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Thursday, November 19, 2009


     Chadwick was the dense blond muscle on the junior varsity football team in high school.
They called him Chaz, ChaCha, Chick. He drove a Jeep, a Camero, a BMW with half a paint job that looked great somehow.
     The girls called him Wick, Wicky, W and LX, because he didn’t have a proper last name, just that, LX. Anyhow, they called him W and when he smiled - wherever he was - a lilac breeze would swoop down and raise the pretty pleats on a few cheerleader skirts. In the heat of the summer it was too much for the robins in the trees, they’d catch the glint of all that toothy sunshine and pass out cold. You’ve never seen a thing until you’ve seen a mess of robins lumped out on the ground, wheezing, whistling and snoring.
     Chak, they called him, and C.C., and Kicker, “Hey Kicker!” and those slightly hulking shoulders would roll and you’d see his backpack shift, never without a little white towel tucked in the elastic X X X’s, perfectly, just above that ever-present blue-grey hound, a dog’s dog, who smiled on command at the pretty girls. “Hey Cha-Cha”! He’d turn and smile and that damned lilac breeze would push his soft blond hair, layered silk, liquid moon-glow, right into a natural frame around his wide jaw and I’ll tell you now, it was enough to make me sick.
     Wickle, or Wooz even, didn’t have to worry much about much. He’d had the great fortune of being born into money, drew great strength and beauty from the air, and was blessed with the capacity to avoid even the simplest forms of thought without suffering. In fact, Chadwick LX thrived on the simplicity of his fabulousness, and shared the bounty it brought to him evenhandedly. He was a nice enough guy. I hated him.
     Then one day in the beginning of our junior year, Chadwick LX fell off The Pico de Orizaba, on a trip to Veracruz. That mountain took nearly half of old Chicky for a souvineer. Six months went by before anyone got to see him, and then those sightings were only rumors too. about half a C.C - “Messed-up!”
     And then one cold day, just before the middle of our senior year, a hunched figure pushed a difficult zig-zag through the parking lot. It was Wicky.
     There really was little left of him, about one half of what it takes to ring a bell in a tower. The disfigurment was terrible. One leg dragged, one arm too. Cha-Cha didn’t have much a face left, but what was there was more than enough, and too much to talk about. What made matters even worse was that the top of him, the rounded shovel shape of neck and head that stuck up with every other dead-armed swing, came up with a ragged strip of hair that looked like shredded hay after a stampede. It drew itself like an illness across a scarred scalp, crooked bone and misplaced ear. It commanded attention, and that was a problem.
     What was not a problem was Chadwick’s brain. It had gotten jarred, kick-started into being. His friends he lost, his lovers too, but his brain gave him a yearning for knowledge that filled his time and took his already fair and kind spirit and fed it profundity. By the end of the year Chaz had managed to bring himself back from the brink of death, and realigned his magic. He dragged books on a rig behind him in the hallways, spoke into armpits and shoulders, and patted the air behind him occassionally without thinking. He smiled but it looked like pain. It didn’t take long before almost no one remembered Chaz - he was there but he wasn’t. It was someone else. The end of the year came, Chad had to make up another year still. It was during that year that Chadwick became Chump - that was his only nickname. They’d forgotten the beautiful man who’d drag down a whole mess of robins, a whole mess of cheerlearders. They poked fun of his hair and let the rest of him go out of laziness, embarrassment.
     Chad didn’t care. He dragged those books around until he graduated, then he went to college and graduated again. He went to grad school and got his PHD, and they call him Wicky now, and Woz, and his little mutt smiles at the girls on campus next to his wheelchair and they listen to him tell stories about the future, about the stars and the sky and they call him, they say, “Hey Roll!” and he shifts and smiles and it only looks like pain.

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