Richard Fidget Or, The Sordid Tale of the Memory Mirror (a Parable of Puberty)
My name is Richard Fidget. Hi there. I'm pretty tall for my age (13), with hair somewhere between the colors of brown and blond (though slightly more on the brown side), eyes somewhere between the colors of blue and green (though slightly more on the blue side), and a shit-eating grin. I like action movies. I do not like school plays. My favorite food is Betty Crawford's Instant Mashed Potatoes. I once lied on a book report about Sarah, Plain and Tall, mainly about how much of it I had actually read. I don't enjoy school but I do enjoy the people I get to see there everyday.
There, now you know a little bit about me.
My father is a 250 pound, 5'9" manager at a sports merchandise store. He coughs whenever he farts, to try to cover it up. It occurs regularly enough to merit my mentioning here. My brother, four years my senior, left home two summers ago and hasn't been seen since. My mother(dearest) moves all my stuff around from the places where I knew they were. Then when I say I can't find something she says it's because I'm not organized. I have given up arguing at this point.
I tell stories. I like to make them up for gullible people. Don't call me a liar. I just like to make people to believe things that aren't true. This story, though, is true, I think, at least as far as my memories serve me. My memories don't serve me as well as they used to, quite unlike the high definition memories found in the mirror this whole story is about.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
On the afternoon of April the twelfth, at approximately 4:20 PM, I was walking down a street that conventional folk wisdom would dub as "like any other." It was indeed like any other street in the fact that it was a two-laned suburban causeway lined with homes in the shape of various variations on a theme. The level of care for the lawns varied very little. It was overall satisfactory in effect, though the taste in décor was questionable for some of the less affluent households. The sky was partially cloudy with a chance for occasional drizzles, a cutesy term which meteorologists use to denote light precipitation. I was wearing a jacket made out of non-absorbent material, as the thought of being drizzled on was not ideal for me. A slight breeze ruffled my hair, which perturbed me, as even though my hair is perpetually messy and disheveled, I like it messy and disheveled the way I have it messy and disheveled.
Happenstance led me to lay my eyes on a certain David Kowalski, an obese middle-schooler of comparable age to me who happened to also be one of my associates. He was wearing an oversize Lakers jersey, and donned a backwards baseball cap as it is the culturally hip way to wear that common style of hat at the present epoch. Kowalski was of an intimidating size, and possessed a piggish overall effect to his looks, in that he had quite pale skin, a shaved head, and tiny, beady eyes close to his inset pug nose. The jersey, by the way, though certainly large enough to envelope several of me by itself, was barely large enough for Kowalski, who I might add definitely needed something its size. It draped over him and looked suspiciously though wholly coincidentally like a muumuu.
"'Lo, Dave. Whatcha' knowin'?" I inquired, oozing with my own particular brand of semi-interest and incalculable self-amusement.
"Not much," he said, "I think I'm gonna kill this lady." It was at that moment that I noticed he was carrying a high-powered hunting rifle. Not that that is anything unusual for Kowalski. He has a good time entertaining himself by killing animals that happen to wander into his nearby trailer park, and by shooting cans that happen to be set up on rural fences out in the city of Moxie Moxee. It happens enough to merit my mentioning here.
"What lady?" I said.
"That one," he said, pointing with his rifle to a window across the street.
I looked. A woman of some years oozed over the sill. She was eating a Three Musketeers bar. Her pink skin flowed and jiggled uneasily each time she drove the sizable bar into her waiting chops. A fuzzy pink sweatshirt stretched over her. Her hair was a graying crow's nest, three inches away from being a boy-cut. Here was a woman who had let go of herself.
"Seems like as good of a target as any," I replied some moments later.
"Be prepared to meet the next William Tell," he said, taking aim. I should mention here that Kowalski is in no way "smart" or knowledgeable enough to have come up with anything as referential as the statement of his I just described to you. The origins of his usage of that phrase lie in an old 1999 Super-Soaker™ commercial. The surprisingly fresh advert depicted a youth wielding a brand-x squirt gun against a bound boy of some fewer years in a suburban back yard. "Prepare to meet the next William Tell!" the older boy exclaims just as he pulls the plastic trigger of his dollar store water gun, only to deliver a disappointing stream. Suddenly the younger boy breaks free of his bounds and pulls a Super-Soaker™ brand squirt gun up out of the ether in just enough time to cover the big boy in an endless stream of liquid. Freudian interpretations abound.
I should also note that Kowalski was in no way actually planning to kill that unknowing obese woman across the street. We frequently make such jokes that to the ears of strangers and passersby must sound, admittedly, alarming, though much more on the part of Kowalski than my own. It's better to clear the air now, as many a time have we shared misadventures over another's simple misunderstandings. It happens enough to merit my mentioning here.
But enough about that. I believe the line that led off on this insufferable tangent was Kowalski's uttering of, "Be prepared to meet the next William S. Burroughs."
"Horse shit," I replied, "Ho-o-o-rse shit."
"Horse shit yourself, fudge-packer."
And so on.
It just so happened that I was having a very good day. It was because of this very simple fact that I had sought out this mundane suburban street, and by extension, Kowalski, in the first place. I would talk about that, but it would spoil some really classic lines shared between Kowalski and yours-truly that, I promise, are only a few moments ahead in the story line. So, in order to avoid spoiling the tension too soon, I'll talk about boners.
Boners, one of the various colloquial terms for the erection of a human penis, are a rather funny thing. Though they certainly can vary in measurements of length and girth, the majority of them are approximately 5.8 inches (that's 13.5 centimeters for all you foreigners) from base to top upon achieving full tumescence. Their main purpose is to probe the dark and mysterious region known as the vagina. My boner is approximately 6.3 inches in length. Kowalski's, though I assure you that I speak from the perspective of an all-knowing narrator and not from first hand experience, is a paltry 4.9 inches long. I am ahead of my age group in that respect, not just especially Kowalski, though he is fortunate enough to posses an intact foreskin.
There, the time is officially killed. Here is how the next few lines of our conversation went (pay close attention as it's quite integral to the entire story):
"What are you grinnin' about?"
"Nothing my ass."
"Your ass is many things but certainly is not small or inconsequential enough to qualify as nothing."
"Aren't you going to ask me again why I'm smiling in such a picaresque fashion?"
"Picaresque. From the French."
"Oh. Pick-yer-ass is more like it."
"Hilarious. But no, seriously, I do have something of interest for you (At this point I should note the general look of distrust that crossed over David's eyes. It was quite understandable because, like I said in the first paragraph, I enjoy making up stories to feed to people, specifically the gullible. Kowalski, to this day, is still quite gullible but as his furrowed brow at this current passage indicates, he is still willing from time to time to willingly suspend his belief, so to speak. Oh my this is a long parenthetical statement.)"
It was at this moment, I believe, that I pulled out the main McGuffin of this story, a small hand mirror of rather garish but not overall baroquecharacteristics; it was an unusually bright tangerine orange color, made of petroleum-based polymers, with a surprisingly unscratched reflective surface and a cheesy Victorian style floral pattern molded on the back. However, this was no mundane piece of kitsch. Little did the unassuming Kowalski know at that particular moment when the first photons of light bounced from the mirror's surface to his corneas that I held possibly the most valuable and fantastic hand mirror ever constructed.
"Yeah, so what?" Kowalski spat.
"Ye of little faith. What is this glimmer of doubt that dances in those dull hazel eyes of yours? Have I ever led you astray?"
Here Kowalski was silent, glaring at me.
"But this time, I swear to you my good friend, the situation is completely different."
For a moment Kowalski's features softened, "How?"
It was those moments of softening that endeared me to dear Kowalski (in a strictly platonic sense, I swear). It was always indication of that treasured suspension of disbelief. You too can have it; all you need is to apply a little heat and pressure to your intended mark. The only difference between gullible people and butter is that when butter melts, it goes well on top of a variety of potato dishes. But back to that conversation you've probably already half-forgotten about.
"I'll tell you how, Kowalski (remember, he asked, "How?" before the latest non-sequitur)." I gulped, "Better yet, I'll show you how. That way you'll know that none of it is, uh, horse shit."
I held the mirror before Kowalski's fat face.
"And…?" he asked.
But there was no need for him to continue, for something completely unexpected happened right before his eyes. Contained within that ugly little frame, the plate of the mirror, instead of reflecting Kowalski's less-than-Greek face, played a simple scene a young woman examining loose strands of hair.
"What the-" was all the duped Kowalski could manage.
"My thoughts exactly when I first found it. Look, here's another one."
The previous scene vanished and gave way to one of Yours-Truly facing dead-straight out from the other side of the mirror. I was waving, and then Me-Within-the-Mirror mouthed the syllables of Kowalski's distinct ethnic surname.
"What the hell!?" Kowalski exclaimed, squeezing the handle of the mirror as if the whole thing might squirm out and hop away.
"What is a very good question but I certainly have not come to the conclusion that what you clutch in your claw right now is the hell. I'm still pondering it myself, actually."
Kowalski's eyes bugged out, "Is it a TV? Is it a trick?"
"I assure you that it isn't."
He leaned in, real close, "What can you do with this thing?" he whispered.
"From what I've learned," I said, "It's a recording device, besides a mirror." I cleared my throat, "Anything it's reflected, and I mean anything, is stored in it forever. You can look at it anytime you wish. And you can look at other thing's it's reflected, too, just by thinking, wanting to see them. I spent all morning doing it. I made that little scene just for you, though the lighting quality was questionable."
Kowalski was, in contrast to me in regular circumstances, speechless.
"Do you realize what we could do with this?" I asked the confused boy standing in front of me.
"A million things," replied Kowalski, though in reality he had no ideas at the moment.
"Where did you get this?" he asked at last.
"It's an interesting enough tale in its own right. Come," I beckoned him to follow me back to my neck of the suburbs.
The clouds rumbled, and the drizzling finally came. I folded the sides of my coat over me, my collar popping up just a little bit. I noted as people often do in hackneyed attempts to be romantic that the rain makes everything smell so clean again. My own mind, however, would not be cleaned at all by the erratic drops of water that assaulted me from all sides. It would instead entertain dirty thoughts all the way home, boners notwithstanding.
This is my story. This is the mirror's story. What you see is never certain to be what you get. There'll probably be some steamy, hardcore nudity, just to keep you interested, unexpected tragedy, and maybe I'll die halfway through it all, just to keep you on your toes. It began with my introduction and it will end with a kiss.
I swear all of this is true.