Guest Writer: Sean Maher tells "Me and Chuck Down By The Schoolyard"

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My first communication with Sean Maher took place on March 6th. He launched his website, The Zealot’s Lore, and gave Elk’s Run a glowing review that was previously posted on the Millarworld Board. Sean sent me an email to let me know. I thought Sean was your typical comic-book freak angling for a slot in Western Tales because, you know, I’m cynical.

But over the months I’ve seen his voice grow and Sean has become one of my favorite, most passionate comic reviewers around today and he’s also a swell guy (and a mighty fine writer).

Funny side note, I get a lot of people coming to my site searching for “Sean Maher gay” but apparently they’re looking for info on some actor. No idea who he is or if he’s gay. But this Sean Maher has a girlfriend, I know that.

Also, not thinking, I did update yesterday despite the holiday. Guam wrote a wonderful story that was apparently viewed by around 40 people. And one was me and the other 39 was the entire island nation of Guam. So go back and check it out, it's funny.

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I’m reading Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities #3 and realizing just now how much Eric Powell must dig Tom Waits’ music. Carnival characters spanning from creepy and disfigured to powerfully heroic (and often including elements from both ends of that spectrum), with a macabre sense of humor keeping everything fun. This is shaping up to be great work – The Goon already being one of the best series on the stands, of course.

I’m glad Jason asked me to write a story for this blog, because as hysterical as it is (and I’ve had a couple near misses at work, cracking up at Hooker Hand and Jason trying to piss a booger off his finger), there’s also a serious element that I like; as Jason put it, it’s building to “the summer when life presented itself.” With that in mind, I thought it might be cool to tell about the first time I knew somebody I thought was a hero.


Chuck Taylor was probably the most hated kid in school. In seventh grade he was about six-foot-two, a giant in black jeans, steel-toed boots and an old leather jacket. He kept his greasy red hair in a mohawk, and there were scars burned in his scalp where he shaved it. I was always hearing about rumors that he’d threatened teachers with knives and set off pipe bombs in the bathroom. Every week or two he had bruises or scratches from brawls with his father, and his teeth were cracked in a few places. He was one of my best friends.

There’s a period where you go from digging the things you learned about at home to learning about the “hardcore” adult stuff from your friends, and Chuck got me hooked on early Metallica albums. Up to this point, I’d pretty much just listened to my old man’s Tom Petty and Billy Joel tapes, so when Chuck threw on “The Call Of Ktulu” I about shat my pants.

There were three other guys we’d hang out with. Kenny Earnst was a fat, disgusting moron, and the funniest guy I knew at the time. His little sausage fingers were always stained brown. He’d wiggle ‘em together as if plotting some evil scheme and make gay jokes about our gym teacher, a weird old dude named Mr. Bacon who had a waxed moustache. Nick Javier was the only kid in the class shorter and scrawnier than me, and I think he just hung out with us for protection – it wasn’t for the friendship, I know, because we ripped on him constantly. Bobby McFadden was a tall bastard, just like Chuck, but he was a pale blond goofball. Me, I pissed a lot of people off because I didn’t really give a shit about the school we were at, but I also didn’t have to struggle to pass classes – I’d come from a way better school system and pretty much knew all the stuff they were teaching anyway. So hanging out with the nerds didn’t really work, but I still was one. The only people who didn’t seem to mind were these guys, and I got a lot of mileage off of talking shit to Nick.

So one day the five of us are in gym class playing basketball against these other five kids. One of ‘em is Sam Stack, who was one of the more popular kids in the school. A real mean little asshole, just as short as I was and a lot dumber. To protect himself, he’d gotten in with Danny Brady. Now, I know that’s a bitch name, but Danny was one of the scariest kids around. He was just as tall as Chuck and he was supposed to have a gang. To get in the gang, you had to let Danny beat the shit out of you – I saw him wailing on a kid one time, windmilling his arms around like a madman, and it scared the piss out of me. So Sam had pretty much free reign to be an asshole to anyone he wanted, because Danny scared a lot of people.

And the whole time we’re playing ball, he’s trying to trip us, throwing the ball way out of bounds so we have to run after it, pissing us all off. Then after a play was over, Bobby was walking back toward the other end of the court and Sam threw the ball as hard as he could at the back of Bobby’s head, almost knocking him down.

Chuck snapped. He shouted and ran after Sam, who tried to bolt. But Sam’s legs were about half as long as Chuck’s and he only got about five feet before Chuck grabbed the hood on his sweatshirt, yanked him back off his feet, grabbed his shoulders and swung him around like a discus. After a couple spins Chuck finally tossed him about ten feet, where he rolled around on the blacktop, got up and ran off. It was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen.

At lunchtime, I walked out to the main yard and saw about a hundred kids swarming on the far end of the field. I knew exactly what was going on and ran over.

I pushed my way through to the middle to find Chuck and Danny circling each other, shouting threats and pushing each other away. Everybody around me was shouting; like I said, everybody hated Chuck, and this would be a great excuse to see Danny kick somebody’s ass without it being voluntary on the ass-whuppee’s part. Me, I was pretty damn sure Chuck could take that punk, but the problem was the mob – if shit went down, even if Chuck won, there’d be a dozen kids ready to jump in and send him to the hospital. So I stayed and watched and tried to figure out how I’d help if shit went down – totally freaking out, because I was the only one there on Chuck’s side – when the Recess Lady showed up and broke us all up. It took her about fifteen minutes to do, being a sixty year-old blue-hair as she was, and she’d gotten Chuck to start walking away when Danny hocked a loog over his head and he came roaring right back, screaming “Who looged?” There was a huge crew of kids talking shit at him now, so it could have been any one of them.

Finally! A chance to help! Chuck turned to me and shouted his question again and like a soldier answering his drill sergeant I hopped-to and shouted “Danny!” Some help I turned out to be. The whole bullshit process started again and the poor old woman had another ten minutes of work to get Chuck to leave and Danny to go to the principal’s office.

Danny bragged and congratulated himself. Chuck stayed away from school for the rest of the week, probably starting fires and throwing punches with his dad.

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