Going through my trunk of completed but never submitted, came across a 23,000 word novella, Camphorville Connection. Later parts likely need revising, but I like the set-up. Enough so, I thought I’d share it here as a teaser.
This story is true.
Honest Injun. Swear to god. Cross my heart and hope to—
Well, I won’t hope that. Better the verse remains unfinished. The past stays incomplete anyway, all full of flotsam and jetsam.
C’est la vie.
Month and I hated Camphorville.
I almost wrote ‘with a passion’, but that would understate it. We hated it so completely there was no passion left. We were recurrently dragged there by our parents, being too young to have our votes count. Time there passed in drying coats of paint and construction of malicious sobriquets.
I came up with banal originals such as Boogerman, Zitface, and Greaseomatic.
Month likewise dipped into the oft-mined well of physical attributes, calling me Doughboy, Pudger, and — while pissing next to me in a Denver International Airport bathroom sixty-five miles outside of Camphorville — Dickless.
That last one was a bit harsh. I did have a dick. And still do. It just hadn’t seriously started doing the growing thing a couple more years would bring about.
Of course, compared to Month’s gigantic one, it did look so minuscule it might as well have been nonexistent.
Now, in retrospect, Month’s likely wasn’t any larger than your typical 14-soon-to-be-15-year-old’s, but such is perspective, time and space and mental state affecting such things as they do.
Most of those nicknames were only casual, throwaway ones anyway. Only a couple outlasted all the others and actually passed from the realm of insults to being used as, I guess, endearment of sorts.
Leaving the typical appellations behind, I came up with calling him Month.
I thought his real name, Augusten, was stupid, and the shortened form of August, which the folks favored, even stupider. So did he. I used to call him Aug, or Auggie, but then one day it just came out all sort of spontaneous, like ‘What’s up, Month?’ or “Stop it, Month” or “I don’t wanna, Month” and it stuck.
At first, he used to get mad when I called him that, since that’s what you’re supposed to do at such things, but somehow it seemed to fit better than Augusten, August, Aug, or Auggie.
Mine is harder to explain why it stuck.
Maybe it had such staying power mainly because it was Month who came up with it and I wanted to hold on to it for that purpose, like an amulet around my neck that I never took off. Or maybe like one I couldn’t take off. Such things as cause and effect blur with time and it really amounts to a fourth of one, a quarter of the other.
Month called me Bent.
In lieu of Benjamin, Ben, Benj, or Benjy, all of which my friends and family and enemies used depending on the situation, the gender, and the context.
When my folks would ask him to get me, he would say, “Oh, do you want me to get Bent?” as if that meant something. Apparently it did to him and he would laugh. Apparently it meant something to my parents, too, as they would frown. I seemed to be the only one confused.
I eventually became less confused, if not totally enlightened, thanks to the help of classmate Gary Willicker, who happened to overhear one such exchange during a sleepover at my house. He tended to have a rather cosmopolitan knowledge of slurs, body parts, and other wondrously curious things. I became less confused about other stuff that night as well.
Regardless, Bent and Month stuck and I don’t remember us calling each other anything else, except for the mean-spirited, aforementioned epithets, and ‘Month’ was actually the very last word I said to him. Before he disappeared.