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1982 Project Part 1 Montage/StoryShed Media LLC

The Boner of Dumond

“The coin’s singing, in my pocket.”

Curled up on a rock near the beach at Lake Wahlala, sipping the second shooter in an eight-pack of Blatz Light Cream Ale. Not the Miller High Life, Mad Dog. The shooters. The good shooters.

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Like fuck anything matters, man.

It’s a sunny day, Thursday in fact, July 27th—and a fucking awful day it is. Which is why I’m by the lake. Just finished two Burger Chef cheeseburgers and now suckin’ down this shooter. Not gonna look at the letter again. And not going back to work. Nope.

Like the fuck anything matters, man.

So digging in my pocket there’s that 50-cent piece Lianna gave me when I got change from her at the front desk. I was just about to bolt when I realized I didn’t want to break a 20 at the Muni, so Lianna gave me the change. She works reception at the Dumond Patriot & Press, where I work, too. Have for the last three years.

It’s a 1972 Kennedy half dollar. Thought it was weird because all I needed were quarters, for later, you know, at the bowling alley with Ray McKallen, my old high school buddy. It’ll be good to see Ray later because those shitheads at work don’t know how fucking hard it was for me to get the loan for school—only to have it all fall through today. That fucking letter.

And all that after coming back from England—Maddy and all that, too.

Lianna Olson’s cute, but she seems so young. We used to work a shift together at Rhy-Tech, the summer after I graduated high school. She has to be younger than me, but I never saw her at school. But there she was, doing factory work. So we started talking, about books and reading and she was really curious about how books got written and what writers were really like and I couldn’t tell her. No idea. Hell, I’m only 22. How the hell did I know?

So we used to play this game at Rhy-Tech: Word of the Day. Every time we started shift she’d asked me, “Hey Matt, what’s the Word of the Day?”

“Etymology of said word, too?”

Etemwhat?”

“No good just getting a word if you don’t know its history. So no more Word of the Day until you get the history, too.”

So, that’s what we did the summer of 1980. Then I quit Rhy-Tech, went to stay with my Mom in Sacramento for a couple months. Around then Jeannie called from Minneapolis. “When are you coming back to Minnesota? I miss you!” I think it was Mom who came up with the idea for me to see if I could stay with Uncle Phil and Aunt Margie while attending the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1980. Also, I think she wanted me out of the house. She was seeing this guy Norrie and all. Think that’s short for Northam, or Nordby, I don’t know. She never went into a lot of detail.

Jeannie liked the idea of me going to the U, but I wasn’t so hot on it. I didn’t like high school. Why would college be any different?

Phil and Margie Resler—Aunt Margie is Mom’s little sister—were happy to put me up, you know, have a young person in the house again, you know since Timmy died. Phil’s an all-right guy, but he’s paunchy and balding, and he has his snarly, dark moments. Aunt Margie is totally different from Mom, more flighty and fidgety. Mom never fidgets—she’s always prided herself on being a “woman of action.” I have one sister, Bonnie, who lives with her husband in Michigan … Ann Arbor, I think. Mom moved back to California after Dad died of a heart attack in 1977. We’d been living in Dumond, not too far from Phil and Margie.

“The coin’s singing…” It’s weird but I couldn’t get this out of my head sitting there by the lake, tossing Lianna’s half dollar around in my pocket.

Oh, and then that’s when Larry Beckman came in the shop. Larry’s an insurance agent or something in Dumond—Elvis-like cliff of black hair, loud polyester suits and annoying jovial buddy-buddy manner, since he’s buddy with my boss Harry Klemp, who owns the print shop side of Dumond Patriot and Press, while the Patriot’s newspaper publisher, Bill Schlasinger, owns the other half.

I’d gotten the letter from the college in Colorado yesterday and was in a bad mood the whole day—the paper bailer jammed on the folder, I was out of negative film in the darkroom, and we had a huge delivery of paper that need unloading in the back. I was fucking hating everything. When it was coming up to lunchtime, I decided—fuck it—I was going to bail for the day, get an eight of shooters and some burgers and drive out to the lake. At the time Margie loaned me her old Ford Fairmont while she was driving around a 1982 Saab Phil had just bought her. Essentially it was my car, although sometimes Phil used it for errands, so I had to clear out cigarette butts from the ashtray and shit so he didn’t pitch a fit next time he drove it.

Anyway, just as I was storming out of the shop, I remember the change thing and stopped at the front desk to see if Lianna could help me out. Lianna’s sweet, really. Thin, stringy, dirty blonde hair and a wicked smile—she’s gotta be 19 at least now, and I’ve wondered if she has a boyfriend, but she never says anything. She seems really grateful to not be working in a factory anymore and does her best answering the phone and helping customers at the print shop, or subscribers or advertisers for the Patriot. Lianna’s digging for quarters and that’s when she found the half-dollar. “Will this be okay?” she says to me.

In walks Larry Beckman and says, “Whoa, what’s that, little lady? A Kinneddy haf-dollah?”

I’m kinda in a hurry because I’m in fuck-this-shit panic mode and Lianna can kind of see that because we’ve worked together before and I could sense she saw that. Plus neither of us are terribly fond of ol’ Larry (of Harry-Larry, the combo nightmare when Klemp and Beckman get into their post-Legion Hall monster ball frame of mind), so it gets more irritating when Larry holds me back to tell me his latest goddamn joke.

“Mr. Durand,” he says. “Your lunch can wait. Tell me. What d’you call a Yugo with two tailpipes?”

I try to get around him. Lianna sees my frustration and chimes in. “I dunno, Lare, what do you call it?”

“A wheelbarroh!” Larry laughs as Harry emerges from his office, lit cigarette in his right hand. “What’d I miss? Beckman pull a boner again?”

Last thing I saw as I hurried out the door was Lianna.

Blushing.

So now I’m on my fifth shooter and I’m breaking the goddamn things on a rock. Between smashups, a black crow lands on a rock a couple feet from me, dipping a beak into the water and blinking in my direction. I’m thinking he’ll see me with that green glass poised to my lips and he’ll fly away. But he just stands there, blinking at me.

I’m like, what the fuck?

Wonder if a half-dollar will get me into college, Lianna. What do you think? Ghost of a chance?

I smash the drained shooter on the rocks and you bet Mr. Crow gets the hint and flaps away.

Driving back to Dumond, sucking down the last shooter and tossing it out the window. Damn right it’s July. July in the country. MOOOOO! Cor, this is good.

I’m feeling really good at this point, too good to go back to the shop and too early to get together with Ray at the bowling alley.

Someone is thinking of you, Maddy. Here I am with the windows down, a bellyful of beer and stupid fucking oldies on the car radio. Here’s your last love letter. Here’s one up your living life to the full. But you pronounced it Fool. Always trust first enunciation. Here’s to all we went through. Here’s to love and stiff shorts. Everything you could possibly imagine. Fill ’er up! It’s lead-free from the Boner of Dumond.

Whipping the old ’Mont by Farrow’s Pass, a great crappy song comes on the radio, Starblast or some dumbfuck name, and I’ve got the window down and feeling good and free and what the hell even singing along with—what’s that line? “You say you came to Baltimore from Old Miss, a Class of ’74 gold ring…” Heh-heh.

That’s when I saw him, walking along the side of the road with a gas can.

I pulled the ’Mont over, backed up a bit, and rolled down the window on the passenger side.

“Hey! Mr. Crownich! Wanna ride?”

He peered in the window. “Oh. Hello. Well…” he squinted down the road. “I’ve only got a little ways left to go, but thank you anyway.”

“Naw,” I said. “C’mon. I’m goin’ that way.”

He shrugged a bit, traded hands on the gas can as a sigh slipped through his hound-dog cheeks. He climbed into the car. I noticed his tan poplin windbreaker was all scuffed up. He puffed and sniffed and cleared his throat as I pulled back out onto the road.

“D-d-did you attend high school here?” he spluttered.

“Yes, sir, I did. For a time.”

“Yes, I thought you looked familiar—but I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name.”

He looked genuinely sorry, which didn’t surprise me at all.

“Well, I don’t blame you,” I said. “I spent some time out West with my mother. Durand’s the name. Matt Durand.”

“Ah,” he nodded in that stupid kind of recognition that has nothing whatsoever to do with recognition. “So what have you been doing with yourself, Mr. Durand?”

I grinned, while fishing a cigarette out of glove compartment and lighting it with the car lighter. “You really wanna know?” I squinted at him, still feeling my stomach burn from the shooters.

He seemed unsure, mystified. He tapped nervously on the gas can. I started tapping on the steering wheel in time with him.

“I have returned from the wilds east of Hibernia, nuzzlin’ the Scots-born nipple of Ma Britawn, fighting off packs of Virginia Wolves lapping their chops by the river Clyde, testing my testosterone in the test tube of British rubber—you’ve heard the joke, haven’t you? Huh?”

He blinked, clueless.

“Really, Mr. C? You know what a prophylactic is, right? Well, a British-built one? Burst one and win a baby! Right?!”

I was laughing my ass off, pounding the steering wheel and flicking my cigarette ashes out the window.

His jaw dropped. “Er,” he spluttered, “You can let me out here.”

Ray never showed at the bowling alley. I hung around there for over an hour, sucked down a couple more beers, then went back to Phil and Margie’s.

Phil ran into me in the hallway. He sniffed a bit, then grunted.

Aunt Margie appeared right behind him.

“Matthew? Mr. Klemp called. Wondered where you’d gone. Did you quit your job?!

Writer, editor, and media maker. Blogs at Completely in the Dark (www.completelydark.com) and lives in Minneapolis, MN. I notice things.

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