Joey Pigza Loses Control

Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos Read Free Book Online

Book: Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jack Gantos
“That’s one patch that’s never coming off,” he said, and shook a cigarette toward his lips.
    â€œMaybe I can get a tattoo of a patch and then I’ll never have to change my meds again,” I said, joking around.
    â€œWell, I’ve about had it with this patch business,” he
said. “This is what works for me.” He lit the cigarette and inhaled. “Sometimes the disease is better than the medicine. You know what I mean? When I was working down in Panama, a doctor gave me some kind of anti-malaria pills and said, ‘Now don’t use them unless you have to, ’cause they’ll probably kill you before they cure you.’”
    I wanted to talk about tattoos but he was already talking his talk. I knew I should listen because that’s how you get to know someone when you haven’t spent a lot of time together, but other things were on my mind. I was thinking that being away from Mom made me feel different. Like there was one Joey for Mom and a different Joey for Dad and that I was becoming two Joeys. Mom’s Joey didn’t want a tattoo but Dad’s Joey did.
    â€œDad, have you ever felt like two people at once?” I asked.
    He didn’t answer. Instead he exhaled and said, “You know, I never had much interest in kids. But after my last arrest I had to do community service, and the coaching opportunity was way better than picking trash on the side of the road with a bunch of jittery winos, so now I’m the coach of a team of Police Athletic League kids. You know, local kids who if they didn’t play ball might get into a little summer trouble. So you shouldn’t be afraid of them.”
    I wasn’t afraid of them. I was sort of afraid of him.
He was already a criminal. “Why were you arrested?” I asked.
    He turned and smiled at me, then turned away and flicked his cigarette butt out the window. “The usual charge,” he said. “Stupidness. Just plain old stupidness.”
    â€œReally?” I said, unsure. “I thought you had to do something stupid to be arrested. Not just be stupid.”
    â€œWell, that’s true,” he said. “I did something stupid.”
    â€œI bit a man.”
    â€œYou mean like a dog?”
    â€œYeah, pretty much just like a dog.”
    â€œWhere’d you bite him?”
    â€œThe nose,” he said, and held the tip of his reddish nose, then rubbed it between his thumb and finger like he was polishing it.
    â€œWow!” I said, squirming in my seat. “Wow! Do you know why I was kicked out of school and sent to special-ed school?”
    â€œNo,” he said. “What Pigza stupidness did you do?”
    â€œI accidentally cut off a girl’s nose tip with a pair of scissors. I was running with them and tripped over her and just snipped a tiny bit of her nose off. Can you believe that? Did you trip too?”
    â€œNope,” he said, and lit another cigarette. “I didn’t trip. I flipped. I was in a bar and a guy snatched my beer and drank it all down and I got so mad I just
grabbed him by the ears and bit his nose before he could pull away.”
    â€œYou mean yours wasn’t an accident?” I said, and I kept looking at his sharp yellow teeth as if he were the Big Bad Wolf.
    â€œNo,” he replied. “Nope. You know, Joey, I know you want to have long father-to-son talks with me, and it’s not that I don’t want to have long talks with you but you have to realize I really only want to talk about the future with you. Not the past. My past is not good, Joey, so I don’t have the good ol’ days to feel all warm and fuzzy about. My past, like the nose thing, gets sort of scary and ugly, and to tell you the truth I’d just rather have, you know, the new times to talk about. The now times. I’d rather just show you Storybook Land and play baseball and work on making new

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