The end of the world? Somewhere, always, there is a person whose world is ending.
Grant Blume was only twelve years old. The girl of his apocalypse was Cherry Blaise. She was fourteen years old. They were neighbors.
Grant Blume was at that age where he had deduced that all adults were phonies and lied to each other and that he was never going to be like that.
One Summer Monday Grant was working in Cherry’s backyard for her step-father, Mr. Geftakys, who Grant would continue to assume was Cherry’s father, until a few hours later. Mr. Robert Geftakys was the Youth Pastor at the church which Grant’s family attended, The House of Praise.
At Bible Study that Sunday, the day before, Mr. Geftakys had said to Grant, “Grant, God has moved me to ask you for your help. And I’ll compensate you generously to help me dig the little trenches for my new automatic sprinkler.”
Grant didn’t ask how much, thinking of the comic books he would buy, and he had said enthusiastically, “Sure.”
Mr. Geftakys had asked, “Tomorrow?”
Grant had answered, “OK, Mr. Geftakys.”
Mr. Geftakys had said, “Early. It will get hot tomorrow.”
Grant had acquiesced, “OK, Mr. Geftakys.”
Mr. Geftakys had said in closure, “Praise God. Always.”
Grant had shrugged, “Praise God, Mr. Geftakys.”
And so that next day Grant was digging the shallow trenches, following the lines of twine that Mr. Geftakys had laid out back and forth across the backyard and had secured looking like a big spider’s web.
It was truly a hot day and Grant had already removed his shirt. His body was unusually lean and muscular for a twelve year old boy who liked science and art. Grant’s older brother played football and while he was away at college and Grant would use his brother’s training weights because he idolized his big brother.
Cherry walked out onto the patio and said, “Shit.”
Grant turned around and saw Cherry in her bikini and sunglasses and holding an iPad and Grant said, “Oh, hi, what’s wrong?”
Cherry Blaise was only fourteen but she already had a healthy female body. She had the relative proportions of a girl twenty years old but she still had a wide-eyed innocent face, without the sunglasses, despite the tiny silver nose-stud.
Cherry said, “I was going to sunbathe,” and then she vented her disappointment at Grant, saying, “But now you’re here, of course.”
Grant felt guilty for some reason and he said, “Sorry. I’m digging as fast as I can. You can sit near where I’ve already dug,” and Grant pointed behind himself.
Cherry made a sour face and said, “No thanks. You scared-up all the bugs.”
Cherry answered, “They are making me take online summer school to improve my grades. I have to research the Yanomamo, the indian-dijness tribe of the Amazon rain forest.”
Grant said without thinking, “Indigenous.”
Cherry looked at Grant over the top of her sunglasses and asked coldly, “Oh, really?” and then she smiled and slid her sunglasses back up her nose and said, “I’m an idiot.
Grant withered and pleaded, “No, no you are not. I just happened to read about them before, that’s all.”
Cherry looked over her sunglasses again and asked coldly, “Just happened? Did you fall on a book?” and then she smiled and slid her sunglasses back up her nose and said, “Maybe you could read my essay for me.”
Grant felt a wave of gratitude and he thought to himself involuntarily ‘praise God’ and that amused him while he said to Cherry, “Sure. No problem.”
Cherry nodded once in satisfaction and said, “Now we both dig,” and she turned and went back indoors.
Grant went back to digging, pushing his narrow shovel into the trench with new-found satisfaction. He paced himself by remembering and silently rehearsing for Cherry all that he would say about the Yanomamo. When he got too hot and sweaty he would spray his face and torso with the garden hose.
Just before noon Grant was finished.
Mr. Geftakys said, “Well, Grant, terrific, you have earned your reward. Come and sit down with us for lunch.”
Mrs. Geftakys and Cherry had set the patio table.
Grant hosed himself off a final time and Cherry brought him a towel and she said, “Rub one off,” but Grant did not get the joke.
Grant tried to join the cryptic joke and he said lamely, “Thanks for the rubber,” and Cherry surprised him with a big laugh and Grant did not know why but he silently praised God.
Mr. Geftakys and Cherry and Grant sat around the metal patio table while Mrs. Geftakys brought out three paper plates with skirt steaks on them and set one in front of each of them.
Mr. Geftakys leaned toward Grant and asked, “Do you know how expensive these steaks are?”
Grant did not know and he would have preferred a hamburger but he replied, “No, sir, Mr. Geftakys.”
Mr. Geftakys sat back and nodded and said significantly, “Wehhhllll… But you have truly earned it, Grant, and I thank you.”
Mrs. Geftakys said, “I’ll get the potato chips,” and went back into the house.
Grant felt a nervous buzz in his gut. He looked up at Cherry and she was staring at him and she raised an eyebrow and he thought she shook her head slightly. It was a look of pity.
Grant suddenly knew that his “compensation” was to be this lunch. He felt like he was in a vise. He was too intimidated by the adult, the Youth Pastor, Mr. Geftakys, and too fearful of what his parents would say if he told Mr. Geftakys to go fuck himself, out loud.
Grant ate the lunch while looking down at his plate the whole time, answering any of Mr. Geftakys’s insincere inquiries with a grunt as if his mouth was full of that phony “generous compensation”. The cheap steak and greasy potato chips made his inchoate angry nausea even worse.
He said thank you and goodbye to Mrs. Geftakys and to Cherry.
Mr. Geftakys said, “Thanks again for the good job. Praise God always.”
Grant grimaced and fumed homeward next door, thinking, “What a lying asshole.”
Grant went to his room. He looked at the surfing posters on his wall. One showed a surfer riding an enormous wave on Oahu’s North Shore. On the poster Grant had scrawled the quote from his brother “No Guts No Glory”.
Grant immersed himself in the diorama he was constructing. In a box he was depicting a Patrol Torpedo Boat, a PT-Boat, from World War Two, in the Philippines fighting the Japanese. In the diorama his plastic model assembly of the PT-Boat that he had painted with meticulous realism was set upon a blue velvet piece of cloth that he had rumpled and glued representing the ocean. He was gluing tufts of cotton on the blue cloth for the wake of the speeding PT-Boat and for the splashes of enemy bullets hitting the water. He glued tufts of cotton on the PT-Boat machine guns to depict them shooting back at his plastic model assembly of a Japanese Zero fighter plane suspended in a corner of the diorama box.
Grant had vanished into his work making occasional gunfire sounds, “Phew, phew, kprrr,” and the afternoon vanished with him.
He was shot out of his reveries by a rat-a-tatting on his window. It was evening already. Tapping on his window was Cherry wearing short pants and a blouse and holding her iPad. She motioned for Grant to open the window.
Grant opened the window and was saying, “What…,” and Cherry climbed into his room.
Cherry said, “I thought you could help me study.”
Grant said, “I don’t really feel like…” but he was observing that against her blouse her nipples pressed.
Cherry asked, “Hey, what were you working on. It looks cool.”
Grant’s annoyance was replaced quickly by pride, “Oh, it’s a diorama.”
Cherry giggled, “A diarrhea?”
Cherry quickly said, “Come on, I’m joking, it is very cool. Like something in a museum.”
Grant was mollified but he said, “Cherry, I don’t really feel like…”
Cherry was ready and she said, “Rob is an asshole.”
Grant might have agreed but he was shocked and he asked, “How can you talk about your father like that?”
Cherry made a sour face and replied, “He’s not my father. He’s my step-father. My name is still Cherry Blaise, not Cherry, ugh, Geftakys.”
Grant asked, “You don’t like him?”
Cherry replied, “Like, noooo. My mom married him.”
Grant asked, “Why?”
Cherry replied, “Because my mom can’t hold a job and because Rob likes blow-jobs.”
Grant did not know what a blow-job was. He quickly deduced that a blow-job must be something that you had done to your car, like a paint-job.
Cherry looked at Grant and asked, “You know what a blow-job is, right?”
Grant said, “Oh, sure,” and then he wondered why he needed to lie to Cherry, “But my dad has it done at Leo’s Garage.”
Cherry laughed loudly and then quickly she caught her laugh in her hands and she said to a mortified Grant, “It is something a woman does to a man. I’ve seen them. My mom is on her knees between his hairy legs and Rob is sitting on the bed and he makes sounds like she is hurting him and then he grabs her hair and he yells at her ‘I’m coming, I’m coming’.
Grant was distressed trying to compute those images.
Cherry said, “And then afterward that asshole tells my mom that it is good for her and that it makes her hair shiny.”
Grant said, “I don’t think you should be telling me this.”
Cherry continued, “My boyfriend says he likes blow-jobs.”
Grant felt a pang and he asked Cherry, boldly, “Do you two do blow-jobs?”
Cherry was silent and then she admitted, “Well, no. But he wants to.”
Grant asked, piously, “Isn’t that sex?”
Cherry laughed and Grant felt the sting of her condescension, “Oh, Grant, no, that is not sex. I’m not ready for that.”
Grant said, as a way to escape the conversation, “We should look at your report.”
Grant sat on the bed and Cherry handed him her iPad with the draft of her report in it. Grant read it quickly. It was a crazy-quilt of copy-and-pasted passages from internet sites, with no attempt to blend them into a progressive essay.
Grant said to Cherry, “It’s… all here, but let me make a few changes, ok?”
Cherry, who was looking around the room, said, “That’s why I’m here.”
About half an hour later, Grant showed his rewrite of the essay to Cherry. Cherry held the iPad and read. Grant watched her lips moving. Her lips had pink lipstick. Grant looked at her eyes following the train of sentences. She had eyeliner and really green eyes.
Cherry finally looked up at Grant and said, “Wow. This is an ‘A’ for sure.”
A thought occurred to Grant and he asked, “Do you get ‘A’s’?”
Cherry gave a wry grin and answered, “No. Mostly ‘C’s’.”
Grant took the iPad from her and said, “Maybe I’d better make it a ‘B-minus’ report.”
Cherry laughed and said, “Oh, sure. Thanks.”
Grant said, apologetically, “Well, you know…”
Grant thought about the way Cherry spoke and he gave the report more of her voice. When he was done editing he showed it to Cherry.
Cherry said, “Wow. This sounds like me. If I was smart.”
Grant found himself having to lie again and he said, “Cherry, I think you’re smart. Writing is just hard, that’s all.”
Cherry studied him and thought for a moment and then she said, “Grant, I think you’re kind of cute, for a smart guy,” and she giggled.
Grant didn’t know what to think.
As if sensing Grant’s off-balance emotions Cherry suddenly leaned close to Grant’s face and whispered, “You want to study together some more? I’ll take off my shirt if you take off yours.”
Grant was stunned, “What?!” but he found himself smiling.
Cherry stood up and unbuttoned her blouse and dropped it.
Grant was paralyzed.
Then Cherry pulled down her short pants and stood there facing Grant with her hands on her hips.
Grant blink, blink, blink-blink, blinked.
There was nothing else that Grant could do. He shed his clothes in a trance.
Cherry took a step towards him and Grant took a step back against the bed. Cherry pushed him and he sat down. Grant saw her kneel before him and then she took him into her mouth. Cherry began to make ‘yummy’ sounds.
Grant thought his face would split from grinning. Oh, it tickled so wonderfully. This was so naughty, so nasty! Grant swelled like a wave on the North Shore of Oahu. His head went back and he glanced over Cherry’s head to the surfing poster of the surfer shooting down that long green tube. ‘No Guts No Glory’. Grant felt elated. He finally was breaking all the rules. He couldn’t wait to tell his friends Phil and Travis. Then he realized that they would want some too. Grant didn’t like that so he shook it out of his mind.
Grant, feeling almost dizzy, looked down at the top of Cherry’s head. Sounds were going to come out of his throat and he tried to shape them, saying, “You have pretty hair, hair, uh, pretty…”
Grant felt Cherry’s fingertips caress his balls and he jerked involuntarily, “Oh!”
Cherry stood up and said matter-of-factly, “I get it now.”
Cherry gathered her blouse and shorts and pulled them on and Grant just sat there naked watching her with his tail wagging.
Cherry grabbed her iPad and climbed out the window. She turned and as she was lowering the window she said to Grant, “Maybe we can study together again sometime.”
Grant said, “I would like that.”
Only part of this story is based upon actual experience.
I never did have a chance to dig a trench for a lawn sprinkler.
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