James Robert Smith
Wayne Pulver was my best pal
in the third grade.
Wayne was a mutant.
At the age of eight he was taller
than our teacher.
He was 5 feet 6 inches, and huge,
a belly like an ape’s.
He was happy, and friendly, and smiling
Wayne lived one street over.
I had to go through my back yard
past the apple trees
climb the steep hill in the neighbor’s yard
to emerge on Wayne’s street
two houses up and across the road
from his place.
Wayne had a mom
who was a lousy cook,
but a sweet lady,
an absent dad claimed by divorce.
But he had an older brother who was
cool as shit;
he built all
of the models I didn’t have—
Dracula, The Creature, Godzilla, The Old Witch,
all of the Ratfink models,
the Big Daddy Roth rods,
and custom stuff he created from
castoff parts he got from other
Wayne and I spent a lot of
time looking at his brother’s models;
his brother didn’t mind.
One day, we were in the front yard at
A new kid in our third grade class
walked up; a jackass,
He was a pissant next to Wayne,
but he was aggressive and mean and bound by
CRUELTY to pick a fight with smiling, kind
I stood by, did nothing
Wayne tried to avoid fighting,
but the little shit phil
Huge, heavy, unfortunate Wayne was forced
It was a very, very short fight.
When phil picked himself up
had fled, bloody nose, bloody teeth, fat lips,
it was Wayne who was crying.
He looked at me.
“Why didn’t you do something?”
“Why didn’t you stand up? He would have
backed off if you’d stood up
I could have said,
“I was scared.” But
it wouldn’t have mattered, because I’d done
nothing, either way.
So Wayne left,
And other than in class,
I never saw him again. By year’s end,
they had moved