By Mark Tulin
It was a Saturday afternoon in 1964. My friends and I were walking home from the Benner Theatre after seeing the movie, Godzilla.
“Take it easy, guys. I’ll see you in school on Monday,” I said.
My two friends turned the corner heading home while I walked straight down Castor Avenue.
Up the street, I could see a tough-looking kid on a stoop in front of the library. He wore a leather jacket and fingerless black gloves. He munched on a frosted donut and kept looking my way.
As I approached, I tried not to have eye contact, hoping that he wouldn’t say anything as I passed. My intuition was to start running in the opposite direction, but I didn’t listen. Instead, I hoped that I could make it home without any trouble.
Before I knew it, he was blocking my path on the sidewalk. He was a good foot taller and at least four years older. There was a moment of silence as he stared me down. I never felt smaller in my life.
“Are you a punk?” he asked.
“No,” I replied.
He folded his arms as if he were a king looking down on one of his servants.
` “Empty your pockets, shorty,” he said nastily and ordered me to pick up the loose change on the ground and hand it to him.
I did as I was told for fear that his fist would soon meet my jaw. I thought that if he had my money, he would let me go.
“Can I leave now?” I asked.
He didn’t answer right away. Then said, “Did you see Godzilla?”
“Yes,” I said meekly.
“Were you scared?”
“No,” I replied.
“Well, you look scared now,” he said with a bad-boy smirk.
The bully dropped the donut to the dirty ground. Seeing it lay there, I wondered why he wasted a half-eaten French cruller with vanilla icing. He gave me a sadistic look as he smashed the donut into the ground with the heel of his boot.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said, expecting a deal coming up. “If you eat this donut, I’ll let you go.”
There was light at the end of the tunnel, and all I had to do was demean myself, to eat a dirty French cruller that was full of tiny bits of gravel and remnants of a boot print.
I was dead tired and willing to do almost anything to be on my way.
What the hell, it’s only a dirty donut, I told myself. I’ll go home and gargle with a bottle of Listerine and will get the lousy taste out of my mouth.
I closed my eyes as I ate the nasty thing and imagined that I was a seventy-foot dinosaur like Godzilla, holding the bully in my giant claws and munching his head with my razor-sharp teeth until all that was left of him were his gnarly black boots.
Mark Tulin is a former therapist who lives in California. Mark has two poetry chapbooks, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories will be out in August of 2020. He’s been featured in Vita Brevis, Amethyst Review, Poppy Road Review, among others. Follow Mark at Crow On The Wire.