Fragment: The Book of James (Pt. 1)

February 5, 1996

Today we went to Church and I got to sit up in the balcony.  After Church we did a Toy Audit. When I was 6 I let a little black boy down the street borrow a  motorcycle and when I was playing army I said Darius had my motorcycle.  Dad called Darius’s dad and made Darius bring it back and Darius hasn’t come over to play since then.  He acts like a bully at school and dad keeps telling me to fight him but that’s crazy since he’s got like seven friends in high school.  After he decided Darius stole my motorcycle was when dad made me write down all my toys and every Sunday we do a Toy Audit.  We’ve done it every Sunday for four years.  I’m basically on the honor system to add things because mom does all the shopping so dad sees little of the Acquisitions.  If dad sees me with something he doesn’t recognize he’ll ask if I added it but half the time it’s something I’ve had well over 6 months and he never checks anyway.  One time I added one twice because he kept accusing me of not adding new Acquisitions to the Inventory.  Later during Toy Audit I couldn’t come up with two of the GI Joe dudes with camo on their faces and he made me look through my chest of drawers until I had a knot in my throat and mom eventually yelled For god’s sake he’s a little boy and Why would he have two camo face GI Joes anyway he probably just wrote it down wrong and dad went out to start the blackened chicken but said not to make anymore Accounting Errors. A lot of the toys on the original Inventory I don’t even play with anymore since I’m in freaking middle school but sometimes dad still wants to see those toys.  I don’t know where half of them went but I told him they had all been given away to the people in West Virginia that the youth group visited.  If he ever went through all the boxes in my closet he’d probably find them and I’d get a spanking for lying and making Egregious Accounting Errors but he never goes in there and mom says we’ll actually give them to the youth group soon anyway, maybe when dad’s gone for a few days, because the youth group is going on a trip again in the summer because of Hurricane Fran.

May 29, 1996

James is coming home tomorrow.  I put my CDs in alphabetical order.  He didn’t know I got Mother Love Bone.  He said his roommate has it.  I made him a copy on a tape.  I taped over Bobby Brown.  There was extra space at the end and I put “Killing in the Name” on there.  We listened to that in the car at the Factory Outlet Christmas buffet party last year.  It is probably my favorite song.  James hates to be around dad and all the guys from the company and I don’t half blame him so we went out to the car.  I remember mom chewing her gum mad that night.  James is home for the whole summer which I hope means no YMCA day camp.

May 30, 1996

James came home today and dad said a bunch of stuff about his sideburns while we played HORSE.  James forgot to send his transcripts home so him and dad had a negative exchange and mom started crying.  Dad kept saying stuff about how gorillas are the only ones who play basketball when he’d walk by coiling up the hose and James wouldn’t call out the letters after he missed a shot.  I didn’t make him because I think he was not talking so he wouldn’t cry.  I made a gorilla face while I did a layup and that cracked James up.  When dad went behind the house to mow the lawn mom came to talk to James and she was rubbing his back and while James talked to mom I kept trying to bounce the ball off James’s butt.  James did a fake smile and pretended to box me but looked sad so I stopped and went inside and laid down on the ping pong table till he stopped talking to mom and came downstairs to the play room.

June 7, 1996

Dad found James’s copy of “In Utero” on Sunday during Toy Audit and said the girl on the CD itself was a boy and guess what it went on top of the fridge.  I didn’t say it was James’s.  Mom mentioned “In Utero” to Brent before the service on Wednesday and said Pastor Taylor had found the same CD on the youth group couch back in December and had to have a one-on-one with Brent.  I wonder how often Pastor Taylor looks for stuff on the youth group couch?  Brent says “In Utero” has been a bigtime problem for really quite some time.  I asked forgiveness but I still listen to “Dumb” when it comes on on the radio in the car because the message in that one isn’t so negative.  Mom doesn’t know that’s Nirvana but she still gets ill and cuts off the radio at the end because she can’t stand it when they sing I think I’m dumb over and over again.

June 11, 1996

Martin still has my copy of “Don’t Censor Me” but he says he’s gonna bring it back on Friday for Sega.  I don’t give a care about that CD but if he doesn’t bring it back dad is gonna kick my butt when we do Toy Audit after church on Sunday.  That’s also the only CD Brent mentioned by name to my mom so all the other ones went on top of the fridge pronto until further notice.

June 13, 1996

Martin didn’t bring the Audio Adrenaline CD today but mom says she’ll drive me over to his dad’s house tomorrow after she drops off some magazines at Church.  Martin will be back at his mom’s house so I’ll have to go in and get it from his dad.  His dad is weird but he knows a lot about electronics.  I’ve basically been scared of him ever since he yelled at Martin for leaving the subwoofer on when I was in the backseat of the van after Phillip’s laser tag party.

He better not take it to his mom’s house or I am going to be dead because CDs are going to be a big deal during the upcoming Toy Audit.

June 15, 1996

I mowed my grandma’s yard today.  Dad always pays me $10 because he says he doesn’t want to hear about unfair child labor practices in his house and besides that was like the one good thing the liberals did probably, reforming all that.  He told me and grandma all about the little girls in Massachusetts who got scalped when their hair got caught in the looms before I mowed the yard and Grandma was like Oh my lord.  I kept thinking about my hand getting caught in the blade of the mower, maybe if I had to reach in there to remove a piece of twine from the hay-baler or something, and I’d just come back up with a bloody stub for a hand and I’d have to be driven to the hospital and do some kind of Alternative Activity during PE from now on with Eric who for whatever reason had no legs and mostly just caused trouble and got by with saying really bad cuss words while the rest of us played basketball.

James re-painted the side of Grandma’s house while I mowed and when I rode by on the mower I gave James the finger like the guy in Easy Rider as long as dad wasn’t out there watching James and James shook his head like Dude what has gotten into you.  James and I watched Easy Rider when he came home for Christmas and I pretty much constantly gave him the middle finger during Christmas. I still have grass on my arms.

June 21, 1996

I mowed my parents’ yard today and did weedeating for a total of $20.  I am saving my money for a guitar.  James says his roommate is going to visit and he can help me pick one out at the pawn shop.  Dad says when I get one I should take lessons from my cousin Jacob who plays pretty good.  On the other hand Jacob breathes loud and pronounces it “acYOUstic” and only plays the blues which I think is pretty gay.  James says in private not to take lessons from Jacob because I’ll wind up with backne and barbecue sauce all over the strings and Jacob will just use the money to make out with fat girls and it’s better not to encourage him.  Sounds like something dad would say about welfare queens but I did not point this out to James.  James and Jacob are about the same age and James is nice to Jacob but thinks he’s a dumb A.

June 22, 1996

Today was dad’s day off which meant I had to play tennis with him.  Dad is very bad at tennis and gets very frustrated on account of being so bad.  Mom says he just wants to spend time with me and it is a Christian Behavior to play tennis with him.  They made me take tennis lessons a while back and honestly I am very crappy compared to the kids who live out at Swan’s Waye but I get it over the net and know how to keep score which basically makes me Pete Sampras compared to dad.  I beat the crap out of dad but try not to since the last thing I need is him throwing his racket and carrying on in front of people I know.  Why he gives a care about the outcome of these games I do not know.  I don’t like to shower at the Y but my dad always does.  I don’t need the negativity of seeing his feet and all that baby powder and possibly Mr. Hinson’s butt so I just waited in the lobby and read an article in Sports Illustrated about Latrell Sprewell.  I tore it out to give it to Darius since he has a Latrell Sprewell jersey and maybe this will help us get off on the right foot in the seventh grade.  I put the article in my racket cover because I knew dad would probably make me buy the YMCA a new Sports Illustrated subscription or mow their yard at my Yard Rate minus the cost of one issue of Sports Illustrated if he saw me defacing their property that way.  When we got home James was playing basketball and I ran up to him and started pretend-hitting him in the ribs and he screamed out in fake pain and I fake-beat him to death with the basketball and when he fell down in a pool of his own imaginary blood I laughed my butt off and then he beat me in a game of “PHOTOSYNTHESIS”, which is like “HORSE” but it takes for freaking ever.  I invented this game to avoid having to do homework several months ago when James was home from college for a long weekend.  Mom said stop procrastinating and then guess what James and I played a game of “PROCRASTINATION”.  During supper dad said playing a game of “PROCRASTINATION” was pretty slick ceteris paribus but it was once you looked at it kind of disrespectful as far as something you do to your mother goes and I asked for forgiveness from God in private even though James just looked at dad like What is your freaking deal?

June 30, 1996

Adam had a campout for his birthday yesterday and I went to that.  James and his college roommate chaperoned and told a bunch of ghost stories and I’m pretty sure they were smoking cigarettes every now and then.  When we got up we went for a hike and Jay found a turtle.  It was a boxer turtle.  We were all looking at it and Jay picked it up and threw it as hard as he could against a tree and pieces of the turtle’s shell went flying everywhere.  James grabbed Jay by his shirt and said a bunch of mean stuff to Jay essentially threatening to kick his butt the way Jay had kicked the turtle’s butt.  If I’m not mistaken mom is on the phone with Jay’s mom right now and dad seems pretty certain Jay’s parents will thank James one day and in a few years James will attend our high school graduation and Jay will be valedictorian and Jay will go up to James and be like hey man I really appreciate you helping me get my head and A wired together back then.

10 missing parts

Text: Alex B. Fine

Read by: Ilham Belkady & Alex B. Fine

Guitar: Ben Ellis


A:  I found your hair in my stew.

E:  How did you know it was mine?

A:  I could just tell.

E:  What did it look like?

A:  It was long.

E:  Did you eat it?

A:  Most of it.

E:  Do you have the rest still?

A:  Yeah.

E:  With you?

A:  Yeah.

E:  Can I see?

A:  Yeah.

E:  Yeah that is mine.

A:  Yeah.

E:  What else was in the stew?
A:  Chicken.


A:  One of the chickens died.

E:  Who?

A:  Mr. Smithers.

E:  The rooster?

A:  No, Smithers is a hen.

E:  Was a hen.

A:  Smithers was a hen.

E:  Do you know where he is?
A:  She.

E:  Do you know where she is?

A:  No.

E:  Oh.


E:  Weren’t you wearing a condom.

A:  When?

E:  Just now.

A:  Oh, maybe.

E:  Well where did it go?

A:  I don’t know.

E:  But you were wearing it.

A:  Right.

E:  Maybe it went under the bed.

A:  Yeah, it could’ve.

E:  Wanna look?

A:  Yeah.

E:  Well?

A:  What?

E:  Is it down there?
A:  Yeah, it’s down here.


E:  This book is missing a page.

A:  Which one?

E:  Page three hundred and eighty-six.

A:  What happens on that one?
E:  I don’t know.

A:  Here, take this one.

E:  From your book?
A:  Yeah.

E:  You don’t need it?

A:  No.

E:  Thank you.


E:  Did you get the cat from the vet?

A:  Why was the cat at the vet?

E:  She had a cough.

A:  What did it sound like?

E:  I’m not good at coughing.

A:  No, I mean the cat.

E:  Oh, she just went meow.

A:  Is this her?
E:  Yeah.


E:  The candidate’s name you wrote on the ballot is misspelled.

A:  Where?


A:  Dad quit drinking.

E:  What made him stop?

A:  He died.


A:  Do you have my Latrell Sprewell jersey?

E:  Which?

A:  The one that says Sprewell on the back.

E:  I have the whole uniform, I think.

A:  Can I have it back?

E:  Why?

A:  I need it.

E:  What for?

A:  Youth group.

E:  I’m wearing it.

A:  Where?

E:  Underneath my black outfit.

A:  Oh.


E:  Did you remember my chewing tobacco?

A:  It’s by the mousepad.

E:  This isn’t the kind I asked for.

A:  They were out of Levi Garrett.

E:  I’m gonna break your fucking jaw.


E:  I found your celery in my stew.

A:  What’d it look like?

E:  Crunchy.

A:  Did you eat it all?

E:  No, I saved you some.

A:  Is it done?

E:  Not yet.

Me and the good thing

Your manner of articulation makes me feel weird.  I kept looking down and your hair framed your face.  That never changed.  You smiled and I didn’t always see it coming.

I fell in love when you expressed skepticism about whether or not bergamot is a word.

For the record, I tried to get closer.  I would’ve pushed you into me if I knew no one would get hurt.  I would put your foot inside my knee, with your thigh intersecting my hip, in case anyone wants to know.  I would graft my forearm to your thigh if it would make you feel good too, if we could still move around and eat breakfast and use cell phones.  Your face looked different from different angles.  It got more serious as I moved down.    It did not feel weird to have your hair in my teeth.

I laughed at everything after I left.  I flirted with the receptionist who was not pretty because I felt so full of love, and I wanted her to have a good day.  I wanted to hug the cab driver and tell him his dreams would come true.  I didn’t worry about my coffee getting cold and having to throw it away.  I knew there’d be more.

“If you knew no beagles would get hurt, wouldn’t you love to have a coat made of beagle ears?”