The Day Penthouse Shot on Our Dinner Table: A Childhood Memory (Part Five–The End)
Part Five: The Aftermath
Unlike typical crime capers there was no climactic shootout, no final explosion and no conclusive battle of wits. There wasn’t a last-minute double-cross, a final moment of ironic justice or a closing iconic farewell. There was just a fat, four-eyed kid with a pounding noise in his head that he soon realized was his father yelling his name over and over again.
“CESCO! GET IN THE HOUSE!”
It seemed an odd comment given how adamant my dad was to get me out of the house earlier, but I was too numb to question anyone’s reasoning. I entered through the back door and heard my dad beckon me into the dining room. There he proceeded to tear into me, more embarrassed for himself than me. Shamefaced to the point of distraction, I only picked up a few words—“”Idiot,” “Degenerate,” “Buick”—while my eyes kept darting around the room to avoid his glower. I caught fleeting glimpses of a model lying naked on the glass. Another model putting her panties back on. The photographer calmly switching lenses. My brother quietly sitting in a chair, eating Stella Doro cookies, more fascinated with the lights than with the nudity.
When the yelling stopped I simply mumbled “I’m sorry” to everyone, but mostly to my own chest . I think. I’m not sure. I was dead inside. After I apologized a few more times into my body for good measure I slowly walked back to my bedroom, making as little noise as possible so that everyone would forget that I even existed. Then I closed the door, flung my body on my bed and stared up at the right protruding nipple where my Miss Piggy poster was supposed to be. “Penthouse Saturday” had become worse than a typical school day, which was to say an unmitigated disaster. I was confident things could never, ever get any worse, but made certain not to say so for fear that would only cause the ceiling to cave in on me.
Come September I was back in my “social death seat” at the front of the bus. And like every year before, my neck was pelted by all the colors of the Crayola rainbow. But something felt different this time. Something had changed again. The crayons no longer stung like they used to. Maybe I had just grown used to the attacks. Or maybe—just maybe—the Davids and their compatriots were no longer sharpening their crayons. Perhaps in some small yet significant way they were telling me that I had proved my mettle, my coolness, after all.
Once more, when all seemed lost, the gods gave me a warm pat on the back. And that’s when I knew sixth grade was going to be the best year yet.
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