Learning To Love You More




Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.

David Krulik
New York, New York USA



The story behind the scar on my right hand can be told in one sentence. My father and I were raking leaves in the backyard when for some reason I can not remember I told him to go fuck himself, and which he reacted to by swinging the rake at me, which I tried to knock away with my soft pudgy hand. The scar looks small and harmless, but the stream of rich red blood that jetted out and landed on the freshly cut lawn was enough to make me quickly look into my father s eyes in disbelief and begin screaming.
I grew up on the north shore of Long Island in a big white house in a town called Commack. Commack is a town of finely groomed lawns, large shopping complexes, and a school system that couldn t be beat . Supposedly the town was named after the Comak Indian tribe which was murdered by English settlers and then renamed Commack, probably because they thought it sounded nicer and would be easier for white people to pronounce. At night I used to go on hikes through the baseball fields in back of my old elementary school, looking for the skulls and broken bones that I figured must have still be lying around somewhere. I would find used condoms and empty beer cans instead.
My two best friends were the twins across the street, Rich and Anthony Evangelista. They would go around telling everyone they were twins, but they looked nothing alike. In fact there couldn t be two more opposite people in the world. Rich was a stocky kid with dark course hair and thick, hairy, muscular arms. He was shaving his face with a straight razor by the time he was twelve. Anthony was tall and angular with bright blonde hair and pointy royal looking nose. They were both brilliant athletes, which always made me feel a bit awkward because I was a short pudgy uncoordinated Jewish kid.
The twins convinced me to join the Commack North Little League baseball team when I was around ten. I was on their team, The Tigers, and our uniforms were bright orange and black. Rich and Anthony would hit homeruns or strong line drives into the outfield every time they were up. Whenever one of them got up to the plate you would see all of the outfielders taking large exaggerated steps towards the fence. The kids would all scream as the ball went flying out into the forest. I don t think I ever once hit the ball. I was afraid of it. I always thought the ball would hit me in the head and I would get hurt. So I rarely swung the bat at all, and I would just wait to either get walked or to strike out. My mom would come to all of my games and sit in the bright green stands in the sun, watching with all the other moms. She must have been embarrassed because whenever I was up to bat, all of the outfielders would run in from the fence to the most shallow position they could reach while still technically being in the outfield. I would always march up to the batters box with courage, but I could never swing the bat. I would just stand there like a fat statue, waiting for the ball to accidentally hit my bat and go soaring out over the fence. That never happened.
During the summer the twins where always working hard. Their father always had a long list of chores they needed to do each day. Every morning I would wake up at about 11am to the sound of water being sprayed from across the street. Rich would be washing his father s Lincoln. I never understood why he washed the car, because it was always gleaming and perfect. It always reeked of Windex and lemon car wax. Anyway, it didn t matter- the car was to be scrubbed at least three times a week without fail. I would peer out of my window wiping sleep from my eyes, and watch Rich lug a huge heavy bucket of water and suds to the driveway. If I squinted hard enough I could make out a yellow gleam hidden amongst the thorny bushes. That would be Anthony and his bright blonde hair, snipping and trimming the hedges on his hands and knees. They were both hard workers, and I was jealous that my Dad never made me do work around the house. My father was too nice and he would always do the work himself before asking me to lift a finger. While Rich and Anthony were outside in the hot August sun, scrubbing and pruning and trimming, I would be inside my air-conditioned kitchen, still in my pajamas, eating Fruity Pebbles and watching Bob Ross paint a landscape on Channel 13.
But one day my Dad did ask me to help him rake the leaves in the backyard, We had this long row of high bushes that ran down the full length of the yard, and all the dead leaves from the fall would get caught underneath. It was hard to get them out from under there. And I remember being out there with my Dad as he shoved the rake under the bushes as hard as he could. I was just watching him rake, standing in back of a large rubber garbage can that was lined with a shiny black bag. He heaved his arms underneath the bushes and every time he did it, he would let out a rough grunt UUGH! Somehow we got into a verbal argument, probably because I was standing in back of that garbage can doing nothing, looking all bored and chubby. My dad was yelling at me and every ten seconds or so he would plunge his arms under the bushes and come up with a wad of wet dead leaves. Then he would wipe the sweat from his brow and spit. He was working hard and I kept looking at the back door which was made of glass and I was looking at the television in the kitchen thinking how Bob Ross was probably painting a mountain at this point, and how I wanted to watch him. My dad came up one last time with largest wad of leaves yet. He grunted, and wiped his sweating brow, and spit. I gripped the edge of the garbage can. He yelled at me. I came out from behind the can and told him go fuck himself. The rest you know.