Blood, Guns and Whores

~An
All American Tale of a Boy and His Dog

Written and Illustrated by W.Ross Ayers

An SFWC Co-Publishing Studio Production © 2011 by LND, inc. All rights reserved

“Blood, Guns and Whores – An All American Tale of a Boy and His Dog“, is a coffee table novel made of micro chapters and illustrations about a boy growing up in the small farming community of Blissfield, Michigan and on to adulthood in San Francisco.

W. Ross Ayers

16. The Chocolate Theft He stood in front of the class, pacing back and forth talking, getting more and more excited. He was tall and thin with a reddish beard and thinning hair. When he got really excited, white puffy spittle would build up around his mouth and fly towards the kids in the front seats. I often joked with the other kids about bringing an umbrella to class for just such times. Unluckily, I sat in the front seat of the second row. I think I got assigned the seat from getting in trouble too much for talking or something like that. Mr. Craston was my reading teacher again. We read books as a class then discussed them. Book by book, we had a copy for each student in the class. First we would go over our lesson. Then half-way through the period Mr. Craston would pass the books out for us to read in silence. Ten minutes before the end of the period we would pass the books back in and Mr. Craston would count them. Mr. Craston lived in Sylvania, an upper-middle-class neighborhood of Toledo. He drove a tiny, fuel efficient Japanese car and made a point to tell us why whenever he could. “Why do you drive a Japanese car and not an American one? That’s not very American.” “The world is changing and we can’t think so small. We must look at the bigger picture and conserve our resources. The Japanese make better, cheaper cars and I save a lot of money because I get better gas mileage.” “But we need to buy American.” “My dad got laid off from GM because people are buying Japanese cars.” “The world is changing and it won’t be easy. We have to adjust.”

Once when Mr. Craston left the room for some reason during class, we all started talking about who had kissed someone. In a circle, we all stood around or sat on top of one of the desks connected to a chair. Jane and Jose started making out. The room became completely silent. Everyone stood around them staring, eyes wide and mouths half-open. When they stopped we all sat down. No one said a word. I burned with jealousy. Jane had red copper hair and had been a recent crush of mine. Jose was fast and fit and strong and kissing Jane. I hated him. At the end of the class another day, as usual we handed back the books one-by-one up the rows. Mr. Craston walked across the front of the room picking up the stack of books from each row. We were reading The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. It was about an all-boys private high school where every year the kids had to sell chocolate as a fundraiser. One freshman, the main character, refused to sell the chocolate even though everyone else pressured and threatened him. Mr. Craston sat down behind his big, light-brown wooden desk with a short, gray metal filling cabinet next to it. He counted the books, like he always did, to make sure there were twenty-four, like there always was, just to make sure no one stole one. “Twenty-three? Hmm?...I’ll count them again.” He stacked the books one-by-one to the other side of his desk. “Twenty-three. Did everyone give their book back?” The class stared at him blankly. “I’ll count them one more time.” The books went one-by-one back to the other side of the desk. “Twenty-three! Okay, who has the book?”

The class stared at him blankly. “We aren’t leaving until I get the twenty-fourth book back.” Everyone sighed and looked at each other. I looked at Bob, shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes. “WHO HAS THE BOOK!” Mr. Craston yelled, slamming his palms on the desk and standing up. “Ah shit, here comes the spittle.” I mumbled. Bob snickered. “What was that Walt? Do you have the book?” “No.” I said clearly, looking straight at him. He paced back and forth in front of the class. “We are staying right here until I get the book back.” He paced faster and his arms flung up into the air. “These books cost good money. I can’t believe someone took one.” Spittle was flying now. I was really wishing I had that umbrella. But I didn’t. All I could do was keep my eyes on him, watching the white puffy foam building up and then dodge it if one broke loose in my direction. The bell rang and the class started to put their books away. Someone started to stand up. “SIT DOWN!” A huge, white glob arced through the air landing two feet to my right. Everyone stiffened and sat back down in silence. My skin crawled. I sighed and rolled my eyes.

“Whoever has the book, give it back now. You are making everyone late for next period.” Everyone looked around at each other in silence then stared at him blankly. “Alright. Everyone put your folders on your desks. I am going to go through everyone’s things until I find the book.” Everyone put their folders on top of their desks. Mine stayed on the floor next to my feet. He started in the row next to mine. Standing next to the first desk, he reached down, picked up the folder, opened it, filed through the papers and folders inside. Not finding the book, he set the folder down, still open and the papers ruffled. The first student started straightening his folder, head down and silent as Mr. Craston continued down the row. One-by-one he picked up everyone’s folder, opened it, rifled through and put it back down on the desk in front of the student. Each student straightening their folder, head down and silent. I knew what I was going to do. At the end of the first row he had not found the book. Mr. Craston shook his head, sighed loudly and walked with fast long strides back up to the front of the room. As he walked back up the row towards my desk, I bent down picked up my folder and held it against my chest under my crossed arms. Mr. Craston stared at me with wide, hot eyes. I stared back with my brow wrinkled. “Walt, give me your folder.” “I told you, I didn’t take the book,” I said flatly. “Walt, give me your folder.”

“This is my property and you have no right to look through it.” He stared at me, his face getting brighter red. His nostrils were flared and his chest was pushed out. I kept looking straight at him not saying a word. He raised his hands up to the side of his head. “GIVE ME YOUR FOLDER!” he screamed in my face. I could feel the students around me jump in their seats. My heart raced inside my chest. My mind was clear, focused, calm. My body felt light and powerful, strong as steel, shaking. I was getting to him. I felt my power expanding out, pushing him back. I had the truth on my side. Unmoving and silent, I sat looking at him. I could feel everyone looking at me from behind. I could feel their power wrap around me, backing me up, making me stronger. We all are going to stand up to him as a group this time. My power doubled. My hands shook. My vision narrowed. Unmoving and silent, I sat looking at him. “If you don’t give me your folder, I will have the office call your parents to come in to talk about it.” I saw myself from above and heard the words come out of my mouth. “Oh please, do that. I am sure they will be completely excited to take off work, come down here to see what you have to say. They will ask me if I have the book. I will say, ‘No’. They will believe me and fully back me up and ask YOU what the problem is. If you want to do that, it sounds great to me. Go ahead.” I sat staring at him straight-faced and narrow-eyed.

His eyes bulged. I could see the veins on his temples standing out. His jaw muscles flexed. He opened his mouth. A string of white spittle stretched from his upper lip to his lower, then thinned and snapped. He closed his mouth. We had won. I knew it. He was through. He couldn’t push us around any more. Now no one will let him look through their folder. This will make him crack for sure. Together, we all will stand up to him. We all will win. He walked to the person behind me and said, “Give me your folder.” They handed him their folder. And so did everyone else. At the last desk, he reached down, picked up the folder, opened it, filed through the papers and folders inside. Not finding the book, he sat the folder down, still open and the papers ruffled. He turned in silence, walking back to his desk. “Hey. What’s that?” someone in the front row said, pointing at the floor between Mr. Craston’s desk and the gray metal filing cabinet. Mr. Craston bent over. As he picked up the object, everyone could see it was the missing book that had fallen when he was counting them. Without turning to the class he said, “you may go.” In silence, we all stood up and left the room.

“Blood, Guns and Whores – An All American Tale of a Boy and His Dog“, is a coffee table novel made of micro chapters and illustrations about a boy growing up in the small farming community of Blissfield, Michigan and on to adulthood in San Francisco.

W. Ross Ayers

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