Chapter 24 – The Pros & Cons of Name-Calling
Sometime after we’d eaten lunch, Mr. Tino returned on his tuk tuk.
“How was everything?” he’d asked. “Did you guys get some good food?”
“Everything was great, Mr. Tino.”
Well, everything except for the fact that I’d yelled at a bunch of children.
“Good. Good,” he nodded. “Well, you have two options for what we could do this afternoon.”
“Oh yeah? What options do we got?”
“Right now, I could take you around to see some smaller temples for a few hours and we could end the day by watching the sunset at Angkor Wat or I could take you directly to Angkor Wat right now and we could end the day by getting on a boat, visiting the floating village of Chong Kneas and having a picnic while we watch the sun set over the water.”
Those were two pretty good options. Following a short discussion, our group decided the latter was the best of both worlds.
“Okay, very well then,” he said. “Would you like to go back to the hotel and shower before going to the picnic?”
“Yeah. Can we?” At the time, I’d been sweatier than a fat guy jumping rope. “Is that okay?”
“Sure, no problem. When I drop you off, I will go to get the food and the beer. Do you like chicken? Barbecued chicken?”
“Yeah, sounds great.”
“Okay. One more thing before we head off to Angkor Wat,” he said. “You guys like to smoke?”
“Smoke, like, smoke weed?”
“Yeah. You guys like to smoke weed?”
“Yeah. Do you like to smoke weed?”
“Of course. Do you want me to get us a couple joints for the picnic?”
“Cool. I’ll drop you off at Angkor Wat right now and go get that stuff. Then I’ll meet you back in front of the temple in one hour. Sound good?”
While Mr. Tino had been off doing his thing, the three of us went about wandering through the monumental, moat-enveloped shrine that serves as the symbol of Cambodia. A simple rendering of the ancient temple even appears on the nation’s flag. A stopover at Angkor Wat had been our primary incentive for visiting the country which is why I’d been a little disappointed to discover that most of the structure had been covered by tarps. I guess they’d been doing some sort of renovation at the time. The large-scale band-aids were a bit irritating but, altogether, didn’t stop me from enjoying the extravagance of the towers, the galleries, the libraries and the infinite stretches of relief hand-carved into the monstrous slabs of sandstone which comprise the temple. Besides, I was way too pumped to get silly on some Cambodian home-grown with our tuk-tuk driver to let something as trivial as tarped ruins spoil my day.
Before going to Cambodia, I’d only smoked weed with a hired chauffeur once before in my life. It’d been during my freshman year of college up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A few friends and I had been out getting wasted at the bars on Water Street and needed a ride back to campus. The night was still young. I think it’d only been about nine or ten at the time when a black dude had pulled up in a yellow taxi. My buddy Ves hopped in the front seat while someone else – I can’t remember who, but I think it was a dude named Sanchez – and I climbed in the back. With me, I had a broom that I’d decided to steal from whatever bar we’d been at.
“Take us to 14th and Wells,” I heard Ves say.
The guy nodded and started driving.
I looked at the back of the seat in front of me and read our driver’s credentials that’d been posted there.
“Your name’s Ali, huh?”
“Where you from Ali?”
“Djibouti. Do you know where that is?”
“Yeah. I know where Djibouti is.”
I was pretty wasted at the time and couldn’t figure out how to continue the conversation. So, I instead rolled down the window and leaned half my body out the back of the cab. As it was clenched in my fist, I began waving the broom around and shouting things at people as we passed.
“Hey fuck you faggot!” I yelled at some guy who’d been coming out of a restaurant with his wife.
Ali looked towards the back of the cab to see what was going on.
“What are you doing?”
“Just callin’ that dude a ‘fag’.”
He smiled and refocused his attention on the road.
To avoid any misunderstanding, I would like to make perfectly clear right from the start that, in this story, usage of the word “fag” and any variation thereof has absolutely nothing to do with the repression of homosexual interests. That said, when I saw a sexually mixed group of college students walking along the side of the road as our cab headed west on State Street…
“Hey fuck you guys!” I shook the stolen broom at ‘em. “You’re all fags! Fuck you!”
Inside the cab, Ali had been laughing his ass off. He’d never seen anything like that before. I guess that sorta thing doesn’t happen too often in Djibouti.
A couple blocks up in the direction we’d been heading was the Bradley Center. I don’t recall if there’d been a concert or a Milwaukee Bucks game that night but some sort of event had just ended. Among the hoard of traffic pouring out of the place had been a couple police officers in the middle of the street directing traffic using illuminated glow-sticks.
“Hey! Hey!” our cab driver said. “Call the policemen up there ‘fag’ and for all you this ride is free.”
“You serious right now, Ali?”
“No joke! It will be a free ride! Just call them fags!”
I’d had a couple seconds to think it over before we reached where they’d been standing. I had no reason to believe those cops would abandon their post to chase after me for such a petty insult and the thought of getting a free ride sounded pretty fuckin’ good.
“Do it now!” he cried. “Do it!”
“Hey! Where’d you get those glow-in-the-dark dildos?” I shouted with broom in hand. “FAAAAGS!”
Malicious laughter rang out from the driver’s seat and filled the vehicle. It sounded like the type of chortling a sick weirdo would let loose when ejaculating on the dildo of an unsuspecting woman to cause an unwanted pregnancy.
“That is so, so funny!” He pushed a button on the meter, setting it back to zero. “Okay, okay! This ride is for free!”
The three of us cheered.
“Yo Ali,” Ves asked from the front seat, “you smoke weed, man?”
“You got some weed on you right now?”
“Actually, I do. You down to get down?”
“Yes! Yes!” he slapped the steering wheel and laughed. “Let’s smoke some fucking weed! Fire that shit up!”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how we got to rolling around the streets of Mil-town, hot-boxing a cab, smoking on the stickiest of the icky with our chauffeur for the evening.
As it happens, drive-by “faggings” were nothing new for me at the time of the Ali cab session. That was, however, the only time that that type of immature bullshit had ever yielded any sort of positive result.
I like to remember yelling things out passing vehicles as something funny and glorified – something that I’d started doing as an infant from a tricked-out stroller on 22’s while my mom pushed me to and fro around the neighborhood. I like to remember myself as a chunky-ass, six-month-old who rolled up and down the block with shades on, a Jesus piece around my neck and a sippy cup full of vodka in hand as I yelled whatever I wanted at whoever I wanted because I’d just busted out after having done nine months hard time locked up in the womb. This is the way I like to see it…
“Hey Mr. Cash,” I called out to our neighbor in my gruff baby voice after popping the pacifier out my mouth, “why don’t ya quit raking your lawn, come over here and suck my little baby dick, ya big fag?”
The Cash-man stood there with his jaw dropped, unable to bag the fallen leaves clamped between his hands as my mother continued pushing me past his house.
“Hi Mr. Cash,” she said with a wave. “Lovely morning, isn’t it?”
Of course, my mom only hears the things that I say as cute baby noises.
“Yeah, that’s right pussy. I’m talkin’ to you. Don’t listen to what she says.”
He remained frozen in time with his mouth agape.
“How’d you like it if I took a nice big Gerber-baby-shit right in that big fuckin’ yap o’ yours?”
His bottom lip began to quiver.
“Are you okay Mr. Cash?” my mom asked.
“You’d keep your mouth shut if ya knew what’s good for ya,” I said, lifting up my Winnie the Pooh t-shirt and flashing the nine-millimeter that’d been tucked into the front of my Pampers.
Without a peep, the Cash Money Millionaire dropped the leaves back onto his almost clean lawn and scampered towards his front door.
“Yeah, you better run to that loose-vagina’d wife o’ yours!”
He stopped at the doorway and looked back.
“That’s right faggot, I banged your wife – don’t act so surprised. Go tell that bitch to do some god damn Kegel exercises for fuck’s sake.” I held up my hands and gestured the abnormal looseness of his spouse’s twat. “It was like throwin’ a fuckin’ hot dog down a volcano.”
I’d then let out a bellowing laugh at the vulgar insults, sounding to my mother something like the giggling sun-baby from The Teletubbies.
“That’s right Timmy,” she said, “Mr.Cash was acting rather funny today. You’re such a smart baby, aren’t you?”
“Bye-bye Mr. Cash,” I waved my gun at him as I rolled away laughing, keeping my eyes peeled for my next potential target.
Although that’s the way I would like to think the trend of yelling stupid shit out car windows at random people had begun, in actuality it’d been something that my friends and I – a group of sexually frustrated high school losers – had started doing sophomore year when we’d all been deemed “mature” enough to get our driver’s licenses. I’m not sure how we got into it, though. It just kinda happened. Distributing unwarranted verbal vilification to anyone and everyone within earshot became the thing to do.
As you could’ve guessed, there ain’t much a science to stickin’ your head out the window of a moving vehicle and calling a person a “fag” for no reason, but that three letter word has an enigmatic power to it that I struggle to comprehend. How quickly this one-syllable can change a person’s mood is astonishing to me. I could never figure out why people allowed this term or any other random drive-by insults out the mouths of asshole teenagers affect the course of their day, but they so often did which is why we’d continued to do it. Although the majority of the time we’d gotten away scot-free, on more than one occasion, these mobile cheap shots had nearly yielded catastrophic results.
During one of the instances in which defamation damn near turned to disaster, I’d been sitting on the passenger side of my buddy Cahill’s shitty Chevy Corsica while heading north on Harlem Avenue. I remember it being a pretty nice summer day. I’d had the window down with my arm resting on the ledge, soaking in the sun and feeling the warm breeze. Up ahead on the right, we’d been approaching Pioneer Park in Niles where an asphalt path runs along Harlem. At the north end of the park there’s a stoplight at Touhy Avenue. When we passed the south end of the park, I’d seen a hairy-ass pair of shirtless Italian guys jogging next to each other along the asphalt path. As if it was a natural reflex, I excused myself from the conversation I’d been having with Cahill to address the situation at hand.
“Hey-o!” I’d shouted. “Nice tits, FAAAAGS!”
Not thinking twice about the gesture, we enjoyed a cheap little laugh at their expense and Cahill continued driving.
“Sorry, now where were we?”
“You were in the middle of making an off-color joke about how the owner of Costello’s Pizza hung himself in the restaurant and was discovered by the lady who came to pick up her order.”
“Oh, right,” I laughed. “Yeah, she got a little more than she bargained for that day. So, anyway, crazy Costello was busy ‘hangin out’ when this bitch came to get her pizza and…”
As we continued to talk, Cahill slowed down when approaching the red light at Touhy and we came to a complete stop about three cars back from the intersection. With my head turned facing my buddy, I felt two big sweaty gorilla paws wrap around my fragile sixteen-year-old forearm and clench on like they’d meant business. I turned, looked and nearly had a heart attack when I saw the Man-Tit Brothers lookin’ at me like they were ready to tear my fuckin’ head off.
“Hey, uh, what was that you said back there about someone havin’ tits?” asked Goomba Number One while his associate stared hard into the car through his sunglasses. “I didn’t quite catch it. Can you, uh, repeat it for us?”
“Um, uh, well, I think, uh…”
There was no feasible lie that could’ve gotten me out of that situation. I was straight-up fucked.
“…I think I said…well…”
God, why couldn’t the fuckin’ light just change already.
“…I believe I said, ‘Nice tits, fags,’ but, uh…yeah, I definitely wasn’t talking to you guys. I was talking to some other fags that I saw who had nice tits.”
“You know,” he chuckled, “that’s funny ‘cus I didn’t see no other fags with nice tits.”
He then turned around for a second opinion.
“Hey, did you see any other fags with nice tits joggin’ back there?”
“I didn’t see no other fags with nice tits.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he said and turned back towards me. “You know, he didn’t see any other fags with nice tits back there neither which leads me to believe you’d been talkin’ ta us. Ya see where I’m comin’ from here?”
“Hmm, well, I do see where you’re coming from and I’m very sorry for the misunderstanding,” I said as I saw the light turn green out the corner of my eye. “I obviously wouldn’t call two gentlemen as large as yourselves ‘fags’ and expect to get away with it.”
The chain of traffic progressed northward and the driver of the car in front of us began to accelerate. Seeing no need to do anything drastic, The Hulk let go of my arm and we too started moving along.
“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t think so,” he pointed at me as we began to drive away. “You betta not let it happen again.”
Not on that day and not to those particular dudes, but I most definitely did let it happen again.
One Saturday morning a few months later, I woke up and thought it would be a great idea to go buy a megaphone specifically for the purpose of using to drive around and call people fags. So, I did just that. After going to Radio Shack and picking up a hundred dollar megaphone, I went back to my house, tore open the box, put batteries in the thing and felt the sudden urge to go out and try it that very minute. Obviously, I wasn’t too bright at that age, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I took that one dumb-fuck idea and combined it with another.
“Hey Teresa,” I asked my then nine-year-old sister, “you wanna go for a ride with me? I’m gonna try out this new megaphone I just bought.”
She accepted the offer, we hopped in the old midnight blue Pontiac Bonneville – RIP – and went out to take my new toy for a little test spin. With Teresa in the passenger seat and the megaphone on my lap, I decided to head towards Brooks Park. There were always people at Brooks Park.
As I rolled south on Odell with the park to my left, I could see my first target up ahead. It’d been a dad riding bikes with his kid. As I approached, I used my right hand to take control of the steering wheel and, with my left, stuck the gun of sorts out the window, getting ready to smoke those fools.
“Hey kid,” I said, pulling the trigger, “your daddy’s a FAAAAAAG!”
I punched the gas and laughed to myself like a comic book villain as we drove away.
“You hear that Teresa?” I was intoxicated by the power of the megaphone. “This thing’s so loud, you could hear it from a mile away.”
She giggled but didn’t have any idea what she was laughing at.
I could already see my next victim a little bit farther down Odell. It was some woman walking her dog. I headed right for ‘em.
“Hey! Nice owner you four-legged FAAAAAG!”
I laughed and circled back around the park to get everyone else.
Once all targets had been hit within the vicinity of Brooks, I went over to the area of our neighborhood where all the shops and restaurants are located. Coming out Happy Foods, the local grocery store, had been an old couple. I was feeling ruthless.
“Hey old guy! How’s your wife like your wrinkly balls, you stupid FAAAAAAG?”
I drove a block down to the corner of Northwest Highway and Oliphant where the same guy has been running the same newspaper stand since before I was born. I needed to get him.
“Hey newspaper guy! Suck my balls FAAAAAAG!”
Further south down Northwest Highway had been a guy changing his tire.
“Yeah, you better change that tire you fuckin’ FAAAAAAAG!”
By this point, I’d been going nuts. I was determined to inform every man, woman and child in the Edison Park neighborhood of their fagginess. I made a few turns, called a few people out and had been heading north on Oleander Avenue when I decided to fuck with somebody I shouldn’t have.
North of Touhy, across from a tiny grade school named Stock, I noticed a sweaty, topless, tattooed dude that’d been mowing his lawn. To me, the guy looked like the moron who’d ran on the field at the Sox game with his dad and beat up the Royals first base coach a few years back. If I hadn’t known any better, at the time I’d have said that the ink all over this dude’s back had read, “Please Tim, I’m such a redneck retard. Please call me a fag. Please, please, pretty pleeeeeeeeeeeeease…”
I’m a generous man, so I decided to give him what he wanted.
He instantly turned and looked at me.
“Why don’t ya go put a fuckin’ shirt on, ya big FAAAAAG!?”
As per usual, Teresa and I laughed as I drove away to begin my search for the next “fag” to insult. We turned back onto Touhy and headed east. Up ahead, in front of the grade school that my sister attended, had been a red light. Ours had been the only car that’d been stopped. I was in the left lane. A Ford Bronco pulled up in the right lane. I didn’t think anything of it.
“HEY YOU GOD DAMN MOTHERFUCKER!” someone shouted across my sister in the passenger seat.
It was the shirtless hillbilly. Spit was shooting out of his mouth as he yelled. Veins were popping out of his neck and forehead. I couldn’t believe it.
“NO ONE CALLS ME A FAG WHEN I’M MOWING THE LAWN! I WILL BURY YOU! I DON’T GIVE A GOD DAMN FUCK IF YOU ARE SEVEN-YEARS-OLD,” he pointed at my sister, “I WILL FUCKING BURY YOU!”
The light turned green and the Ford Bronco peeled out. I was so fucking frightened I couldn’t drive. It’s been said that with great power comes great responsibility and during this little excursion, I found out the hard way that the megaphone was too much power for me to handle. It was a sword I couldn’t swing. I went home, dropped my sister off and immediately returned the piece of equipment to Radio Shack for a full refund.
In my neighborhood, by the train station and all the restaurants, is a parking lot that runs along the railroad tracks on Olmsted Avenue. Before it’d gotten repaved and clearly visible lines had been painted, dividing each space in this lot had been two-foot-tall, orange rubber parking cones. There were probably close to a hundred of ‘em. One night not too long after the megaphone incident, a couple friends and I had decided to steal as many of these cones as possible so we could use them to spell “FAG” on one of our buddy’s front lawns. At the time, it seemed like the thing to do.
So, I parked the Bonneville at the end of the street. Two or three of my bros and I headed for the cones. After making sure none of the valet parkers had been around, we each grabbed as many of them as we could. We’d gotten a good amount but decided we needed to get one more stack each so we’d have enough to clearly arrange ‘em to read the word “FAG.” We went back and picked up the second round. Nobody saw us as we pulled away with about thirty of the cones filling the trunk and interior of my car. After spelling out “F-A-G” across our guy’s property, we still had a few extras to get rid of. For good measure, we ended up throwing all but one of ‘em on top of our buddy’s car. The last one I decided to keep in the Bonneville for future “faggings.”
The cone was my favorite part about this whole era. It provided the ideal level of absurdity in its size and color and also projected our insults at a tone not nearly as overwhelming as the megaphone had put out, but one that’d been clearly audible from a distance nonetheless. It was perfect.
During my junior year of high school, in addition to my brother, I drove a group of two or three kids back and forth between our Chicago neighborhood and Loyola Academy up in north suburban Wilmette. Although it quite often obstructed seating, by that time the cone had earned itself a permanent spot in the backseat of my car. The guys I drove to school were always too tired and grumpy in the mornings to call anybody out but after the final bell had rung and we’d set sail back to Edison Park, drive-by “faggings” were commonplace.
Because of her reaction to our first arbitrary labeling of her as a “fag,” our favorite target quickly became a female crossing guard who manned a post on Waukegan Avenue somewhere north of Oakton but south of Dempster. Every day as we’d passed her on our way home, the members of my carpool would take turns verbally abusing this woman for no reason. In the beginning, we started making fun of the crossing guard uniform.
One day my buddy Henry would be hanging out the back window while holding the absurdly large parking cone to his face and yell…
“Hey! Nice stop sign FAAAAAAG!”
Then the next day a kid named Phil would get his turn.
“Nice orange vest ya FAAAAAAAAAG!”
And the day after that, my neighbor Brian…
“Nice whistle FAAAAAAG!”
This woman would get so pissed off by our childish name-calling. She’d throw a fit on the side of the road. Her arms would be flailing as she screamed at us while we drove away laughing. We loved how something so stupid could piss off a full-grown adult so bad.
Soon enough, however, we ran out of crossing guard accessories to rip on and had to get creative with it. Trying to make fun of someone you don’t have any personal knowledge of can be pretty difficult so the more and more we did it, the stupider the insults got. But we soon learned that it didn’t really matter what we said and that as long as we yelled something, it was guaranteed to offend the shit out of her. Had she ignored it from the start, this never would’ve happened. We would’ve moved on. But she chose to let our meaningless words fester and it was her reaction that time and time again drew us back. And this shit went on for months.
Spring had just sprung and the orange ear-muffs that had semi-protected her ears from the full brunt of our slanderous attacks had been replaced by one of those dopey crossing guard hats that look like the white version of The Skipper’s cap from Gilligan’s Island which, unto her, allowed our taunts to be fully audible.
One day Henry came up with this one.
“I looked up fag in the dictionary and there was a picture of you FAAAAAAAAAG!”
Since I’d been driving like thirty miles per hour and he’d only had a couple seconds to impart his message, he spat it out like one of those motor-mouth motherfuckers they hire to read all the dangers of certain prescription medications at the end of commercials on TV. The crossing guard was infuriated. She stamped her feet, threw her arms up in the air and screamed at the tail end of my vehicle. It was the most pissed I’d ever seen her. She looked like she’d finally had enough.
The next day we went to do it again. As we approached our target heading southbound on Waukegan Avenue, we could see her standing so vulnerably at her post ready to absorb whatever disgusting cuss assemblies we’d concocted for her on that particular day. It seemed just like yesterday and the day before that.
“Ready! Set! FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAG!!!”
Unlike other days when she’d get a sour look on her face and shake her fists at us in hopeless rage, our number one hater began blowing her whistle, started pointing at my car and let out a sinister, vengeful laugh.
“I gotchu now!” I read her lips as we passed by.
From the side of the road, a Niles cop car pulled out in front of me. Another turned out onto Waukegan from the side street behind and boxed me in. That meddling crossing guard had actually used herself as bait in an anti-fagging sting operation. I couldn’t believe what was happening. My world was caving in around me.
“Yeah, that’s them,” she said to the officer on the scene then looked in the car. “Thought you could get away with it, huh? Not so tough now, are ya?”
The officers had us step out of the vehicle as they searched The Bonnie. The cone was discovered. As I was issued a fifty dollar ticket for disturbing the peace, the crossing guard taunted me. She’d been savoring every moment. That afternoon, my parents received a call from Sergeant I-Have-Nothing-Better-To-Do-With-My-Time about our after school “fagging” habit. In the end, I was banned from further usage of Waukegan Road during times of the day when crossing guards were present. And that, my friends, was the last time that “fag” had ever been yelled out the Bonneville.
Worse than getting my arm grabbed, getting death threats and getting in trouble with the police had been almost dying over some shit said out a car window. The last tale I wanna tell today highlighting the cons of mobile harassment had been the time in which my buddies Cahill, O’Shea and I packed into the white Chevy Blazer belonging to our buddy Mac who, at age sixteen, had been the definition of “shitty driver.” Aside from my man’s general inattentiveness behind the wheel, Mac would often brag about and take advantage of his vehicle’s ability to go over speedbumps at extraordinarily high speeds.
“Forty speedbumps. Forty speedbumps,” I remember him muttering.
I struggle to understand the necessity or appeal of a vehicle structurally engineered to handle off-road conditions when it’s never driven outside the city of Chicago but, in this instance, I guess it really did come in handy.
As was the case in the fagging anecdote starring the saggy-titted Sicilians, we’d once again been heading north on Harlem Avenue. We were on our way to go have a home run derby at Notre Dame High School when we caught a red light at Howard Street. Mac’s was the first car in the right lane and immediately to our left had been another car that’d just pulled up. I paid no special attention to it but Mac Attack had decided to start yelling out the window at the driver. I turned and looked. The sole occupant of this sorely undersized vehicle – I seriously don’t think anyone else could’ve even fit in the car – had been “a great big fat person.” I should’ve known. Mac’s never been able to resist making fun of fat guys.
His penchant for ridiculing the obese stretches back as far as I can remember and the insults had always been delivered in a rhyming, sing-song fashion. They were quite catchy, actually, which is probably the reason that I can still remember all this stuff he’d said out at recess when we were twelve-years-old. Most of these taunts had been directed at a kid named McArtiff. I’d always felt bad for kids who’d get picked on that didn’t deserve it, but this guy was a pretty big asshole so no sleep was lost over the following.
“McArtiff eating food, that makes for one fat-ass dude!”
“McArtiff eating cake, please stop eating for God’s sake!”
“McArtiff, massive girth, when he walks he shakes the earth!”
About four years after coming up with those rather cutting rhymes, Mac still hadn’t seen the error in his fat-guy-ridiculing ways.
“Hey! Hey fat guy,” Mac called out to the rotund individual whose gut had been molded to the steering wheel. “No neck, fat guy?”
The man appeared perturbed by the absurdity of the question and rightfully so. It’d probably been the most insensitive thing I’d heard said by one of my friends until one guy suggested that we start referring to the female gender as “holes.”
“What happened to your neck?” Mac pointed around his own Adam’s apple while he spoke. “Seriously. No neck, fat guy?”
Mac laughed to himself as the light turned green. We pulled away from the intersection and the fat guy stuck right with us. He’d been shouting and shaking his right arm at the white Blazer. I couldn’t hear what he was saying but he looked extraordinarily pissed. Mac must’ve figured this dude to be a stereotypically spineless fat guy with low self-esteem that wouldn’t retaliate, but tubby meant business.
“Oh shit, oh shit!” Mac began to panic. “This fucking fat guy will not stop following us!”
In an attempt to shed a few pounds, Mac floored it. Deeming the vengeful pursuit not worth a speeding ticket or the cost of someone’s life, the fat guy fell back and resumed the speed limit to ensure that he’d make it to his Anorexia Survivors convention in one very large piece. Mac hadn’t gotten the memo.
“Oh shit! Oh shit!” he mumbled again as we burned along at sixty-five in a thirty.
“Dude, slow the fuck down,” I said. “The fat guy’s not even following us anymore.”
“Yeah dude,” O’Shea added. “What the fuck are you doing? Are you insane?”
The stretch of Harlem Avenue we’d been on is made up of four lanes. Two northbound and two southbound. We’d been in the all-the-way far right lane. No one had been next to us in the fat guy lane because no one could keep up. In the southbound lane had been a steadily approaching herd of traffic. Out of nowhere, Mac decided to cut the wheel as hard as he could to the left.
“HOLY SHIT!” I shouted and gripped onto whatever I could.
As we began to swerve across three lanes, the SUV teetered on two wheels. After almost getting smoked by the two lanes of oncoming traffic, we jumped a curb on the west side of the street and ended up on somebody’s front lawn. Once we’d come to a complete stop, I looked back at Harlem Avenue only to see the neckless blimp of a man casually roll past us at his original pace. Ironically, we’d come that close to not having any necks of our own.