I pulled this, thought it was going to run somewhere, it didn’t, now it’s back, I sort of like it…..it’s…..
Something Sitting Around Unedited
The Proto-Sprawl Lights of a pre-Jackass/CKY World
By Andrew Earles
Though he may likely be dead or the worst kind of MIA, the protagonist of this non-fiction account will nonetheless have his true identity hidden. He will be referred to as ?the Sarge?(1) ? a very real, self-appointed, and encouraged nickname. The period I?m documenting here is roughly ?86 ? ?90, the end of junior high and much of high school, for both the Sarge and me. The boy was the consumate sociopath with inventive, tragic, bullying, hilarious, and predictably dangerous tendencies. The Sarge was of the common vandalistic, abusive stripe that always needed one thing: An audience. Many members of the audience were treated badly. Unsurprisingly, being ravenous gluttons for punishment in the name of entertainment, most of us came back for more. We always strolled into the backyard where the Sarge waited; firing broom handles from his father?s deer bow, or chasing us with pellet gun that shot wet wads of toilet paper. The Sarge lovingly dubbed one member of our group ?beefhead.? ?Beefhead,? by no stretch of the truth, received the brunt of the Sarge?s wrath, probably due to his status as a latchkey kid living with a single mom. Beefhead?s home was a macro example of what happened to most of us at one point or another. If the Sarge was heard to be laughing maniacally and running out of the front door, one could bank on finding a steaming pile of shit in the middle of the hallway. Letting the Sarge dwell unaccompanied in a section of the home was a reliable mistake. The Sarge once located a twelve-gauge shotgun in Beefhead?s house, discharged it into the back wall of a closet, and then sat down in the den area to resume watching a porno. Food items were taken from the freezer or fridge and hidden behind couches to rot. Things were put in the microwave for thirty minutes.
There were those less lucky than Beefhead. They can be counted amongst the motorists, pedestrians, homeowners, food service and retail workers of our extended neighborhood. While prowling on Mischief Night (Oct. 30), we approached a lone johnny-on-the-job sitting in the middle of a construction site. A voice came from inside: ?Ken, is that you?? The Sarge turned to us with a shushing motion, and then, single-handedly, tipped the plastic outhouse over onto its door. Though the screams would indicate death or serious injury, the kid eventually escaped. The next day, the potty was on its side, door swung open, dried contents all over the place.
A turning point came when the Sarge?s already embattled parents allowed him a driving work permit and full use of a 1986 Ford LTD. This car was named ?the L? ? a predictable catalyst for an elevated stage of cruel hi-jinks. The Sarge was constantly yelling obscenities from his window. Couples strolling down the sidewalk were treated to a bellowed ?start fucking!!!!? A pump-fueled .22 caliber pellet pistol was kept under the driver?s seat. Men mowing their yards were shot in the bare legs as the L slowly rolled through nearby subdivisions. Random ?fucking assholes!!!? were fired upon as they arced past in the turning lane. Drive-thru workers were drenched with squeeze chocolate syrup as the Sarge feigned a soft-drink order.
I lived at the corner of a cove and a moderately busy two-lane road; an approximate one and a half minutes from where the Sarge resided. Like me, he was an only child living with both parents. My bedroom afforded a vast view of the immediate neighbors, and my bedtime in 9th grade was around ten thirty or eleven. I often slipped through the house, offing the ringers on each phone, barring the one in my bedroom. One night, the Sarge called to notify me that the L was being surreptitiously taken out, and that I should be looking out the window in ten minutes. Obeying, I witnessed the Sarge pulling into the yard of my across-the-street neighbors, flooring the L, destroying the yard and taking out a mailbox in the process. Minutes later, the phone rang. Under heavy breathing and giggling, I was asked, ?Did you see that??
Once mobile, a regular after school activity would consist of small gatherings in the Sarge?s kitchen, where the arsenal was conceived for his daily two hours of terror (before his parents arrived home from work). One hot afternoon, he mixed cat feces, human urine, cat litter, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, chocolate syrup, toilet water, pickle juice, milk, and toothpaste into a 64 ounce Big Gulp cup. The concoction was delicately transported around an adjacent neighborhood until the Sarge located his preferred target: Kids playing in a yard. Stopping the car and motioning a kid closer, the short conversation went like this:
?Excuse me, I?m lost, can you tell me where Winchester Avenue is??
?Yeah, it?s right over?AAAAAYYYYYYYHHHHHHPPPHHHH!!!!!!?
There were things that I wasn?t present for, though I harbor no doubt that they occurred. Such as the time that the Sarge brazenly walked into a stranger?s unlocked apartment, snatched car keys from the kitchen countertop, and absconded with a Ford Escort. Hiding the car behind a warehouse until nightfall, he then snuck out of his bedroom window and drove the car into a golf course pond. Strangely, this one was done solo.
Later in the story, we see the rare occasion in which I?m driving. The car: 1987 Buick Century. Riding passenger, the Sarge made known that he was going hook a nearly full carton of chocolate milk into an open window of the also nearly full school bus traveling next to us. Thrown with excessive force, the carton cleared the bus. A minute later, while we are stopped at an intersection, the Sarge looks in his rearview mirror and begins that laugh.
?Roll ?em up?lock the doors!!?
In my mirror, a man is running between the stopped automobiles. He is covered in chocolate milk, and soon wants me to ?get out of the fucking car!!!!? I run the red light, leaving chocolate milk fist streaks down the side of the Buick. To this day, I?m convinced that I?m paying for this one?or all of them.
It should be no surprise that the Sarge played a large part in introducing me to pornography, N.W.A., drugs, Too Short, amateur explosives, The Accused, esoteric self-defense and homemade weaponry, the nuances of shoplifting, and prank calling. Some of these things, I outgrew, but I?m going to venture a guess that the Sarge?s future was different. The class goes away (and every class had one of these guys), the audience leaves, the urges go in the directions hinted at by the years of red flag behavior. Aside from a chance grocery store encounter in the mid-90?s, I last spoke with the super-vandal in ?91 or ?92. There?s the chance that the Sarge retreated and embarked on a nondestructive adulthood, then there?s the chance that the following rumor, told to me years later by a random couple of school friends, holds water. The Sarge may have gotten drunk and unloaded a .9mm skyward before stumbling back into his apartment, where he was later ripped from bed by the police. Not so meaty, but then again, I didn?t want to hear meaty.
1. The nickname can be traced back to 4th grade, and specifically to a lunch ritual, in which empty Jungle Juice or milk cartons were filled with food/drink leftovers, inserted with a straw, and moved around the table like a toy tank. ?Who?s going to get the Sarge today?!?!?!? was repeated until an unlucky soul ?got the Sarge? – they were on the receiving end of the carton being smashed; its contents spewing through the straw.