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Totally Fucked Up

Johnny’s father glared. “That damned thing better be gone by the time I get home tonight.”

A few hours after his father’s car left the driveway Johnny picked up the skinny kitty. Hundreds of fleas slithered in and out of her sparse fur. Clear fluid dripped from her tiny nose. The corners of her eyes were caked with a yellowish discharge, and her “meow” was listless, weak.

Kitty did not struggle at the mouth of the large mayo jar. She was passive and trusting and went in easily. Johnny’s hands trembled as he struggled to screw the lid down tight. He put the jar into a wrinkled, brown paper bag, and hid it under some boards in the basement. He climbed the stairs, and sat on the couch in the empty living room.

An hour later Johnny went back to the basement. His hands again trembled as he took the jar out of the bag. The glass was fogged, making it hard to see Kitty. He turned the jar. Her mouth was open, revealing tiny pointed white teeth. Her fur was wet. Her eyes closed.

He should have just taken her to the grassy field up the street and turned her loose. But then she was sick and dying, and she’d suffer a long time. It was better to make her suffering short. Wasn’t it?

He buried the jar behind the garage. Nobody would ever know what he’d done.

When his father came home from work he asked the question right away, he hadn't forgotten at all:

“Hey, did you get rid of that damned cat like I told you?”

Johnny nodded. “Yes. She’s gone.”

As usual Chester appeared disappointed that Johnny had done exactly as he was told, because deep down he really wanted another excuse to take off his belt and start whipping the kid’s ass. And, as expected, he didn’t bother to ask his son where. Or how.

Forty years later I shared this story with Elizabeth. She shuddered. “Jesus! Your father should never have put you in that spot,” she said. “He should have taken the cat to the vet. That’s what normal people do. You shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. You picked what you thought was the better of two painful choices. It makes you human, not evil.”

A few weeks before I suffocated the kitten Marty Rodginski showed up during recess one day. He had a brand new Daisy b-b rifle. Billy asked him where he got it. None of your fuckin’ business, Marty replied. Now it’s time to break it in.

He saw me, and grinned. “YOU.”


“Start runnin.”


“Want me to shoot you up close?”

I ran in a zig-zag pattern, hoping he’d miss. They all stood around laughing their asses off. But immediately I felt the sharp stings in my back. Once, twice, three times. Marty was a good shot. Caroline, the next door neighbor lady, used tweezers to pull the b-bs out of the flesh of my back. She said somebody ought to teach that Marty a lesson. He’ll get his one of these days, she said.

One time Marty and his cousins put on heavy jackets and work gloves and got two cats and tied their tails together with duct tape. Ha-ha-ha-ha. You shoulda seen the spittin’ and howlin’. It was Marty’s bright idea to throw those tail-joined cats onto a clothes line. Now that was something. Then another time they caught some stray and shoved a big firecracker up its ass, and lit the fuse. They dropped the cat, and it went like crazy up the street. Pow! Ha-ha-ha-ha.

One day Marty said, hey, watch this. He put his fist to his mouth. Then he put it down at his crotch and made rapid pumping motions. Ah, yeah! He suddenly flicked his thumb, and the spit flew out. Ha-ha-ha-ha.

Down in the church basement at a dinner party Marty sat next to me at one of the white-paper-covered tables. There were a bunch of white cardboard boxes, one at each setting. Marty took two boxes and shoved them together. He scribbled wildly with a pencil. A hairy pussy, he called it. In the crack between the boxes he inserted a knife and slid it rapidly it back and forth. He threw back his head and groaned. Then he grinned and got up and wandered off. A minute after he left some big adult came by and saw the knife, and the hairy pussy.

“You goddamn pervert!” he said.

“I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it!” I said.

“You disgust me, you little shit,” the adult said. He summoned a few other adults. They all agreed that I was the most twisted and disgusting and filthy-minded kid they’d ever seen. Wait till we tell your father! Just wait till he finds out what you’ve done!

On leave from the Air Force I went into Tiny’s Bar on Division Street. Tiny weighed about 300 pounds, and he always seemed out of breath. Hey, Johnny, you look good in that uniform, he said as he brought me a beer. He asked me if I’d seen any of our old St. Xavier crowd. I said I’d run into Billy and a few of the others. “But what about Marty? Is he still around?”

Tiny wheezed. “Yeah, he’s still around. Back there.”

Marty was motionless in a chair near the door of the men’s room. His head tilted back and rested on the wall, his mouth open, front teeth missing. His shirt was filthy, unbuttoned. On the table was an almost empty bottle of Gallo Port. An empty glass.

“He’s totally fucked up,” Tiny said. “Wet brain. He don’t recognize nobody anymore.”


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Gosh. The things poor little Johnny went through :( I hate how kids can be so cruel.. :/

Ah, but if they were not what then would I have to write about???

Wet brain? I'm sorry, but I don't understand what that means. I kinda get the point though, through your visual imagery. Knocked out teeth, unbuttoned shirt, motionless.

You'd think a person would take joy in seeing an old nemesis get his end. You leave it up to the reader at this point, as you don't continue and tell us what your reaction to seeing him really was, except funny-but-not-funny. Heartwrenching beginning, and equally heartwrenching end. I've led a hard life, but Johnny had it so much worse than I ever did.

Your stories really give me something to look forward to reading my friends page. Thank you for sharing this one.

Many thanks for your kind & generous comments.

Wet brain is a slang term that is among the descriptions of the terminal stage of the disease. Long-term alcohol abuse destroys cells of the brain, which results in an inability to think or speak clearly, mental confusion, impaired coordination while walking, near-blindness, and memory loss. Poor Marty!

The ha-ha ending is an ironic allusion to the old aphorism, "He who laughs last, laughs best!"

When I saw Marty passed out I didn't actually laugh, but at the same time I didn't feel sad either, simply because he brought it all on himself.

Ah, ah! I've understood the sense of "Wet brain", translating in Italian it gave an idea of a softish, dampish brain after a long alcoholic life... But your medical explanation is more comprehensible.

Marty sounds like he was pretty screwed up from the get-go. My step-brother was like that, pure evil even at a tender age. I expected him to die in prison with a broom handle stuffed up his ass from someone he had yet again made enemies of. Instead he shocked us all by growing up into a semi-normal human being with a wife and two kids. But who really knows what goes on behind closed doors, hmm? I wonder if Marty did any time, either in a prison or a mental hospital?

I wouldn't be surprised if he did. And the thing about sociopaths is that they become verrrrry skilled at passing themselves off as relatively normal, that is, if and when they feel like it. They are world-class actors. They learn to accurately simulate all the emotions they simply don't feel.

Indeed. This kid was so adept at it that he was the reason I had to move out on my own at 16, to get away from him and his enabling mother.

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