In the caveman days, the entire world was full of retards walking off cliffs, eating raw meat, batting women over the head with clubs and dragging them off to be raped. The stupider ones died off, leaving us.
Jason Call. In kindergarten he pissed in a corner, mooning the entire class. We all knew then that he was fucked. That he was in for a lifetime of ridicule and torture.
Once, when we were about 11, he asked if he could use my bathroom. A neighborhood boy, Matt, had told me that he’d let Jason use his bathroom once and he’d shit all over the walls and the floor. Matt had had to clean it. Jason lived about 50 feet from each of us, the entire thing seemed ludicrous. Maybe he wanted to mark our bathrooms, to expand his territory.
“Go home and use your own bathroom, retard. And try not to shit on the floor.”
Sometimes, when we were bored, we’d allow Jason to join us in a football game. These games quickly degenerated into passing the ball to the retard and trying to cripple him. If Jason had ever had a chance at near normal aptitude, we beat it out of him.
Jason was the first in our neighborhood to get an Atari 2600. He invited some of us over to play with it. Ready to use him for whatever we could, we accepted.
“Your room smells like piss.”
“Bring us more grape soda.”
“Potato chips, too, but don’t touch them.”
“Don’t open the bag.”
Jason would leave and we’d talk among ourselves.
“You see his cat?”
“Stupidest cat in the neighborhood. It just lies out in the middle of the street all day.”
“Jason probably rapes it.”
No one could blame the cat for having a deathwish.
More often than not, Jason would get lost. His father could be heard wandering around outside their house, bellowing at the moon, “Jason! Jason! Jason!” as he rotated like a lighthouse lamp, his red face drenched in sweat.
In the winter, we had snowball fights. We’d split into groups of two. I always got stuck with the retard.
“Why do I always get stuck with the retard?”
Everyone would laugh. Jason, too.
Years passed. We grew older and more humane. Jason had learned better than most of us how to be polite and obedient. Retards had the basics smashed into their brains. Soon I would see Jason drive by in a car. He would honk and wave as I watched mystified, memories of him pissing on fire hydrants and wearing his pajamas to school rebelling against what I was seeing in front of me. I wondered if he would be allowed to vote or drink alcohol or join the Army. Would he be allowed to have kids? If he was allowed to drive, it seemed like he should be allowed to do the rest. Others might argue that even if Jason was fine drinking and driving and having children like the rest of us, what would he do in a crisis or an emergency? But the same could be said about anyone.
The last time I saw Jason, he was sitting in his driveway trying to fix his bicycle. A group of children much younger than us, maybe eight or nine, were taunting him by throwing rocks and twigs at him. Jason would charge them and they would laugh and scatter, only to regroup and resume.
The kids froze and turned to look at me.
“Hi Harold! Where are you going?”
“Getty. I need cigarettes.”
“Oh, okay. You shouldn’t smoke. It’s bad for you.”
“Shut the fuck up.”
I paused to light my last cigarette. Jason tried to return to his bike and the kids returned to their plotting.
“You should be nice to me.” said Jason.
“Why?” asked one of the little kids.
“Retards are gross. They smell funny and live on handouts.”
“My dad said they can be trained to mop floors and clean toilets. Some of them can even build birdhouses. Hey Jason, can you build a birdhouse?”
I ran up behind the kid and smacked the back of his head.
“What the fuck?”
I smacked him across the face, then hit the back of his head again two or three more times.
“Now you try and build a birdhouse.”
Jason was in hysterics. He was pissing in his pants, but the little kids were too stunned and afraid to laugh at him. Hitting little kids worked much better at 17 or 18, they couldn’t really do anything to fight back. I picked up some rocks and dirt and threw it at them. They yelled at me as they backed away.
“I’m gonna tell my dad!”
“He’s not your real dad. Go ahead and ask him.”
“Fuck you, Harold.”
“Fuck you, Robert. Tell your mom I said hello.”
He was about to say something but I sprinted at him for a second and they all scampered off. Little kids are mean spirited bastards, but I couldn’t be too mad at them about the retard business. I thought at the time that it’s just an animal thing that’s inside all of us, and from an animal perspective, from a fearful, species preserving perspective, it makes sense. Instinct demands it. But parsing out the good from the bad is impossible. It’s sometimes confusing even for dogs and chickens.