This Look Did Kill

Chapter 1, Blog 5

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


I don’t know where it came from, but it was the best I could do. For my sake, my wife’s sake, my children’s sake, distract, distract …

The words hung in midair.

Frank broke first. He smiled. A giggle escaped. Then a hideous guffaw.

“WHUT DA HELL?” grunted Ralphie.

Laughter did the wave through my living room. Frank fell back on the sofa, laughing. Everybody laughed except Ralphie and me. We glared at each other.

“You heard me,” I said.

“Go SCREW yarself,” said Ralphie. “Are ya crazy?”

“Give it a break, Ralphie,” I said, pointing at the TV. “I don’t give one crap about anything except that damned score. Jocks or not, we’re getting our asses kicked.”


“So if you have a beef with Frank, settle it without beating his brains in. Show him that much respect.”

I don’t have a clue how I was pulling this nonsense out of my ass. Yet, it worked.

My house still stood. There was no Richter scale-busting brawl. Our “discussion,” however, was far from over. For a long minute, Ralphie stabbed me with the look a parent gives his child after he’s broken a favorite lamp. Gawd, it hurt, but I ignored it.

“Oh, pardon me,” Ralphie mocked as he regrouped. “Guess ya can bench press yar weight, can’t ya?”

At five foot eleven and 175 pounds, no, I couldn’t bench press my weight. But I could hold my own talking with Ralphie.

“You’re still mad, aren’t you?”

“Whut DA HELL ya talkin’ ’bout?”

I coiled for the kill.

“State finals 1977. Shot put. Put it between the lines and you got a medal. And …”

“SHUDDUP! I wuz cheated. Ever’body knows it,” bellowed Ralphie. All 380 pounds rocked the house this time. “It brought up chalk. Ever’body knows it.”

“Everybody ’cept the shot put judge,” said Nicky.

“Sorry, Ralphie,” said Frank.

“Who won the state in the 880, Ralphie?” I asked.

“Ya’s one of dose pussies who could run. BIG DAMN DEAL! If I could have run like dat, I’d , I’d … ”

“You’d what?” I asked.

“I’d beat any of dose Olympic pussies,” said Ralphie.

Like an idiot, I jumped to my feet to challenge. Now the beer was talking. I was just the medium. Friend or not, I didn’t appreciate Ralphie’s attitude.

“Show us, Ralphie. GO AHEAD! PROVE IT!”

He did.

Ralphie picked me up with one hand and tossed me headfirst into the sofa. No lie. He was an Incredible Hulk and a half.

“How’s dat, Chuckie?”

Ralphie called me “Chuckie” only when he was angry or drunk. He was both.

Sprawled on the sofa, I was sure my neck was broken.

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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