The Buck Chronicles
A continuing story of a gym teacher.
“The great French philosopher Flaubert once said…” Buck the gym teacher drawled, his hand tipping a short glass of Beefeater into his gaping mouth. “that it is better to live…” He began to cough, pursing his mouth shut with iron force, stopping the gin from splashing out from between his lips.
“Are you ok?” A soggy old man asked him. His voice was like sand paper soaked in vinegar.
Buck gave a thumbs up sign, simultaneously clutching at his bulbous Adams apple, gripping it as one might a ripe cherry. “I am fine.” He finally managed to choke out. “I am…dandy.” He began to light a cigarette but put it back in the pack. “I am…the finest gym teacher…” A brow arched, pupils clinging to the walls of his eyes, he slammed down the glass, sending droplets of gin onto the bartop. “In the world.”
In a way it was true. In the way that anything can be anything by tilting the angle at which it is observed. His students trembled in fear to his face despite the remarks made behind his back. His very bulk inspired awe among the middle schoolers, his hands like great bear claws pushing them to the mat, the way he could throw a dodgeball directly at any groin with in a 300 foot radius with the accuracy of a Robin Hood.
“Derwangler!” He would shout at little Peter Derwangler. “What in the motherfucking Christ is wrong with you? When I tell you to uppercut Johnson, I expect you to uppercut that motherfucking little son of a whore right in his little crack pipe burned, shit eating, lips!”
Derwangler, a very small, pig nosed timid boy cowered in the shadow of the roaring drunk giant. He was a little twerp, a skinny, big eared glue eater.
“What the fuck?” Buck screamed. He blew his whistle. “Every one, fuck off!” He yelled.
This is what Buck thought made for a good gym teacher. He put the fear of god into those kids, taught them what it meant to really be scared, to expect death from any place at any time. He wanted to make men out of the little bastards, and in his mind a man was akin to a scared and docile sociopath who did exactly what bigger men told them to fucking do, god damnit. In this sense he was the greatest gym teacher in the world.
Joe walked down the street wearily with his Cardinals baseball cap pulled down low over his sunken blood shot eyes. He couldn’t shake the feeling that there was some kind of tension in the atmosphere, some unknown hand of fate that was just waiting to bitchslap him into a brick wall, and then stomp merrily on his precious gonads. Something about peyote tea, Yukon Jack, cough syrup and airplane glue had left him feeling a little nervous, but he didn’t know which part of this combination had him sweating. Was it one of the four ingredients or the mixture as a whole? Not knowing only served to heighten his anxiety, and he attempted to ward off utter panic with a 25 milligram Xanax he fished out of his sweat shirt pocket, washing it down with the thick blue frosty he had purchased from Wendy’s earlier.
The moon glowed too brightly, leering at Joe, drying his already brittle sanity into a crumbling sandy pile of scattered hallucinations and feverish longings; clawing at his shattered mind like a man buried before death in a coffin of bone. “I…don’t know if I’m going to make it…” He slurred, his head spasmodically jerking forward, bending his upper body with the momentum towards the wet and grimy street. “To the zoo tomorrow.” Like whiplash, like a bungee cord his head retracted back and he stood upright again, green bile dripping from the corner of his cracked lips. “I know…I said I’d take you to see…the polar…bears.” He said. His eyes were like two blue quarters, dilating and shrinking back to dime size in some unknown rhythm.
Time had ceased to have meaning, space only a thing as abstract as a daydream of a neon rainbow, reality as relative as anything else. Existence merely a notion, something he had heard in passing once, an old story he had forgotten years ago. Suddenly a ridiculously mustached man, grinning contentedly, skipped merrily across his field of vision. He was wearing a skin tight spandex onesy, the outline of his balls clearly visible between his prancing legs and he was unmistakably skipping like a little girl at recess. And suddenly he pivoted, heading directly to Joes location.
“Hello Joseph!” The man said in a deep, but nonetheless fabulous voice. “What are you doing out so late?”
Joe said nothing his slack jaw wide open, a swollen violet tongue lolling uselessly between his hollow cheeks. He blinked twice.
“I’m just out going for a skip. It’s superb for working your thighs and buttocks. Did you know that Joe? Did you know that skipping is superb for working the thighs and buttocks?” the man, twirled his ridiculous mustache between his ivory white fingers.
“I…um…” Joe stammered out. He raised a finger as if making a point, only to drop it. “I think…”
“Well, hey don’t even, like, worry about it.” The man said. “Well, you look good Joe.”
Joe tried to focus, looking back over the 17 years of his life, trying to pick out who this man was. All he could picture were bright flashes of light and purple skeletons climbing up giant calve muscles.
“Well Gotta keep up my pace.” The man said. “Toodles.”
The man skipped away. Joe continued to lurch his way forward, swinging his arms to gather inertia and keep a foot always in motion.
In the distance he spotted a gigantic man crouching in the bushes in front of a white duplex with a tulip garden in the front yard. He had something in his hands. Joe found himself unable to stop walking in the mans direction. He recognized the man as the town drunk/ middle school gym teacher Mr.Dreel/and or Buck. Joe walked silently behind Buck and using a shaky hand, that clearly was no longer under his own control, he tapped the giants shoulder.
What are you…doing?” Joe asked. Buck turned to look at Joe swinging quickly almost dropping his bottle of Jim Bean. He was holding a red leather ball about the size of a soccer ball. “Oh hey Joe. I’m just waiting out here until Derwangler wakes up and gets the paper. His mother makes him do it every morning. As soon as I see him I’m going to chuck this dodgeball as hard as I can,” Buck paused taking a long pull from his bottle. He lick his lips sighing with pleasure. “right at his fucking head.” He finished.
Joe opened his eyes, having briefly drifted into a state of blankness. “Oh.” He said.
“Yeah.” Buck said. “I filled it with ball bearings too. The little steel fuckers. I don’t know what that’ll do, but I bet it’ll hurt like shit.” He wiped his nose. “I don’t even know why I’m doing this.”
Joe stood there not saying anything just watching the house. For twenty minutes he just hung there with Buck, even bumming a cigarette off of him at one point.
“Do you want some…” Joe’s brain jerked and rattled like a static radio. “Peyote tea.” He yelled the first word and elongated the second so it sounded like “PEYOTE teeeeee…eeeaaa.”
Buck sniffed and spat. “Do you have any?” He asked his face expressionless, focused intently on the hunt.
“No…” Joe said. “But I could get some…I think.”
Buck said nothing. He threw his bottle, empty, behind him into the street, the clanging noise of it bouncing off the gravel ringing loudly in the night air. He opened a cooler that Joe had not noticed until then and pulled out two beers, opening one and handing the other to Joe.
Joe continued to stand motionless, stoned and tripping as he was. He thought to himself that the whole affair seemed a bit strange, what with his old gym teacher stalking a student outside his house, stinking drunk and cradling a big red rubber dodgeball full of steel bearings. He fell down to a knee and drew blood from an old scab as it grazed the street.
“I guess I’ll…ah, like, see you later man.” Joe said stubbing out his cigarette against a tree.
Buck half waved at him, acknowledging his goodbye. Cracking open another new pabst blue ribbon, he let out a short hiccup and said “Later Joe.”
To be continued...