Book Trailer The Noble Train

Friday, August 5, 2011

The New Guy is going to have to Punch Back

When I moved from Baltimore to Chicago I was the new guy. I had a weird accent and I dressed weird and I had bad hair. And I had no friends. We had moved to a suburb of low tolerance for weird. We had moved into a town of Midwestern guys who wore checkered shirts and blue jeans and boots. I dressed like a refugee from the seventies and grew my hair to Afro length. A clash of cultures. My parents were Kennedy liberals and we had moved into a red enclave of button down Yankees. But I was a kid, what did I care?

So I walked into the lunchroom past a group of football players when one of them calls out. "Now there goes a real faggot." I stopped, dropped my lunch, and saw the blond haired blue eyed Captain of the football team. I didn't know he was the Captain, but I also knew from Baltimore days that you had one chance to set your line. So I threw my lunch on the ground and walked up and pinned "Randy" against the wall, not knowing I had just grabbed the most popular guy in the senior class. "Who are you calling a faggot?" I screamed.

Randy turned red and struggled against my grip. Hey...Hey! He finally got free with his face burning and told me to get my lunch, but his homeboys were in shock. Somebody had pinned the Captain against the wall. This is what the President has to do now when he gets back.  He has to pin anybody who tries to bully, extort, or blackmail him again against the wall. He has to set a line for these guys. A funny thing is once you take down the leader, then all the other guys slink away. But he has to do it now.

A week later I saw Randy in an empty hallway. I had not seen him since the lunchroom. We walked past each other and then he nodded to me. I nodded back.

The funniest serious novel since Richard Russo’s Straight Man, rich with the epic levity of John Irving and salted with the perversion of Updike." - Chicago Sun Time

"Rocket Man is a hilarious, well written novel about one man's search for the New American Dream." - James Frey, author A Million Little Pieces and Bright Shiny Morning

Books by William Hazelgrove