Dunkoff Chapter One – Sam Wade

        I was twelve years old, a seventh-grader, sitting at my desk, wearing my number 99 Cleveland Indians baseball jersey, running my fingers over hard dried wads of chewing gum stuck under the desk and staring at a bowl of fruit on a table at the center of the room. I couldn’t have cared less about drawing a bowl of fruit. Mr. Jones could suck it.
        I looked around the room. Brandon Berry, that preppy-ass looking-like-Zack-Morris motherfucker, with his bleach-tipped shaved-on-the-sides haircut, his Gap rugby shirt, his stonewashed tight-rolled blue jeans, and that braided leather belt. What a prick! And Drew Givens, the Fresh Prince wannabe, with his flat-top fade and his Guess overalls strapped over one shoulder. Whack-ass! And Katrina Morris with her mood ring and choker and Doc Martens. And Kevin Pierce with his Grateful Dead tie-dye, his Birkenstocks, and his friendship bracelets. And Tony Hicks, with his peach-fuzz pencil mustache, his Raiders Starter jacket, and his buddy-ass British Knights. What a bunch of lame asses! They could all suck it.
        “Dunkoff!” said Mr. Jones, baritone, bald, and bearded, smelling of Salem menthol cigarettes. “Whatcha doing there, young man? Why am I looking at a blank page? Huh? Get focused, son. Put that pen to paper.”
        I looked up at him and thought, Mr. Jones, you lame ass. Why should I waste my time? Huh? Why should I take instructions from a middle school art teacher? I’ve seen the car you drive. Then I said, “I need to go to the bathroom.”
        “I think you can hold it till the bell rings,” said Mr. Jones.
        “I can’t,” I protested. “It’s an emergency.”
        “Young man,” he said, “just who do you think you’re foolin’, huh? Now get to work. You still got time to get something done before the bell rings.”
        “What if I get a bladder infection?” I cried. “What if my kidneys get damaged?”
        Mr. Jones sighed and shook his head. “Go on, Dunkoff.”
        I sniffed around the hallways like a rat in a maze. I checked the pay phones and vending machine slots for change. I loitered at the water fountain for a while, taking water into my mouth, swishing it around, and spitting it out. I looked at the trophies in the glass display cases and the pictures of football teams, basketball teams, baseball teams, wrestling teams, and cheerleaders. What a bunch of lame asses.
        I was surrounded by lame asses. But not for long, I thought. I had a plan. By this time the next day, I’d be on the road to Los Angeles. To Hollywood. Where I belonged. With the stars on Sunset Boulevard. Like Axl Rose in “Welcome to the Jungle,” I’d get off a Greyhound bus and onto MTV.
        On the way back to class, I looked up at the clock in the hallway. It was twenty minutes to lunchtime. If it had been a Wednesday, I’d have been looking forward to lunch, because Wednesday was pizza day, and I liked the school pizza. It was rectangular with dough like cardboard, soggy with tomato sauce, and topped with rubbery mozzarella and bits of gray sausage. It was delicious. But that day, like most days, it would be Barth’s burgers.
        I also thought about how after lunch I’d have to go to Spanish and then pre-algebra. And I didn’t care to say hola or solve a quadratic equation any more than I cared to draw a bowl of fruit.
        The thought of that near-future misery weighed heavily on me. I sank into place, staring up at that clock in the hallway. The second hand ticked like a slow-dripping faucet . . .
        And then suddenly, it occurred to me that I could just leave. I’d be gone the next day anyway. It wasn’t like I could get into trouble for skipping. And the door was right there in front of me, the glowing red EXIT. So I bolted. I pushed through the door, leapt down the steps, and split across the schoolyard, hauling my ass all the way down Mason to White Station Road, a quarter mile at full sprint. I stopped at the corner, panting, hands on my knees, looking back for the last time. Not a teacher in sight. I was free. I turned the corner and walked home.
        I lived in a nice house on a nice street with my parents, Bill and Carol; my nine-year-old sister, Jenny; and our dog, Belle, a golden retriever. The front yard had a green lawn with two magnolia trees, a crab apple tree, and a row of boxwoods bordered with monkey grass. The house was two stories, made of brick and wood, and painted beige with dark-gray wooden window shutters. The driveway led to a two-car garage, and behind it was a garden with corn, tomatoes, string beans, basil, and mint. The backyard was fenced off, and there was a trick to the gate latch. I jimmied it a little, and the gate opened. The backyard was large, full of oak trees, wild grass, and dog poo, and there was a screened-in porch furnished with chairs and a table made of wrought iron. On the table, some kind of flower was planted in a clay pot. Under the pot, there was a key to the back door.
        I opened the door. The alarm system beeped in countdown. Belle came into the kitchen, whimpering and wagging her tail. I let her into the backyard and then hurried to the keypad by the front door and punched in the code. The alarm silenced, and I smiled. I was home alone and would be for another two hours.
        I went to my room, opened the closet, and dug through the pile of clothes and miscellany to my most prized possession, the February 1990 issue of Playboy magazine. I’d ganked it from the Russell house down the street. I went there sometimes to play Nintendo with Dean. Once, Dean took me into his dad’s office and showed me a box in the closet that was full of Playboys. Sometime later, while we were playing Zelda or Contra or something, I said that I needed to go to the bathroom, and I went into his dad’s office and snagged a couple—December 1988 and February 1990. I liked the December ’88 all right. It had this blue-eyed raven-haired woman from Finland in it. But the 1990 was my favorite.
        I started with the women of Russia. Nadya was first, a youthful beauty with a brimming smile, cute and playful. She liked to play games. She liked to tease me. She flashed me her ass and giggled and ran. I chased her madly throughout the house, in and out of every room and up the stairs to the bedroom, where finally I seized her, pinned her to the bed, and kissed her. She succumbed, purring and moaning as I thrust inside her. She told me how wonderful and amazing I was. She told me that I was the best. She told me that no one did it as good as me. I finished, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and tapped my finger on her cute little nose.
        Larisa was next. She was a fairy tale princess with long, flowing blonde hair, emerald-green eyes, fair skin, and curved perky tits. She was a romantic type. I sat with her on a blanket in a field of high grass and wildflowers. She was wearing a loose-fitting white cotton dress, embroidered in the Old-World style of Eastern Europe, and a flower crown. We had wine and strawberries and chocolate. I recited poetry. She swooned. I kissed her neck. She melted. I fondled her breasts. She moaned. I touched between her legs. She lost control, pushing me down, straddling me and removing her dress. She rode me wildly, bucking, with eyes closed and mouth open, howling to an eye-popping climax. I’d satisfied yet again.
        And so I moved on to the next one, leaving the women of Russia behind, turning the pages to the centerfold, Miss February, Pamela Anderson.
        My relationship with Pamela was deeper than those I had with the other girls. Pam and I lived together in a beach house in Malibu. I was her one and only, and I’d been away on a world tour. I walked in the door, wearing my number 99 jersey, black leather pants, and shades. Pam was outside, sitting by the pool, gloriously naked, bathing in the sun. I opened the sliding glass door and said “Hey, babe, I’m home.” She shrieked excitedly and ran to me. I saw it in slow motion, like on Baywatch. The movement of her body was hypnotizing, her eyes intent and passionate. She jumped into my arms, wrapped her legs around me, and kissed me. We fell into the pool and kissed underwater until we couldn’t hold our breaths any longer. We swam to the surface, gasped once, and then embraced again. I pinned her against the side of the pool and pushed it inside her.
        When I finished, it was past three o’ clock in the afternoon. My sister would be home soon, and I’d worked up an appetite. So I put the women away and went into the kitchen for a snack. Belle was at the back door, barking and pawing. I let her in and gave her a biscuit. Then I grabbed a bag of corn chips and Pancho’s cheese dip, went upstairs, and plopped down in front of the TV. I put my taped from MTV Guns N’ Roses Live at the Ritz tape into the VCR and pressed play.
        They started the show with “It’s So Easy” and then “Mr. Brownstone,” and by then I was on my feet, with the TV remote controller as a microphone. I was Axl Rose, singing and dancing that slithering spaghetti dance. I knew the songs and all his moves by heart. I did “Out ta Get Me” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Then, during “My Michelle,” my sister came into the room, her face all scrunched up, looking at me like I was some kind of weirdo.
        “What do you want?” I barked.
        “I want to watch Duck Tales,” she said.
        “I told you already,” I barked louder. “The TV room is mine.” I balled my fist and lunged at her.
        She turned and ran. I finished the show.
        That evening at six-thirty, like just about every evening at six-thirty, we sat together as a family at the dinner table. My mom had made pasta ala Elfo, my favorite, and a salad. I waited a few minutes after we’d dug in, then I said, “I need to go to the bathroom” and got up and went.
        The dining room adjoined the living room. There was a door to the hallway. Then there was my room, my sister’s room, a common bathroom, and my parents’ room. I went into my parents’ room. My dad’s wallet was on top of the dresser. It was a dark-brown leather wallet and thick, full of cash and all kinds of cards. I opened it, took out the Mastercard and some cash, and then went to the bathroom and flushed the toilet.
        That night in my room, I wrote a letter.
      Dear family,
      I’m moving to Los Angeles. I want to thank you for all the good dinners and things.
      Love, Harry
      P.S. Look for me on MTV.