Friday, June 26, 2009

When In Doubt Throw Up by John A. Ward

When in Doubt Throw Up

The sea cucumber spills its guts to confuse its tormentors. This marine echinoderm is not a lying tattletale. Holothuroidea, as we junior scientists call them, literally barf up innards. Power to the creature who can harness disgusting behavior to survive. So it is with my kid brother, Ed.

September is Ed's first day of school and he does not want to go. He can disgorge at will. We kids know this, but so far he hasn't used it on the grownups. He's been saving it for a big thing. As soon as he gets in the car, he pukes. Mom has to get out, clean the car and him. She thinks he is sick, so he gets to stay home.

Then his plan unravels. If you're going to be sick enough to stay home, you have to be sick enough to stay in bed all day. Ed is not as good at that as he is at faking acutely ill. By afternoon he is well enough to go to school the next day.

On the morrow, he gets into the car and uncorks the same routine, but my mother knows he will have a miracle cure as soon as the threat is past. She cleans him and the car and takes him to school anyway.

Third day, Ed gets into the car and Mom looks at him to see if he is turning green. "Get out of the car and throw up," she says, "we're going to school." Ed can only regurgitate once between meals, so he's screwed. He's not into the dry heaves. He isn't a professional barfer, he's just a kid. So that's the end of his upchuck strategy. He doesn't vomit for the rest of the year and goes to school every day.

I envy his ability to do that. It comes in handy in a tight spot, but don't overspew. People get tired of it real quick. The only reason sea cucumbers get away with it forever is that they're dealing with crustaceans and fish, none of whom are as sharp as my Mom.

Author bio:

John A. Ward was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60's, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine, and became a scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with his dance partner. He has published in Doorknobs & Bodypaint, Clockwise Cat, Apollo's Lyre, Toasted Cheese, Green Tricycle, Ascent Aspirations, Alighted Ezine, Ascent Aspirations, Lit Bits, Antithesis Common, Wild Child, The San Antonio Express-News, Cenotaph Pocket Edition, Holy Cuspidor, Idlewheel, Long Story Short, The Smoking Poet, Cautionary Tale, R-KV-R-Y, ken*again, Sun Poetic Times, Byline, Rose & Thorn, Sentence, Quirk. Links to his work can be found at dancfool.

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