The All But Kung-Fu Class


The boy wasn't into cars because magazines were a couple dollars and the only thing they'd ever had was the old big green car. It was the old big green car to him; pulling him to Stanton's every week, their only trip.

She'd get out while still putting on make-up because she enjoyed having something to do with every minute of her day. It was a good thing, because she had a full-time job and also, for tips, took nights at a bar in which no one would think of looking for her, draped usually and fully in the failing purple housecoat that got the sides taken off every time before public trips. The trick was pulling just the right thread. The trick orange thread that stood out so that she'd get the right loop, and the sides, the pieces around the neck, would fall off quite easily. Then it certainly looked like something you could wear in public.

The best thing was the ride underneath the cart, where the dog food would go. No dog, so he was safe for every journey. The world was a different place under here. There was no above. There was only the land of cheap cereals and heavy rice sacks and the big Big bottles of alcohol and sauces that were still blocking up the shelves, a green pepper and Super Mushroom paradise in which the bar codes blurred and prices merged into just a single black dot for a change.

Whenever they stopped for a moment, the boy wouldn't think of the two reasons they would ever stop: coupon or sale item. It was the way he was delivered. Not to mention her delivery.

"Oh no! What's this? Where are we!" mom would say, and the boy would smile a concern. "Hmmm...... I don't like the look of this. This is....... oh no!"

The boy would look out, imagine the gun in his hand. He couldn't imagine the bullets. But the threat was out there, and soon they'd be moving onto another location. One involving pastas and greater dangers.

"This doesn't look like the place to me," she'd say. "Look at the directions again. It's dark around here." The buggy moved. "What's that?!"

The boy looked. Could see nothing. But not because it wasn't there.

"I want you to keep a look-out. A careful, careful - oh no!"

Suddenly there was a 32 year old sound effect, and the boy gave his own kind of swishing sound to the fight. Customers looked and let them go, but the aging manager and youngish women poking cans into vacant lots were too used to the sight. Not to mention the wobble.

She could always blame it on the cart. Wheels. But it was the one consolation she had in life. Her boy was too important to be called a consolation. Certainly a prize, but not a - Her breath was all right, and she could hardly be scolded for spending child's college fund on it. (Not there Was a college fund.) But everything she got and consumed was a freebie at the bar. She'd refuse the on duty drinks, but the owner of the place felt sorry for her. Gave her the stuff to take home. She took it as pure friendship. There was no reason to feel guilty about any of it.

It did keep her head pounding though. Sound effects were a last resort. Still, the boy expected them. She knew that. She couldn't give him much, but she could give him that.

Throw away newspapers were his book covers that came off in the rain; the imagination and a set that brought in a single channel when plugged in; dime books the library didn't want anymore; memories of that one trip to Washington DC that year; he was pleased with what he had.

Coupons later, mom was struggling to fit the cart through the door that always opened for her, but for which she always giggled, and the boy carried any excess. Most of the time there was no excess - but he'd carry all the bags. It made the buggy lighter and mom could conserve a little strength. Didn't take much strength, but they both knew it added up.

He'd unlock the driver's side, and while she got in, he would unlock his own, load up the car, and still she'd be on their adventure. Some days there were pirates in the parking lot. If it was cloudy, she'd look up and show her kid the fleet of Russian planes that were up there, blaring down, ready to kill. He would protect her. She'd point. Another! Point. He was quick with the draw...!

It didn't last long, the years, which slowly drove her to a safe plot of ground. The boy did as was shown. The same rented house, since it always cost too much to move. A part time job at a plant store, the rest dealing with delivering papers that brought in the power, water and now and then hair cut. Drinks weren't free, but then he didn't have to worry about car insurance or car.

He'd take his dates to the grocery store. But none of them "got it". No one made the sounds. He would drink, then offer, then drink. But no one loved it as much as he did. No woman had his mother's liver.


About the Author: Ben Ohmart believes in writing to entertain. He does it well. Evidence lies in the numerous stories and poems in journals and online -- including Black Bear Review, Sink Full of Dishes, Parthenogenesis, Skidfish, Holy Temple of Mass Consumption!, 10 Things Jesus Wants You To Know, Feh! and The Iconoclast. Ohmart also produces screenplays, four last year. Currently he is writing films, with hopes of having one done in Malaysia soon, and is also trying to break into the prison of television. He's white, 26, single and loves British comedy. He lives in Boalsburg, PA, right next to PSU, and enjoys watching rabbits eat his garbage.