Chris O'Rourke


Vast Man




Thomas was Vast Man.


I knew him in third grade because we walked the same route to school.


In fifth grade, you were granted permission to become a Safety. The Safetys were the students that would stay after a little longer than the rest of us to make sure we got home . They helped out the crossing guards. I eventually became a safety and then was removed from my post after getting caught strangling this fourth grader on his front lawn.


I loved third grade.


When I say that Thomas and I walked the same route to school, I mean that was the extent of our relationship.


The Friday before Flag Day, Thomas came to class in a neon sparkling blue jump suit. Running down the sides of the suit was a single yellow racing stripe.


It was a slow day as expected.


There wasn’t a teacher in town that could’ve gotten us to do anything else but wait for the day to end. Recess was longer than usual. In our grade, each day, we were given three.


The first recess was before lunch. This recess set the tone for the bidding wars that would take place the rest of the day, during the other recesses and classes.


After the bell rang for fourth period recess, all of the kids grabbed their sneakers and ran outside to the playground.


This playground had the usual parts: sandbox, swing set, swirly slide, and wood chips on the ground to soften our falls.


During this particular recess, Thomas started dancing in the middle of the sandbox.


We never saw him dance before this day. He danced in his jump suit with amazing fury. Sand flew in the air all around him. From a distance, it must have looked like a dirt devil was forming in the middle of the box.


The other children gathered around Thomas. After his third cartwheel in the box he began to shout, “I’m a fast man fast man I’m the fastest man fast man!”


More children gathered around the sandbox until just about all three classes became one audience. The trick, or the attraction, to the spectacle was that Thomas had grabbed some scissors before we left for recess. He usually tried for the scissors, but Ms. Fitzpatrick caught him before he could get outside with them, usually.


Thomas had cut out a section from the crotch area of his jump suit.


Whipping around with him in the sand were his exposed hairless penis and balls.


Most of the kids in the first two rows, cheering him on, were also covered in sand. Nobody left. They stayed and cheered as he announced who he was over and over again.


Kids from the back yelled, “Vast man Fastest man the Vast man Vast man is the fastest!”


A little girl grabbed one of the teachers from around the corner. She was one of the newer teachers and didn’t watch us very well. She always smoked around the corner from us because she didn’t want us to know.


After they settled us down, they went ahead and grabbed Thomas.


He didn’t return for school the rest of the day and he wasn’t around for Flag Day.


That was the last day I ever heard or saw of Thomas.


Chris O'Rourke spends his time writing about his childhood, attending Leather parties, and teaching at his favorite community colleges. He loves his dog Hal, and he will never forget him.