"Whatever the doctors tried," I tell the silent little kids, "every little boy would end up dirty and diseased and screaming in terrible pain. And who can tell me what happened next?"
No hands go up.
"For sure," I say, "he died, of course."
And I put the poker back into the fire.
"So," I say, "any questions?"
No hands go up, so I tell them about the fairly bogus studies where scientists shaved mice and smeared them with smegma from horses. This was supposed to prove foreskins caused cancer.
A dozen hands go up, and I tell them, "Ask your teacher."
What a frigging job that must've been, shaving those poor mice. Then finding a bunch of uncircumcised horses.
The clock on the mantel shows our half hour is almost over. Out through the window, Denny's still bent over in the stocks. He's only got until one o'clock. A stray village dog stops next to him and lifts its leg, and the stream of steaming yellow goes straight into Denny's wooden shoe.
"And what else," I say, "is George Washington kept slaves and didn't ever chop down a cherry tree, and he was really a woman."
As they push toward the door I tell them, "And don't mess with the dude in the stocks anymore." I shout, "And lay off shaking the damn chicken eggs."
Just to stir the turd, I tell them to ask the cheesemaker why his eyes are all red and dilated. Ask the blacksmith about the icky lines going up and down the insides of his arms. I call after the infectious little monsters, any moles or freckles they have, that's just cancer waiting to happen. I call after them, "Sunshine is your enemy. Stay off the sunny side of the street."
Excerpted from Choke by Chuck Palahniuk Copyright 2001 by Chuck Palahniuk. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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