Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Such Animal

Scott was a compulsive liar and a fat fuck besides. He had straight, brown hair in a bowl cut, bangs and braces. The rosy cheeks and skittish gaze of the serial dissembler. He wore corduroys and big, striped polo shirts and carried around an Adidas bag all the time. Back in the seventh grade we said it meant "all day I dream about sex."

Scott would sooner lie than tell you the time of day. He had a famished ego and he'd scramble and claw like an urchin in Calcutta for the least appetizing scraps of social advantage.

Anything. I been to Sweden. My dad owns a Porsche. Anything at all. I touched a girl's nipple. I was outraged. If someone lies like this, what good is it for anyone to tell the truth? I developed a burning desire to call him out on it some day. I wanted to see him stammer in denial, his protests growing more strident and absurd until the only path remaining was to accept his humiliation - the Truth! - in a baptism of tears. I thought this would be good for him, good for the world; I felt justified and righteous.

One day Scott sidled up to me in the hallway.

"Hey, you like Jimi Hendrix, right?"

"Yeah." I loved Jimi Hendrix with a mighty passion.

"I've got a really rare Hendrix single at home." Everything was always at home.

"What song?"

"No Such Animal."

I'd never heard of this song. Of course, I didn't want Scott to know that. If he knew I didn't know a song he knew, it didn't matter if he'd lied about owning Hendrix's exhumed skull. He'd have beaten me somehow. The title, I figured, he couldn't have invented. I recognized the ring of authentic Jimi Hendrix-title truth. Scott must have read about it somewhere and drummed up this obvious fib. I was a hunter with a big, dumb buck in his sights; I was nearly trembling with eagerness.

"Bring it in."


"Bring it in."

"Bring it in where?"

"Bring it in to school. Jesus."

"Why, dontcha believe me?"

"Yeah, Scott. I just wanna see it. Bring it in."


"Who the fuck cares when? Tomorrow." I was feeling good about this.

"OK, OK. I'll bring it in." Scott's face seemed a little ashen now. I felt like I'd landed a good first shot. The kill would come soon, and it was gonna be sweet.

I badgered Scott about it later that day. When he didn't bring it in the following morning I reminded him that I absolutely wanted to see it. Why? he asked again, and I just told him I wanted to and that was that.

"You don't believe me," he said.

"I don't know, Scott. If you have it, you can just bring it in, right? I wanna see it."

"You can't borrow it."

"I don't wanna borrow it. I just wanna see it."

This went on for a few days, until I decided to inflict the death blow.

"Scott, let me come over to your house after school. We can go play video games."

"OK," he said warily.

I got off at his bus stop with him that afternoon and walked into his house behind him, through the screen door to the dark and cluttered kitchen. There was no one home.

"Hey," I said, "where's that Hendrix single?"

"Oh, hold on a sec," Scott said, and disappeared upstairs. He walked back down a minute later. "Here, check it out," he said, and handed me a 45-rpm single in a tattered paper sleeve. I scrutinized the label in the sleeve's circular window. Here's what it said:

Jimi Hendrix

I handed it back to him without saying a word and I've never been the same since then.