Low Birth Weight

by Thomas Mundt

November 10, 2014

He came out with a chip on his shoulder. The other kids on the block said it’s because Low Birth Weight almost got stuck in his mom during delivery, and a black lady named Glynnis had to elbow-drop her in the FUPA to get things moving.

I think it’s because bad things happen to good people, and bad people, and in-between people. All people.

It’s not what Martin Luther King, Jr. had in mind when he fought for equality.

I’m not allowed to go inside his house. My dad says Low Birth Weight’s parents aren’t even parents, that it’s just his mom and a cavalcade of powder peddlers. He’s always saying stuff like that about people he doesn’t know, just because they wear denim vests. There was only the one boyfriend, Sandy, who got arrested on the front lawn for shooting off Roman Candles on Good Friday. He was just trying to get everyone excited about the empty tomb they’d find on Sunday.

Anyway, he thinks it’s risky. My dad sees Teen Mom moms in the checkout aisle at Kroger and thinks they’re all bad seeds. Low Birth Weight’s mom isn’t like that, though. She just had sex with a Lithuanian with rims on his Lexus after eighth-grade graduation and probably wasn’t super-careful about the rubber. It doesn’t mean she can’t run a household.

I go anyway. Low Birth Weight’s got Tipping Point: Sarajevo, that game where you have to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand to start World War I. Sometimes his mom comes home from her shift at the periodontist’s with Papa John’s. My dad won’t let us order from Papa John’s because Papa John’s a union-busting prick. He’s a freelance kale consultant, and I’m pretty sure they don’t even have a union because there aren’t enough freelance kale consultants in our area, so I don’t know why he gets so bent out of shape.

I’m just surprised Low Birth Weight’s mom still has an appetite after mopping up all that gum skin all day.

We started calling him Low Birth Weight after seeing that movie in sixth-grade Health, the one with all the dead actors nobody has ever heard of. I guess one of them used to be on a show called Glamourpuss, and all she did was drink and smoke long, thin cigarettes on a boat for years and years. Later in life, she had to sing through a little kazoo that she held up to her throat and didn’t sell as many records as she would’ve liked. She also had a baby named Myers that only weighed, like, fourteen ounces and had to live in a toaster-oven-looking thing for months before he could leave the hospital. A serious-looking doctor who still wore jeans said Myers had low birth weight and cried when he emptied a carton of Newports into a trash can.

When Ms. Bhatia-Rucker stopped the DVD, we all looked at Low Birth Weight. He only wore Youth Small at Hollister but his clothes still looked really baggy. We got the message.

Once he showed me a bunch of Indian arrowheads. I told Low Birth Weight it’s Native American and asked which tribe because there are a lot of tribes and it’s like calling someone white when she’s French but also different. I don’t think he heard me because he just kept sifting through this shoebox and holding all the best ones up. Low Birth Weight said you could still see blood on some of them, but I think it was just dirt. I didn’t tell him, though. He had a death story for each one. Some of them were pretty good, too, like this one about a warrior’s horse who got shot through the eye but kept running straight at the enemy with the stick dangling from his socket.

Then he stuck his hand down the front of my track pants. It was like jerking off with frozen yogurt. I made up some lie about diarrhea and got up to go to the bathroom. In the hallway, I saw Low Birth Weight’s mom in her scrubs, but I didn’t say anything.

The time with the BMX bike was weird. Me and this kid Gray who people used to call Total Graylord before he broke his stepbrother’s leg with a two-by-four in his sleep were building a launch ramp in the cul-de-sac, and Low Birth Weight kept asking if he could take his piece-of-shit Huffy off it when it was done. I didn’t care, but Gray told him to go suck his dad’s dick if he could even find his dad in Russia or wherever the fuck he’s from, but said you could probably find him by Googling Russia Or Wherever The Fuck He’s From + AIDS.

The thing I remember most about what happened next was Low Birth Weight’s Nikes. They were the kind of Nikes you could get at Payless because they weren’t LeBrons, and one of them was stepping on Gray’s neck and pushing his face into the pavement. I guess when Gray was hunched over the plywood, Low Birth Weight bashed his head with the pole that the seat’s supposed to go on but Low Birth Weight’s mom could never afford the seat. Also, I remember that Gray’s blood was brown and wondered if that was because he was poor.

I expected Low Birth Weight to book, but he just kept trying to bunnyhop a couple of stacked-up bricks. My dad said I didn’t need a phone yet, so I had to walk all the way home to call Gray’s mom.

Last I heard Low Birth Weight was in juvie in Arizona. His mom met an old guy on eHarmony who made a ton of money selling concrete barriers to Iraq. He had a dude ranch in the desert, and before his incarceration Low Birth Weight could behead lizards and set off M-80s in eagles’ asses out there and no one could say a word.

I look for him on Facebook sometimes. There are tons of James Herkimers in the American Southwest but only one Low Birth Weight. It’s not him. It’s just some stupid band with fifty-seven Likes whose only concert was at a sandwich shop.


Thomas Mundt is the author of the short story collection You Have Until Noon To Unlock The Secrets Of The Universe (Lady Lazarus Press, 2011).  A not-so-secret admirer of Presidential Physical Fitness Award winners past and present, he lives in Chicago.  Additional teambuilding exercises and risk management advice can be found at: