The Northville Review
an online literary journal
Incorrect Assumptions are Made During Smear the Queer at St. Oliver’s Catholic Grade School

Brendan O'Brien

At recess Dan Lincoln, a.k.a. The Delinquent, knocks Leon Schwartz to the pavement. Leon’s body rolls like a deer smacked by a truck. I let out a squeak, cover my mouth and wonder if anyone heard. When Leon stops rolling his knees and elbows jut at odd angles. The Delinquent circles, grabs a sweater sleeve and tells me to hurry up and grab the other. Desperate, I do, and in impressive unison we yank up and down as Leon’s tiny shoulders – scientist shoulders – bounce off the blacktop. The Delinquent’s eyes are wide as summertime windows. Sweater threads begin to spread and split from neck to belly. Smiling, The Delinquent gives me a high five and messes my hair. When the bell sounds he summons all the goop his insides have to offer and spits into the fence. The phlegm spins and dangles, slowly dripping down paint-chipped chain link.

I wonder if, one day, The Delinquent will utilize his frame to play football or protect presidents. Or maybe he’ll live in the woods and shoot things and jerk off in a plaid couch placed in a clearing. I wonder if today’s happenings will convince poor Leon to stop bringing books to weight training, instead turning non-existent biceps into well-rounded bumps of muscle. Maybe he’ll stare at me and Dan Lincoln as he grunts and sweats and counts reps. Maybe he’ll sculpt a six pack and, years from now, sleep with artificially bronzed Midwestern girls during spring breaks to blue water. Maybe he’ll pay thirty bucks for product he can work into the tips of his hair.

Or, maybe he’ll chalk today up to inevitability. Maybe he’ll never distinguish between eyeglass frames and blue jean brands. Maybe he’ll hole himself up and live alone for fifty plus. I watch Leon hold the halves of his sweater and cover his nipples. Honesty, self-discovery and revelation are tricky. You never know which way a person will go.

About the author

Brendan O’Brien writes from Wisconsin. He realized the power of artistic expression at the age of 11 on a family vacation when his aunt, on a whim, and with no previous gangster rap experience, picked up his walkman, put on the big foam earphones and heard Naughty By Nature sing about trigger hiccups. His fiction has appeared in a variety of places including Storyglossia and Dogzplot. You can read more of his work at