Nobody's creekbed

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The Anterior Insula and Hwy W

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ballad of Doug and Jackie Figg

For but a short time during middle school, Jickle Figg served as manager for the seventh grade boys basketball team. Jickle's father had by this point long since moved to Mexico (or so Jickle said), and Jickle's mom spent most of her time home, in bed, bedridden in a bad way. One time, I watched Jared Pater, back-up forward for the seventh grade boys basketball team, hit Jickle full in the face with a basketball hurled intentionally and with extreme malice at very close range. Jickle, rendered unconscious and weightless in but a moment, dropped to the ground like a thing discarded. I remember Jickle sleeping through the entirety of that afternoon's basketball practice, nearly lifeless on the couch in coach's office. (On an unconnected note, I remember that Jared Pater started the very next game as forward for the team, scoring sixteen points and registering a whopping eleven steals. That very same day, I remember too that Jared finally got up the nerve to ask Julie Dryer to go out with him, quickly becoming the first serioulsy making-out kid I knew. Moreover, Jared was the squad's starting forward for the rest of the season, as well as every season thereafter, through middle and high school, even becoming all-state his junior and senior years. But again, this is all unconnected to our story.) Jickle dropped out of school three weeks into his ninth grade year, just after the death of his mother. At one time, Jickle's real name had been Adam. Early in his life, his mother had taken to the name Jickle and it stuck. Surely, she could not have realized the wrath such a name would induce within the public education setting of Jickle's peers on that long ago autumn afternoon early in the second grade year when she arrived to pick Jickle up from school and casually called out to her young son across the elementary gymnasium, called out to him with the name she thought had just the sweetest, funniest ring she'd ever heard, a name so perfectly capturing her boy's eccentricity and life-love. It was from this afternoon forward that the name Jickle become the intellectual property of Jickle's classmates--kids who knew of no such thing as eccentricity, kids who knew only what they thought was a stupid name when they heard one. Stupid name for a stupid kid. Fact, Jickle was forced to assume many names over the years. At one point many of us began to call him Buttcake, though the reason behind the name escapes me now. Much escapes me now. What hasn't escaped me is the memory of Jickle Figg descending like so much empty weight and quite literally piling up on the glossy, hardwood flooring of the middle school gymnasium as light careened through the windows up near the vaulted ceiling and dappled us in silent gold-dust. The punishment inflicted by Jared Pater had happened with sudden improvisation, almost whimsically, simply because Jickle had been there in that single moment, eagerly watching his fellow seventh grade boys run through drills. The last thing I heard about Jickle Figg was that he had moved to Mexico (or so everyone says).