Thursday, December 03, 2020

The Autobiography of Someone Else - 18

Harry and I began to hang out with Jim. Just another loser with a mother who knew our mothers. Is that not how lifelong bonds are formed?

I sensed that Jim was interested in more than television and Atari and Star Wars and sports. Well, he did like guns and swords and tanks. That was normal but he liked them more than me, more than most. In the library I’d look for race car books. There was one with black and white pictures of North American sports car races in the ‘60s, a book that was already old and nobody cared. Triumphs and Corvettes with roll bars winding through the fields and up and down the hills. This is all I wanted to see.

Jim came over to my house one day to build model airplanes and we had a strangely ceremonial lunch, as though my parents had to check him out to be my girlfriend. The hamburgers were underdone, almost raw. I gamely swallowed clumps of cool, mealy meat, dressed in pickle relish and Heinz Tomato Ketchup, as Jim excitedly explained why he’d prefer a knife to a machine gun in hand-to-hand combat.

“A machine gun might jam,” he said. “With a knife, you can stick it in the other guy’s body.”

I gulped my iced tea and the lemon wedge knocked my nose. My parents examined Jim with some concern.

“Unless you have a bayonet on the gun. A bayonet is the best,” Jim exclaimed. “It’s like a knife!”

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