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Original artwork by Katie M. Zeigler

Bobolinko Almost Gave It Up

Kenneth Pobo

He started writing at 15, the year when he said “Fuck!” for the first time, swallowed his first martini, and fell in love with the boy next door.  He watched Meet Me in St. Louis several times, wishing he were Judy Garland, though he didn’t want to move to St. Louis even though Warbler Falls was like a tedious biology lab.  If he could be more patient, he knew he’d leave it in a few years.  College would be his rescuer.  Well, it seemed it could be then.

Allen, the boy next door, usually called Stamps because of his burgeoning stamp collection, focused mostly on Asian stamps.  When Bobolinko said “Hi Stamps, how are you?” Stamps would say “I’m fine.  I got something from Japan.”  Bobolinko liked to write song lyrics, mostly love songs, but sometimes about foibling adults.  He didn’t show them to anyone, told himself he’d be famous someday.  No one in Warbler Falls needed to know about him now.

One Thursday when he said, “Hi Stamps, how are you?” Stamps turned away, and said nothing.  When he asked if anything was wrong, Stamps called him a dumb girl and went inside the house.  Bobolinko was used to this kind of insult but not from Stamps who seemed like he’d never insult anyone.  At least to their face.  At school insults were like standing under the gym shower when freezing words ran down your body.  Insult wrote the curriculum, took attendance.

Bobolinko thought maybe he should quit writing song lyrics.  Now that Stamps hated him, what happy love songs could he write?  Yes, the sad ones could come.  He didn’t want to write those, not now.  

“Fuck!” he said, to his wicker chair.  He snuck some gin and vermouth into his room and made himself a martini, having seen his dad make them hundreds of times.  It felt like pine needles burning in his throat.  Maybe Stamps would ring the bell and apologize.  Maybe that would happen in a Judy Garland film, kind of near the end. It wasn’t likely to happen in Warbler Falls.  Little was likely to happen.    

On Monday morning, insult opened the door to let the students in.  The day began with geometry, messy triangles that needed to be proven, that resisted proof.  And died in chalk.