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The Stabbing Game

Sean Flaherty

They switched the time of day
but every day for one year,
Monday through Friday
we had seventh grade science
with Mr. Stern,

after school,
Neil Brown and I
would tear over to Friendly’s or
Burger King
in his mom’s Camaro
and then,
hopped up on burgers and milkshakes
we’d fly
a brakeless Schwinn
down the hill in his driveway
over a jump made from an old plank and a few cinder blocks
and we’d hover over
the green downward slope of his back yard,
spinning the handlebars as many times as we could,
posing on the bike,
deliciously uncertain landings,

we had other classes together
during the day
throughout C-period
science class
we sat next to each other
as lab partners
and, when the room got quiet for a moment,
one of us would stab the other guy
as hard as we could
and, if you kept quiet when you got jabbed in the leg,
you got to stab the other guy,

we went for the thigh
since the muscles there
seemed invincible
and there was never much blood,

it hurt but,
strangely, it was a matter of suppressing laughter
at this stupid secret game
more than holding back shouts of pain,

we started with pencils
but we got a little scared
after chunks of lead
broke off in our thighs
so we switched over
to metal compasses,
using the stainless steel points instead –

we figured the punctures would be cleaner –

we never ratted each other out
and, maybe because he was smaller than us
or maybe because we did the work,
Mr. Stern seemed
of the stabbing game.


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1 thought on “The Stabbing Game

  1. Wonderful poem, Sean. A rich era before video games when we junior high juvenile delinquents would meet in burger joints, plug dimes and quarters in jukeboxes, share cigarettes in back alleys with bad girls with newly budding breasts beneath heavy sweaters…

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