Fat kid rules the world

BOOK: Fat kid rules the world
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
SKINNY PUNK GENIUS SAVES FAT KID

“Lucky for you I was at that station,” Curt says as he watches me eat. “I mean, since I saved your life and all.” His eyes track each bite I take, but when I offer him my fries he won’t take any.

“I wasn’t going to jump,” I say, holding a french fry in the air. I’m lying, but only halfway.

Curt scoffs.

“Were,” he says as if there’s no argument. “I was watching you for, like, an hour. That rude, twirpy kid left, then three trains passed and you never looked up from the tracks. Then the insane laughter and I knew you’d lost it. I said to myself, Curt, you save this kid’s life and he will surely buy you lunch.”

“I wasn’t going to jump,” I say again with my best resolute look. I was just thinking. Just
thinking
.”

Curt considers this at length.

“How come?” he finally asks.

I want to give him the you-moron look the kids at school have perfected. Maybe say something sarcastic like, “Use your imagination.” I want to say, “Open your eyes. I’m a fucking three-hundred-pound teenager living in the most unforgiving city on earth. I’m ugly and dumb and I make stupid noises when I breathe. I annoy and bewilder my only living parent, mortify my little brother, and have no friends.”

I shrug.

OTHER BOOKS YOU MAY ENJOY
aimee
Mary Beth Miller
Bronx Masquerade
Nikki Grimes
Catalyst
Laurie Halse Anderson
Miracle’s Boys
Jacqueline Woodson
The Outsiders
S. E. Hinton
Postcards from No Man’s Land
Aidan Chambers
Stetson
S. L. Rottman

PUFFIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland

(a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,

New Delhi - 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland,

New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,

Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Published in the United States of America by G. P. Putnam’s Sons,

a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2003

Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2004

10

Copyright © K. L. Going, 2003

All rights reserved

THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS EDITION AS FOLLOWS:

Going, K. L. Fat kid rules the world / K. L. Going

p. cm. Summary: Seventeen-year-old Troy, depressed, suicidal, and weighing nearly 300 pounds, gets a new perspective on life when a homeless teenager who is a genius on guitar wants Troy to be the drummer in his rock band.

[1. Obesity—Fiction. 2. Musicians—Fiction. 3. Interpersonal relations—Fiction.

4. Drug abuse—Fiction. 5. Suicide—Fiction. 6. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction.]

I. Title. PZ7.G559118 Fat 2003?[Fic]—dc21?2002067956

ISBN 0-399-23990-1

Speak ISBN 0-14-240208-7

Designed by Gina DiMassi. Text set in Charter.

Printed in the United States of America

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

Table of Contents

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

35.

36.

37.

38.

39.

40.

41.

42.

43.

44.

45.

46.

47.

48.

49.

50.

51.

52.

53.

54.

55.

56.

57.

58.

59.

60.

61.

62.

63.

64.

65.

66.

67.

68.

69.

70.

71.

72.

73.

74.

75.

76.

77.

78.

79.

80.

81.

82.

83.

84.

85.

86.

87.

88.

89.

Acknowledgments

Author Biography

1.

I’M A SWEATING FAT KID
standing on the edge of the subway platform staring at the tracks. I’m seventeen years old, weigh 296 pounds, and I’m six-foot-one. I have a crew cut,
yes a crew cut
, sallow skin, and the kind of mouth that puckers when I breathe. I’m wearing a shirt that reads
MIAMI BEACH—SPRING BREAK
1997, and huge, bland tan pants—the only kind of pants I own. Eight pairs, all tan.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m standing just over the yellow line trying to decide whether people would laugh if I jumped.
Would it be funny if the Fat Kid got splattered by a subway train? Is that funny
? I’m not being facetious; I really want to know. Like it or not, apparently there’s something funny about fat people. Something unpredictable. Like when I put on my jacket and everyone in the hallway stifles laughter. Or when I stand up after sitting in the cafeteria and Jennifer Maraday, Brooke Rodriguez, and Amy Glover all bust a gut. I don’t get angry. I just think,
What was funny about that? Did my butt jiggle? Did I make the bench creak so that it sounded like a fart? Did I leave an indentation
? There’s got to be something, right?
Right
?

So it’s not a stretch to be standing on the wrong side of the yellow line giving serious thought to whether people would laugh if I threw myself in front of the F train. And that’s the one thing that can’t happen. People can’t laugh. Even
I
deserve a decent suicide.

That’s why I’m standing here. Because I can’t make up my mind. I’m thinking about what Dayle said.
Go ahead … I wouldn’t miss you. Go ahead … Go ahead
… I’m telling myself my brother didn’t mean it, but even I know that’s a lie. Meanwhile it’s hot and I’ve been standing too long…. I close my eyes and imagine the whole scene as it might play out.

First, the train is coming, its single headlight illuminates the dark tracks. I hear its deep rumble and take the fateful step forward.
I want to picture myself flying dramatically through the air but realize I wouldn’t have the muscle power to launch my body. Instead, I would plummet straight down. Maybe I wouldn’t even get my other leg off the platform—my weight would pull me down like an anchor. That’s how I see it. The train plows into me; my fat busts apart, expands to cover the train window and the tunnel walls. I’m splattered. Except for my left leg, which is lying on the platform untouched—a fat, bleeding hunk of raw meat.

FAT KID MESSES UP
—coming soon to a theater near you.

I start to laugh. Suddenly there’s something funny about it. I swear to God. There really is.

2.

“YOU LAUGHING AT ME?”
The disembodied voice is clearly addressing me.

“Huh …?!” I turn away from the tracks.

“You’re laughing at me?”

“No …”

Who the hell is talking to me
? I have to scan the entire subway platform before I find the voice. Twisted staircase, black gum-covered tile walls, infested concrete pit … and then, ah, the source of the paranoid voice. He’s right beside me, but he’s sitting on the floor, which is why I didn’t see him.

He looks like a blond ferret. Stringy unwashed hair and huge eyes, jeans that are barely recognizable, stained white T-shirt, huge red overshirt, ratty old sweater … The sneakers, one Converse and one Nike, are both untied and the layers are all partially buttoned even
though it’s got to be one hundred degrees in the subway. The guy is so filthy I can hardly look at him. I mean, he’s caked—looks like an old war victim from some black-and-white film.

There’s one more thing I notice—and if I’m telling the truth I should admit that I noticed it first. He’s the skinniest person I’ve ever seen. Even in all those layers, the kid is skinny.

“You mocking me?” I say, angry. I want to say it with a snarl, but when your cheeks are puffy you don’t snarl, you huff. A little puff of air escapes despite my best intentions and I end up sounding like an overweight dog farting. My eyes dart and I think,
Did that sound funny
?

The kid laughs. His face wrinkles and he looks even more like a ferret. He says, “Now
that
was funny.” Except he doesn’t hold his nonexistent stomach and howl, and he doesn’t try to keep a straight face to be nice while obviously choking on suppressed hysteria. He says it straight-out. Makes me think. A little puff of air while I was trying to be tough? I guess it is funny. The dirty, skinny kid got it right.

I’m ready to give him full credit and be on my way, mosey along to contemplate some new nonfunny form of suicide (
FAT KID GETS HIT BY A BUS
?), but the blond ferret stands up and extends a grimy hand.

“Curt MacCrae,” he says. That’s when I just about piss my pants.

Curt MacCrae is a legend at W. T. Watson High School. He’s the only truly homeless, sometimes student, sometimes dropout, punk rock, artist god among us. He’s the only one who’s ever played a concert at The Dump. The only one that bands like the Trees and King-Pin
invite
to hang with them. He’s the only one to get into five fights in one day, get the crap beaten out of him in all five, and still have everyone’s respect. He’s the only fucking genius guitar player I’ve ever met. And, of course, he’s the only one to get up in the middle of class on a Tuesday and disappear for good. Kids at school loved that.

BOOK: Fat kid rules the world
11.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Ghost Price by Jonathan Moeller
Frost at Christmas by R. D. Wingfield
Lone Star 04 by Ellis, Wesley
Never Say Die by Carolyn Keene
Context by John Meaney
Obsession by Sharon Cullen
By God's Grace by Felicia Rogers