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That Bastard Flud Talley Gets His
By David Watts

Mahatma Ghandi, that great proponent of peace and wearer of man-diapers once declared, "Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man." While that sentiment might sound good, I'd be willing to bet you ol' Mahatma never crossed paths with Flud Talley.

I grew up in a tiny little town on the Ohio River in southern Indiana. When I say tiny, I mean if you farted on one end of town, somebody on the other end would yell, "Jaysus, Watts! Enough with the chili already!" and start hissing Glade Pine Forest Medley into the air.

When you grow up in small town America you get used to seeing violence. It's everywhere -- like gun racks or Baptists. From hunting mishaps to tractor rollovers, life in the country is like one continuous slasher film. Growing up in this perilous environment, I learned that if I was ever going to live to see to marrying age (nine if by free choice, three if pre-arranged) I had to honor two very simple rules. First, never pee on an electric fence. (I know this might seem obvious, but some hillbilly from French Lick did it on a bet and blew off both his McNuggets -- swear to God). And rule two, never, under any circumstances, get into a fistfight with Flud Talley.

Flud Talley! Even after all these years when I hear that name my palms start sweating and my bowels loosen.

Every neighborhood has one, a kid that elevates meanness to an art form. While most nine-year-olds were busy undercooking muffins in their Kenner Easy-Bake Ovens, or cross-dressing G.I. Joe in Barbie clothes, Flud was ripping the wings off butterflies, setting fire to snapping turtles, and jamming M80's up the poop shoots of woodchucks. He was a regular Dr. Moreau in Toughskin Jeans.

The Talley yard always seemed eerily devoid of life. No birds dared fly above, no moles dared tunnel below, even brainless insects somehow knew enough to keep the hell away. Nature feared Flud Talley and rightfully so.

The inherent problem with a kid like Flud was that, at some point, the torture of bunny rabbits and crawdads wouldn't be enough to keep him satisfied. In time, like a parched vampire, his blood lust would demand larger and more challenging prey -- namely human kids! I know this for a fact, dear reader, because one day, Flud Talley came after me. But before I get to that life-changing moment -- allow me to first paint a better picture of Flud.

Flud had the body of a crack addict, long, skinny -- unpredictable. In a fight he was all elbows and knees -- right angles of pain. Kids dumb enough to face off with him emerged from the encounter looking as if they'd been thrown into a cement mixer.

What Flud possessed in barbarity he totally lacked in fashion sense. In all the years I knew him, he never once wore a pair of pants that fit. The waists were okay, but for some reason, the inseams were always ridiculously short. It was as if his mother was grooming him for a career in clam digging. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how Flud got his name -- High water = Flood/Flud = Flood? Do the math, people.

Although Flud was built like a tent pole, he had the biggest thumb knuckles I've ever seen on a person. From the appropriate angle, his thumbs looked like a couple of queen snakes choking on croquet balls. While most of us would be ashamed to have wielded such doorknobs for thumbs, Flud embraced them, "What the fuck? They're good for eye gougin'."

While on the subject of eyes, Flud had not one, but two lazy eyes. This ocular malfunction not only caused him to stare at the world like an un-medicated mental patient, but also required him to wear the single most butt-ugly pair of prescription glasses ever fashioned. Forged from Kevlar, Flud's glasses were as indestructible as they were repugnant. I overheard him tell our bus driver once, "If I wanted to, I could weld in these cock suckers."

As you can see, Flud had many "interesting" personal attributes, but I have saved his most "interesting" for last. Flud Talley had no hair. That's right, you heard me. Due to some unholy medical condition Flud was as bald as a balloon -- no eyebrows, no eyelashes, no nothing. Here was a nine-year-old kid forced to wander the road of life looking like a skinny-assed, google-eyed Telly Savalas with over-sized thumbs.

It's not easy being bald. Throughout history, many great men have suffered the devastating side effects of hair loss; two of the more famous examples I can think of are Samson from the Bible and Curly from The Three Stooges. Now, imagine having to shoulder that burden if you're just a nine-year-old kid. I bet you'd think that was pretty awful, wouldn't you? But wait, it gets worse.

Although everyone in town knew that Flud was bald, no living human had actually ever seen his hairless head. Because instead of simply taking his lumps, Flud had chosen to conceal his "condition" with a wig that looked something like a cross between a beaver pelt and a bathmat. Nature had been exceptionally cruel to Flud Talley and somebody was going to pay. One hot day in the August of my ninth year, that somebody -- was me!

There are only two places cooler than Indiana during the month of August. The first is the surface of the Sun and the second is Satan's asshole the morning after a five-alarm chili festival. In addition to the punishing heat, Indiana summers are notorious for their humidity -- or as the old timers call it "liquid air." I remember one summer it got so incredibly humid that all the fish drowned because when they came up for air there wasn't any. It was on one of those liquid-air days that I collided head-on with Flud Talley. Here's how it went down.

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