Spencer Fox, 15, wrote a hilarious short story at Writopia this past fall, won a 2009 Scholastic regional gold key for it, and read it aloud at The Strand book store last night. It was so much fun to hear an audience of a few hundred enjoy his work. Please help Spencer celebrate by reading his prose:
You could barely see Marcus's head from below his metal shopping cart, however you could clearly hear his size 4 feet clipping and clopping on the cold rubber grocery store floors. He prowled the aisles of the Mega Mart with a fire in eyes and a chocolate bar in hand. Within the confines of his shopping cart were but four lowly items. A box of crunch berries and a bottle of RC cola. These first three items represent what any other 15 year old child would enjoy buying at their local super market, however, the last item is what set Marcus apart from most kids his age. His fourth and last item was an XXL carton of Get Phit Phast Muscle Invigorating Energy Milk Based Powder. Marcus had what most people would call a Napoleon Complex. He was rude, he was aggressive, and he was about four foot eleven.
He waddled his way over to the cashiers and struggled to put his items on the conveyer belt. The woman behind the cash register was a rather large woman of African American descent who was wearing two large hoop earrings.
"One box of crunch berries, one bottle of RC cola, what do you think your doin' with this muscle milk? You're far too young to be trying to bulk up sweetie," said the cashier.
"I don't need advice from someone who makes minimum wage, why don't you come talk to me after you work your second job, you puttz," said Marcus.
Based on the grocery store customer policy, this poor cashier stood helpless, unable to fight back, or snap back at young Marcus who had just berated her on such a personal level without even knowing her prior to this encounter. She angrily bagged Marcus's items and took the money she so sorely deserved and put it into the register. Marcus walked away in triumph, carrying a bag full of groceries that was nearly twice his size.
By now, you must be thinking, oh well, young Marcus may act a bit out of line, but I'm sure deep down inside, he's just another 15 year old kid. Oh, how most people who know Marcus wish that were the case. There is nothing pleasant or redeeming about this young man. When he was but of seven years of age, he strapped kitchen knives to his pet guinea pigs and tried to get them to fight to the death. He has gone through several therapists, all of whom refused to meet see Marcus again after their first sessions with him. When the football team denied Marcus, he deemed it necessary to steal his mother's Ambien Sleeping Pills and stir them into the team's water cooler, before the big game. Needless to say, they lost the game, but gained a few hours of unnecessary sleep.
Marcus walked to the grocery store parking lot and shuffled his way into his mother's turquoise mini van. He hopped and began to ambush his cereal, with an adequate amount getting into his mouth, but it seems as though the mini van floor got a fair share of crunch berries.
"Sweetykins, learn to chew your food," said Marcus's mother. "So, how was your day
"Fine. But my name should never be used in the same sentence as sweetykins and honey bun," replied Marcus as he slammed his palm onto his forehead in an act of disgust.
"Honestly mom, what do you take me for? I don't think someone who can do seven consecutive chin ups should be referred to as honey bun…"
"Oh sweetie, you're just so precious!" she said, entertained by his adolescent intensity. "But don't forget, you're brothers are coming home today, so be on your best behavior!" Marcus's eyes opened wide as he pressed his body against his seat and a cold sweat began to run down his forehead.
Marcus had two brothers. Two twin brothers. Two large twin brothers. They had the same crooked grin, the same set of piercing eyes, and the same goal in life: to make Marcus's life into a living hell. They tormented him in ways most of America's youth wouldn't think possible: When Marcus reached the ripe age of 11 the twins purchased him a box. Inside said box, was a piece of paper in the shape of a ticket. This was a ticket to "painville". As soon as Marcus read the words on the ticket, he was bombarded with numerous dead arms, noogies, and even a swirly to top it all off.
He could just see himself walking through the door of his house only to be greeted by those two nefarious creatures. He could just hear them saying in that nasally and Marcus just wanted to go home, have a couple protein shakes here and there, do his homework, and get in a good night's sleep. Marcus in fact realized, he would be getting no sleep tonight.
Indeed, Marcus got no sleep that night. Instead, he was awoken, promptly, at three o clock as a putrid smell crept into his nostrils. Stink bombs. The signature moves of Marcus's brothers. Soon after these scent based torture devices awakened him, he was being pinned against the floor of his room. As his dreary eyes opened, four beaty eyes starred back at him and two pairs of mouths uttered the words
Such abuse wasn't a foreign thing to Marcus. He was great at picking fights, but he was just awful at winning them. This led to Marcus encountering a fair amount of beatings in his life. He was no stranger to physical discomfort. One time, after school, six foot tall Glen McCannel was cracking a few jokes in regard to Marcus's height situation. Clearly, Marcus was no fan of these jokes, so he bravely approached James and said some things he really shouldn't have said. Things having to do with Glen's Father's current occupation as the school's janitor. Marcus went home with a black eye, torn tighty whiteys, and a corrupt, twisted sense of pride in his deranged little heart.
What Marcus wanted was a way to assert himself. He paced back and forth with his thumb stroking the non-existent beard he wish he could grow…He tried being aggressive, and it was clearly not working for him, and it just wasn't in his nature to be passive, so Marcus needed to find a midpoint.
Marcus was in the midst of his Tai Bo workout video when began thinking about what this midpoint could entail. He began to think about things he's good at. He was all right at math, he was pretty good with a buzz saw, and he could Stairmaster like no one's business. What a great arsenal of mediocre skills I have, Marcus thought to himself. But then he considered this: What's something I've done that's earned me the slightest bit of respect? Marcus recalled that Bertha Therman told him that his Battlestar Galactica themed science project was really neat in fifth grade. No, that simply wouldn't do. He did win that archery contest at summer camp two years ago. Marcus sat down at his kitchen table and finished of his crunch berries. Marcus just realized he had devoured an entire box of cereal within two days. That's somewhat impressive, he thought. Most kids probably couldn't do that. Marcus began to think, and in retrospect, Marcus could eat a fair amount.
Marcus suddenly realized what he had to do. This was it. It was perfect, and Marcus knew he had what it took. Marcus was going to become a competitive eater. Marcus was going to become a 15 year old, four foot eleven, 105-pound competitive eater. Marcus had the figure of an eight-year-old girl, but he had the appetite of a rugby team. He could eat his own weight in any form of food, and feel no later repercussions. On paper it sounds ridiculous, but in Marcus's mind, there was nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all.
Marcus ran straight to his computer, and promptly googled "competitive eating contests for young adults under five feet." No results. He slightly modified his search and came across several possible contests. There was the "B Cubed Eating Competition" (Baked Beans Blow Out), the Russian Embassy's sponsored Pirogue Fest, and other cleverly named eating competitions. However, these competitions all had age restrictions. You have to be 18 or older to participate. The fact that he looked like an eight year old didn't help with that at all. Marcus cursed the heavens, and slowly peeled all of the keys off of his keyboard in a fit of primal aggression. However, as he was about to begin head butting the poor abused keyboard, he noticed something at the bottom of his google page. It was indeed an eating competition. An all age welcome eating competition at that. Marcus began to dance with glee and put the keys back onto his battered keyboard. He read a little closer
"COME ONE COME ALL! ALL AGES! DON'T BE SCARED! TO THE JEWISH YOUTH CENTER'S EAT TILL YOU PLOTZ COMPETITION! DO YOU HAVE THE CHUTZPAH!?
All contestants are required to have parental permission if under 18."
After googling the definition of the word "plotz", Marcus realized this competition meant business. Could Marcus eat copious amounts of food? Yes. But did he have the chutzpah to win this competition? Not yet. There were four days until the competition. Not a lot of time, at all. This meant the next 96 hours would be dedicated to preparing body, mind and stomach.
Marcus needed to see where his eating abilities currently stood. So, he marched into the kitchen and lined up all of the food he could find. He managed to scourge up a pretty motley line up. It consisted of a bag of baby carrots, some orange juice, pretzels, and a half eaten honey bun. He lined the food up, grabbed his stopwatch, and began his very first training session. He clicked the stopwatch and began to devour. He grabbed a handful of baby carrots, and began to chew away at them as fast as his jaw would allow. He repeated this three times. Then he moved down and chugged a good two thirds of the orange juice, with the remaining third landing on the floor. On to the pretzels. These twisted, salty, German delights are what really scared Marcus. Salty foods had never agreed with him, but Marcus knew that he had to overcome this if he wanted to succeed in his ultimate goal. So he choked down a good 15 pretzels. But that honey bun still remained. Marcus stared down at the glazed treat with a look of shear hate. He picked it up, and put it in his mouth and without even chewing, as if he was dry swallowing a pill, it was finished. He checked the stopwatch, seven minutes thirty four seconds not bad.
Marcus realized that what he had just done was pretty great for someone's first try. If he kept this up, by the three weeks he would be unstoppable! Marcus began to feel overjoyed, ecstatic, godly, nauseous, sick to his stomach, terrible. As his confidence morphed into indigestion, he scuttled to the bathroom and threw up everything he had just eaten. Poor Marcus.
However, Marcus being the determined little guy he was just kept on going. He gargled a mouthful of mouthwash to get rid of that awful honeybun-carrot-pretzel-throwup taste out of his mouth. He googled “how to meditate” and via these directions, got his mind in the right place to reignite his training session. He called up his local pizza place and ordered one extra large with sausage, onions, peppers, ham and pineapple. He waited at the door, thumbs twiddling, and money in hand.
15 minutes later…his second test arrived. But SpongeBob was on, so it would have to wait. 30 minutes later…his second test was to be faced. He opened the box, and the sight of food made him gag, due to his recent failure. However, Marcus was too good for that to keep him down. So he began. He began to pillage this Italian delicacy like there was no tomorrow. No bit of crust, cheese, or topping was left behind. With a belch to signal his victory, Marcus looked down at the empty box, without a slight trace of nausea, and realized, that he very well could have the “chutzpah”.
Marcus had just led his body through a rigorous war against copious amounts of disgusting food, and had strangely enough prevailed. This was the first battle Marcus had won in ages. A pride ran over Marcus that ran all the way from the top of his head down to his toes. However all of this eating had taken a toll on Marcus, and it was 10:00, far past his bedtime, so it was time for him to call it a night.
The next morning, Marcus woke up to the sound of his alarm clock, and wasn’t even tempted to hit the snooze button. This was because, today was his day. Today was clearly his day because he was certain he would be winning an eating competition the next day. He hopped out of bed, slipped on his slippers, washed up, and ran down to his breakfast nook. As he arrived to said nook, the twins were there…Waiting for him.
“Hey there dick breath.” Twin number one said, “Up bright and early aren’t we?”
“Not today….oh no not today.” Marcus Said “This is my day…Not even you can ruin this for me.”
“Oh, is this because of your little eating competition, that you’ve tricked yourself into believing you’ll win?” Said twin number two.
“You watch what you say assbrain. I’m takin’ home the gold, you don’t even know.” Said Marcus “Honestly I could deliver a round house kick right to your skull and you wouldn’t even know what hit you. But I’m saving my energy for the competition.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“I mean no big deal, but I basically ate a whole extra large pizza to myself, and a mélange of assorted foods in a time trial. So…yeah, I’ll probably win.” Said Marcus smugly.
The two twins glared at each other both realized that this new found hope and pride in their brother could simply not stand.
The twins began to circle Marcus and got closer and closer. With each inch they gained on Marcus, the more they began to smack, noogie, dead arm and abuse poor Marcus. Then as the final act, twin one stuck his leg out and twin two pushed. In an ironic, sick, and brutal twist of events, Marcus went flying and landed jaw first onto the cold tile floor.
“MOM MARCUS TRIPPED AND FELL!” The Twins shouted in unison.
Marcus was knocked out cold. He woke up in the hospital the next day. There was no room left in the adults’ ward, so he was in a hospital bed decorated in teddy bears and smiley faces in the children’s ward. He glanced around to see balloons surrounding him with phrases like “Get well soon sweetie!” and “I wuv you so get bettaw weawy soon!” printed on them. In the beds next to him we’re kids two to eight years younger then him, yet they we’re remarkably similar in size to him. It was the day of the eating competition and here Marcus was. Being further patronized without the slightest ability to compete let alone win.
“Is there anything I can get you little guy?” Said a kind young nurse as she walked into the room.
“That’s funny I don’t remember asking for some dumb bimbo to come to my room, so I guess on I don’t need anything. Nurses are useless, you’re useless, get out.” Marcus barked.
However, the nurse could hear nothing but mumbles from behind Marcus’s huge metal-framed jaw cast. Poor Marcus.