Pornelli was the new kid. It was a split class. Us sixth graders were on one side, and the fifth graders were on the other. That was the way it went at Paul A. Fisher public school. Nothing made any sense.
The new kid had angry dark eyes, and unusually long brown hair for his age. At Miss Kovac’s request he sat in the front row beside Darcy Lavaliere. Darcy was the cutest girl in class. I was stuck sitting beside Jay Prentice. Up to that point Prentice was my best buddy, but he was kinda annoying cuz’ all he ever wanted to talk about was Kiss, and drums.
Miss Kovac was a slender, and gaunt woman. She was probably in her mid forties and had bleach blonde hair. She looked like she was in bad health. She addressed the class.
“Ladies and gentlemen. We have a new student. Please welcome Pelle Pornelli.”
The class promptly roared with laughter. It was one of the funniest names we ever heard. It was even funnier than Andrew Spiridoulias. Andrew Spiridoulias must have thought so too, because he laughed the hardest. Or perhaps he was just happy to have the heat taken off of him. It wasn’t often you heard “Spiridumbass” uttered after the introduction of Pornelli.
The only two in the class who didn’t laugh was Miss Kovac, who was waving her arms frantically like an umpire waving Jesse Barfield safe at home plate, and Pornelli, who was glaring at his desktop like it owed him money. I imagined he got that a lot.
The laughter died down and it was back to business. Miss Kovac started lecturing us on Mexican culture and I stared at Darcy. I didn’t really appreciate girls yet but Darcy was the odd exception. She had short hair, therefore was an anomaly to me. I admired her blue eyes and her middle finger?! – oh wait. That wasn’t Darcy. The offending finger belonged to none other than Pornelii.
Later, I was sitting out front of the school with Robert Klingbile. Robert was in a wheelchair for whatever reason that was never known to me. I pitied him and usually traded my lunch with him. Apparently he was the only person alive who liked potato sandwiches. I sure didn’t. Years of informing my mother of this only caught me a death glare that is usually reserved for an older brother executed at a younger brother for farting in church.
Rob and I were playing Snakes and Ladders when I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned and ended up trading gazes with Pornelli,who had snuck up on me with the stealth of a ninja. He stood there with his arms folded. He was wearing a bright green Philadelphia Eagles jacket. I remember thinking about how bright it was. It was almost neon.
“You got a problem fag?” He asked.
“Other than getting my ass kicked at snakes and ladders by an Easter Seal Kid?” I retorted evenly. Growing up in my household I learned to wield witticism superior to people 20 years my senior. True story.
“What’s an Easter Seal Kid?” Pornelli queried.
“This guy is.” I motioned to Rob, was staring at me indignantly for my derelict description.
“I don’t like people staring at me.” Pornelli stated this to me very matter of factly.
I didn’t understand that. He was looking at me. Therefore I was looking back at him. I put my hands over my face and spoke.
Pornelli punched my hands over my face and sent me toppling over the game and Rob. Thankfully his wheelchair didn’t fall over too. I was flabbergasted. In a daze from the ground I looked up through a blur of anxiety, and could only make out Pornelli’s ugly green coat, that made me instantly think of boogers. I exploded to my feet.
“FUCK YOU BOOGERMAN!” I lunged at Pornelli like Icky Woods lunging for a touchdown. Sadly Icky’s grace, power, and and speed was more effective than my boorish, psychotic determination. Pornelli easily sidestepped my feeble overture and I found myself, on the ground, in a daze once again. Somehow I ended up on my back this time. Life sucked.
Pornelli smirked down at me and spoke once again.
“Next time you stare at me in class like a homo, I’m gonna- ”
Pornelli didn’t get to finish. He was blind-sided by my saviour.
There was a Tazmanian devil flurry of movement as my champion, and Pornelli, crashed to the ground with twin woofing grunts.
Vernon Walker was the stinky kid. But he was as tough as he was stinky. He and I were on and off friends. I only really hung around him when no one else was around, and it was really windy out. He had a crazy family. He was the younger brother of an extremely burly girl by the same of Shannon, and the son of drug addicts. His mother was a housekeeper, who didn’t keep house, and his father a war veteran who drove truck. His father fought for Korea during the Korean war despite being Canadian. Rumour had it he was refused in the Canadian military, so he joined the Korean Army. He didn’t care who was right or wrong. He just wanted to shoot people.
Vernon had been watching mine, and Smiley’s, exchange from a distance. After I ended up on the ground a second time, Vernon decided to intervene. His wrecking ball style of attack not only caught Pornelli completely off guard, but damn near knocked him out cold. After the spectacular tackle Vernon lunged to his feet.
“MIAMI VICE!” He hollered. Then he frowned down at a gasping Pornelli. He looked at me and told me not to say anything before sprinting off.