was the last day of eighth grade for Booger Bramlee. Bobby Dale
Treadwell was letting the booger drive his uncles souped-up
67 Camaro, the car he promised his Uncle Ike hed care
for while Ike was stationed overseas. Booger had had to take $50
out of his daddys wallet to bribe Bobby Dale and even then,
he wasnt sure the older boys would really let him drive
home after school. Bobby Dale and Jimmy were the two coolest boys
at the public high school. They were so cool, Booger wanted red
hair and freckles just like them. They were seniors. Booger
had just turned into the long lane leading up to his house; his
heart was racing fast as the Chevys engine, he was sweating,
and Booger Bramlee had a boner.
Geez Booger, slow down! Bobby Dale scolded.
Booger couldnt believe how theyd let him hang out
with them this last year. They couldnt either, at first.
They did believe he was a pudgy, spoiled, stupid pig-dog-chicken-boy
from the snooty kids' private school, and they knew Boogers
daddy was rich, rich, rich. Bobby Dale and Jimmy had noticed that
the booger could take anything he wanted from the stores in town,
and nobody would say a word about it. Theyd figured out
that when they had the booger in tow, they could take anything
they wanted, too. Booger and his daddy lived in the Grove, and
everybody knew what that meant. People who lived in Burwell Grove
owned the whole wide world. Jimmy and Bobby Dale lived in Hamilton;
they knew theyd be lucky to get jobs for $2 an hour, and
so they never dreamed the booger would really come up with $50
to drive the Camaro.
Gee Bobby, this is great! Im doing a good job, arent
I? The booger was taking the car around the second turn
in the long winding lane up to his house.
Bobby wasnt so sure about the good job bit. He was having
trouble seeing the road. The sunlight filtering through the trees
was hitting the dusty windshield like a driving rain, making it
hard to see. Slow it down a lit- dammit watch out!
There was a boy in the lane.
Booger swerved and ran off into a field, somehow missing the trees
that sheltered the lane. Jimmy and Bobby Dale were screaming all
kinds of Jesus names, giving Him a bunch of new middle names
and everything. Booger didnt care, he loved it when the
older boys cussed. He wasnt hurt himself, and his daddy
would fix anything bad. He thought it was funny and started laughing
Who was that in the road? Was that Hammond? Hammond
was a year behind Bobby Dale and Jimmy in school; Hammonds
parents worked for the boogers daddy. We gotta check
on him. Did you hit him? Jimmy ran off to check.
Look at this mess you made, Bobby pointed at soda
cans and a bags of chips and candy spilled on the floor. If
you dinged up my car Im gonna put a hurtin on you,
you fartknocker! Bobby threatened, getting out to check.
Forget about Hammond, he aint worth checking on. He
was right there in the middle of the drive where he aint
even got no business. My Daddy will pay for your car if its
hurt, and it aint even really your car but my daddy will
Clutch had heard the car coming; he was thinking hed have
time to get over to the side, as it zoomed right by him. He turned
just in time to see the car miss him by a couple feet with a wild-eyed
Wallace Bramlee III at the wheel. Hed never seen anyone
drive so fast on the lane. Then he realized hed pissed himself.
Oh, great! Clutch ran off into the woods on the other side of
the lane and hid behind a tree.
I cant find Hammond anywhere theres no sign
of him! What should we do? Jimmy was out of breath from
Hes probably running on up to the house. He aint
important. Cmon, I want to finish my driving lesson.
Bobby Dale barked, Scoot yourself over you are finished.
You done got your moneys worth today.
you all right Gary? The quiet voice and the hand on Clutchs
shoulder startled him and he jumped. I didnt mean
to frighten you all over again. I was just out for a walk and
I saw what happened. It was Wallace Bramlee II. Clutch was
embarrassed and tried to cover the wet spot in his pants; he couldnt
look Mr. Bramlee in the face. He hoped Mr. Bramlee wouldnt
tell his daddy; the former drill sergeant would be upset his boy
had pissed his pants, humiliated his employer had seen it. Im
OK, Mr. Bramlee.
Just run along up to the house and get yourself cleaned
up. Wallace didnt mean any harm; hes fallen in with
a wild crowd, thats all. Ill check on you later; youre
sure youre all right?
Those older boys from town, theyre a bad influence
Wild crowd, Clutch thought as he walked slowly home. He could
still taste the muddy grit between his teeth from the dust the
Booger had stirred up tearing down the road. He hid deeper in
the woods as he heard Bobby Dales car coming back from the
Bramlee mansion. He hid his shame deeper still; it would be there
years later, long after hed traded his mothers bowl-guided
haircuts for a marine buzz cut, long after he would see the Booger
for the last time, long after his brown hair turned gray. Clutchs
dawdling and the afternoon heat dried his pants by the time he
got home, but his face remained red, fueled first by embarrassment,
and later by indignation. Bad influence, he thought, I could poop
a better booger.
SALISBURY is a native Kansan and has lived in Tennessee about
ten years. He was relocated by the Evil Empire Gas Company from
Overland Park to Franklin. He served as editor of his college
newspaper for two semesters and wrote and edited his companys
newsletter for two years. He dabbles in satirical essays, mean-spirited
haikus, and the occasional short story. He is
a member of the Williamson County Council for the Written Word
and Sisters in Crimes Nashville Chapter. He is an avid reader
to two book clubs.