The Life of a Young Creep or Ladybug Massacre
by Krammer Abrahams
"I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee." –Vonnegut
"I am not one of Vonnegut's sons. Therefore, I sometimes participate in massacres." –Adlai Ladder
When they started calling me Aids Ladder, and then Aids Baby, in high school I didn't really mind so much. I mean I was never popular to begin with so it wasn't like the name was going to make my lack of a sex life suffer any worse than it already had. Girls tended to keep their distance. They wouldn't dance with me at formals. Again, I didn't mind. Sure, there were times when I tried too hard and would write them excruciating long notes and then react badly when I didn't get the desired answer I'd hoped. For example one time I followed up one of these notes by giving a girl the head of a teddy bear, with the stuffing hanging from the neck. I hung it to the girl's locker. In the back of my head I thought she might think I was rebellious or punk and this would change her opinion of me, but it only made her think I was creepy and weird. Girls only like the rebels that are good looking.
Mostly, I felt bad for my imaginary lab partner in Biology class. I felt bad because his mother had aids. So did his father. His dog probably didn't, but I think everyone said it did. All the plants in the house supposedly had it. The doorbell had it. This lab partner lived right in the middle of an epidemic and for a long time I think he thought the other kids in the class were talking about him when they'd call out my nickname. Most lab periods were spent trying to explain to him that they were talking about me when they said 'Aids Baby.' The teacher would usually sigh when I said I needed more time to finish the lab and tell me she'd be in the lab after school if I wanted to come by.
One day my lab partner came to class and said he had a secret to tell me.
"I did it," he said.
"Did what?" I said.
"I got aids."
"I had my mother give it to me."
"Why'd you do that?"
"I was just sick of it hanging over my head."
"What'd you mean?"
"I mean every day I lived with this sickness around me and was always worrying about what would happen if I got it. It just seemed inevitable. I knew one day that I'd get sick too. I was tired of waiting."
"So what now?"
"Just got to sit back and let it do its thing."
"It could be a long time."
"Yeah, or it could be tomorrow."
And that was the end of my imaginary lab partner. It was pointless for him to continue working with me if he was going to die in the coming days. I know it sounds stupid because we're all going to die in the coming days, but at that moment with his newfound sickness it seemed right. I passed in my lab on time that day. I think my lab partner felt a little sad because I stopped being his partner and if it had been prior to 1999, before the mass of school shootings swept the nation, then maybe I would have had my imaginary lab partner return and kill us all, but we were in a new century. Those ways were tired. It was best if I just let my lab partner die quietly by himself with his aids mother and aids father in the back of my mind. Still, when I was feeling really self-loathing I would sometimes wish that he would walk through the door with a pump-action shotgun. And later on the news the ones who escaped could tell how the boy with the aids mother and aids father shot their friends and how the biology teacher saved the rest by trying to wrestle the gun away.
To be honest I had no nicknames in high school. It was quite the opposite. Few knew my real name. They could recall my name was a little weird and it made them chuckle during roll call, but if we met on the street they would have never said, "Hey Adlai, what's the good word?
I was bored one day so I made parachutes out of tissues and tied lady bugs to them. Each lady bug rested patiently in my hand as I wrapped the string around it. I climbed up on the roof using the neighbor's ladder my father had borrowed years before. At the top I set them free, but before I did I lit the tissues on fire. When my mother came home she asked why I was on the roof. My appearance on the roof must have distracted her because she didn't notice the smell of torched homemade parachutes. Neither did she notice she was stepping on the corpses of a dozen dead lady bugs. Goodbye burnt ghosts and so long tiny red cracked peanut shells. My distracting appearance on the roof was a product of more homemade crafts. I wore a helmet made out of cardboard milk cartons. I hadn't bothered to wash them out and my forehead was coated with dried sour milk. Also, I was only wearing thermal underwear pants. I had bought it the previous winter at a church rummage sale. My mother didn't tell me to get down off the roof. She sighed and went in to make dinner. When dinner was ready my mother called me down from the roof. By then I had sent twenty-nine lady bugs floating to a fiery death. When I got to the table she put a casserole in front of me and kissed my head. "What's that smell?" she asked. I didn't tell her. She still made me wash my head before I ate. When I finished in the bathroom the casserole was cold. I imagined a thousand cookie soldiers marching these chilled noodles to the slaughterhouse, but before I could dump my dinner in the garbage disposal and grab the Oreos my mother said she would warm up my plate in the microwave. I thought about cursing modern technology, but then I was reminded of the great mushroom clouds I had seen on TV and thought about the day when the whole world would be turned into one giant cloud. I mumbled to myself that mother would someday get hers. By the time she tucked me in at night I had forgiven her. "You make good casserole Mother," I said and she turned out the lights.
Someone broke into my gym locker and put my running shorts in the shower with the water running. Whoever did it didn't have the courtesy to turn the nozzle on hot. As a result I was left with damp, chilly legs that made a trail of puddles wherever I walked. No one had the courage to admit to the prank, but it was obvious who was involved by the way they changed quickly and ran out to the basketball courts. I imagined they were telling all the pretty girls in class that I had a leaky bladder. Luckily, I played a believable, sulking pushover as I pretended to dry the wet spots in my shorts. The hand dryer only blew cold air but I didn't care. All the other boys soon left me alone in the locker room to do my own thing. I thought about shitting in all their backpacks, but at the moment I didn't have the resources for a single shit let alone fifteen to twenty. Besides I considered myself to be a creative person and wanted to come up with something better. I wanted the aspiring girls on the school newspaper to write stories about me.
"There is this freak in my gym class. His name is Adlai. Oh my god, what a stupid name right? Anyway, last Wednesday at the start of gym class he came running out of the locker room with black lines drawn on his entire body. One girl thought they were supposed to be zebra stripes. I thought it was just weird. The gym teacher, Mr. Henry, was chasing him, but was too overweight to catch him. Before long the naked freak was jumping on a lot of the boys in the middle of the courts. It makes sense that a freak like that would be gay. Even though we apparently had nothing to worry about all the pretty girls ran to the corner screaming. At that point he was trying to kiss all the boys. Eventually someone was able to pull him off and drag him to the office. As they did the freak kept screaming something about squishing bugs and soaking his gym shorts."
I am not gay. My plan was to run out of the locker room naked with feathers drawn all over my body and begin pecking out everyone's eyes like my nose was a beak. This was my plan and the whole school would have been talking about me, but the gym teacher came in and told me to hurry up and get changed so I pulled on the damp shorts and went out dealt with the pointing and snickering at the wet spots. In my mind I kept thinking about what I would yell if I had decided to peck out all their eyes. I decided something about how everyone deserved what they got and how I was the overlord of massacring lady bugs.