There are no monsters here. Well, there are kids but that shouldn’t count. Does it? You don’t have to answer that, parents. I just hope you know what I don’t mean. Hey, I don’t think you folks are looking very deep into my stories. There is always much more than the surface – I know, I put it there. Here I have a story about puberty, gender roles, bullies and power struggles. Give me credit – spread my name – get me professionally published!
“Girls” is a fictional story. All characters, names and locations are the creations of Matthew Sawyer. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental.
Girls by Matthew Sawyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Please contact the author for permissions beyond the scope of this license.
This humid and overcast afternoon, a deficient squad of kids squats upon a ball field belonging to the Wister Town Middle School. These kids are prepared for the start of its Seventh grade – one that begins less than a month. Here is JC, BJ and Tammy. Tammy’s the only girl. Their school educates most of the rural children of Green County, Wisconsin. The three kids here in the sports field today aren’t from the country. They all live in Wister Town and plan to do something together.
“Jamie’s got the bat and ball,” BJ tells the other two pubescent children. This butch-headed, scrawny kid is the smallest of any of them, even the absent Jamie. Jamie’s a boy, too.
“We know, we’re waiting for him,” blond and cropped Tammy says.
Unlike BJ and more like Tammy, Jamie is lean and healthy. JC is just like these two combined – four-times as large as BJ and hearty, despite his waddle and simple inability to run.
JC asks “What are we going to do about bases?
“Same as always,” replies Tammy. “You’re out if you get tagged or the ball-holder crosses the runner’s path.”
“Again?” complains JC.
“You can buy bases,” BJ explains to his childhood friend.
“No,” he says and shakes greasy, brown and overgrown hair from his eyes. Frustrated the oily locks return this August day without so much as a breeze, the boy raises his hair over his pimpled brow. He twines the slick muss into a stable tangle above his inflamed face. The unfortunate JC is the most scarred kid in all of the Wister Town school system. His friends overlook his sorry state and pay the fact less attention than all other aspects of his general infirmity.
Tammy tells her friends “Jamie should buy the bases, too.”
Faint, BJ replies “He bought the bat and ball. None of us have gloves…”
“So,” insists Tammy. “He’s a dick and he should buy all the equipment if he expects anyone to play with him.”
“He’s our friend,” JC volunteers. The two boys among these three children stand and face Tammy shoulder to lopsided shoulder. They create a solid wall of misshapen boy and cast a single shy shadow.
Tammy jumps-up, excited. “Not really,” the angry girl exclaims. She reminds her classmates “JC, remember when he bent you over the sink backwards… when he made you swallow the faucet then turned it on?”
“That was water-torture,” BJ tells him. All four were there in Jamie’s house when Jamie alone played sadistic games. BJ qualifies his remark. “Jamie said it was water-torture.”
“Yeah,” answers Tammy. JC says nothing. The boy stares past standing BJ and into the dirt just below his friend’s chin. Tammy tells him “And BJ isn’t any better off than you.”
“It’s not so bad,” he tells both his friends.
“What do you mean?” Tammy shouts outraged. “Last year, he beat you up because you told him you knew his locker combination. He beat you up until you forgot.”
“I didn’t really,” BJ claims. “Anyway, it was the first year we had lockers instead of desks.”
“That doesn’t make a difference. He spit on the back of your head, too, during Sunday school class last year. Remember that?”
“Yeah, I remember,” BJ admits without pride.
JC worsens his friend’s soured mood. “I saw it.”
BJ yells at him. “You could have said so when he did it. I sat on that Melvis kid because I thought he did it.”
JC justifies “I tried, but everyone ran around the church. You shouldn’t have chased him.”
“That was last year,” ends BJ.
Tammy won’t let the racing minds of her two friends relax. She asks them rhetorically “You don’t think Jamie didn’t plan the whole thing? What did he tell you, JC? Run or you’ll miss the show.”
Both BJ and JC now stare into dirt and brown grass. Of the pair, only BJ shuffles his feet and generates a small, ocher cloud. Standing erect with the sun directly in her reddened face, Tammy squints at her friends. Together, they assume the typical poses Jamie sees. He shouts at them across the field.
“You pussies are always talking like girls. Next thing, you’ll all be wearing make-up.”
Approaching his dubious buddies over the dry grass, Jamie lodges his baseball bat beneath the arm ended with the hand holding an equivalent ball. Using the freed limb, he lifts his printed T-shirt then shoves his fist into a front pocket of his cutoff-jeans shorts. Among the children present, this boy’s not dressed any differently from the others. They wear these summer uniforms unchanged for muggy days at a stretch. Besides fair skin, the state of the clean clothes Jamie and Tammy wear set them apart from the two other kids.
Arriving within spitting distance of the grumbling threesome, Jamie pulls his hand from his pants and lets the hem of his shirt fall back below his crotch. Two steps closer Tammy, he tosses a tiny, shining silver tube at the girl. She’s spry and catches it in flight.
“Here,” Jamie says as her fingers already close around the flung object. Chuckling, he tells her “Now you can start looking like one.”
“One what?” JC asks. Honestly, the boy saw no more than a flash when Jamie threw the makeup. Regardless, nobody answers him, ever.
Once Tammy spins the cylinder in half, everyone sees the magenta phallic wax. Knowing already, she asks Jamie “What’s this?”
Knowing she knows, Jamie tells her “Grammy left it at my house.”
“It’s used?” Tammy asked indignant.
BJ comments to her loud enough everyone hears. “Eww, it’s used? That’s like kissing his grandma on the lips.”
Jamie teases him. “You wish. You should put some on. Tammy give it to BJ.”
“No,” she tells him and slips the paint into her own front jeans pocket.
BJ sighs and slumps. Relieved the lipstick vanishes, he still thinks to himself “Now Jamie can’t make me.”
Tammy changes the subject of his anxiety and asks Jamie “Are we here to play ball?”
“Yeah,” he says. “BJ, you’re in the outfield. JC will bat first – it will be like warming-up.”
“It’s hot already,” JC complains and takes hold of the bat Jamie extends to him.
“Shut up, easy-out,” Jamie says releasing his grip after JC tugs twice. The degradation sits between these two – Tammy and BJ already make their way toward their accustomed positions.
Familiar with JC’s lazy performance, Tammy stops near First Base. The bases on this dead sports field are defined by the intersection of paths tread all summer by three of these kids. JC never leaves Home, so the boy shares no credit or blame.
BJ stills trudges towards the ever un-busy out-lands, when JC shouts “Ow!” The cry comes before the other kids hear a “Thump.”
“Pussy,” Jamie yells at him while JC thinks of something less hostile to say.
“What the…” he squeals. The corpulent boy wants to say more but he’s afraid of his meaner playmate.
“Take a base,” Jamie answers.
“You didn’t even try to throw the ball the right way,” JC replies.
“You get a free base. Why are you complaining? Tammy was only going to tag you out before you even get off Home. Go.”
“What’s the point? I have to switch sides if we’re still going to play. Let my ghost go to First Base.”
Jamie shouts louder now so that both Tammy and BJ hear. “That’s not how we play the game. You still have to go to First Base then your ghost can stand there.”
“You hit him again?” BJ yells late, ten yards past the apex of the improvised ball diamond.
“Yeah,” Jamie answers loud.
“He hit me with the ball on purpose,” clarifies JC.
“Because you didn’t move,” Jamie explains to the struck boy. “You saw it coming. Why didn’t you step backwards, you turd?”
Before JC can answer – if the boy would answer – Jamie jigs upon the flat and bare pitcher’s mound. He sings “Roll yourself to First Base. You’re a turd-roller, that’s what my Dad says.”
Paused until his wicked friend exhausts himself and takes a deep breath, JC then replies “I’m just walking to the infield. Let’s play.”
Jamie yells his threat. “You have to touch the base. If you don’t, you’re automatically out. Give me my ball.”
“That’s not fair,” JC whines.
Now outright hostile, Jamie shouts “You can either give me my ball or my bat. If you don’t run, you’re either out or I get the bat – and I’m here to pitch. Those are my rules. You get it?”
His answer dictated, JC complies. He mumbles “I’m out.”
The overweight boy slowly bends and picks up the ball – it didn’t bounce after striking JC against his naturally padded flank. Instead, drained of its momentum, the ball had dropped dead beside his left tennis shoe. Effusing it with grunts as he retrieves the missile, JC straightens and tosses it overhand back to the deviant pitcher.
The ball flies too far overhead and short of Jamie. “You turd,” he tells JC and steps toward his enfeebled possession. JC comes from the opposite direction. The big boy moves slow and cautious, bending his path away from his oncoming “friend.” Chuckling, Jamie leaves him alone.
“Tammy, it’s your turn. You’re at bat,” he orders the subjective girl. Jamie then warns his exchanged team. “BJ, go further out. JC, you have to go farther than the infield – Tammy’s got a swing.”
Complaining out of earshot, JC follows Jamie’s orders. The big kid still moves toward his assigned spot near center field when Tammy passes their pitcher back on the vestigial mound. The girl is not timid about what she has to say.
“You don’t have to tell us what to do.”
Jamie ignores her, content everyone does. He’s got his ball and tells Tammy “Pick up the bat. JC left it lying where the clumsy turd dropped it.”
“Duh,” Tammy tells Jamie. The girl glares at him. She then shouts at her bullied and compliant friends. “BJ and JC, you better be ready. I’m gonna make you run.”
Neither boy replies if one does not consider JC’s eternal trek a response. Both Tammy and Jamie are ready for their game before the big boy’s prepared.
“You better not try and hit me,” Tammy warns her bloodthirsty pitcher.
“No way, you’re not a weak tit,” Jamie replies. He then exaggerates the thin muscles in his arms and whips the ballistic toy as if Tammy was a gallery target. She does not shirk and receives the missile with plotted stoicism. This batter bunts and the ball bounces once and rolls to first base.
“Oh man,” screeches JC. “Jamie, you get it.”
Simultaneously, Tammy steps toward first base and Jamie has no time to vent his anger. Instead, the boy flushes red while he trots toward the directed ball. Despite his knowing Tammy runs fast, he’s confident and squeals “Easy out.”
Ignoring the brave taunt, Tammy turns around and goes directly to Third. Ball in hand and prepared to intercept his runner at First, Jamie stops still and watches her go the wrong way. Infuriated with the purposed ignorance, he shouts “What are you doing? Where are you going.”
Arrived at Third Base, Tammy replies “We’re not playing by your rules.”
Wordless at first, Jamie marches between First and Home and crosses the path torn in the deceased lawn. He shouts back to the rebel girl “You’re out!”
“Nah-uh,” she teases, asserting her safety and standing in the last angle of the diamond. She explains “There’s only four of us – any base is safe.”
Clearly hearing the spontaneous modification, JC declares “I’m still on First… Wait, if Tammy’s on Third, does that mean my ghost made it to Home.”
“No,” Jamie fumes.
Undeterred, JC replies “Well, how is my ghost going to get to Home if she’s standing on Third.”
“You’re not,” answers Jamie.
Empowering her large and slow friend, Tammy tells JC “Your ghost turned around. You made it to Home.”
“No,” Jamie screams at her. “I got you out.”
“The ball hit the ground,” she asserts. “Those are the rules. JC made it Home.”
“Hurray!” the big boy shouts. He may have jumped but only his heels had lifted from the ground. He appeared to have come back down before leaving the scraggy grass.
“That’s not how it goes,” insists Jamie. “You’re both out. It’s BJ’s turn.”
“New rules,” Tammy answers. “It’s two against one.”
She then solicits support from the outfield. “BJ, whose rules do you wanna follow?”
Uncommitted, the boy shouts back only “Any base is safe?”
“Which is it?” Jamie demands from him. He then tells Tammy “Old rules – if there’s a tie.”
Tammy yells at BJ. “Whose side are you on?” The boy does not come near and remains at one lateral side of the sports field.
He replies “I suppose.”
“Which is it?” insists Jamie. BJ answers with a shrug.
JC says “Any base is safe, BJ. Tell him that. I can make it Home for the first time.”
Jamie scolds everyone. “No you won’t.”
“This is the new First Base,” Tammy bargains with Jamie. “Give JC a break for once.”
“You guys are assholes,” Jamie replies. Rather than return to the mound, the boy storms to Home. There alone, he swoops down with a claw and snatches his bat off the ground. He warns the girl.
“Last chance, Tammy.”
“Or what?” she asks.
Amplified and enraged, Jamie stomps counterclockwise the diamond toward Third Base. He yells “Play the goddamn game right or don’t play at all!”
“It’s not your game anymore,” she tells him.
That is when he throws his bat at her. The makeshift weapon spins horizontally through the humid air and sounds a muffled whir. Tammy steps sideways and adroitly avoids the attack. The bat doesn’t fly very far and lands just past the spot the quick girl had been.
“You’re a punk,” she yells at Jamie.
He still comes and now accelerates his charge. When Jamie reaches for her throat, Tammy steps sideways again. She leaves a foot in place. As she’s anticipated, her attacker trips and falls. But before she’s beyond reach, Jamie hooks the collar of the girl’s T-shirt. Tammy’s dragged to ground with a noose around her neck.
Scrambling and scratching, she rips away Jamie’s talons and swivels on her butt. Jamie, too, rolls over and pivots. The dust cloud their scuffle creates hides details of a fight from both JC and the approaching BJ. What happens behind the cover is Tammy violently kicks again and again, and Jamie never fastens a grip.
Seconds after their fall, the thick air presses the raised dirt back to the ground. The girl sits propped upright and above Jamie’s sprawled body. She kicks his head with the heel of her shoe and the boy remains faced down. He does not move except when his back rises when the boy inhales.
Both him and Tammy are wet – their clean clothes, hand and faces muddied by perspiration mixed with dust. BJ arrives first upon the scene. He’s mute until the girl is back on her feet. JC joins his friends in time so he hears what they say to each other.
“You knocked him out,” BJ claims.
“Yeah, so?” Tammy answers with really nothing to say.
“Is he alive?” wonders JC.
“Yeah,” explains BJ. The boy points at the breathing body of their questionable friend.
JC nods and asks anyone “What do we do?”
“Get the heck out of here?” BJ suggests.
“No,” Tammy replies. The determined smugness on her soiled face betrays she has a plan. She tells her accomplices “Pull down his pants.”
“Huh?” one of either boy says – Tammy does not recognize the voice.
She tells them “He’d do to you.”
Despite both boys nodding their heads, neither budge. BJ says “I’m not going to do it.” JC agrees, changing his nod into a speechless shake.
“Fine,” Tammy replies democratically. She bends and pulls off the short pants of her conquered attacker. She takes down his underwear, too.
Erect again, she asks with sarcasm “You two aren’t gonna help me turn him over?”
JC steps forward then stops and says “No.”
Tammy wasn’t waiting for an answer. The same time JC chickens-out, she hops toward Jamie’s shoulder. There, she flips over her conquered and groggy foe. While her conscious friends each stare at Jamie’s bloodless face and his bare groin, JC observes aloud “He’s got no pubic hair.”
BJ adds “He better grow some fast – we have to shower after gym class in Middle School.”
“Yeah,” JC agrees. The boy then expresses his rambling thought “He’s not so tough.”
Slowly contemplating the assessment, BJ says “Uh-huh.”
Ignoring the conversation, Tammy retrieves the silver tube of lipstick from her front pants pocket. She doesn’t answer when BJ asks “What are you doing?”
Instead in two steps, she’s back at Jamie’s feet. The downed boy groans and his feet sway left and right, but his mental state is if he sleeps in a helpless nightmare. Down on her toes and on one hand, Tammy crawls up his streaked legs and arrives at his naked crotch.
There, she’s careful and does not touch the boy’s member with her bare hands. She uncovers and uses the lipstick then grins. Tammy colors the circumcised head of his receded penis.
“Is that a sin?”JC asks either friend at once.
Finished, Tammy stands and glances at the punishment she inflicts. BJ says “He looks like my dog.”
Tammy tells him “Stop playing with your dog. And leave your thing alone.” She points at BJ down below. After the girl’s threat, Jamie says something garbled but the boy does not open his eyes.
“Are we done?” JC asks Tammy and implicates everyone.
She decides then. “Not yet” she says and the girl stoops over Jamie’s waking face. There, she draws a wide, comic book smile. Nearly finished, she stops and stands when he opens his eyes. She and the two usually feebleminded boys move backwards when Jamie sits up. Tammy does not recognize the lipstick slip from her relaxed hand. It drops into the dry grass.
“My head…” Jamie says and brings his hands to his face. Unaware of the makeup, he smears the red gloss over his cheeks and especially upon forehead. Expecting trouble, Tammy collects the baseball bat. Absent her immediate presence and feeling unsafe, BJ and JC drift the direction she goes.
“Do we give him clothes?” JC asks her. Tammy does not answer. Feeling guilty and empowered at once, she refuses to tell them what to do.
Yet unaware of his condition and dress, Jamie rises and stumbles the direction he’s come into the sports field. He leaves his bat and balls behind as well as the clothes the girl’s removed.
“Are you going home?” JC asks him. Jamie says nothing.
His ex-friends see him lift his shirt and he stares. They watch him then stagger away. All the while, he examines the graffiti on his private part. He’s still muddled and asks no one what’s happened to him. Not-so-scrawny BJ then touches Tammy with the abandoned ball. He tells the girl she’s “Out.”
- END -