There are prayers for you. Everyone thinks you’re on the wrong path. But you’re just cocky and know exactly who and what you are.
The church is organizing a fundraising carnival for you and a few other troubled teens in the congregation. They want to send you away to an expensive school with a more Christian environment.
The Miller family has access to a snow-cone machine.
The choir director is setting up a face-painting booth.
Pastor Ringwald confesses that he’s a magician and will perform tricks.
There’ll be a ring toss, balloon popping, and target practice games.
Sandy Culper has a big idea: her husband has the carpentry plans to build a dunking booth from scratch.
“We should put Dave in the booth. People would pay good money to dunk him,” you hear her chuckle at the church picnic your mom forced you to go to.
Everything’s falling into place for what some are calling the “Save Dave” carnival. The last weekend of July is chosen to raise the money your parents don’t have to send you away.
You tell your mom you don’t want to sit in the dunking booth.
“You have to,” she says. “You’re the biggest draw of all the fallen kids.”
Your dad instructed you to paint a sign: DUNK THE PUNK.
Dunk you, Dad.
The day of the carnival is very hot. There’s already a line of men paying fifty cents a ball to get a crack at you.
You suit up in your skimpy Speedo from swim team.
Up first is that nice-little-Jesse-from-the-hardware-store.
“You’re going down, Dave?” he says at you as he hurls a ball at the bull’s eye.
Ball one misses.
Ball two misses.
You can’t help noticing that nice-little-Jesse-from-the-hardware-store touches his crotch a lot. He adjusts his crotch to the right with his left hand. You look him right in the eye as he hurls the third ball at your cage.
Jesse is mad. You didn’t do anything to him, but he’s really shaken that he didn’t dunk you.
Maybe you have some power after all.
Up next is Richard. He played football with your big brother a few years ago in high school. You’ve always liked him from afar (liked him …and his big arms.)
Three balls fit easily in his big hand. He’s wearing a tight tank top and you can see every muscle in his arms as he pitches the ball at you.
The first ball misses.
Richard smiles at you and winds back to throw his second ball. It’s not a friendly smile. It’s a smile like he wants to kill you.
Kill you …or maybe fuck you.
He adjusts his ample crotch with his big hand before he throws again –to the right just like Jesse.
The second and third balls miss, too.
Richard hands a twenty-dollar bill to the ball keeper.
A gang of sweaty guys are circling to watch Richard dunk you. Big, dumb apes just like him. They’re patting Richard on the back and cheering him on.
“Dunk him good.”
“Get him wet.”
“Show him you mean business.”
“Let’s make a man out of him.”
Sitting dry as a bone on your very own dunking board, you’ve become an object. A challenge. A prize.
Maybe Richard killing you or fucking you wouldn’t be so bad ---especially with those big, sexy arms of his. He has a beautiful chest and a slim waist, too.
You don’t have to say a word: just shoot him one of your best, shit-eating-grins.
He smiles back at you, almost embarrassed.
You’re smart and know you don’t belong in this small-minded town. He knows that, too.
Richard huffs and puffs: down you go. The water actually feels wonderful. It’s almost a relief to finally get dunked.
You climb back up to the seat on your dunking booth. Richard’s gang is jumping up and down and high-fiving.
You yell at him, “Thanks for that, Dick.”
He doesn’t like Dick and you know it. He goes by the more-Godly name, Richard.
He gives you another kill-or-fuck-look and dunks you again.
You can hear the cheers and jeers underwater. You like it.
You can’t wait for Richard to dunk you some more.
“Kill me or fuck me, Dick,” you think to yourself.
You go down a third, a fourth and a fifth time for Richard. Every time you get back up the two of you exchange gritty looks. A connection. A bond. After all, this is just for charity. But is it your charity or his?
“Would you rather put your hands around my neck or around my hips, Dick?”
You’re aroused. You’re sporting a hard-on and Richard’s throws become more steady, fast, and meaningful. He passes his balls to his meathead friends so they can dunk you, too. Even nice-little-Jesse comes back and finally dunks you. But you focus on Dick as you adjust your speedo. Sam, Greg and some-guys-you-don’t-even-know all think they’re humiliating you each time you hit the water. You want to touch yourself like they do, but you don’t dare.
Bring it on, guys.
These apes have dunked you over a twenty times in an hour, when you hear, “Dear, Lord. He’s getting off on this. Look at him. He’s got an erection!”
The party’s apparently over. People are fleeing this end of the carnival like you’re Godzilla. There’s rude grumblings as they walk away from you.
You’ll probably never forget this hot July day.
Pastor Ringwald approaches you while you’re drying off. He’s still wearing his dumbass magician’s hat.
“Dave, the carnival is no doubt a financial success. Your mother tells me that you’ve never been baptized. May I baptize you in this dunking booth before you go away?”
You tell him no. That was just taken care of.
Dennis Milam Bensie’s short stories and poetry have been featured in numerous publications and his essays have been seen in The Huffington Post, Queen Mob’s Tea House, and The Good Men Project. His third book, Flit: A Poetry Mashup of Classic Literature, was released by Coffeetown Press last October. www.dennismilambensie.com