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Excerpt from Chicken by David Henry Sterry, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent

by David Henry Sterry

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  • First Published:
    Feb 2002, 256 pages
    Feb 2003, 256 pages

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Print Excerpt

I'm asleep.'

I'm exiled to the Elba of boarding school for my sins when I'm sixteen. I don't want to be expelled from my family, but no matter how much kick I put in my scream, my mom and dad ignore me. So I suck it up, pack up my troubles, and take it like a man.


As a result, I'm a little unclear exactly what happened to my happy family back in Dallas, but this much is known:'

  1. My mom moves her friend into my recently vacated room.
  2. One afternoon thereafter, my dad comes home one afternoon home from his explosives to install a basketball hoop for my sister's birthday and discovers my mother - his wife - in his bed with her new best friend.
  3. All Hell breaks loose.

Red rockets rip into me, blasting a bolt of agony up my buggered guts, splitting my heart and burying shafts of pain in my brain. I've severed ligaments, snapped ribs, shattered toes, cracked a head, and broken a nose, but I've never felt pain like that.

I can't see anything. Can't hear anything. Can't smell anything. Can't touch anything. Can't taste anything.

All there is is pain.

I try to yank away, but I can't move. I don't know how he did it, but the tall sexy man has gotten inside me, impossibly huge and violent, and he has me pinned, his chest pressed into my back, right arm underneath me, holding my shoulder with his hand, hot breath stenching my neck, growling into my ear like a feeding beast, punishing me with his flaming rage, tearing a hole in me.

Smell's the first sense to return, as the funk of the sour-beer old moldy body fluid mattress fills my face.

Sound's next. He's calling me a punk and a bitch and a faggot as he rapes me.

Everything slowmotions now. I pull my right arm free, ram it up hard as I can toward his face, and the hard bone of my elbow drives into the soft cartilage of his Adam's apple, a sucking pain sound jolting out of him as he yanks back, breath spasming asthmatically.

Whipping him out of me, I'm suddenly blessedly empty. I move fast now, all animal instinct, and while he wheezes from the bed, I grab my shoes, shoot from the bedroom, stumble, stub my toe on the couch. I hear my brain say, "Stubbed toe on couch," but there's no pain. I slam open the door, flash down the hall, leap three steps at a time, fly the lobby onto the street, and hit the hot pavement running fast as I can.

Slowing slightly in the cool latenight earlymorning air, I slip into my red hightops. I do not stop to tie them.

As I speedwalk onto Hollywood Boulevard, Saturday morning's moving in on Friday night, vampyres scurrying in before the first ray of dawn turns them to dust. It smells like an ashtray. Streetlights aren't off yet, and the dark chill clings still as night tries desperately not to give up the ghost.

Clodding along over and under the fading stars, the adrenaline anaesthetic begins to wear off and the pain creeps in, starting at the tip of the bottom, and pulsating an ache that shoots all the way up through me.'

A thick cloud of tears appears. Everything hurts. I deserve it. But I won't cry. I don't understand how tears work yet.

I grimace as I limp gingerly, trying not to breathe too much, head down shuffling, stargazing to keep from dropping right off the face of the earth, past the hungry hookers and the horny johns who don't have enough money, the smackdaddies and the boozebabies, the clodhoppers and the pillpoppers.

Oh God, I'm so tired. I can barely keep putting one foot in front of the other. But the fear that the SEXY man might be following spreads like a brush fire through my ass and keeps me moving at a brisk clip.

I feel a wet between my legs. I reach inside my pants. Warm thick liquid pools. I pull out my hand. It's red with my blood.

Copyright David Henry Sterry 2002. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the author.

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