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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Unhappy Life of Johnny Zapfinger, the Boy Who Could Shoot Lightning from His Finger

by Ralph Gamelli


At School

Bully: Hey, Johnny, what’s it like to be a freak?

Johnny: Leave me alone.

Johnny is shoved against a locker.

Bully: Why don’t you make me, freak boy?

Johnny points his finger at him menacingly.

Johnny: I mean it. Leave me alone or else.

Bully: Or else what? You’ll use your lightning finger to fry me to a crisp? Or maybe you’ll just give me a quick zap and teach me a lesson in humility that’ll forever change my perspective on the narrow definition of what it means to be normal, and which will positively affect the way I’ll interact with people from this day forward?

Johnny: Leave me alone or I’ll tell the hall monitor.

A hefty schoolbook comes down hard on Johnny’s head, knocking him out cold.

On The Playground

Johnny: Hi, guys. Mind if I play baseball with you?

Kid: We’ve only got one ball, Johnny. What if you accidentally burn it with your lightning finger?

Johnny: I have perfect control over my power. I’ve never had an accident. And I can throw better than all of you.

Johnny grabs the ball from him and throws it from home plate all the way to deep center field, where it smacks loudly into the glove of the outfielder.

Kid: Wow! What a throw! Unfortunately, you’re still a freak.

All of the players walk off the diamond, refusing to play until Johnny goes away.

Johnny: But this isn’t fair!

He points his finger menacingly at the group of players.

Kid: What are you going to do? Take revenge on us for refusing to let the best player here into the game? Are you going to kill us all where we stand? Or maybe you’ll just set the grass on fire and ruin the diamond for us. At the very least, you’ll turn our only ball into ash and we’ll have to waste time scrounging up a new one somewhere.

Johnny: I’m going to practice even harder than before, and someday I’ll be a major leaguer and you won’t!

The ball is hurled at him and he runs home with a severe nose bleed.

At Home

Johnny: Mom, am I a freak?

Mother: You sure are, Johnny. How many other people do you know who were once hit by lightning and subsequently developed the strange ability to shoot electricity from their finger?

Johnny: If a bolt of lightning is what made me like this, then another one should make me normal again!

Just as he’s saying this he hears rain hitting the roof and a rumble of distant thunder. He starts to hurry outside.

Mother: Get back here, young man.

Johnny: Don’t try to stop me.

He points his finger menacingly at her.

Mother: Or what? You’ll zap your own mother? You can’t even zap the people who deserve it. Your father and I tried to teach you to stand up for yourself, Johnny, but you’ve been such a disappointment to us.

Johnny runs outside and holds a golf club in the air. Soon he’s rewarded with a jolt of electricity that knocks him off his feet.

Back At School

Bully: Hey, freak boy, there’s something different about you today.

Johnny: I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead. It can shoot lasers.

Bully: Weirdo.

A hefty schoolbook comes down hard on Johnny’s head, knocking him out cold.

Ralph Gamelli has been published in MonkeyBicycle, Raging Face, Science Creative Quarterly, and McSweeney's. He's the kind of person who, if he hears you utter the word "cashew," would quickly say "gesundheit" in response and then brush it off as a stupid joke. But secretly he thinks it's hilarious.