The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Guys Come in Three Sizes

Little Guys fought the Chinese Commies in Korea. There were uncounted millions of Chinese Commies and they attacked in human waves. Ernesto Gomez made a hissy screaming whisper from the back of his throat and it was the looming clamor of Chinese Commies.

Here they come!

Ernesto and Jeff fielded the United Nations Eighth Army Special Regiment of about three hundred Little Guys, from a dozen different nations. They were well-armed and had tanks, armored cars, and a mixed squadron of warplanes. They took their losses but they always won.

That was close!

When he was home and it was night, Jeff lined up his detachment of Little Guys to guard his bedroom door and protect him while he slept. Some took up sniper positions on the dresser.

When Jeff’s mom found out Ernesto was Catholic and even went to Catholic school, she made Jeff stop being friends with him.

Call him up and tell him.

Jeff did.

I’m sorry, Ernesto, but my mom says I can’t play with you anymore.

Why not? Did I do something? Is it cuzz my dad’s dead and my mom works?

No, it’s cuzz you’re a Catholic and I’m a Protestant.

So?

You worship idols.

So?

When Little Guys weren’t fun anymore and their little bullets no longer protected his bedroom at night, Jeff built a little one-room toy house in his back yard out of little mud bricks dried in the sun. It became a military hospital. Wounded Little Guys, their arms and legs mutilated or torn off, crowded the house’s one unroofed room. Soon the house overflowed with wounded.

The end was horrible. On a hot summer’s morning, the sky absolutely clear—for Jeff’s town was in the Chihuahuan Desert, where the sky was not cloudy all day—out of the sun came the sneak surprise attack, launched by one rebel crew who mutinied and seized the only B-52 Stratofortress under the command of the United Nations Eighth Army Special Regiment. They dropped a full load of napalm on the crowded hospital and its surrounding grounds. The fire was so hot, the bodies of the slain melted together, the flames further fed by their plastic fat. Black smoke climbed into the desert sky.

. . .

Medium Guys were G.I. Joes and they were Commando Forces. They could do other things, too. They were big and their clothes came off. Jeff’s mom babysat Edwina White who was two years younger than Jeff and had Barbie dolls. Their clothes also came off.

Since you’re watching cartoons, Edwina, can I play with your Barbie dolls?

Sure.

Jeff took the Barbies to his room. There were three and one was a Skipper. He shut the door and took off all their clothes. He took the clothes off his G.I. Joes and he put the dolls together.

It was exciting.

Edwina knocked on Jeff’s door.

Jeff, I want my Barbies back.

Just a minute.

I want them back right away!

Jeff couldn’t get the clothes back on the Barbies and had to give them back to Edwina. She took them to his mom.

Look what he did.

. . .

Big Guys were boys with toy guns. One army of boys started at one end of the street and the other at the other.

Okay, here’s the rules. House-to-house, no going indoors or in back yards. The Sun Shoppers are potato mashers.

Are we playing tag-team?

Yeah. If you get killed and someone in your army tags you, you get to come back to life. But if you get killed you hafta lay there. No fair crawling to one of your guys. Capiche?

The battle started slowly. The sun was hot and the block was quiet. From either end of the street, boys with toy guns moved furtively along the walls of the flat tract houses. They hid behind bushes and parked cars.

The first shots were fired.

Ba-da-da-da-dow! Ba-da-da-da-dow!

Return volleys rang out.

Peugh! Peugh-peugh!

There were the explosions of the potato mashers.

Brch-gh! Brch-gh!

The calls of the victorious and cries of the wounded sounded along the block.

Gotcha!

Agghh! I’ve been hit!

You’re dead! I shot you!

No, you didn’t! You missed!

No fair! No fair!

Mama… mama… it’s getting dark, mama…

Sometimes the boys took prisoners and played Bataan Death March. Their mothers stayed indoors and cleaned and cooked and smoked and drank and watched television.

(Originally published in Gravel, November, 2014. Copyright 2014 by Tetman Callis.)

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