This story was recently published in the inaugural anthology of the Central Texas Writers Society. It is one of three now published from the recently completed story collection by Bobby Horecka entitled Long Gone & Lost…
The Legend of Chunk
August was just about the best month of the whole year, we thought growing up. Some may say I’ve got it all wrong. June’s a better pick, at the start, when everything is still new. Maybe, but most kids, I think, get so giddy about the schoolyear ending and the exponential possibilities of summer ahead, they waste most of their first month. They sleep half a day that first week because they can and spend the next couple weeks just finding their groove. Like relearning the afternoon TV cartoon lineup, and after all the family vacations, extended stays with relatives, and assorted camps and such, you’ve gotta find who’s still around. Besides, the mindset’s all wrong in June. Who cares if we didn’t do it today? We still have all summer…
Not in August. Even as kids, you sense its mortality. Summer’s about gone. By then, you’re full-on summer grooving. None of that amateur crap like in June. Plus, you know your days are numbered. You wanna make it count. You’re a bit more adventurous, a bit more courageous. And I’ve never seen better embody that spirit than my old buddy Chunk.
If you never met him, you know the type: Kinda whiny. Clumsy. A ginger with milk white skin that never tans, and every inch of him, freckled. Coke-bottle glasses. An inhaler. And a belt-size twice my dad’s. He swore it was his glands, of course, even as he scarfed Butterfingers, two at a time.
Believe me, Chunk, was an improvement, far as names go. His real name was Marion Mansfield Manersik IV, meaning his relatives saw fit to curse three male generations with a name like that before him. Had to feel for the guy.
But just ask anyone: Chunk became legend beside the pool that day.
Our swimming instructor made us watch Olympic divers as part of our lessons. They’d launch off platforms and twist, spin, flip, and then, right before they touched water, they’d straighten and part those waters like Moses with Egypt on his tail. None of us came even close, but for a dude like Chunk, it’s practically impossible. Wrong shape, you know? If he was gonna splash, anyway, he’d learn to do it right.
His first attempts bombed. Instead of a cannonball—knees tucked, hitting the water with your butt—he kept rolling forward and SPLAT! Two of the worst belly-flops you ever saw.
Determined, he tried again. He ran, got to the edge, planted his foot and—FFfffft!—he slipped. Then, suddenly airborne, nothing but pasty white-boy, just kinda… suspended, mid-air, trajectory completely unknown.
Samantha Summerly was a few years older, but we were all smitten. I was, anyway. And It’s embarrassing, but she the first girl I’d ever seen in two-piece bikini. She glistened in tanning oil, on her inflatable lounger.
And Chunk was headed right for her.
He tried everything—spinning, twisting—he even kicked and pumped his arms, up in the air—no use, though. Just one trick left. With distance closing Chunk lets this blood-curdling shriek that hit octaves I’ve never heard equaled, prior nor hence. Startled, Samantha, belly down right then, rolled just in time to see this freckled blob closing fast. About half a second later, full body contact, and both went down bubbling surface.
Had he not sounded like a ring wraith right about then, I’m sure he would’ve been proud. You should’ve seen the wall of water he displaced that day. It was truly something. But, that wasn’t even the best part.
Somehow in watery collision of slippery flesh, Samantha lost her top, a fact no one realized until Chunk finally surfaced, arms flailing and gasping for air. Perfectly perched atop of his head, much like a set of Disneyland mouse ears might fit, were two perfect aquamarine cones. It didn’t take long for our minds catchup to our eyeballs—each in his own time—but if Chunk was wearing her top like crown, guess where else it was probably not?
Samantha must’ve realized what happened early-on. She dove for bottom after Chunk knocked her off her float, and there she stayed following the curved floor up the wall at the far side of the pool, away from us boys. She presently rested her chin and forearms, her front side pressed to the wall, nothing visible at all.
Chunk was the absolute last to realize what treasures he was inadvertently carrying. Even then, it took serious prompting from those of us at poolside. But he finally reached up and plucked his mock ears. You should’ve seen him as his brain cracked code on exactly what it was he held in his hands.
Like us, his lightbulb eventually flickered on, too. But unlike the rest of us, hoping for eyeful of boob, Chunk is searching the water—serious—he said later he was scared he’d hurt her. But then spotted her across the pool, clinging to the wall, looking helpless and small. Then all the sudden, Chunk straightens himself like one of those Olympians, and unleashes this sleek, fast, impressive swimming machine. He keeps to her back, a perfect gentleman. His first words: I’m soooo sorry. What they said afterward was anyone’s guess. Chunk never shared.
Then Samantha looked backed and smiled, says something to Chunk. He turns, smile clean ear to ear. With a swift and powerful kick, he launches, clear above his waist, and at the height of his thrust, he pumps his fist, Samantha’s top, fluttering prize flag, as he sounded his best Woohoohoo! We couldn’t help it: Chunk had earned a cheer.
I left the neighborhood later that year when dad got a new job. Never saw most of them again. I did meet with one, though, couple years back. Would you believe Samantha became Mrs. Marion IV? They live in the old neighborhood, still. I hear he even passed that awful name of his on to No. 5. Who’d ’ve guessed?
This story, a Bobby Horecka original, was first published in the 2018 Central Texas Writers Society Anthology, Writers from the Heart of Texas and Beyond, edited by CTWS Founding Editor Nicole Metts, Copperas Cove, Texas, August 2018.
(ISBN 9781721561636) Available now on Amazon.