created, maintained, and curated by womyn, for all.
April's theme is
MOTHERS & SISTERS.
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RAINCOAT is a community of musicians, writers, visual artists, filmmakers, and more. We champion the work of womyn and the nurturing of safe, dynamic spaces that encourage its creation and distribution.
Len stood on the edge of the rough of Hole 14, looking down into dark blue of the artificial lake that had caught many a ball of the amateur golfers who frequented Wolf Canyon Golf Club, to their great chagrin. There was something about the curve of Hole 14 that had become infamous amongst these golfers, consisting mostly of upper management men and their uppity wives, that always made them underestimate the velocity, force, and torque needed in their swing to successfully drive their balls around the watery bend. The Wolf Canyon Golf Club maintenance crew reports that at the end of each year, when the artificial lake on Hole 14 is drained and cleaned, that there are enough golf balls at its bottom to fill the truckbeds of Manny (Manager) and Costello’s (Asst. Manager) large pickups, which they had turned into an annual tradition, hiding small toys within the mass of balls and watching their kids delightedly sift through the whitish dunes each Christmas day.
But Len was not here to play golf. In fact, Len Wang-Kravitz, age 10, had never played golf before. Len was here to bring an end to what he believed was the one thing holding him back in his young life and keeping him from reaching his truest social potential. He had considered coming out to the artificial lake on Hole 14 many times before (he lived in Wolf Canyon Estates, a gated community of homes built on and around the Wolf Canyon Golf Course) to do the dirty deed, but here he was, finally, and he was ready.
It was a warm, humid day, and the artificial lake teemed with pond-skitters flitting about on its surface. Len wiped the sweat collecting on his upper lip, staring into the blue. He had a muddied sleeve and mud-caked right cheek, beads of sweat tracing vertical streaks in the gray dust. In his mud-covered right hand he clutched the handle of a case, also slathered in a drying mud, that held his violin.
Waiting for his mom on the curb at Richardson Middle School earlier that day, Len had noticed a certain type of weed he often saw in his backyard. Bending down for a closer look, he was unwillingly propelled facedown into the weed by Keith Kahn and his three dull-eyed cohorts, Keith’s younger brother Kim, and best friends Weir and Sully. Keith Kahn and Co. had made it, Len often thought, a passionate mission to ensure that Len’s life was nothing short of a personal hell at Richardson Middle School, from the moment Len introduced himself to his class on the first day of Fifth Grade. Len often wondered why he was chosen as their target, for there were four other new kids in his class of equitable size, constitution, and disposition (save Colleen B., who he knew would be labeled as “popular” for the rest of her life).
Lying facedown in the mud on the carpool lawn, Len could only think of how finicky his mother would be when she saw he had stained his (and her) favorite shirt that he owned, which had belonged to his uncle who had suddenly passed away last year from testicular cancer. Uncle Mark was Len’s favorite person in the entire world. He’d often drive over from Houston to attend Len’s orchestra recitals and they’d go out to Hunan Palace afterwards and split the stir-fried eggplant and Tornadoe Fried Rice (sic) before stopping by the dollar theater in Old Town to catch whatever B-list flick happened to be showing that day. The only thing on Len’s bedroom walls were three pieces of yellow-lined paper on which Uncle Mark had written his top 50 movies of all time with much thought and care one afternoon two summers ago when he was staying with Len’s family for a week. Sitting on his bed and watching his uncle pen the list, listening to him cite reasons and justifications for the numerical positionings, Len knew that he would forever consider this the one of the best days of his life. He had watched 39 of the 50 in the year after they taped it on the wall next to his bed, but after Uncle Mark died, Len had only been allowing himself to watch one per month.
“Maybe if you spent some time doing pushups instead of playing your gay violin all the time you’d be able to defend yourself, fatass!”
“You probably can’t even see your dick under all of that fat!”
“Like he even has one!”
Keith Kahn and Co. walked away laughing. Len pushed himself out of the mud, and called his mom on the small flip-phone that she had given him for when he was done with practices and recitals. Telling his mom that Mr. Wallace had suggested Len practice a bit more before the upcoming county regionals, Mrs. Wang-Kravitz wholeheartedly agreed that Len should stay at school for a few more hours to really get the Seitz concerto “locked down and ready to roll for Sunday” and was “simply astonished and constantly grateful” that the world had blessed her with “the number one son under the sun.” Len felt his jaw start to tremble and said a quick “bye” before snapping his phone shut and shoving it into his pocket, heading towards Wolf Canyon Golf Club, wiping away a stray tear.
By the time Len finally arrived at WCGC fifty minutes later, he was drenched with sweat. Usually inside the Richardson Middle School practice rooms, he had forgotten that 3:00pm was the most unrelenting, unforgiving time of the day to be outside. But there he was, facing the artificial lake, case in hand. It would have to be a single, strong throw. If he hesitated, the violin would float back to him on the shallow edge of the artificial lake and he would have to repeat the process all over again.
When he really thought about it, the only thing Keith Kahn and Co. teased him about was his violin and his weight. His mom always told Len that he would grow out of his baby fat soon so he wasn’t worried about that, so really, all that stood in the way between him and Keith Kahn’s vendetta was his violin. In the violin’s absence, Keith Kahn would quickly direct his energy towards the next victim, maybe Cobe Moran, who drew busty anime cyberwomen in his notebooks and wore sunglasses indoors (why Keith prioritized him over Cobe Moran, Len was always unsure).
But none of that mattered now. Len was finally taking things into his own hands. He was making change happen for himself. He wasn’t going to allow Keith Kahn to reign over his life any longer. Len bent down to unzip the (buoyant) case, grasping the thin neck of his unknowing violin. It felt so small and light in his hands. Len drew his arm back as far as it could go, then thrust it forward with all of his might.
But his arm abruptly stopped itself as the violin swept past his head. He lingered there for a moment, violin clutched in the air, and brought his hand down slowly, letting his arm rest at his side. Len felt warm tears stream down to his chin, some continuing to flow down his neck, getting absorbed into his ribbed shirt collar. He was suddenly standing on the black, carpeted platforms Richardson Middle School would put out for their orchestra recitals. And standing right in front of him was Uncle Mark applauding loudly, his big chest swelling with pride, and his familiar, open smile illuminating his face amongst the crowd of other parents.
Len wiped his chin with his sleeve and delicately placed his violin back in its case, admiring its points and curves, its strings and knobs, its strong, warm wood. Sweeping his fingers along its side, he then zipped up the case, grabbed it resolutely by its plastic handle, and steadied himself for what his mom would say when she saw that half of his body was covered in mud when he got back home.