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Michael A. Nielsen
has a fat kid in it. You know, the kid that walks
the halls aimlessly at lunch break. He sits in the
back of the classroom and doesn’t talk much, and
everyone wonders why he isn’t on the football team.
Well, our fat kid’s name was Billy, but we called
Sluggo used to wear the same pants every day. We
would joke and say it was because there wasn’t
enough material in the world to make a second pair
his size. We used to watch him eat at lunch time in
the cafeteria and make pig noises when he was
wolfing down his ham and cheese.
Sluggo was on the stage-crew. He used to pull the
rope that would open the curtains to the stage.
Benji Thomas said he volunteered for the job so he
could be closer to the cheerleaders when they were
on stage for pep rally’s. I guess the guy was
somewhat human after all.
Well the reason I am telling you about Sluggo is
because I want to share with you one of the most
incredible experiences I have ever had.
When I was in tenth grade, my friends took it upon
themselves to nominate me for class secretary. Not
a very glamorous position to say the least, in
fact, as time would tell, I made less of a name for
myself by being the class secretary as I probably
would just being the average Joe.
Anyway, as part of the voting process, an assembly
was held, in which each of the students nominated
for different positions would get up and give
reasons why they should win. In my case, I was the
only one nominated for the secretary position.
I remember when it was almost time for me to walk
out on the stage. The assembly hall was packed with
kids, each happy to be missing class and not caring
why. The spotlights beat down on the stage, almost
blinding you from the crowd. I decided I would use
that to my advantage. I was eighth to go, after the
nominees for president and vice president.
Six of them had already spoken, Jenny Hanks was out
there now. From where I stood I could see her
shaking slightly as she tried to blurt out some
bull crap about having more peanut butter fingers
at lunch and other such nonsense. I looked across
the stage at Sluggo. He was intent on Jenny, eating
up every lie she voiced. Just when I thought he was
going to yell out "I Believe!" his face went blank
and he turned and looked at me. I had never looked
directly into his face and to tell you the truth,
it scared me. I stared back.
He looked me up and down, as if he were measuring
to see if he could swallow me whole. I guess when
he figured he couldn’t, a huge frown spread across
his lips. I looked over my shoulder to see if
anyone else was there. Was he looking at me?
Next thing I know, he starts mouthing something to
me. I wasn’t totally paying attention, so I
motioned for him to repeat it. He began again. ‘Do
you think I am fat?’
I couldn’t believe he had just asked that. Did I
hear him correctly? Not knowing what to reply, I
just shrugged and quickly averted my eyes back to
Jenny. In just that brief amount of time, she had
worked what seemed like a spell over the crowd.
They were hootin’ and hollerin’ over everything she
said. It was incredible stuff she was saying too.
Stuff like, I will fight for more holidays, no hall
passes, and math classes will not be required. I
almost shouted my approval.
Well, just then, this hand totally falls on my
shoulder and I turn to find Sluggo standing right
behind me. I glanced over my shoulder just to
confirm that he was really there, and not still
standing on the other side of the stage.
"Listen." he said. "If you let me go out on stage
and represent you, I guarantee that you will win."
He had this total serious look on his face, like he
was the hero in some big time drama production.
"Uh, Slu.... Billy." As I looked into his eyes, I
realized that he had no clue I was the only
candidate and for a brief moment I wondered what he
would do on stage. I milled the idea around in my
head and surprised both Sluggo and myself when I
smiled, "Sure thing Bill, what do you need for me
We had probably two minutes until the end of
Jenny’s time limit, and the way she was still going
I figured she would use every last second. I
watched Sluggo as he ran about backstage, pushing
buttons and talking to someone up in the control
box. He gave me this little piece of paper that had
a few words scribbled on it. It was as if he had
planned on doing this his whole life and was just
waiting for some dumb bloke to agree.
Jenny was finishing up and the crowd began to
cheer, I wondered if it was for the speech or her
miniskirt. She picked up her notes and walked over
to take a seat near the rest of the soon to be
presidency. Vice Principle Blackman grabbed the
microphone and spoke the dreaded words.
"We will now hear from Slate Walker, candidate for
tenth grade secretary. Slate?"
I broke the curtain and began to walk to the
podium. The lights took me a little off guard, I
hadn’t been on stage all that often. I tested the
mic with my index finger and looked out at the
audience. From the left side I heard most of my
close friends yelling out idiotic phrases and
several coughs that sounded like ‘bulls**t’. It
seemed like I already had their attention, little
did they know what would follow next. I lifted up
the crumpled paper that Sluggo had given me and
"I figure all I need is one vote to win this
election, so does it really matter what I do up
here?" I paused for a second to find if I really
had the guts to do this.
Somebody shouted, "Take it off, Slate!"
"Well, I have something better than that planned.
Without further adieu....." I stepped back from the
pulpit to the side of the stage, just as the lights
began to dim.
People started to scream and laugh and then
suddenly a hush fell over the crowd as music began
to pump from the speakers. I wondered what the heck
I had got myself into. A spotlight suddenly beamed
on the curtains, bright blue, almost sickening, and
then he came out and my jaw dropped.
The crowd was astonished, I could actually hear
them gasping for breath, they all sat staring at
almost all of Sluggo’s three hundred pound body and
I mean almost all. He had removed all his clothing
save a purple and green speedo, and it looked as if
he had rubbed baby oil all over his skin. His fat
gut hung out what seemed like twelve inches and it
was all slippery and white with big black hairs
glistening in the light, and when he shook, a bowl
full of jelly actually came to mind. He waddled to
the edge of the stage, moving in time with the
beat, my eyes began to fill with tears and I had a
sudden pain in my chest. The crowd was stunned,
their eyes watching Sluggo’s every move. He stopped
very abruptly and opening that enormous mouth, he
commenced to let out a yell. Not all at once, but a
grumble that steadily increased until it shook the
assembly hall. A yell that contained within it
years of defiance, fifteen years of being called a
fat kid, fifteen years of huddling in the corners,
not daring to make a sound, and then he stopped.
The room was washed in silence. I began to choke.
And then he did something that will go down in
Judgefield High School history. In one graceful
move he raised both hands into the air and rising
on his toes he began to pirouette.
three hundred pound kid dancing ballet, his body
all greased up and...... fat. He did one spin, then
two, then three, his movement so fluid and in a way
beautiful. And we all watched as if in a dream, a
fantastic, hilarious, wet dream. And then, as
quickly as he had started, he stopped and standing
still, peered out into the crowd. I held my breath,
the music stopped, the spotlight burned.
For a couple of moments, the audience seemed like
the undead, not a word fell from their lips, and
their big white eyes stared with pupils that wanted
to burst. Then, on the fourth row, Jesse Hamil just
stands up. He glared up at Sluggo and then turned
to cast his gaze over the rest of the students. For
what seemed hours, he held their attention, until
raising his hands, he began to clap. A sea-full of
emotion swept over the crowd. It was infectious,
and I found myself catapulted into the frenzy as a
roar burst from my throat. We were all on our feet,
clapping and cheering and chanting Billy, Billy,
Billy, over and over again. I turned to look at
Bill as he stood bathed in blue light and a lump
formed in my throat as I saw the tears begin to
stream from his eyes. He brought both hands up,
clenched in fists before him and let out this yell
of triumph, his body shaking like a football player
after a monster run. And then, every last one of us
in that room witnessed something we had never seen
before in our lives. Bill smiled.
I like to think it was because of Billy Hatch that
I won the election in such a landslide. I often
talk to him about that assembly, his assembly. He
laughs a lot and tells me that he should have run
for president. I’ve never told him that his name
was written in on at least two hundred of the
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