Boner Jones, fiction by Antonios Maltezos

Bon­er Jones would see about get­ting a pair of mould­ed insoles made for his feet like the crip­ples wear, so the bot­toms of his shoes would hit the ground prop­er­ly. He would have his pants tai­lor made, stitched spe­cial so the creas­es could run good and straight down the front. He’d stop fart­ing, at least in her pres­ence. He would learn to pee like she told him he should… sit­ting down unless he was in a back alley. He would call her Sweet­ness and give her pecks on the cheek, his face fresh­ly shaven and splashed with the Old Spice, teeth scrubbed so he could final­ly go by his real name and not feel the shame, Robert Jones, his grandfather’s name, a good name from the time when most men had the bowed legs from too much of the hard life. Bon­er was the name he’d acquired on account of the big emp­ty space between his knees, from since the age of about six, that first after school thrash­ing. Bow Jones! Bow Jones! His best friends called him Bones or Bon­er for short. He’d do all that, he thought, a neat stack of base­ball hats in the cra­dle of his arm, if it was still a cou­ple years ago, and if she’d nev­er left before he could get to chang­ing, a squeeze bot­tle of burn­ing fuel in his pants pocket.

***

He had bad feet, not bad to his mind, just pecu­liar to him, but she always said they were bad, so they were bad feet and that’s why his shoes wore out so quick, his feet and knees and hips hurt­ing less once the soles of his Hush Pup­pies thinned along the out­side edge, his bowed legs pro­nounc­ing more and more as the rub­ber took on a shape very nat­ur­al and com­fort­able for him. Besides, as long as he had on a pair of bag­gy pants, the out­ward arcs of his legs, the gap between them, was pret­ty much con­cealed, but she’d hat­ed his bag­gy pants, too, tried to force a fan­cy pair of slacks on him once, the creas­es so crisp they looked pen­ciled in, fake, and bowed just like his legs, the gap like a giant wood bis­cuit or a giant football.

Yes­ter­day, he took all his clothes out­side, dumped them in the shed, and then went back inside for the base­ball hats, John Deere and the like, Pep­si-Cola, lit­ter­ing the vestibule, her words–littering the vestibule–one for each hook on the wall. He would have trou­ble decid­ing which hat he’d feel like wear­ing, so he’d spend five min­utes there every morn­ing, just a cou­ple steps from the out­side, his eyes hop­ping from one hat to the oth­er. She’d tried get­ting him to wear a hat like the kids wear –at least a hat like the kids wear, were her words, but he told her he couldn’t do it, just couldn’t bring him­self to wear a nig­ger hat down to the tav­ern, even if it had a gold­en Bo embroi­dered across the front, even the one she forced on his head, sure snug and soft, he hard­ly could tell he was wear­ing it out the door. He had it next to him all the way to town, rid­ing shot­gun just like she would. He even opened the door for it, just like he would for her, and then flung it in the trash­can between his pick­up and the tavern.

He nev­er had the mus­cles for it was all it was, but she per­sist­ed in call­ing him a cow­ard. “You lush,” she’d say like she was accus­ing him of some crim­i­nal­i­ty. Quit your drink­ing, quit this, quit that, as if a man could change who he was as easy as chang­ing an under­shirt. More she com­plained, more time he spent down to the tav­ern. “Fuck her!” he’d say upon enter­ing The Coq de la Place, as if he was the big Coq him­self, used to piss­ing stand­ing up. “Fuck her!”

***

He remem­bers bend­ing to pick them up, get­ting halfway through the job before real­iz­ing he only need­ed the one, and then wak­ing up a cou­ple hours lat­er, his face buried in his pile of clothes that smelled of week after week of heartache, stronger, even, than the smell of burn­ing fuel, wish­ing he hadn’t drunk that last beer, won­der­ing as clear­ly as the pain shoot­ing through his skull how he was going to get through this, too beer-sick and cow­ard­ly to answer the ques­tion for him­self, his peed pants, creas­es bro­ken like heavy stitch on a catcher’s glove, gone cold so he want­ed to cry, or start all over again.

Bo Jones… no, Robert Jones…he would see about get­ting a pair of mould­ed insoles made for his feet like the crip­ples wear, so the bot­toms of his shoes would hit the ground run­ning. He would have his pants tai­lor made, stitched spe­cial so the crease would run good and straight down the front. He’d stop fart­ing, at least in her pres­ence. He would learn to pee like she told him he should… sit­ting down unless he was in a back alley (or passed out like he was, a spike dri­ven deep through the side of his skull, his face still buried in a neglect as lone­ly and hol­low as a hunger and an emp­ty fridge). He would call her Sweet­ness and give her pecks on the cheek, his face fresh­ly shaven and splashed with the Old Spice, teeth scrubbed so he could final­ly go by his real name and not feel the shame of hav­ing let go of his life for noth­ing. Robert Jones, his grandfather’s name, a good name from the time when most men had the bowed legs from too much of the hard life. But first he had to cry like a baby.

Anto­nios Mal­te­zos says: "I've always dreamed of build­ing a BBQ pit that resem­bled a mau­soleum from afar, or at least a brick shit­house with wings, for roast­ing my lamb come every Greek East­er." He's thought of motor­iz­ing the spit, but then he wouldn't have those three hours alone with his cool­er full of beer, his cas­sette play­er con­nect­ed to the house by a cou­ple exten­sion cords, his dad's music out of doors as if his back­yard were a val­ley and the men had gath­ered to build a fire and drink and lament and dance and rejoice while the women were busy elsewhere.

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4 Responses to Boner Jones, fiction by Antonios Maltezos

  1. Sam N. says:

    Nice sto­ry. Tony rocks. And he bar­be­cues whole ani­mals too.

  2. David says:

    Great sto­ry, Tony.

  3. Antonios Maltezos says:

    Nice, John­ny-boy! You're very wel­come! And thank you for reading.

  4. John C. Mannone says:

    Great descrip­tions! Enjoyed the read.F‑har­ri-stow',(my pho­net­ic Greek thank you)John

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