Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant
KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
No News Today - Guest Post - John Kropa
When I was 16, I was a garbage boy. Me and my coworker, who was a couple years older and could lift more trash than I could, would spend hours sifting through bottles and trash-juiced newspapers for empty Cool-Whip canisters to inhale the fumes through the nozzle. The high was similar to laughing gas, or what I imagine laughing gas to be like. One day, after finding a fresh canister during our pick-ups in the park, we drove our golf cart deep into the woods where we would climb up the thinner trees until our weight would bend the narrow trunks and carry us down gently. The tree would be left with a bowed posture. We called it tree-surfing. My coworker, being older and stronger and wanting to impress what he thought of as his apprentice, was more ambitious than I was with tree-surfing. Whereas Cool-Whip fumes greatly enhanced his tree-surfing abilities, mine were significantly hindered—the slightest body motion could send my brain into a hazardous frenzy which caused me to feel wonderfully dizzy and keel over with painful laughter. On this occasion, he pointed to a tall narrow tree, twice as tall as any I'd ever seen surfed. He started toward it. I warned him that the tree was too tall, no matter how high on fumes he was, even if he climbed to the top, the tree would bend and fall into another and he'd be stuck—he was already halfway up. Of course, as he reached the top, the tree began to bend gently until it lodged itself into a massive oak. My coworker was dangling from what seemed like 100 feet of impenetrable distance. He was muscular and in an ROTC program so I figured he'd be able to climb down or jump or something. I took another hit of Cool-Whip to pass the time. As I watched, my coworker began swinging his body to grab a lower part of the trunk. His hand slipped and he fell in slow motion until he slammed into the ground with his his horizontal body.
Some time went by before I ran over and pushed him onto his back. I saw that a stick had impaled a part of his chest and was jutting out of his sleeveless t-shirt like a third mutated arm. My coworker saw this and passed out. I immediately assumed he was dead and looked around at all the bent trees. I was confused—my brain felt like a small heavy rock surrounded by static jelly. I thought I'd killed him. I thought no one would believe me if I told them he fell, I'd go to jail for murdering him, which I certainly had fantasized doing on numerous occasions, though always with a gun or blunt object to the face, never by stabbing him in the chest with a stick. I thought about the news article—LOCAL GARBAGEBOY STABS COWORKER IN COOL-WHIP FRENZY. They'd call me the Cool-Whip Killer. Cool-Whip would go out of business.
I thought about how killing someone isn't that different than fantasizing about killing someone. I walked away from the body and made sure to leave the Cool-Whip canister nearby thinking it would look more like an accident that way. I also left the golf cart and headed back to the park where I would say my coworker had dropped me off hours before. I began picking up trash with my little pokey stick and thought about the body in the woods. A while later, still unnerved since no one had confronted me about my coworker's absence yet, I saw the golf cart approaching, my coworker driving with a look of betrayal and a hand to his chest.
John Kropa is a recent graduate from Pratt Institute. His fiction has appeared in elimae.