Three best friends score tickets to the concert of their lifetime, only to have the lead singer — who battled some very well known demons — kill himself on stage directly after playing the biggest hit of their career “And We’ll Paint It.” The next twenty years of their lives recall that moment for each of the three now thirty-six year olds trying to forget, one trying to constantly remember, and one refusing to believe it happenend. This is Larry.
Larry Szysz Jr. had always been something of an anomaly in the neighborhood. Smart as Scott and quick as a firecracker with a short fuse with his wit, but never tried very hard at much of anything. Yet, there was little — if anything — that he couldn’t do and do well. He’d learned how to kick a football, and after a bit of practice, he was hitting field goals from the right hash from thirty-five yards away.
In fifth grade, Sister Beatrice pulled Larry aside and scolded him for not using his brain as God gave him a wonderful, special gift. “Lawrence,” she started before being interrupted.
“My God given name is Larry. Not Lawrence,” he said, staring a hole through her. He’d hated to be called Lawrence, since it wasn’t his name. In fact, Larry had no middle name, either. Larry Szysz. Junior.
“Lawrence,” she started again, daring an interruption with a flick of a ruler so old we’d assumed it was the first ruler. Larry began to speak, but as always, it was fruitless. “You are a smart boy. You could be a doctor. A lawyer, or a–”
“A janitor needs to be smart, too,” he retorted.
“Lawrence! You are too smart to be a janitor!” she was shouting now, and Larry stood indifferent.
“So what? Look, Sister. If I say I’m going to become a janitor, like my old man, and that’s what happens, I’m not set-up for any disappointment. What if I’m not good enough to be a doctor? What if I fail my classes and then end up as a janitor anyway? Why not just set out to be a janitor?”
“Because that’s not the way of the world, Lawrence!”
“Crack!” went the ruler across his forearm. Twice. Thankfully, over the years Sister Beatrice Mary Grace had lost something off her thwacking arm, and while it stung, Larry barely felt the ruler’s impact on his arm. Her mouth puckered in a pursed frown that we’d referred to as her Asshole Frown, due to the lines eminating outward from her mouth.
“Go see Brother Nicholas, immediately!”
Larry smiled. “And what would you like me to tell my mother’s brother, my Uncle Nick this time? The usual?”
Sister hit him twice more, this time with a bit more impact and then twice more for good measure. The sting deepened as Larry struggled to keep smiling. “Tell him that you’re incorrigible, and you deserve the Paddle!”
“Right. Will do. See you soon.”