Ray to fuckin’ stop.
  132.         “Eat it Box, fuckin’ eat it!”
  133.         I told Ray to stop.  I told him.  I told him.
  134.         “Box, how’s it taste?”
  135.         Ray pushed me back. He’s bigger than me, I can’t stand up to that shove, not with the cartons everywhere, taking up the room on the back of the truck.
  136.         “Dude, stop!  Box- likes – sucking – my - toes!”
  137.         “Yeah, ditch ahead Gene!  I want to surf over that shit!” Benny cries.
  138.         Gene grunts out, “Stop it! Stop it! I got, I got to speed up first!  We’re gonna take this old piece of shit on a flight to remember! Hold on to the fuckin’ food back there dickheads!  We’re gonna get high tonight! VROOOOOM Bitches!”
  139.         The red truck, now a vehicle for non-earthly delights, roars into another gear, and bears down, with everyone in tow, boxes rattling and ditch straight ahead.  Box, pulling on Benny’s leg, said, “Dude, you gonna jump before we hit the edge?”
  140.         “Fuck yeah.”
  141.         “Box, how- that- toe- taste!”
  142.         “Fuck you, Ray!  Put it in your sister’s snatch!”
  143.         “Your – mother – Box!”
  144.         “Fuck you Ray!”
  145.         The cucumbers fell all over us back there.  Ray, on one foot, stabbing Box with his offensive toe, immune to the punishment Box retaliated with from inside the cabin;  Benny, ass sticking out the window, intent on jumping out for a surf on air?  The ditch mud?  I don’t know.  I swatted cucumbers out of the way and then Ray pushed me back.
  146.         “Fuck you man!  You need to stop talking about my sister like that, asshole!  You always fuckin’ do it!  Box!  Hows –it-taste-fucker!”  The wind was now deafening us, and the cucumbers kept coming, green dirty drops, pelting Ray and me, and smoke, man, so much smoke, from the truck, sautéing us together in the back.
  147.         “A truck ain’t meant to fly!” Benny yells out into stiff air.  “Gene, faster!  Go fuckin’ faster! I need to get over that ditch in one piece like you did last time!”
  148.         Gene acknowledged. “Ok, bitches!  Wooo!  I wish I had a stereo in this shitty truck!  We need some tunes!”
  149.         “Ray – you gonna- get fucked up! Watch! When – we –get – out – you- getting –“
  150.         Cucumbers cried out of the cartons, angry green tears mix in between, the ditch, the world ditch, shows me another way.  Mud.  I’m falling behind, watching a stack of vegetables I helped Ray fill, spill out of the truck as it sped off into the ditch, with Benny’s ass hanging out of the passenger window.  Ray is screaming at Box, telling him to let go of his leg.  My head hurts.  I’m bleeding.  I don’t what else to do but watch.
  151.         But I’m always watching, right?  Right there, the bandages, I can already see them, growing out of Gene’s manic laughs.  Box, too, is growing a bandage bandana, Benny, his ass is bandaged, and Ray, he’s bandaged.  I’m not, I’m fine, right?  It was hard, after we filled up those cartons, after Ray pissed on the food and spat on some of it, hard enough to load it up, with Gene bitching at us and Box throwing the food around the back of the truck.  I told Box to knock it off and to sit in the front.  I was surprised as anyone that he listened to me.  When I think harder about it, I think he did what he was told because Gene was there and because he was able to avoid the work Ray and I were doing.  
  152.         “Ray, hurry up, it’s getting late.”, Gene had started.
  153.         “I would if dingus helped me.  Why’s Box sitting in the front?  Make him get out and fill the shit up with us!”
  154.         “No, let him stay in there.”
  155.         “Why?  Gene – don’t listen to him!  Get out here Box you faggot!  Come on!”
  156.         “I don’t’ want to be all sweaty and shit after this.  I’m meeting some girls in a minute.”
  157.         Bleak outside, windy, old farm dust, smelling of composted dinner was the draft Gene didn’t want.  It had long made him angry for being there, surrounded by fuckwit kids, working a farm, instead of chasing ass inside the library.  No, he had to fuckin’ babysit these baby farmer parolee asshole underclassman faggots.  He needed something else to look forward to, something less stupid.
  158.         “Fuck it.  Get in, assholes.  We gonna go surfin.’”
  159.         Benny damn near pissed himself with glee. “Fuck yeah! Gene! We gotta break the last record. I fuckin’ almost hit the shed!  I know I can get over it!”
  160.         “Lock the veggie’s down and get in.  Ray, you and your buddy there fuckin’ better hold on.  Box, sit the fuck down and put on your seatbelt.  Benny, get your ass on that door and keep it there.  Go!”
  161.         “Ray, your sister looks nice today. I like it when she wears that tight shirt.”
  162.         Ray smiles.  “You know, dude, when I was picking up the cucumbers you pissed on, I put them in a box that’s over your head, here, on the truck.”
  163.         “What?”
  164.         “You’re not as smart as you think you are, man. “
  165.         “I never said I was.”
  166.         “You think you’re all observant and shit, but you’re not.  I got that stuff in there right in front of you and I know you didn’t know they were in there until I told you.  As soon as this ride gets all bumpy, those piss pickles are gonna fall all over you, asshole.”
  167.         “Fuck.”
  168.         “And you know you can’t move me from where I’m sitting.  I’ll fuckin’ throw your stupid ass off me faster than Gene can make this truck go.”
  169.         “Nothing to say now, huh? I can’t hear you over the wind.  Talk louder.”
  170.         “Whatever you say man, when we get off this truck, I’ll just put my toe in your face and we’ll call it even.”
  171.         “What? Box?  Hows-my-toe-taste!”
  172.         What light!  It sparkled into my skull, loud and fresh, green, muddy.  A puking, all things considered – and painful, everywhere, oh man.  
  173.         Gene’s flightless truck, remains in the ditch, I saw it there, crumpled.  Box showed me to it after dinner.  He wildly recanted every moment I missed to the crowd that followed him out of the dining hall, all the way to the wreck.  On the way, we all walked by the one light on in Dean’s house; we knew Gene was in there, making some phone calls.  I threw a rock at the window – no one noticed.  I felt warm, the knot on my head grows, pulsing around my hair.  Benny told me to shut the fuck up and it was the least of my problems.  I asked him why.
  174.         “You don’t laugh at this shit, what’s wrong with you?”
  175.         He fuckin’ started it, Ray.
  176.         “Ray, you hear that? This fucker blames you.”
  177.         Bandage Ray, swollen, turns to me.
  178.         “You weren’t supposed to.  Come on.  Do it.”
  179.         “Do what?”
  180.         “Come on.”
  181.         “Yeah, it’s fuckin’ funny.  Fuckin’ hilarious.  Your head is soaked in blood and cucumber piss and mud.  Gene is fuckin’ crying in front of Dean Will and Benny’s ass will never fly again.  What’s not to laugh about?”
  182.         Box heard me.  He parted the crowd with a hiss.  “Someone smack him.”
  183.         It’s a beautiful day out there what with the turning leaves.  That crunchy sound I live for.  It’s why I’m here, you know?  Finger tips can’t get warm, though, and I don’t like wearing gloves.  It makes shit hard.  Oh well.  I’ve had it like that for a while now.  I’m not getting any better, am I?  What gives?  Box just got mud.  Benny got to fly.  Gene got to be the man for a day, even though he will never be a man anywhere else, the way he’s bitched about it afterwards.  Ray, what did you get.  Ray?
  184.         Ray?
  185.         Tell me again Ray, how you managed to get the piss pickles in that carton filled up in front of me?  That was some trick, Ray.  So it gets warmer, I’m told.  I’m told so much bullshit by all of you and I hate it.  I hate having to pretend, to fend you off, constantly.  So what my shoes ain’t hot.  Does this make me a bad guy?  I’m tired of it, Ray.  I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of being scared of girls.  I’m tired of smelling like ass all the time.  Showers suck, here, Ray.  They suck.  No peace.  No peace.  No peace.
  186.         No peace.
  187.         Yet, it’s quiet.
  188.         And morning’s coming.
  189.         Meet me at the truck?
  190.         Ray?
  191.         “Time to wake up, faggot.”
  192.         “What time is it,Ray?”
  193.         “I’m not Ray.”
  194.         “You must be Bandage Ray.”
  195.         “Yeah.”
  196.         “You want to help me up or what?”
  197.         “Nah, you’re good where you’re at.”
  198.         “Shit hurts, Ray.  It hurts.”
  199.         “I know, dude.  I know.”
  200.         “You gonna be alright?”
  201.         “Me?”
  202.         “You and Box and Gene and Benny took a wild ride.  I saw it.  The truck –“
  203.         “Me? Box? Benny?  Gene?”
  204.         “Don’t fuck with me Ray, my head hurts.”
  205.         “Dude, look over there –“
  206.         “I see vegetables all over the mud, the truck, fuckin’ hell, it’s crushed.  Box is sitting up, crying on Gene. Benny, he went through the – Fuck, Ray!”
  207.         “Almost morning, dude, you gonna figure this shit out or what?”
  208.         “Morning?”
  209.         “You’ve been here all night, dude.”
  210.         “I like it here.  It’s better.”
  211.         “I know, dude, I know.  You gotta get up, though.”
  212.         “I’m sorry I wouldn’t let you go, Ray.  I’m sorry.”
  213.         “I know, dude.  You’re weak.  It’s ok.”
  214.         “It’s not.  It’s fuckin’ not.”
  215.         “It is, I’m ok with it.  It’s not like I’m hurt bad.”
  216.         “You are, dude, your head –“
  217.         “I’ll be ok.  Why don’t you go back to the dorm, take a shower?”
  218.         “What about you guys?”
  219.         “Gene gots it.  He’s the captain, let him do his captain shit.  O’Leary won’t believe us, no matter what we say.”
  220.         “True.”
  221.         “Ok, getting up?”
  222.         “I don’t think I can, Ray.”
  223.         “Just laugh it off.”
  224.         “That doesn’t always work.  I tried.”
  225.         “Try harder?”
  226. --
  227.         “Fucker, you ain’t supposed to laugh at no shit like that.  What’s wrong with you?” Box excoriated at his classmate.  Box, shaking in rage, held back by others, demanded an answer from the silent classmate, covered in bandages.
  228.         “I don’t know”, said Ray.  “Ask him again.”
  229.         “Well?” he asked the classmate.
  230.         “I’m sorry Ray, but this shit just too funny.”
  231.          “Ram, take him back to the dorm.”
  232.         “Sure.  Hey Benny, bring him some dinner.”
  233.         “Cool.”
  234.         “Ray?”
  235.         “Ray?”
  236.         “Ray-“