Authors: Anthony Prato
Tags: #little boy, #anthony prato, #chris prato, #enola gay
or, Enola Gay
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Copyright © 2013 by Anthony Prato
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For Sharon Pergola, my first and only true
And we swung our arms…joyfully like
So if you want to love me, then darlin’ don’t
Or I’ll just end up walkin,’ in the cold
“November Rain,” Guns ‘n Roses
June 14, 1994, 9:54 p.m.
Dear Mom and Dad:
I know what you’re thinking. Dad, you’re
wondering where you went wrong. Mom, you’re wishing you’d quit
drinking just a few years earlier. And Tracy, if you’re reading
this, too, you’re thinking about how we used to be such good
friends when we were kids, and regretting that since we became
teenagers we’ve barely spoken.
All three of you are definitely crying.
But why? Today is a day of freedom. It is a
day that A.J. L’Enfant finally made a mature decision. His first as
a man. And I know that despite what you’re feeling now, you will
all be better off soon. So will many others.
I just wanted to write and let you know how
it all came to this, and to make sure you understand that it was
all completely my doing. It’s all my fault.
I’m so sorry.
There’s so much to write that I don’t even
know where to begin. In order to really understand my plight, I
need to start with the events of this afternoon…
So there we were, Megan and I, amidst the
lush Strawberry Fields of Central Park. We were on the west side, a
few hundred feet from the intersection of 72
and Central Park West, anchored to a splintery green bench.
Exhausted and hot, we sat for a while in silence. After being with
any person, even a friend, for almost four hours straight, it’s
almost impossible to think of something to talk about.
I was humming
, by John Lennon,
and thinking about how true the song was, and how I wish I could
feel peace—in my own life and in the world.
You know it:
Imagine there’s no Heaven.
It’s easy if you try. No Hell below us. Above us only sky
I was humming so low that Megan couldn’t even hear me.
We shared an uncomfortable silence. For me,
it’s difficult to have a comfortable silent moment with almost
anyone, especially a girl, that’s not a close, close friend. I’ve
always loathed those awkward quiet moments, and the feeling of
nothingness they create between me and another person.
I probably never told you this, but it
happens to me often. As far as I’m concerned, the only comfortable
silence occurs when you’re alone. I might’ve
Central Park with Megan, but that’s not the same thing. Her chubby
pale thighs were smooshed next to mine, so I couldn’t avoid her
presence even if I tried. Compelled by my frayed nerves to break a
twenty-minute long silence, I began to speak.
“See that building,” I said, pointing in the
general direction of four or five ashen gray Upper West Side
apartment buildings jutting into the transparent sky. “That’s where
John Lennon was murdered.” She let out a quiet “oh,” and I
continued. “That’s why this part of the park is called Strawberry
Fields. It’s a memorial to John Lennon, named after the song by the
Come to think of it, maybe she did smile.
Maybe she was impressed. Whatever—I just kept thinking about John
Lennon and how he died so suddenly, and without reason. He was a
peaceful man and to die that way was the antithesis of everything
he stood for.
Lennon’s murder has always fascinated me. A
few years ago, I read a book about his killer, Mark David Chapman.
If my memory serves me correctly—and it usually does—Chapman
approached Lennon one evening in 1980 and shot him in the chest.
Later on, when Chapman was being booked by the NYPD, he was asked
for a statement. He didn’t say a word. Instead, he quietly pulled a
copy of J. D. Salinger’s
The Catcher in the Rye
coat pocket, and presented it as his statement to the cops. Then he
requested that they go back and apologize to the apartment doorman
that witnessed the shooting. I guess he felt bad that the doorman
had to watch the slaughtering right before his eyes. So, in a way,
he was a nice guy. Weird, deadly—but nice. He had all sorts of
reasons for killing Lennon, but the reasons have never interested
me much. What I’ve always loved is that he offered
in the Rye
as his statement, and that he asked the cops to
apologize to the doorman. I know exactly how Chapman felt, about
the doorman at least.
I couldn’t remember whether or not that part
of the park was called Strawberry Fields before Lennon was shot.
Hell, I don’t even remember him getting shot since I was only a
baby when it happened. But I knew that it had something to do with
his death or the Beatles or whatever, so I figured what the
Megan didn’t answer me, but that was okay,
because I knew that I’d told her something that she didn’t know. It
was always like that when friends of mine from the suburbs visited
me in the city. I always tried to impress them with my vast
knowledge of the history and culture of Manhattan Island. I felt
obliged to act cosmopolitan and divulge every little tidbit of
information that I knew about New York, regardless of how
insignificant or half-true it was. Don’t ask me why.
Anyway, we sat a little while longer in
silence. Bums and freaks and yuppies walked, jogged, and
roller-bladed by us beneath the emerald canvas of maple and oak
trees above. Half of them weren’t even that weird, I guess. Some
were children and families and old people. But they were all freaks
just the same. It was Manhattan, after all, and sometimes I think
that everyone who lives there is a kook in one way or another. You
must think I’m crazy for saying that. I mean, I’d love to live in
Manhattan, personally. So I guess that makes me one of them. Then
again, they say the only difference between a freak and an
eccentric person is that the latter has money. So I guess
A man pacing near a splintery,
graffiti-ridden, green wooden bench, about ten feet to the left,
caught my eye. I watched him closely, desperate for some material
to jump-start a discussion with Megan. Ironically, he was singing a
Beatles song. Well, at least he thought he was singing. He started
by mimicking that annoying guitar riff that starts the song:
. And then:
It’s been a hard days night, and I’ve
been workin’ like a dog
, he blared, completely out of tune. It
sounded more like yelling to me. Then he abruptly cut short his
performance to ask for money. Change, actually. Bums always asked
for change, as if they had to make an important phone call or
Who would he call?
I thought. Maybe
that was a topic Megan and I could beat to death: What would a
homeless guy do with spare change once he got it?
. It was a decent topic, but I
couldn’t think of anything witty to say, so I kept my mouth shut. I
kept watching this guy out of the corner of my eye, trying to seem
like I had no interest in what he was doing. Had I shown interest,
the bastard probably would’ve come over to sing
It turned out that this one-man show had a
one-man audience. I leaned forward a bit and looked again. A
Japanese man sitting on the bench was taping this idiot with a
silver camcorder. He chuckled as he taped and it pissed me off. I
figured he’d probably take the tape back to Tokyo and show his
friends what morons Americans were.
What a bunch of freaks,
A girl no older than eighteen roller-bladed
by us with shorts so sheer that her underwear line was visible. Her
top was even worse: it was more of a black bra than a shirt. She
might as well have been naked.
something to talk about with Megan: nudity.
But how could I
broach it? I couldn’t just say, ‘Hey, Megan, what do you think of
that girl’s tits?’ It had to sound more intelligent than that.
Funny, provocative, and intelligent.
I thought for a while, gulped the remainder
of my Snapple, and asked, “What do you think about public nudity?”
Like a baby that had just passed gas, she squinted her eyes and
smiled a bemused smile. She didn’t seem disgusted, but
“What do I what?” she asked.
“What I mean is, do you think that a woman
should be allowed to walk around topless? Look at that woman over
there.” I pointed to the chick on roller-blades. “Do you think that
woman should be arrested for wearing that kind of top?”
She thought about it for a second. I sensed
that, handled properly, this topic could lead into an even better
discussion about sex.
“Well,” Megan responded, timidly, “I don’t
know, really.” Okay, so she was confused. That only meant I should
help her along.
“I mean, really,” I said, “what’s the
difference between walking around topless and walking around with a
flimsy tight shirt? I don’t think there is a difference. Public
nudity is completely acceptable in some parts of Europe.” Where in
Europe, I had no idea.
She paused for a few moments. “I guess
there’s nothing wrong with it,” she finally admitted.
This nice Irish Catholic prima
donna prude from Jersey with a pussy as tight as mouse trap was
suddenly a lot more interesting. Jubilated, I rocked from side to
side on the bench, anticipating the intriguing conversation about
But I couldn’t think of anything else to say
to her. Desperately trying to figure out how to extend our
conversation, I studied the roller-chick, who had stopped at the
water fountain across the pathway for a drink. I stared at her ass
for what seemed like light years, wondering why I was stuck with
boring Megan when I could be hitting on her.
After at least another five minutes or so, I
I have officially run out of things
to say to Megan
. I just wanted to get up and walk away.
But I knew I couldn’t do that. I knew I had
to keep sitting and talking for a while. Then I had to walk her to
the goddamn Port Authority bus terminal and see her off.
. I just wanted to go the fuck home, lay on my bed, and
As Megan stared straight ahead—blissfully
ignorant of the uncomfortable silence consuming us—I stared at her
Not bad at all,
I thought. She had some bronze
freckles scattered across her forehead. Her chalky skin looked soft
and virginal. And those pudgy Irish cheeks! She had two wide milky
white cheeks, each with a half a dozen freckles or so, a small
nose, and a small mouth, with an upper lip like an rosy eagle fully
extending its wings. And wonderful ears—I always thought ears were
very important—lay flat against the sides of her head. I would’ve
nibbled on those ears today if I’d had the balls to do it. Pasty
white thighs protruded from her lavender shorts. A bit flabby, yes.
But how I wanted to see the tiny, fiery red flame between them.
, I thought.
But that wasn’t going to happen. As much as I
desired to be physically close to Megan, I couldn’t bear becoming
emotionally or mentally close to her first. I don’t know why—I
mean, now that I think of it, I really liked her—but I just
couldn’t take that first step.