Michael knew he had no chance with Garrison, nor with any boy in his year. Oh, the pitfalls of joining the Hitler Youth!
They knew it was a terrible way to begin a story, but they needed the money, and apparently there was a market for homoerotic stories set in WWII Germany. Anyway, they began like that, determined never to erase the contents unless serious grammatical mistakes began to appear.
Ben had decided that he would be a writer, shortly after he met Jones, a one-word moniker that screamed pretension, but never whispered a word by any means but the computer screen. Jones had offered this promising beginning (the first sentence, anyway), knowing that Ben, the intrepid comedian, would add to it some element of the bizarre, such that their work together would yield nothing but wasted time. Neither of them cared really.
“What if Michael had some sort of complex?” chimed Ben, exuberantly.
DYSLEXIA? typed Jones, neglecting the fact that he had inadvertantly triggered the caps lock.
“Perfect. Would that reach the secretary/Danielle Steele/magazine section crowd?”
This was the catalyst for a truly awful idea, but neither worried much about quality, so they set off on the creation of an epic tale detailing the trials and tribulations of a poor man hopelessly in love with an uber-straight storm trooper. Oh yeah, and it’s set at a Hitler Youth camp, and one of them (or both?) is dyslexic.
WHAT IF ONE OF THE READERS IS DYSLEXIC? Wondered Jones. WOULDN”T THEY BE OFFENDED?
Ben had noticed a growing sentimental streak in his writing partner, but without sufficient typing skills, wouldn’t be able to express his feelings honestly without the help of a word processing seminar. He pondered the possibility, but realized quickly that it was an avoidable problem.
“Why not write ‘May offend people with dyslexia?’ at the beginning of the story. That way, they can’t really be troubled by what comes next.”
WHAT IF THEY HAVE TROUBLE READING YOUR WARNING? Jones liked to nitpick, but only about the truly inane.
“Then we’ll arrange it so that, every so often, there’ll be some uplifting part about dyslexia, and the characters’ overcoming it or whatever. Like Rudy or something.”
RUDY WAS DYSLEXIC?
Ben was so taken with the idea that his gay romantic lead have such a pronounced problem with language that he began immediately producing subplots which allowed the young Nazis to come to terms with their problems and eradicate them. Needless to say, neither thought very clearly through the issue.
“Perhaps we had better take a break on this one,” sighed Ben, hoping Jones would think of his own material once or twice.
Dyslexia was much on Ben’s mind the next day, when, surprisingly, Jones produced ten pages of a story involving Michael and Garrison, their shared learning disability, and their struggles in overcoming it. For flavor, he had also offered a hefty amount of hyper-pornographic activity that seemed to occur in the day-to-day lives of such eager young scouts. Ben was more than slightly befuddled.
“Where did you get such ideas? This was supposed to be about dyslexia!”
YOU SAID IT WOULD OFFEND PEOPLE
“But it would also uplift them!”
CAN’T THEY BE DYSLEXIC AND SEX FIENDS? Jones asked, as innocently as possible.
“But what comes first?”
“Ha ha.” Ben began to get irate. “Is it about barebacking or learning to read?”
I THOUGHT I INTEGRATED THEM BOTH NICELY
There is nothing as perplexing as talking to a proud writer, especially when his work is so laughable it interests the reader in a sort of My Left Foot way (as in, “I can’t believe he achieved so much with only the use of his left foot!”) rather than a more serious, “I graduate college and am well on my way to becoming an established household name” kind of style. Either way, Ben couldn’t understand the sudden change in his longtime friend. He began to get suspicious when he found a half-opened Hooked on Phonics book lying beneath Jones’ loose manuscripts and bedding material.
Jones acted natural, pretending not to notice Ben’s discovery.
“You know what.” Ben turned around slowly, giving Jones The Stare. He walked about the computer table, turning suddenly with an accusatory glint in his eye.
“Is it yours?”
A long pause followed, as Jones’ fingers danced on the keyboard, yet produced no words.
“And how long has this been going on?” Ben pondered sanctimoniously.
“Do don’t mean to say that you’re….Dyslexic?!?!” No amount of exclamations interspersed with question marks would do justice to the shocked and inquisitive statement Ben made at that moment. He turned to the screen, expectantly, while Jones once again allowed his hands to skip over the keys, waiting for his next move.
Ben slouched down in his chair, the weight of the situation pulling down on his legs until they felt anchored to the cruel and hopeless floor.
“And all that stuff about being a writer?”
“Well then, perhaps I ought to go.”
And with that, Ben took the manuscript off the desk, folded it beneath his arms, and walked down the stairs to the waiting street below, all the while dreaming of Michael and Garrison making feverish, backwards love inside the rusty chassis of a Panzer. From above, he heard the whistling Jones slowly unplug his computer, reach for a cigarette, and light the filter.