Preview Episode 1
When I was seven, life seemed like a non-stop joyride, but when I turned eight it came to a screeching halt. That May, my father died in a freak accident…left for his usual round of Saturday fishing, and never came back. Nothing exotic happened. He was trying to reach a perfect spot and slipped on the rocks…landed on his head. The funeral was closed casket.
After that, things were rough for Mom and me. My dad was a lawyer who spent more time helping others than looking after us. Everybody loved him because he didn’t charge anything…a wink and a handshake…that was it.
Then, two years later, my mom got it in her head that her brother, Uncle Mike, would be the perfect substitute father. He was divorced with no children, so it seemed logical, and he moved in. Everything was fine at first. He indulged me…bought whatever I wanted, but then started coming in to say goodnight and stick his hand down my pajamas. “You’re going to be man of the house one day,” he told me, “so we better be sure everything’s working right.”
I didn’t know what to make of it. He never asked permission…just shoved his hand down along with running commentary. “Let’s see…you’ve got the essentials…let’s try a little something? Feel that? Wow, you do! Very good. Seems normal. Okay, we’re good for tonight. You and I need to keep an eye out for major changes…like puberty. You’re not there yet, but one day it’ll happen like magic…let’s keep this man to man. Puberty kicks in at different times for kids, and I don’t want your classmates making fun of you.”
Uncle Mike “checked me” for quite a while. The last time, he said “I think something’s happening,” and it definitely was, but by that time, I hated his little game. It was obviously just a shitty excuse to feel me up…he moved out not long after that, and two years later, got busted for molesting kids. I worried he’d made me gay, but I got so obsessed with girls, I forgot about it.
Now I’m fifteen, and haven’t grown much, except “downstream,” as my father used to say…there I’ve made impressive gains…a regular explosion…I’m afraid I’ll end up looking like a dick on legs. As far as height goes, I’ve been marking the wall by my mirror, praying for changes, but they’ve been infinitesimal. In the past year, I’ve grown like an inch, maybe…so I’m still the runt of my class by a long shot….but I’m no pussy. No fuckin’ way! I’ve had to fight for respect….anybody gives me shit, I dish it right back.
Height, unfortunately, is not my only disadvantage. At first glance, people think I’m a girl because I’m skinny, and hate barbers, so my brown hair piles up like a haystack and hides half my face. The only features you actually see are my nose and mouth which, admittedly, are too fucking delicate…I mean if you look closely, I’m obviously a guy. I love sports and get banged up a lot…so there’s usually a bruise or a bandage somewhere…and I play three sports, soccer, hockey and baseball. The coaches think I have a great future assuming I grow…they love me because I give 100%.
My troubles began last Spring when this kid Karl transferred from Michigan. He showed up at school one Monday in April and was a total asshole from the get-go…immediately zeroed in on me to make a name for himself. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. Our first meeting should have clued me in, but I partially blamed myself…in general, kids don’t know what to make of me because, in addition to everything else, I’m sort of a hipster and love cool clothes.The day we met, I’d frizzed my hair and was wearing my all-time favorite tee shirt, electric blue, with “I’D DO ME” in bright yellow letters.
When Karl showed up, I was standing in front of my locker in the old, dismal, part of the school. Our school is tiny. There are only forty kids in each class. They were thinking of combining our Mossbridge School with the larger Hitchcock School System, but so far, it hasn’t happened. Anyway our dumpy school is divided into a new part and an old part. I hate the old part, because absolutely no effort has been made to cheer it up. It’s like somebody said (cue music please) “this venerable building is reminiscent of a simpler time…after WW II when we’d cleaned out all those damned Nazis, fascists and Japanese crazies and prepared the world for…tah dah…the coming of American capitalism, the opiate of the privileged!” The place is an absolute abomination…layer on layer of shit brown paint so thick that none of the lockers, windows and doors close right…like you’re trapped inside a chocolate cake.
I’d just opened my locker when I saw my friend Nick coming down the hall a with this huge guy. I thought it was a teacher at first, but no such luck.
“Hey, Taylor,” he said, “say hello to our new basketball superstar, Karl Winch.”
I looked into a hawk-nosed face with squinty eyes and brown teeth…even five-o’clock shadow! He stared blankly, like I was invisible. I held out my hand, but he didn’t move…like I’d extended a tentacle or something.
“Hey,” he said to Nick, “Isn’t this high school?”
“Yeah…” Nick said uncertainly.
“This tiny kid’s in our class? What is he…a brain or something?”
“He’s our age,” Nick said. “Taylor’s one of the best hockey players.”
I puffed out my chest proudly.
“Field hockey?” Karl asked.
The guy was getting on my nerves…that deadpan face and stupid comments. I couldn’t let it slide. “Basketball and comedy too?’ I said. “Nice combination.”
The corner of Karl’s mouth curled up in an smirk.
“Taylor’s incredibly fast,” Nick said. “How many goals did you score last season?”
Karl cut in. “A lot of vermin are quick,” he said. “Ever seen a slow cockroach?”
My muscles tensed. “Stop trying to win me over,” I said sarcastically.
Nick looked anxiously between us. “We better get going,” he said to Karl. “There are a lot of other kids to meet.”
Karl didn’t move. Just glared at me. “Can I ask you a question?” He asked.
“Sure,” I said. “Assuming you can coordinate your mouth and brain.”
Karl’s brow furrowed. “Why the fuck would a little roach like you wear a gay tee shirt like that. ‘I’D DO ME?’ What’s that supposed to mean?”
Suddenly, I hated the guy so much I could taste it. He was a total unadulterated asshole, and neanderthal to boot. “Go fuck yourself!” I hissed turning to my locker.
He placed his big hand on my shoulder, and I shook it off. A crowd gathered and somebody yelled: “Taylor and the new kid are getting into it!”
“I want to tell you something,” he said in his rumbling voice. “I’ve met kids like you before. When they’re born, the doctors can’t tell if they’re a boy or a girl, so they flip a coin and do corrective surgery. That’s gotta be your problem, but hey, Roachboy, don’t worry about it. You’ll get used to however you end up…boy…girl…or both.” He smiled, obviously pleased with his rapier wit…a regular intellectual…and total douchbag.
Laughter rippled down the hall. I slammed my locker and faced him. I wanted to scream every obscenity in the book, but didn’t….just shook my head and stalked off.