Bud Smith lives in NYC, and works heavy construction in New Jersey, building and maintaining power plants and refineries. His books are the novels...read more Tollbooth and F-250, the short story collection Or Something Like That and the poetry collection Everything Neon.
I REMEMBER SITTING IN THE LIVING ROOM WITH MY LITTLE BROTHER, WATCHING HORROR MOVIES ON THE VCR. First, Swamp Thing. Then, Lost Boys. It was Halloween time, all the leaves had changed. We would have probably played some Nintendo, at that point, but the Nintendo was broken. No matter how hard you blew into the games, they just wouldn't work. A flickering blue screen. I was nine and he was eight. Jittery little lunatics with bad haircuts and wild ideas. We would have played outside. No amount of football and bike riding could bore us, but it was raining. Cold, runny nose rain coming down in sheets. So, a third movie. This one, would become my brother's obsession.
It's the story of a paralyzed kid in an electric wheelchair who lives in a small town. People start to turn up dead and the police start to look for a maniac on the loose escaped from an asylum or something, the boy of course, is suspicious that it's a werewolf. Little kids fantasize about that kind of thing all the time. Vampires sweeping in, taking over. Werewolves everywhere. Finding some trinket in the dirt that a god-damn genie comes out of. I remember when I was nine years old. I was pretty sure that German terrorists were gonna take over the elementary school and it would be up to me and my friends to stop them. Disappointing when these things don't happen.
These scenarios unfold into infinity, within the brain of a small child. You know that. Do you remember hiding under the blankets, because you were safe under there? Do you recall being afraid to swim in your own pool because of sharks? How about ghosts? How many ghosts roamed the life of your childhood? Probably thousands. You almost knew how to fly didn't you? You thought if you hit a jump just right on your bike you could just keep going up over the sun. Now you are an adult. You are boring. You traded the absurd dreams that used to make you interesting- for a mortgage payment and a desk job. You don't even think werewolves are real anymore. You suck.
...read more (2/4)I'm not sure if Silver Bullet is a good movie. I haven't seen it since I was a little boy. I remember less about the movie and more about what happened because of the movie.
My brother , who had been a very lazy eight year old, suddenly wanted to do chores. He approached my dad and told him he would take out the garbage and he would wash the cars. He would even rake the leaves. Rake the leaves? What kind of asshole wants to rake leaves?
This went on through the autumn. My little brother, the little worker. Pocketing little wads of money weekly. Though, he never spent it. He wasn't buying candy with it. He wasn't buying toy cars. I took my allowance to the video store and the book store. Somebody should have caved my head in. Around Thanksgiving, my brother approached me.
"I got twenty dollars."
He held it up for me to see.
"I've been saving."
"For what?" I asked.
"I think it would be the coolest thing in the world to have an electric wheelchair. Like the kid in Silver Bullet." "That would be cool."
"Then I could just drive around."
"Yeah." "It'd be fast too. With like a jet pack on it." I completely agreed with him. You could zoom around and do wild stunts on that kind of thing. Sure, we had bikes and skateboards...you just can't limit yourself.
"There's a problem though." I said.
"They are expensive."
"I know." He said, "I'm not worried."
"It'll take you forever to save up for it."
"I'm not gonna buy the electric wheelchair. Mom and Dad will get it for me." "Mom won't buy you an electric wheel chair. Not even if it was your birthday and Christmas combined."
"They'll have to." He said.
I shook my head. "Never gonna happen."
He waved the money at me again.
"Twenty bucks," I said, "Big deal." "Will you take twenty bucks..."
"To help me get into an electric wheelchair."
Oh, fuck! He wasn't saving his allowance to buy a material possession. He was saving his money to buy a service. My little brother was a very diabolical little eight year old. "All you gotta do is break both my legs and you get twenty bucks."
Again, he fluttered it before my eyes.
I had never held twenty dollars, all in one shot. The idea was so tempting.
"If I have two legs broken real bad, they will have to get me an electric wheelchair and then, here I go, zooming all around, doing spins, jumping stuff, down the stairs, rolling down the trails..." ...read more (3/4)My eyes were wide, imagining it.
"I'll even let you use it sometimes. You just take me out of the chair and set me on a bench or something for a little while."
I took the twenty bucks.
"Deal." I said. Right then and there we went out into the back yard. "How are we gonna do this?" He asked.
I thought about it for a moment. Sledge hammer? Run him over with dad's car? All good ideas, but this of course, would have to look like an accident or else I would get grounded for crippling him. My mom and dad wouldn't stand for that kind of thing. Finally, after much deliberation, it occurred to me. "Got it!," I said, "You can just lay down on your back and put your legs up on the bottom step of the stairs and I guess I could drop a few cinder block from up on the deck and bust your legs up, crush them into dust." "THAT IS AN AWESOME IDEA!" It was a fool-proof idea. Our parents would never detect that it wasn't an accident. See, I was just up on the deck, playing with some cinder blocks, nothing suspicious about that, my brother was just down below on the ground,laying in the leaves with his feet up on the steps when, can you believe it, some of the cinder blocks somehow got blown off the deck by the wind and went flying down on him. What bad luck!
Mom and dad would say: “Oh, boy, crutches really won't do. Two useless legs...gotta get our poor boy an electric wheelchair. No other way around it. A cool one. With a jet pack.”
So, I did what anybody would have done in my position. I lugged a couple cinder blocks up to the top of the deck and placed them precariously on the railing. He sprawled out below, on his back.
"Be careful." He said, "Don't hit my face."
"Ok!" He called, "Go ahead!"
"They are heavy, I'm gonna have to do one at a time."
"Why?" He said, "Just knock them both off. It will be fine." "If I just knock them off, the aim might not be right." He placed his hands over his nuts. He nodded, understanding this unseen danger I had identified.
"You… maybe should have a helmet on too." I said.
That was a joke. We didn't own helmets. He laughed at this momentarily then resumed his stone cold seriousness. ...read more (4/4)I picked up one cinder block, and leaned over the railing, I closed one eye to make my trajectory a little more reliable.
"Here goes!" I said.
Just before I could release the cinder block, my mom opened the sliding glass door behind me. "Bud, what are you doing?"
I set the cinder block down.
"Nothing." I said.
She came out and looked below. There was my brother- eyes clenched, hands in little balls. "COME ON! DO IT!"
Then, inexplicably, we were in trouble. Can you believe our luck? We were so close.
She separated us and got the stories out quite easily. The twenty dollars was taken from me. She told my little brother that she would hold it for him and if there was anything he wanted to buy with it, he would have to come to her and propose the idea. Get approval. The VCR was taken from us. Silver Bullet taken away from us. The broken Nintendo… taken away from us. We were both grounded as fuck. But, I was always getting grounded. It didn't bother me that much, they always let me read when I was grounded.
I guess, in certain ways, I'm still grounded.
Sometimes, I think about it all, Silver Bullet, my brother's electric wheelchair dream. He never got his wish. Perhaps, kids these days would have more luck, considering there is a wealth of information about spinal injuries, easily accessible. If we had known back then, in the back yard, that all we had to do was crush his spinal column with a baseball bat to score him an electric wheelchair, we would have made out like bandits before any one could have intervened. Made off like bandits.
Me with my twenty dollars. Him with his wheels. Jet powered and all.