The Railroad Yard

Repost from old blog, 2/18/2008At age ten I encounter my first porno magazine. I’ve been riding bikes with John M—, a fellow paperboy. He’s a year younger than me, kind of a runt. He’s not really a friend.

“Didja ever see a Playboy?” he asks, and I say no. We bike to the railroad yard, to a section of abandoned track. John leads me around a rusty coal car. There in the tall weeds is a pile of tar paper.

“My brother and his friends found them,” he says as he lifts the tar paper piece by piece. Color appears. There’s a Playboy, a Penthouse, and several other magazines. The Playboy has photos of a television actress I recognize. She holds a newspaper over her breasts, her pubic bush standing out like a black shock from her white thighs. I watch John leaf through them. He makes detached comments, pointing things out to me. He picks up a Penthouse Forum, says “This one’s just filled with nakedness.”

When he’s done he covers them back up with the thick, black tar paper.

I go straight home. My dad brought home a pumpkin, and he and my sister hover over the kitchen table, getting ready to carve it. He’d been wondering where I was. Did I want to help them carve it?

As I take off my shoes I notice that my socks are covered in black burrs that I picked up in the tall grass of the railroad yard. They are dark and menacing, insect-like, with twin prongs that attach themselves to the fabric. I pick them off one by one, the guilt setting in my stomach, sickly and dense.

A few days later I run into some boys – two are from my class, the other is an older boy from around the neighborhood. I want to impress them, so I take them to the magazines in the railroad yard. I watch them look through the magazines.

Before we leave they hide a couple of the magazines under the freight car, so John M—‘s brother won’t be able to find them. They take the rest with them, and we head on our bikes toward one of their houses. In the backyard they put the magazines in a bin and set them on fire. While I watch they take turns peeing on the fire and on the magazines.