THE WORD NERD

So here’s a kid–eleven and going on precocious, glasses on his nose so thick coke bottles wouldn’t even do them justice, a dusty old Dostoyevsky in his hands as he sits in a comfy library chair and downloads the text to his brain.

But let’s get you acquainted. For starters, kid can read. Routinely fells the sort of dense history book you’d need a machete to hack through before lunch. Does shit like assign himself book reviews (which he then critiques and grades as if he were a teacher). Actually has his local librarian on speed dial.

But in time, like any copiously fed addiction, kid’s word tolerance reached a breaking point. It wasn’t enough that he devoured books as he was apt to do to food (which being an overweight and nerdy little boy, you can just imagine the crowds of schoolmates clamoring to be his friends). No, he needed to craft them, too. Had to feel the Zen-like focus that accompanied moments of writerly Flow, experience the bitter frustration of The Block, too.

And so he set his Dostoyevsky down beside his composition book, the puny thing’s TV-static-looking cover trying its damndest to fight against the pull of old Fyodor’s work. And on any other day it would lose the battle. But this day was different. This day, our kid was determined.

Kid was very clearly of the Dump Shit Out First, Sift Through the Rubble Later variety, or at least his ridiculously-quickly-filled comp book attested to that fact. Could almost see smoke billowing out from his carpaloid hand, feel the heat coming off of the page and his brain both as he let the Hand Cramp to End All Hand Cramps subside.

The days (and notebooks) that followed passed in an absolute flurry, our little dude making dutiful pilgrimage to his library Mecca each and every day and engaging in what was quickly revealing itself to be the often masochistic practice of making shit up in story form.

Still took crap from those in his class whose IQ values were comparable with their shoe sizes. Heard them riff on the usual, easy subjects: his weight, the fact that he couldn’t deftly kick balls that needed to be kicked or throw balls that needed to be thrown. But he let it all slide off now that he had his stories. His words.

Librarian set him up with a desk all his own, even took to bringing over a brand-spanking-new OED and pocket thesaurus. Things were going well.

Very well, that is, until the little shits caught on to what our dude was doing during his free time away from the clutches of a well-rounded public school education.

Led daring raids into his literary stronghold and shot volleys of whispered insults whenever the librarian wasn’t in earshot. Played keep away with his books of reference and shot spitballs into his hair at precisely the moment he’d seem to be on a roll.

But for all their efforts at sabotage, they only strengthened our kid’s resolve. Even helped him with a problem his writing had suffered with: a lack of active characters. Now that the Douche Brigade had begun their attacks, dude had no problem dreaming up characters who fought their oppressors with a vengeance. Good luck translating that into real life action, though.

The tormenting went on (and intensified, as prepubescent struggles tend to do), until our budding literary star couldn’t get diddly done for all the interference he had to put up with. But he took it all with the sort of (im)patience that comes with putting up with a lot of crap for a long time.

He put up with it, that is, until they stole his comp books.

There grew in our bookish hero a bubbling rage the likes of which our shoe-size-IQed tormentors clearly didn’t see coming. A rage that’d normally be ineffectual in the hands of Dude, but now came out in the sort of outburst that’d make old Fyodor proud.

Channeled every strong character he’d previously conjured, let the Brigade have it and socked the Ringleader (the one who’d stolen his books, naturally) right in the mouth.

The books hit the floor, as did the collective jaws of the assembled crew. There passed a moment where the Ringleader massaged his jaw and his ego both, sizing up our dude in the process. Waiting. Watching. But something in the kid’s crazy, determined eyes scared him off. Cloaked behind the vague threat of a future retaliatory attack, the Ringleader made his leave with the rest of the Brigade.

And so our chubby little bookworm gathered his stack of comp books and laid them next to his Dostoyevsky, the stacked TV static covers now looming over that dusty old volume even if they were a little dog-eared and worse for wear.

Sat down at his desk and gathered his writing instruments as the magnitude of what he’d done finally caught up with him.

Was about to get started again when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye–or rather, someone. The librarian gave him a quick, conspiratorial wink–blink and you’d miss it–and then let him get back to work.

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