This is the Life of a Redhead

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Part 1 of a 3 part series.
*edit* Finished it. A weak ending, but it's meant to be acted out, so it won't sound as bad.
I'm going to animate (w/clay) a story to it.
The idea for this series was heavily inspired by the Australian artist Adam Elliot ("Harvey Krumpet")


My brother had a good friend in the fourth grade, a scrawny boy named Mikey Winkler, who had straw colored hair and wore rugby shirts. They were not terribly close, but Mikey had been coming over to our house more and more recently, playing with our dad’s toy train set, and showing off yo-yo tricks: “around the world,” “walk the dog,” “time warp.” He knew them all. He was very good.

On Halloween Mikey had been walking home from trick or treating, a bucket full of candy in one hand, and his Duncan yo-yo in the other, spinning tricks in the quiet street. He was performing an amazing feat of completing the “Atom Smasher” while eating a fistful of candy, when blinding headlights stopped him in his tracks, and then stopped his heart.

My mother forced all of us to go to the wake, and I remember the large cross on the wall looming over Mikey’s coffin, Jesus staring down the room forcing us all to whisper and remain solemn. There weren’t many other children there, but my brother spotted Ben Friedman in the corner, a fellow Jew who did not understand this Catholic wake business, who was also distressed by Jesus and the nails digging into his outstretched hands. My brother ran to his friend and they stayed there in the corner, talking about Mikey, jealous that he would never have to do homework again, and upset that he would not be able to join them for recess on Monday.

I found myself standing in front of the coffin, looking at Mikey’s white face, which had ever so slightly been touched up. His lips were so red, the brightest feature on his face, looking so full of life compared to his colorless cheeks. He was dressed in a blue and green rugby shirt, the colors of our elementary school. They had crossed his arms and rested his hands on top of a Bible, and more peculiarly, a yo-yo.

It was an orange Duncan, the same one that he spun daily around the cafeteria tables. The toy was scratched, and there was a sizeable chip in it, but it had survived the crash. Mikey’s fingers were tightly interlocked, protecting his prized possession. Mikey would forever be remembered as the kid with the yo-yo, a boy who had fallen into a fad and took it to his grave.

I tried to look for Mikey’s parents, but I gave up almost as soon as I started because I had no idea what they looked like. I tried to spot a man or woman who looked more grieved than the rest, or perhaps was better dressed, but the sea or tear-streaked faces and black formalwear was too dense. I wondered how Mikey’s parents had perceived their son. He hadn’t been good at sports, and he wasn’t known for his brains. He was eight years old. What else did he have going for him?

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