Nina Bayer holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Culture, Literature and the Arts from the University of Washington Bothell, and an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts/Whidbey Writers Workshop. She resides in Bothell, WA, where she teaches academic and creative writing at a local community college. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications, including Crosscurrents, Manorborn, Naugatuck River Review, The Binnacle, MO: Writings from the River, Wild Violet, Conclave, and Pontoon.
Kissing Frankie Kaczynski
The other day I bought a poetry book. I was with my mother at the mall and she said why don’t you buy a poetry book and so I bought a poetry book and brought it home. I covered it with an inside-out paper grocery bag and long strips of Scotch tape and set it on the nightstand next to my bed.
The next day Janey Selzner came over and we sat on the floor of my room and talked about boys. She told me she had walked home from school through the park on Bay Street with Frankie Kaczynski and that he had put his tongue in her mouth – twice. I said that’s gross and I don’t want to talk about it and can’t we look at books instead and she said yeah, okay, I guess.
Janey picked up my poetry book and turned to the part about onomatopoeia and words like splat and ding, and then closed it and put it back on the nightstand. She said she thought her mother was having sex with Mr. Johnston the man with the short-tailed cat who lives three doors down from the Red Apple on Main. I said how do you know and she said she had seen them kissing in the front seat of Mr. Johnston’s Winnebago and I said what about your Dad and she said her Dad didn’t live at their house anymore and I said oh because I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
Janey said she didn’t think Mr. Johnston had put his tongue in her mother’s mouth but if he had he probably hadn’t done it the way Frankie Kaczynski had done it and then she made a rolling gesture with her tongue and said thhee, like thhis. I said stop that’s sick and why don’t we go downstairs and have a piece of toasted raisin bread and she said yeah, okay, I guess, and so we went downstairs.
When we got to the kitchen we found my brother sitting at the table with a basketball…a basketball and Frankie Kaczynski. I said hey and my brother said hey and Frankie said hey but Janey didn’t say anything. I elbowed her in the arm and she gave me a serious look. My brother asked, are you gonna fix something to eat and I said maybe and then I said say hi to Janey Frankie and Frankie said Hey Janey then stood and walked to the refrigerator for a carton of milk. My brother said woo-hoo Frankie and Frankie said oh man shut up and then started drinking straight from the carton. Janey looked angry and then my brother said what’s buggin’ her and I said leave her alone Milton and then Janey got red in the face and left out the back door without saying good-bye. Frankie just kept on drinking.
I went back to my room and lay on my bed. I picked up my poetry book and read the part about onomatopoeia and words like splat and ding and then closed it and put it back on the nightstand. I thought about Mr. Johnston kissing Janey’s mother in the front seat of the Winnebago. I thought about Frankie Kaczynski and his rolling tongue. I wondered if any of what Janey had told me about kissing was true. Then I walked to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror staring at my tongue from every direction.
Then I combed my hair and went back downstairs to fix toasted raisin bread for my brother…my brother and Frankie Kaczynski.