Big Alabama and the Pearsal Bully

by James Valvis

Big Alabama barreled down Pearsal Avenue in her Led Zep jacket and Converse sneakers looking for the four punks who beat me up and when they saw her they scattered as fast as you ever saw any four bullies run, all in different directions, all screaming. So my sister went after the gang’s leader and he was supposed to be the fastest kid in all of St Paul’s but Alabama caught him like he’d spent seventy years chain-smoking and she grabbed him around the neck, and said, Apologize to my brother, you little shit.

I had just managed to catch up to them. His name was Jimmy Stovekin and Jimmy was giving me that bully-stare like we would settle this once my sister was gone but he was also giving me a pleading look that said, Please stop this girl from killing me.

And Big Alabama could see this eye-talking too so my sister slapped him in the face two times and he started crying and I felt bad for him even though he had just been making me cry and had beaten me up every day for two weeks. But I didn’t see the point in all this violence or the benefit in shaming him into an apology, so I told my sister to leave him be and she glared at me and said, You pansy ass; I ought to smack you around for being a pansy.

For a second I thought she might do just it, but instead she released his neck and walked away while I stood by Jimmy who rubbed his red throat and we watched Big Alabama strut down Pearsal like a creature returning to the Black Lagoon.

Jimmy said in a voice made raspy from choking, I wish to God she was my sister.

James Valvis is the author of How To Say Goodbye (Aortic Books, 2011). His poems or stories have appeared in journals such as Anderbo, Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Hanging Loose, LA Review, Nimrod, Rattle, River Styx, Vestal Review, and many others. His poetry has been featured in Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry website. His fiction was chosen for the 2013 Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.