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Fiction #202
(published November 25, 2004)
Ode To The Strong
by R.A. Lubow
Chuck was born tough like a raw roast. His pop chucked him with good lead, like a retired quarter back with nine broken toes and a fraudulent VA mortgage, tossing his life's last shaky spiral before exiting this sweet existence like the orange end of a camel butt being pissed on. Lucky Chuck landed with a wet thud in the arms of a wide lemony lesbian by the name of Yancy. She ran for the goal, and enjoyed something of a three-year victory jig before dying a true ham-eaters cancer of the bust, in the arms of a pudgy little fuckface called Cecil. You can imagine the rest— just one cliché after another. These were bad people with bad names and the effect they had on baby Chuck had to be pretty big, which was revealed later in life, when things got too easy.

Chuck grew up poor and dumb, though a lot of people had said he was strong. He was a big man who could lift a heavy burden in body and spirit. He didn't say much, no matter who was bleeding or from which end. And he sure never wasted any time talking about the world or politics, or life. He never picked fights, but he once cold cocked a man who had thrown a punch and an insult his way. At the plant he was known as a real man of action. One old timer at the plant used to point to Chuck while telling his son a thing or two about what being a man was. That old timer saw Chuck's strong jaw covered with whiskers, big forearms and a quiet Clint Eastwood demeanor. But that old timer never saw it when at night Chuck'd go home alone and masturbate to nude cartoons of Popeye and Bluto gangbanging Olive Oil. . . then wipe himself off right on his socks, fall asleep with the socks laying there on his gut like two wet otters dying on a rock— the same socks he wore and sweated in the next two days at work. A man of action, indeed.

The old timer's son was in fact fooled. He wound up doing a lot of things he'd never have done had his drunken old man not said Chuck was a man of action. Sure there was other sordid shit at play, but the Chuck episode was pivotal. His old man made a man of action of him, by pointing out to him the many primal virtues of Chuck, from every sort of inevitable drunk-ass distance imaginable.

The old timer's son killed a bum, stole from a whore, laughed at a gimp, fucked the sofa of a blind woman, married a cunt, sired two chimps and became a famous drunk, because at this point, clearly, the world's false dichotomies, simplifications and generalizations had grated its sad song on his naïve cheese of a beautiful soul.

The old timer's son had a royally fucked up family, having said to have beaten the love clean out of his wife and kids, and then beaten it back in again. At some point, thinking it was his son, he told his daughter to always make sure to cut herself shaving, or bump herself working, or get someone to take a crack at her— so long as she always had some kind of blood exposed on her face, she'd be okay. He thought it was his boy but he'd been so drunk, he'd grabbed his little girl with him into bed that night by mistake.

She grew up to be a real estate sales agent for Remax, taking her sales license test at 18, and getting a hundred percent. Plenty of men tried to molest that girl, and one time she did manage to get raped, only it didn't bother her much cause she'd been used to it as a child and was mainly self-conscious about the possibility that she might fart during the ordeal. She felt guilty for not being traumatized, but the guilt passed, and she married a car dealer named Fritz who liked to walk around naked eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. And once in a while he'd stand over the toilet and pee in a cup just for the fuck of it, and then dump it into the toilet with an altogether absent look of wonder on his pockmarked mug. And that was okay by the old man's son's daughter. She was a surprisingly well adjusted, bright-eyed woman, considering all she'd been through. At least until she hit Fritz on the head with a hammer while he was sleeping. But Fritz had left some sperm behind, and that sperm turned into Kyle.

Kyle went through foster care, and grew up to be a doctor. He even attended an Ivy League school. He was a kind and patient doctor, and he was open about all his feelings when he talked with friends and eventually his wife. He had many children, all well adjusted, and all respected Kyle for being a solid man with solid values. Often, someone enjoyed pointing out how Kyle had a healthy view of life and death, and that being a doctor made Kyle sort of comfortable with mortality, and being an orphan made him strong. But they didn't see how Kyle writhed like a baby and shat himself on the days before his death. Kyle was locked inside of a freezer over by Olive Garden off route 33. It was his son's graduation, and Kyle was looking for a place to hide for five minutes so he could jerk off to his son's girlfriend. Apparently the bathroom hadn't offered enough privacy. Freezer sure did. Kyle died looking at onions.

But don't you go worrying about Kyle's son, the one who graduated. He was born tough. Like a raw roast.

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