Thursday, March 29, 2007


Sometimes I like to write short stories.
No. Correction. I always like to write short stories.
It’s just that I don’t always do it!
If I had less limits upon my time, and was a little more courageous with what I’ve got, I would be writing more.
That’s my current excuse[s]!
Some of my stories are more like little vignettes. In fact, I prefer to think of them as “scenes”. This takes the pressure off!
From time to time I would like to share some of these scenes with you here on Bookpuddle.

I am a writer, but the kind that spends most of his time tottering on the nest. Occasionally a breeze knocks me off and I flap around, swoop, and somehow get something near to a horizontal approach as I thud and tumble onto the ground.
But I always have to climb back up that tree, foot over wing.
I long for the day when I will fly, breeze or no breeze.

Here is one of my scenes:

• The Lenkos •

There were quite a few rickety and tumble-down houses on Emmett Street but none as ready to collapse as this one. Eight people lived in it, the Lenkos. They didn’t smell good.
Legend had it that it was the house itself that smelled, and mostly of cabbages. Like rot. As you walked down Emmett, and got closer and closer, the smell would be there to meet you. Year round! So, perhaps the place transferred its age-old unwashed dilapidation onto its inhabitants? This was a widely accepted theory, and Lenko lineage had outlived any current townsfolk that could say any different. The address had served many generations of the same family.
The only other theory, its corollary, that the bodily odor of the family had in itself affected such an amount of atmospheric square footage, seemed harder to believe. At any rate, those of us who went to school with the Lenkos knew one thing for certain. The stench was real and distinct, and whether it was on them or in them was irrelevant to anyone involved in the act of breathing, as we schoolkids so often were.

Kenny Lenko, the one closest to my age, ate spiders. It was Jim Clark that saw him doing it at recess one morning. Over by the wooden shed where the janitor Mr. Speers locked up the soccer balls and baseball bases and stuff. There was Kenny, hunched over in the corner. Picked one of those big-bellied jobbies right off of its web and popped it into his mouth, just as Jim’s shadow loomed from behind over the entire scene.
Within minutes the entire playground knew of it. And every kid wanted to see a repeat performance, instant replay if available. Even the other Lenkos!
Kenny was dragged to every corner of the school, every webby dark place, smelling bad the whole way there. It was not a good day to be a spider. Kenny ate all that we could find for him.
And the boys laughed and jeered, and the girls danced around and chanted:

Lenko, Lenko!
You really stenko!
Kenny Lenko!
You really stenko!

His siblings, up till then an equally raucous part of the proceedings, and perhaps even feeling that their family had produced a sort of mythical hero, now sank bank, realizing that joining in meant self-abasement. They huddled together in their little cloud of mutual fumes.
And I sang the song and pointed and danced.

In the winter we would play hockey at a rink behind the high school. An unwritten yet clearly understood rule when forming teams was that no Lenko was allowed, as their distinct odor was not seasonal in nature. It was as bad in January as July. They could watch, but from far away. Every so often we might get one or two of them to clean the fresh fallen snow from the ice, which they willingly did.
One day we played furious hockey until long after the streetlights were on. As night advanced, one by one, even future NHL hopefuls trotted off home. I stayed. This one night, I was left on the rink alone.
I skated on, as one possessed. Providing play-by-play commentary, I raced around the rink, slapping the puck past invisible goaltenders, and then flying around the net with all of the gyrations of the pros! I would collapse on the ice, listening to the thousands of fans cheer.
On one of my circuits around the rink, I was flying at top speed, stick-handling like Guy Lafleur (who was real big back then) when all of a sudden my skate hit a rut in the ice and I went hurtling forward, out of control, right into the boards.
I was impaled.
The hockey stick, which at the point of impact had been straight out in front of me, dug into the foot of the boards. The other end dug into my abdomen, lifting me off the ice, and snapping the stick in two. I lay there writhing and sucking air from all seven continents of the earth, blood on the ice from some sort of bonus wound.
Gasping like a pickerel in the sand.
There was the sound of someone running towards me. Run run run, slide. Run run run, slide.
I was being rolled over onto my back, and then I could feel my legs being bent at the knee, pumped back and forth so that my breathing could get in sync again. And it worked.
I was being hoisted up. The clicking of my skates against the ice.
All the way home, which admittedly was not very far, I was supported by this Rescuer of the Bleeding and Skewered. My skates on the asphalt. My skates on the concrete.
Until I was set down on the steps of my own house. I did not go in but just leaned my head against the cold siding, and said “Thank you” as Kenny the Spider-Eater turned back and smiled, not saying a word. He was already walking away.

And as I leaned there against the house, all I could think of was how the whole way home, from the rink through the little alleyway, then the front of the school and then all the way down Argyle Street to here, to right here... I did not once smell cabbage. Or rot.
And yet everyone knows. I mean, it’s a well-known fact that their odor is not seasonal in nature.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2007



Stefanie said...

That's a good story, or scene as you call it. Very nice!

Beth said...

I like it. Very much.
Haven't read your blog long enough to know if you submit your stories (or scenes, vignettes) anywhere.
Hope you do.

cipriano said...

Thank you both, for your comments.
In the next little while, I hope to post more...
-- Cip