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Old 06-17-2013, 08:18 AM
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Tau (Offline)
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Default Peanut-Free by beefheart

Owen O'Connor was in the second grade at Jennings Elementary. He was a nice boy and a good student. He got straight "O's" on his report cards. ("Outstanding.") He played soccer on the recreational team and dreamed that maybe one day, when they actually assigned positions, that he might be the goalie. He got along well enough with the other kids, but there was something special about Owen that often made him feel alienated. Owen had a severe peanut allergy.

His mother, Ann, always made a big fuss of it, which embarrassed Owen. She was a chief member of the school's PTA and had never missed a meeting. Even when she had the flu she went--and coughed up her flu germs all over the facilities; the other mother's in attendance nervously Purelled their hands and managed to avoid it, but the germs went on to infect many young children at school the following day. Anyway, Owen's mother was a huge pain in the ass at the meetings and always managed to deter the conversation to herself and her sonís peanut allergy.

One thing that Owen's mother had rallied for was a peanut-free table in the school's cafeteria. That way her son would never have to worry about coming in contact with the toxic peanut oils. So a table was then designated, with a laminate sign taped to the middle that read, "Peanut-Free Table." It might as well have read, "Owen's Table," because he'd have to sit there alone. Sometimes their teacher Miss Daily would force other kids to sit with him and they obliged, begrudgingly.

Sometimes Owen wished he'd die of an allergy attack when he was made to suffer, alone on his island in the school cafeteria.

Owen's mother always volunteered when parents were asked to help out in the classroom. She was appointed to run the school's annual "Halloween Spooktacular." For weeks beforehand, Owen's mother freaked the fuck out, trying to prepare for the big event. For her, it had to be flawless. She spent many evenings on the phone coordinating details, or unpacking boxes full of plastic novelties (vampire fangs, spider rings, etc.) that had been shipped from China. Owen realized his mother was more excited about the Spooktacular than he was.

And so finally the big day arrived, Owen and his mother went to school; she dressed as a witch with her face painted green, and he as a little cowboy. Owen had initially wanted to be "Scream"--the mask with the blood-pumping mechanism, but his mother had told him, "Certainly not, it's practically Satanic and you'll scare the other children."

The event was going swell; apple-bobbing, fortune-telling, bean-bag tosses and monster mash. The whole thing was running like clockwork UNTIL Mrs. Saxx, his classmate Sam's mother, entered with a plate of cookies. Innocently enough, she placed the tray of cookies amongst the spread of baked goods and unwrapped them. Owen's mother came over to say hello (inspect)...then suddenly the witch shrieked in horror. "Are those PEANUT BUTTER chips?!" They were. "Are you KIDDING me Charlotte? You've just compromised all of the baked goods by introducing your poison cookies to the table!"

A fight broke out. The two women kept screaming and hollering at one another, then Owen's mom flipped the tray of cookies and they were all over the floor. Mr. Cox, the principle, came in and asked Mrs. O'Connor to leave.


************************************************** **********************************

Owen's mother grappled with a large wine and cheese gift basket as she made her way out the door. It was a PTA peace offering. "Do your homework, and no TV. I'll be back at 8. " She climbed into the Chevy Suburban and drove off. Owen put on his sneakers, grabbed his piggy-bank full of change and walked to the corner store.

The clerk smiled during the whole transaction, which took about five minutes as the young boy sorted through his change.

Owen got home, went to the bathroom and took off all his clothes. He climbed into the bathtub, cold and naked. He proceeded to smear peanut butter all over his sad, little body. He cried.

His skin went bright red under the brown smears of peanut butter. His eyes went red too, all full up of tears. He screamed and sobbed and made awful choking noises.

His windpipe closed at 7:57.

Mrs. O'Connor got home at 8:04.

The coroner arrived at 8:18.
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