Sample Chapter from my book, "Mijo."
How Andy Made the Bully Eat Shit
In early August, during summer vacation, twelve-year old Andy rode alongside the railroad tracks on his red Schwinn, bike with a wire basket in front, to the public library. Andy thought, Ive had enough of not knowing how to talk with people and not knowing how to make friends. Im tired of being a nerd. Ive already read all the biographies, all the science books, all the history books, but never read anything about making friends and making conversation.
Arriving at the library, he locked the bike and walked to the psychology section. A stern, conservative, middle-aged, librarian, who wore her hair in a bun and brown skirt down to her ankles, said, Hold on there young man.
Andy turned to face her, thinking, Now what?
She said, Those books have adult material. Youll be corrupted!
Are you trying to tell me adults are corrupt? Andy replied.
Um, no! Ah no! Not at all. Thats not what I meant, the librarian flustered.
Have you read these psychology books? Andy challenged.
Well, did you? Andy persisted.
Well, yes. As a matter of fact, yes, indeed. I have read most of them, she admitted.
Are you corrupt? Andy asked, imitating Socrates way of questioning his students.
No! No! Im not corrupt! Your questions are inappropriate young man. She vigorously wagged her finger in Andys face. If you can ask adult questions like this, then go ahead. Read whatever you like here. She walked back to her desk to accept twenty-five cents from a client who had returned an overdue book. She looked at Andy and didnt know what to make of him.
Andy gave no further consideration to the librarian. He merely dismissed her much like his father would have done had he been in a similar situation.
Andys eyes scanned hundreds of titles, pulling books down, putting them back on the shelf, over and over. Hmmm. No. Hmmmm. No. Hmmmm. No. Hmmmm. Ridiculous. Hmmmm. OK.
He saw one entitled, Games People Play and thought, Hmmmmm. OK. He saw, Psycho-Cybernetics, and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
In a few minutes, he placed the books on the librarians counter to check them out. She looked at him from under her forehead as she repeated, Young man, be aware these have grown-up content.
It would be anything I havent already read before, Andy said.
Dont get smart with me young man, she warned.
Most of what Ive learned, I learned from this library or from life. I only go to school to get grades and because I have to go. I dont learn much from the teachers. They waste my time. Andy admitted. Sometimes I have to correct their mistakes.
What an arrogant young man, she admonished him. If you were my son, youd have respect for authority.
Andy smiled, My father has no respect for authority.
Well, Ive never been so insulted, she huffed, Here are your books. Happy reading.
Andy placed the books in his bikes wire basket, and pedaled his bike on the dirt service road alongside the railroad tracks. As he got closer to home, he had to pick up his bike and carry it over the tracks while stepping on the gravel making a crunch, crunch, crunch sound then got back on the bike.
He was halfway down the block when, suddenly, dashing out by surprise from between two bushes, the neighborhood bully jabbed a stick between the wheel spokes and caused Andy to flip over onto the sidewalk, spilling the books. Andy was more infuriated that the books were disrespected than that fact that he scraped his arm. The bully then taunted, Haw haw haw! Sissy book-reading Spic nerd! and ran away.
For the rest of the summer, while other teenagers went on dates, played in the polluted L.A. river, smashed windows with rocks, got in trouble with the police, went to the beach, or worked with their fathers on the loading docks, Andy continued digesting the librarys psychology section. Some of the books said things like,
love to be heard and acknowledged. Other books said,
to get people to do what YOU want them to do, you need to feed them enough information so that they think they arrived at the idea all by themselves. One book advised, Leave ego out the door. The object is to get a goal achieved, not to get credit for achieving the goal. Another book advised, Always make your opponent fight you on your ground. You know your ground best.
By the end of summer, Andy concluded, Now I know what I need to do, but first, I need to take care of that bully and make an example of him. But how?
Andy stopped reading and stared out the window at his grandfathers great plum tree. It still held a swing his father made many years ago. Andy used to swing on it when he was younger. Sometimes, some of the neighborhood youngsters liked to come and swing on it. The plum tree produced some of the very finest plums. They were dark purple and ultra sweet on the inside. This had to be the tree the Sugar Plum Fairy liked to visit. People could not buy plums like this at the supermarket because they were picked too soon.
Grandpa José left his little garage house to collect old lumber at his friends house, El Radio. His friend had told him he could cart away the wood for free so he could cut it into firewood. The fireplace was the main source of heat for the house in winter. It took all summer to scrounge up enough firewood for the winter.
An idea hit Andy. Now that Grandpa was away, Andy went into the kitchen to gather oranges, apples, bananas, apricots lemons and sewing string.
Im glad to see youre going to be eating more fruit, Maria congratulated him.
Andy walked out not acknowledging his mom. He was rude, but didnt know it. He proceeded to climb the tree with the sewing string and fruit assortment. One by one, Andy tied each fruits stem to twigs on the plum tree. The prank took about half an hour for all the fruit to be hung like Christmas ornaments.
Andy sat back and continued reading his library books in a chair by the window where he could discretely spy on his grandfather whenever he returned. After two hours, Andy saw Grandpa José was walking up the dirt driveway whistling some unknown tune. Jose looked up at the fruit variety in the plum tree, stopped whistling, reverently took off his hat, put it over his heart and said in Spanish, ¡Milagro! (Miracle!) He then turned and ran to the street and disappeared from view. Who would have known an 84 year old man could run like that? Within ten minutes, he returned with six of his closest friends. They all saw the fruit and took off their hats while saying, ¡Es un Milagro! ¡Si. Es un Milagro! ¡Milagro!
El Radio looked more closely and chuckled, Theyre all held up with sewing string! Andy pulled another prank! The men started laughing and began slapping Grandpa Jose with their hats. He began laughing too. Andy laughed as well. They saw him laughing and laughed even harder.
The following morning, Grandpa José was in the kitchen at 4 AM, dropping the last remaining Mexican chocolate wheel into the boiling milk. Tsk! he spat out. Not enough chocolate! Jose remembered seeing some chocolate in the bathroom medicine cabinet. He thought it was a bit strange storing chocolate there, but decided to go get it. Opening the cabinet door, he pulled out the little thin foil package. He slowly read the words, Ex Lax Lax a tive. Que nombre extraño. (Ex Lax Laxative. What a strange name.) He took the Ex Lax to the kitchen and dropped the entire bar into the mix and stirred it.
At 4:45 AM, Andy was lying in bed reading the L.A. Times as he usually did every morning before accompanying his grandfather on his morning rounds. This morning would be different. The door to his bedroom burst open. José rushed through his room towards the bathroom. His hand hit the door, but it did not open.
Pedro, El Gato, was inside and grunted, ¡Aqui estoy! (Im here!)
Grandpa pleaded, ¡Tengo cue ir! (I have to go!)
Annoyed, Pedro begged, ¡Esperase! (Wait a bit.)
Suddenly, Grandpa shouted out, ¡Ayyyyy! ¡Mi cage! (I shat myself!) and put one hand behind his butt and the other hand under his crotch as he walked out in a bow-legged fashion. His raised pant legs revealed his ankles.
Andy laughed. I now know how to take care of the bully!
After breakfast, Andy walked to his backyard and opened his fathers rabbit hutch. The rabbits saw him coming. Roughly translated, the rabbits thought, Its not the tall creature. Nuts. The tall dark creature would feed us. What does the short dark creature want? Andy opened the door with a metal pooper scooper in his hand. The short creature wants our shit! Is he going to eat it? the rabbits wondered.
Andy gathered the M&M sized rabbit pellets and placed them in a bowl. He waited for his mother to leave the kitchen. Next, Andy found his sisters secret cache of Hersheys milk chocolate in the linen closet. He melted the chocolate in a tiny pot over a low flame. Using some tweezers, he dipped each rabbit pellet into the chocolate, placed them on wax paper, and let them harden in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Since Andy didnt really have any friends of his own in the barrio at this time, he asked his much more social sister, Lupe, to gather her chola (female gang wannabe) friends so they could witness Andys peace offering to the bully. These girls hid singled-edged razor blades in their hair and wore hooker mascara. They would wear micro-mini-skirts and hot pants to school even in winter. Lupe told her friends, My brothers going to make the bully eat shit! Pass it on essas! (barrio slang for you people).
The girls and many of the guys looked forward to seeing this bully humiliated and called each other on the phone, Did you hear what Lupes brother is planning? they asked each other. Not only was the bully mean, but when they were younger, when their volleyball would fly into the bully's yard, the bully or his parents would seize the ball, stick a knife in it and toss it back to the kids.
At noon, the bully appeared at the gathering, Hey Spic nerd! the red-haired, freckled, swaggering boy spat out, Whatcha got for me? Chocolates? What a girly-girl thing to do! He looked at the bowl of chocolates and continued, Didja wear a girly-girl apron when ya cooked these?
He began chewing the cholate covered rabbit pellets. In unison, the cholas let out a collective, Ewwww, but he didnt think anything of it. He was not brighter than a flickering 10-Watt light bulb. He grabbed entire handfuls of the M&M sized candies without offering to share them with anyone else. He swaggered away taking the bowl with him, Thanks for the chocolates taco bender. Dont get any ideas its gonna buy ya any peace from me. Haw haw!
Soon, word spread about how Andy had made the neighborhood bully eat shit. There would be no way for the bully to live it down once he found out. Everyone was implicitly on notice they could be next if they messed with Andy.