Published on September 17th, 2009 | by TLV News0
“What the Faulkner Presents: Adventures with Pinecone” by Charles Hale (From TLV #89)
Everything had been going well with Sheila. And by everything I mean we could have fun sitting on a park bench or in the bedroom and anything between. And speaking of the bedroom, let me just say GYMNASTICS! But because I was spending so much time with Sheila I wasn’t hanging out with Pinecone. I didn’t realize it until he called me up one day and said, “Hell Charles, it’s almost like a VW bus ran me over and the vultures ate every bit of me the way you don’t call.” I told Pinecone that I was sorry and that I didn’t have an excuse. I wasn’t sure what his sister had told him and I was going to be the one to do it. Then I told him I would pick him up from school the next day and we’d hang out.
I was too afraid of the mothers to sit in the winding pickup line for Pinecone after school so I told him to meet me at the corner of MLK and Price St. He was there 10 minutes after the middle school let out carrying a back pack so full of stuff it look as if it weighed more than Pinecone did. It’s possible than when he flung it off his shoulder and into the backseat of my Corolla that the tires on the driver’s side of the car came off the ground. “My teachers really suck, man,” Pinecone said before either of us said hello. “I’ve got to read a whole chapter in Science, plus a Math worksheet, and a Social Studies worksheet. Don’t they know this ain’t high school?”
“It’s good to see you,” I said after Pinecone finished ranting and buckled up. I couldn’t help but watch him mumbling and ticking in the front seat of my car, it was almost as if he arguing with his teachers to himself, and losing. We started driving toward the Square because Pinecone said he wanted one of those giant ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies. While we were sitting at a red light Pinecone ejected the CD from my stereo and pulled one out of his bag. I recognized the CD after the first notes were played. I didn’t know where Pinecone could have gotten it or if he knew that it was recorded before he was born. But Pinecone was rocking and rapping along to the chorus, my Corolla was bouncing. When Pinecone started shouting the chorus, “Insane in the membrane, insane in the brain,” I wondered if he knew what a membrane was.
We had to take a lap around the Square to find a parking place and the one we did find was on the opposite side of the courthouse from where we were going, but Pinecone didn’t seem to mind. He just started walking and talking, I wasn’t really aware of what he was saying because my mind was wandering to his sister and the way her eyes glisten now that she was wearing glasses. But it was good to be back running around with my little ten-year-old friend.
“Hey, hey,” Pinecone said and started slapping me on the arm when we reached the courthouse. “Those guys aren’t looking, steal us some beer.” Pinecone was pointing to a stack of Coors Light outside of a truck. The two delivery guys were busy talking up a redhead in a short skirt. Her legs were as long as anything I’d seen and her skirt was shorter than was probably legal. I thought Pinecone could probably do the limbo between her legs and see something he shouldn’t.
I asked Pinecone what he would do with beer but it didn’t matter to him what it was, he just liked the thrill of taking stuff. “Me and my friend Joe Lon stole some bananas off the back of a truck last week.”
“Why the hell did you steal bananas? What, were y’all low on potassium or something?”
“No, no, you dumbass,” Pinecone said as we walked past the beer truck and closer to our ice cream. “We didn’t eat them, we stuffed in Joe Lon’s bag and went on the balcony of the bookstore.” We had made our way close to the bookstore and I was able to visualize Pinecone and his friend up there and what they did next but I had to ask.
“We peeled them a little bit,” Pinecone said with no shame or sense that he had done anything wrong. “Then we threw them at cars. Joe Lon hit one on the roof but I hit one on the windshield and one on the roof. After each throw we ran into the bookstore and pretended to look at books. Nobody ever caught us.”
About the time Pinecone finished his story we arrived at the candy store. The place was filled with kids yelling and running around. I about had a nervous breakdown as soon as I stepped inside. It occurred to me that these kids didn’t need sugar, but there were parents in there paying for it. It was like injecting junkies with heroin, or something. And I was reminded of a news story I had read where mothers were putting Mountain Dew in their baby bottles so after the peak their babies would crash.
This is part 8. To read part 7, click here.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #89 (published September 17, 2009).