Fiction By Elizabeth Searle
The thing about Hinckley, thing about Hinckley, thing about Hinckley.
Kennedy jogged up Goldust, past white-bright stucco walls, his shadow long in afternoon sun. Sun Mommy would NOT let him run in. But Kennedy had a sitter today from the so-called Special School. Who was watching TV now, not Kennedy. The sitter made him eat gluey cheese tacos, take his siezure med.s, pull on his SPECIAL OLYMPICS t-shirt though he liked to jog barechested. His bod. better than fat-so Mark’s. His bod. almost as good as John Kennedy Jr.’s in PEOPLE.
Kennedy Connor tugged at his sweat-soaked tee, tilted his face into noon-hot SUN.
Son, Daddy sometimes called little-brother Mark, like Daddy had just one son. When he had two, Kennedy the first. Kennedy’s feet pound-pounded; his stopwatch tick-ticked his wrist.
His vast shadow darted and stretched, his strides giant size. No one here to see. Mommy and Daddy still in down-town Phoenix, cheering on Kennedy’s big-shot little brother, Mark.
Inside his sweaty-haired head, in the secret space of his run, Kennedy kept thinking of Candy- date MARK CONNOR with his big shoulders and fat gut and wide bright Candy-date smile. Kept thinking, too, of John Hinckley Jr. Who’d shot big-shot President Ray-gun.
“Whoa there, cowboy!”
Horn blare; whoosh. Red Corvette shot in front of Kennedy. He hopped onto the curb he hadn’t slowed for, curb Mommy always warned him to slow for. Mommy always worrying he can’t handle even his jog alone. Only thing he’s allowed to DO alone.
Double-time run, now: pounding sand-gritty sunlit sidewalk; panting, his tongue hanging out like Michael Jordan’s. Making up superfast seconds he’d lost. Wanting a super Stopwatch Time to tell Mommy when she– first thing; she always first-thing when she gets back home– asked.
Thing about Hinckley, thing about Hinckley, thing about Hinckley is–
His name. A Loser’s; not a Winner’s Name like Kennedy’s. Kennedy’s middle-name the best and biggest part; the part he’s made everyone say as his name-name. Ever since he was old enough to know about the super-cool President that HE, not Mark, was named after.
And the gold medal Run goes to JOHN KENNEDY CONNOR.
That name hanging HUGE in air even if the applause is small. Same old smiley-faced Special Olympics parents and coaches and one Downs girl bouncing up and down so her fat bounces too, but she’s cute anyhow. She runs with the lower groups. Kennedy runs with the highest, the ones who live– some of them– in Group Homes.
Not that Mommy’d ever let Kennedy. Not that Daddy’d mind if his not-Mark son moved to a Group Home. Mark moved out a few years back, when Ray-gun left the White House. Now Ray-gun’s Vice-Bush is running for RE-elect and Mark running for first-time elect. For State-something, in A-Z.
Kennedy thumped past his halfway-there Barrel Cactus. One arm a stump.
John Kennedy Connor: suppose Hinckley’d had a name like that? John Kennedy Connor would have KILLed big-bad Ray-gun. Making BIGGEST-size headlines in Daddy’s newspapers. Daddy and Mommy used to boo Prez-dent Ray-Gun on TV. Mommy would explain to Kennedy how Ray-gun was a bad man. He made wars and hated poor people. Then how come Mommy didn’t think Hinckley was– didn’t let Kennedy say Hinckley was– a Hero?
Kennedy’s giant shadow, chasing him down the sun-white wall, stretched BIGger as he skidded round his U-turn. He wished he could keep that tall shadow tied to him. He bulled his head low, booking for home. How come Mark had switched over to Ray-gun’s R-team? How come no one shouted at Mark for that? For running on Ray-gun’s R-team because they always win in A-Z?
Kennedy’s full bladder burned to pee. Inside his pound-pounding heart where no one could see, Kennedy burned to do what Daddy had said Mark would do, in Daddy’s speech in their own backyard.
Make a MARK, Make a MARK–
Kennedy glanced fast behind him, picturing the sidewalk marked by red-paint footprints.
“Whoo-whoo–” Girls breezed by in topless car. Aiming gazes at Kennedy. He sucked in his tongue. Blurred by speed, maybe he did look, like Mommy says, like John Kennedy Jr.
MARK CONNOR (R) FOR STATE SENATE. Those red-painted banners were lying in the garage still-drying the day of Mark’s big backyard party. Mommy had read the banners out loud to Kennedy. Said ‘R’ meant, yes, same team as Ray-gun. Daddy in the back yard made a speech about why he named Mark, his second son, after himself.
Because I hoped my Mark would, well, ‘make a mark–’
As the backyard crowd clap-clapped, Kennedy had stomp-stomped across the not-dry banner in a way he’d later say (even Mommy did not believe him) was a mistake. His own red-paint footprints marking the garage floor. Mark yelling at him in that garage later, in secret. Mark’s hands in fists.
Make a MARK, make a MARK–
Kennedy hurtled now toward his home, his backyard gate, his head low like a Running Back. And THUMP. He shouldered the wood gate, butting it open. Big wood-on-wood CRACK.
No one home to hear. His so-called ‘Special’ sitter inside. Kennedy heard TV voices, no one real. Only the blue pool out here; cat sunning on the dive board. Black tail dangling, green eyes slit.
Bored, like Mark when Mark was home at all. Fat-so Mark louging by the pool, not-seeing Kennedy swimming his fast laps. Mark was the little brother but he always made Kennedy feel small.
Kennedy gripped his soon-to-be-sore shoulder. He thumb-wiped sweat from his brows. Then: Ha. He quick-checked his watch. 8 minutes, 30 seconds; second best time in months. HA!
Kennedy spun on his heel like he’d high-five someone. Who did he face but MARK again? Mark’s face blown up in blurry-big photo. Mark’s red-painted NAME: two feet high. That new sign stacked with other signs, leaning on the sun-silvered wood fence. Big red letters, shouting.
Better put them signs IN the garage, Kennedy had muttered to Daddy yesterday when Daddy’d hauled these new signs into the yard. Cause of that little dog, Kennedy added.
Meaning the neighbors yippy dog that dug its way under their fence sometimes to chase their cat. But Daddy didn’t listen. Daddy muttered back, That little mutt can’t hurt these big signs.
Mommy had spoke up, saying, I don’t think Kennedy meant the dog would HURT the signs, exactly, but that… Then Mommy’s voice had trailed off like Mommy’s voice often does, like Mommy didn’t want to say the word Pee.
So Daddy had stacked the new signs against the yard fence. And the little dog hadn’t peed on them, not yet. But Kennedy, panting now, half wished that yippy dog would– yep, make its mark.
HA. Kennedy grinned at his own secret joke, his own bladder full to burning, to bursting. Kennedy squinted at those signs. At Vice-Prez. Bush’s name; at Mark’s fat handsome face.
Daddy and Mommy not here to see who or what made the mark. Kennedy turned his back squarely on house and pool. He stepped up like a gunslinger to the signs that said (Kennedy could hear Mommy’s voice saying it, hurrying past the Bush part, the ‘R’ parts):
GEORGE H. BUSH (R) for President; MARK CONNOR (R) for State Senate.
Kennedy spread his legs, he tugged down his sweat-shorts. He pulled out his dick. In his Special School, in the Boy’s Room, Kennedy shot highest. Though his dick wasn’t fattest or longest, Kennedy won shooting games. Kennedy let loose his tall arc.
Gold-Metal Gold, in sun. Kennedy’s piss hit between GEORGE H. BUSH (R) and MARK CONNOR (R). Piss dribbled GOLD down the white sign, dribbled down MARK CONNOR’s wide smiley face, dead center. HA. On target; right between the eyes.
The thing about Hinckley is (Kennedy yanked his sweat-shorts up) he missed.