Paul Tanner

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dumb. goal-post dumb. 
he didn’t have a learning disability.
he wasn’t let down by the education system.
well, at least no more than the rest of us. 
no. he was just dumb. a big dumb fuck.
he farted when he walked.
he’d come farting across the school yard 
farting footsteps 
and grab you:

cum sniffer! he’d accuse. sniff your cum, you, don’t you?
or:
mum perv! perv on your mum, you, don’t you
and:
dog wanker! wank your dog off, you, don’t you? 

his chin against yours because he wanted a kiss 
and the only way he could get one
was to find an excuse to kick off on you 

and it was in maths class, or science, one of them 
and Mr Harbour had nipped out to put some Irish in his coffee 

and you don’t know what happened:
you saw the big dumb fuck 
sitting on his own there 
mouth breathing 
and you thought of all the farts 
brewing inside of him 
and it suddenly really pissed you off.
you were bored. you were so fucking bored.
bored of him and bored of school
and the two of them together? same time, same place?
nah, that was too much, mate. 
so you went over 
and you said:

YOU sniff YOUR cum. YOU perv on YOUR mum. YOU wank YOUR dog. YOU sniff
YOUR cum after wanking off YOUR dog of a mum. it’s obvious. 
that’s why you accuse everyone else of doing those things. so fuck off. fuck
the fuck 
off
and he hit you
and you went down 

and you were lying on the floor of the maths room, or the science lab, one of them
declaring: I hit a nerve! it must be true!
and you could see him standing over you
with his leg pulled back at the knee 
like he was going to kick you
but he was hesitating:

even that big dumb fuck 
had the foresight to know 
that if he started kicking you he wouldn’t be able to stop,
but then his eyes went glassy 
as he saw his whole shit life before him,
realising he was probably going to end up in prison anyway 
and his big mushy face seemed to 
relax
as he decided: fuck it 
might as well get a head-start on my shitty prison life 
by getting some revenge here and now, eh?

when Mr Harbour came back 
with his cheeks all shiny 
and yelped. 

the big dumb fuck got chucked out of school. 
or he was just suspended, and forgot to come back. who knows.
but you were looking over your back for a while.
and then 
well, shit,
you were dragged into adulthood
and he kind of faded into the back of your mind
until you forgot about him completely, like 
that nugget of data devoted to him 
just fell out of your ear one day
when you were 
sitting in the dentist’s waiting room 
or fisting someone’s grandma,
as you do. 

and you just got 
this job
bringing the deliveries in 
at the frozen food place in town,

and who’s working alongside you?

no, you think, looking out the corner of your eye
as you strip a pallet.
no. surely not. how’d I end up in the same place as him?

then he puts down a box 
and comes farting over:
his farts, matured like cheese,
slapping the warehouse walls …

you brace yourself 
for another kicking.
for the lifetime of kicking 
that he’s backed up all this time.
probably got lots of practice on his prison bitch. 

you brace yourself 

and the big dumb fuck, 
he leans over you
and he sniffs his finger 
when he asks:
cover my shift Tuesday? 
gotta walk my mum’s dog.

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