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04 December 2016 @ 12:49 am
LJ Idol Season Ten: "Against All Better Judgment"  
Against All Better Judgment
idol season ten | week two | 681 words
That One friend

x-x-x-x-x

Even back when we were young, Larry McGill was always the kid who had no sense. You know the type: "Look, Ma—no hands!" or "Betcha I can." You found yourself saying things to him like, "Get down from there!" or "Geez, Larry, are those leeches?" He ran with scissors, he played with matches, and if you spent too much time with him, he'd get you in trouble, too.

He never meant any of it, but hell if he ever learned anything either. He was a bad-luck magnet in bib overalls and second-hand cowboy boots, and when things went wrong, well… best not to stand too close.

Larry wasn't the kid who fell down the well (that was Johnny Hayes), but he could have been. He nearly lost a finger to a lawnmower at age four, and he broke his leg jumping from a tire swing into the creek one year when the water was low. He lost a pickup to that same creek a decade later because he forgot to put the handbrake on. All the shelves that fell off the walls at the dry goods store that one time? That was Larry. He had to work for over a year to pay that off. The turkeys that escaped the farm over in Waterton and ran down the main street through town? Folks were pretty sure Larry was visiting nearby that day.

I owed the scar over my left eye to him and his refusal to yield to the concept of "dibs," even when flatware was involved.

The funny thing was that Larry always did pretty well in school. He wasn't a genius or anything, but he wasn't exactly stupid, either. Well, not when it came to book learning. Now, me—I could butcher a math test with the best of them, but I knew better than to knock down a hornet's nest or run barefoot through a junkyard. So what the heck was Larry's problem?

"You are not to lend that boy your bicycle, do you hear?" Ma would say. Larry's own bike was destroyed when he parked it at the bottom of someone's driveway—though to be fair, he was eight at the time. Still, you'd think he would've known better. Clear up through middle school, he would accidentally lock himself in a closet at least once a month, and he seemed to lose his shoes more often than most kids.

Sure, there were other kids who did things like that. Bobby Lidell set his own garage on fire by leaving a soldering iron plugged in, and Hannah Tate flooded the upstairs bathroom at her house when she forgot she'd started water running to fill the bathtub. Nathan Herbert got some notion to tease a bull at a farm where the fence was coming apart, and found how just how fast an angry two-ton animal can run.

But with Larry, it was like all those dumbass things were happening to the same person.

Most of us honestly wondered if he'd survive childhood. You'd think one of those mistakes would probably get him killed someday, wouldn't you? He made it to graduation, though, and got a job at a mechanic's in the city. That was a huge opportunity for disaster, so when we didn't hear anything from him after a while, we figured the worst had happened.

Then, just last week, I ran across his cousin at the Piggly Wiggly. She said Larry wasn't dead after all, though maybe he wished he was.

Now, if you had Larry's bad luck—heck, it wasn't bad luck as much as reckless stupidity—would you even think about going into a life of crime? Larry did, I guess, and he wound up in prison doing ten years for a robbery.

He should have seen it coming, but he didn't, and it was just like every other stupid mistake he made. Some people leave fingerprints at a crime, or get spotted by a witness.

Larry dropped his wallet—with his driver's license—right next to the china cabinet he'd stolen the silverware from.


-- fin --



If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

 
 
Murielle: Scrunchedmurielle on December 4th, 2016 09:29 am (UTC)
I love it! Poor Larry! This is really good. I enjoyed every word. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 5th, 2016 08:14 am (UTC)
Thank you, Murielle! Oh, can you imagine having a friend like this? You'd be smacking yourself in the head in disbelief over and over again, with every new piece of, "You're kidding. Why would you do that?!?"
rayasorayaso on December 4th, 2016 03:24 pm (UTC)
I love this so much! You can do wonderful things with so few (681 - really?) words, creating a whole world full of characters. The examples of Larry's "bad luck" were great, as were the examples of other people's carelessness. You have a fantastic talent for getting the tone of a story just right, and your ability to capture a place & time are fantastic!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 5th, 2016 07:51 pm (UTC)
You are too kind! I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I love 'dense humor.' Wait, that came out wrong...
(no subject) - rayaso on December 5th, 2016 07:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
adoptedwriter: pic#102963215adoptedwriter on December 4th, 2016 03:37 pm (UTC)

Haha! Great story!

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 5th, 2016 07:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatrebleodswean on December 4th, 2016 04:12 pm (UTC)
Hahaha!! Your cast of characters never fail to delight, K! Larry!!! Funniest line EVAH - You found yourself saying things to him like, "Get down from there!" or "Geez, Larry, are those leeches?"

Definitely that one friend!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 5th, 2016 07:54 pm (UTC)
Leeches! How horrifying, and yet you know there are people out there who go through that kind of thing all the time. Why not just go into any body of water without knowing something about it first.

"I'll just jump in here and... Ow! What the? Is that a CAR? I think I just slashed my foot on part of a rusted fender. Oh, man..."
Elеnakehlen_crow on December 4th, 2016 04:28 pm (UTC)
I cannot quite believe this is fiction :). Reads like a real person you knew. I had me cringing throughout, as well.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 5th, 2016 07:55 pm (UTC)
Hahaha! Thank you. I've never known anyone quite this bad, but I did have a roommate once who trashed some of my possessions because of a similar lack of sense. :O
cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on December 4th, 2016 05:32 pm (UTC)
the narrator's voice is fantastic</a>. it sounds really good read out loud. the little glimpses of the narrator's world are fabulous, and i love that there really was a kid who fell down the well, and that he very mattter-of-factly gets a name ("that was johnny hayes").
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 5th, 2016 07:56 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked that-- I wanted to make it seem as if the narrator was relating a story about an old friend, and it sounds as if it came off that way to you.

Hey, if you lived in a small town and someone fell down a well? EVERYONE would know that kid's name. He would never outlive it. :O
Direst Ryl: Amber Roseryl on December 5th, 2016 10:38 pm (UTC)
And that was how Larry ended up on every "Dumb Criminal" website the world over. Hilarious!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 5th, 2016 10:54 pm (UTC)
You know those guys had to start somewhere! You don't develop that level of talent for stupidity overnight. ;)
dmousey: pic#125576541dmousey on December 6th, 2016 12:10 am (UTC)
Poor Larry. And I bet he didn't realize he was not a 'lucky duck' as my Pop used to say. I loved the country bumpkin feel to this also. Hugs and peace~~~D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 6th, 2016 04:20 am (UTC)
I think one of the reasons people like that don't learn from their mistakes is that they don't seem to connect the dots back to something they did-- whether it was "leaped before they looked" or even, "Seriously, how did you not set the handbrake on that thing?" It's as if these are random bad things!

In which case, the next bad thing will also seem random to them. ;)
Jenmy_name_is_jenn on December 6th, 2016 01:23 am (UTC)
Some people really just never learn.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 6th, 2016 04:22 am (UTC)
I have seen up close what it's like when people are book-smart but honestly lack common sense, and even knowing that it's possible, I'm still kind of mystified as to how. How do they not see the foreseeable outcome of what they're doing? And yet... they don't. Not even when it happens again and again and again. :O
alphaloriaalphaloria on December 6th, 2016 02:52 am (UTC)
This is hilarious! Well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 6th, 2016 04:22 am (UTC)
Hahaha-- your icon mouse is like a poster-rodent for this story. :D

Glad you liked it!
(no subject) - alphaloria on December 7th, 2016 03:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
kbr_shortskbr_shorts on December 6th, 2016 12:55 pm (UTC)
That's excellent, it made me smile repeatedly! Oh Larry. We all know one.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 6th, 2016 06:42 pm (UTC)
Responding to comments on this story made me remember more about one of my college roommates (who was less Larry-esque, but still). She spent probably two months getting up every morning and tripping over the space heater she'd left in the path to the doorway, and finally I got tired of being awoken by

*bang* "Damnit!"

every morning, and snapped. "After this long, why haven't you either moved that heater before you go to bed or figured out every morning that it's still there?!?"

I still have the antique Victrola cabinet she ruined by leaving a bottle of Tilex lying down on top of it. Because you know, spray bottles are not leak-proof!

Ah, memories. ;)
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on December 6th, 2016 07:04 pm (UTC)
Oh Larry. A very fun, amusing description of Larry's antics. And that ending is absolutely guffawing hilarious!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 6th, 2016 07:27 pm (UTC)
You read about criminals who do stupid-- really stupid-- things, but I have a sense those moments were not their first "mental lapses."

We had someone break open our mail, steal paid bills, and then try to change the payee to himself and up the amount. Which you think would have been enough to catch him already, but... he had an account at the same bank chain we did, and tried to pull this off at one of the branches. D'OH! Lucky for us...
unmowngrassunmowngrass on December 6th, 2016 08:02 pm (UTC)
I like this. Poor old Larry McGill.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 6th, 2016 10:49 pm (UTC)
What a hopelessly hapless individual.

Once you really meet someone who lacks common sense, it becomes all the more sadly apparent that it really can't be taught. It's almost as if it "bounces" right off. :O
A Karmic Sandbox: Candid Teasekarmasoup on December 6th, 2016 10:45 pm (UTC)
Now there's a candidate for America's Dumbest Criminals!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 6th, 2016 10:50 pm (UTC)
I love those stories! Why not wear your work shirt and ID to rob a bank? Or steal credit cards and order stuff to be delivered to your house? :D
kristalsawesomekristalsawesome on December 7th, 2016 07:02 am (UTC)
That was great - loved the ending!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 7th, 2016 08:09 am (UTC)
Thank you-- glad you enjoyed it!
Teo Sayseternal_ot on December 7th, 2016 07:08 am (UTC)
Hahaha! This was Hilarious. I loved the tone and the set up of this piece. The details are really well done. Good Job! Kudos!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 7th, 2016 08:11 am (UTC)
So much of this kind of humor is about the details to me. Coming up with Larry's various misadventures was a lot of fun, and you just know that his friends are thinking, "What, AGAIN?" for a lot of what befalls him while Larry is just thinking, "Wait, how did THAT happen?"
mamas_minion: Special Minionmamas_minion on December 7th, 2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
I found myself laughing at Larry and his predicaments. It stinks that he wound up in jail. I was able to picture the small town you were talking about through your words, you have a way of transporting your reader inot the story world which is a rare gift. Bravo!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 8th, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you got a sense of the location, given Larry's clothes and the hints of dialect and what-all problems Larry and other kids got themselves into.

It's so much better to have a Larry to tell stories about than to BE Larry. But people like him do exist. Some of them appear in the yearly Darwin Awards entries, others are luckier. :)
uselesstinrelicuselesstinrelic on December 8th, 2016 04:21 am (UTC)
This was hands-down an amazing fun read. Light and enjoyable like candy, but fully fleshed out and totally believable. It read like a perfectly formed slice out of a real world. Good stuff and confidently written.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 8th, 2016 07:27 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad it was fun and both easy to read and substantial at the same time. Your comments were a delight!
Raised by Wolvessinnamongirl on December 8th, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC)
Aw, I feel sorta bad for Larry. Good story, I really do know 1 or 2 people like that :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 8th, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
I've known a couple who have some things in common with Larry. It's a shame you can't really teach them to make better choices-- by and large, it just doesn't permeate. :O

Thanks for reading!
bewizebewize on December 8th, 2016 03:30 pm (UTC)
This was really cute and amusing. I didn't see the end coming, either.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 8th, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
m_malcontent: Marvinm_malcontent on December 8th, 2016 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah I could never do crime I screw up the mundane so badly, and I am too pretty to do well in prison.

Your writing is fabulous as always.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 8th, 2016 08:37 pm (UTC)
Screwing up the mundane is like making arithmetic errors on a calculus test--the type of wrong may be small, but the final result is still "no." :(

Well, better to be on the outside, so it's good you know better. :)
devilz_workshopdevilz_workshop on December 8th, 2016 07:49 pm (UTC)
This was so funny. Very well written.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 8th, 2016 08:37 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading. ;)
Ink Wellpenpusher on December 8th, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
Ha! Really terrific, and my favorite line was "I ran across his cousin at the Piggly Wiggly."
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 8th, 2016 08:38 pm (UTC)
Of course these characters would be in a Piggly Wiggly zone, though that covers a lot of states. But bib overalls and cowboy boots would not be out of place in those states, either. :D
Hillaryxlovebecomesher on December 8th, 2016 11:17 pm (UTC)
Love this! Poor Larry!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2016 12:12 am (UTC)
He puts the 'feck' in feckless!

Thanks for reading. :)
alycewilsonalycewilson on December 9th, 2016 03:40 am (UTC)
Very well written and a lot of fun! Not quite so comical, but I have known people who seem to constantly be messing up. This story just takes it to the extreme. Loved it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2016 06:58 am (UTC)
Thank you so much!

I've known disaster-prone people, but they weren't anything close to being this bad. But yes-- it's much funnier if the idea "goes up to 11." :)