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Bart Harper

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Adventures of a Fat Kid

Welcome to the immature and insane world of Author, Bart Harper.  Adventures of a Fat Kid is a collection of hilarious short stories about growing up in rural West Virginia in the early 1980’s.  Every ridiculous story is based on true events.  From horrific blunders to near death experiences, the fat kid lived through it all!  So, get on board and take a nostalgic ride back in time with Bart and his family as they try to survive stupidity.  This feel good book is sure to bring back memories of a simpler time.  So, grab a drink, recline, and buckle up.


I had just finished my book and was thinking about getting it published.  The only problem was that I wanted pictures in my book, but I was a terrible artist.  I tried a few times to draw the characters, but it was very difficult to structure a fat kid out of stick man drawings.  I was in trouble.   

I was a school teacher at Spencer Middle School.   Mike Randolph was the custodian and a good friend.  We had been golf partners on several occasions and had spent many afternoons trying to find our balls.  ( Very funny!  I like the way you think!)  Anyways, Mike was always sneaking into my classroom and drawing pictures of me on the blackboard.  Even though the artwork never quite captured my sexiness, the sketches were pretty darn funny.  My students always loved it when the jolly janitor would stop by to do a chalk masterpiece. 

As I brainstormed about a possible illustrator, I smacked myself in the head in disbelief that the idea hadn’t come sooner.  The stories that I had written were pretty ludicrous, and there was only one man that could create such insane scribbles.  I grabbed Mike by the arm one day as he passed by my room and told him about my new book.  He smiled as I begged him to do the illustrations.  I could see his creative juices starting to flow or perhaps it was all that coffee that he drinks.  Either way, I had found my Picasso!

Mike took the stories home where he and his wife read about my many adventures as a fat kid.  My friend completed the drawings in a couple of weeks and gave life to my robust character.  So, that is the story of how a teacher and custodian came together to create this book of crazy short stories.  Thank you for reading.

Adventures of a Fat Kid is illustrated by Mike Randolph.  Mike was born in Jackson County, West Virginia in 1953.  He moved to Roane County in 1964 where he attended Walton High School.  He married his wife Alberta, in 1971 and raised two sons Randy and Chris.  Mike has no formal art training but has always loved to draw.  His talents stem from years of comic book and card collecting.  He is a die-hard Yankees fan and loves to compete in local bowling leagues. He has worked as a custodian in Roane County Schools for 16 years.   He is currently teaching an art class at Spencer Middle School where his artistic knowledge can be appreciated and passed on to the next generation of illustrators.   

The Homemade Wine

     Grandpa kept it in an old stone jug in the cellar.  Every time we would visit, we knew it was just a matter of time before we would see it.  If we were lucky, he would give all the kids a little taste.  It was the best homemade wine ever, and even Boones Farm could not hold a candle.  He made it with the grapes that grew from his own private orchard that hung from the old crap house.  I always thought it to be ironic that something that tasted so good came from such a gross place.  You could literally take a dump, reach through the crack in the wall, and eat grapes.  Sick I know, but I’m guilty.

     As I sat there beside Grandpa, I salivated at the thought of that nectar of the gods.  The anticipation was killing me.  “Oh, just one little sip,” I thought.  Even though Grandpa was a caring, unselfish man, he was a little stingy with his wine.  If he shared, he monitored how much he gave us by using an old shot glass.  He protected his stash with a lock and key, and only he was allowed to touch the sacred jug.  For some reason, on this day, Grandpa was very generous.  He went to get his stash and brought out two jugs of the heavenly juice.  My eyes widened, and my tongue went into convulsions.  I had to have it.  At that moment, I started kissing some seventy-year-old butt.  “Grandpa you make the bestest wine in the world,” I announced.  (Yes, I was fat and had bad grammar.)  He smiled at the complement and grabbed a jug.  He handed it to me and said, “This one is just for you and your dad.”  Like a retard at a corn dog convention, I jumped up and celebrated with a Bruce Lee air kick.  I gave Grandpa a big hug and said, “Thank you kind sir, my work is done here.”

     When Dad and I got home, we decided to put the wine in the freezer to get it nice and cold.  In an hour, we would have a frozen fermentation that was way better than any slushy.  Dad informed me that it was time to go out and mow the lawn, and I sighed a lazy sigh.  It was a hot summer day though, and how wonderful the grape concoction would taste after an hour of sweaty yard work.  As we pushed the mowers in our little circles, I began to fantasize about our little gift.  I imagined myself sitting in a chair and someone pouring a cold bucket of the wine all over my body.  Yes, I had watched “Flash Dance” the night before.  After completing our work and nearly cutting off my big toe, it was Miller time. 

     I frolicked to the freezer and grabbed the jug.  It was perfectly chilled with just a little ice frozen to the side.  I poured Dad a glass and myself an even bigger glass.  We sat on the porch and felt the breeze as we fought back our ice cream headaches.  I drank mine rather quickly and immediately wanted more.  I knew that Dad would not allow me to drink another glass, so I waited like a tiger watching his prey. 

     Dad finally informed me that he was going to take a shower, and I saw my opportunity.  I stood up to go upstairs, but I was dizzy.  I was really woozy, and hey, I really liked it.  I heard the shower and quickly stumbled up the stairs.  Mom was in the living room catching up on her soap operas.  She had her very own twin towers in the form of two very tall piles of video tapes.  She taped every episode of “Days of Our Lives” and had gotten a little behind.  I knew that Marlena and Stephano had my back on this day and would keep her busy while I snuck some more wine.  I tiptoed to the fridge and poured another full glass. I chugged it like a champion beer drinker.  I continued the process until I had finished almost the whole jug. 

     I was feeling groovy!  I was as light as a feather and that was a great feeling for a fat kid.  As my world began spinning, I began to sing.  All of a sudden, I was Elvis, and my masterful vocals could not be ignored.  Mom yelled at me from her sofa and I yelled back, “That’s alright mama!”  I was really entertaining, and I had to share my talents with the world or at least with my parents. 

     I entered the room in ballet mode.  I jumped in front of my mother, who was already traumatized at finding out that Bo and Hope were brother and sister.  I informed her that I wanted to take ballet lessons, and then, I did a leotard leap across the room. Dad entered the room and frowned at me.  Mr. Macho, who was half-naked from his shower, told me to sit down.  I jumped towards him, took my shirt off, and announced that I was Superman. 

     Now this went on for about thirty minutes, and Dad finally realized what was happening.  He went to inspect the wine jug, which had a few drops left.  “Oh my god Jeanie, he drank the whole thing,” Dad roared.  Blitzed out of my mind, I sang out “Good to the last drop.”

      The bad thing about a buzz is that it eventually goes away.  Then, a whole different feeling takes over.  We have all been there at some time in our lives when we snuggle up to old Mr. Porcelain and tell him our secrets.  I was getting sicker by the minute, and my mother was getting more upset.  She was an obsessive worrier!  As a kid, my mother would not allow me to eat Cookie Crisp because it contained a bad chemical called BHT. The chemical supposedly caused cancer in a California rat study.   For a fat kid, no Cookie Crisp was like no heroin for a drug addict. 

     Mom knew I had drunk a lot of wine, and she knew what she had to do!  She fantasized about my funeral and the disgraceful newspaper headline “Boy Ballerina Dies From Homemade Booze!”  She was not going to wait to see if I had alcohol poisoning.  She turned me face down and put her finger down my throat.  It was on!  It was a nasty puke fest that would have made the little girl from the Exorcist gag.  It was a Barney-like color as it poured out of me.  It was purple rain.  As I wiped my mouth, Mom began to get sick too.  I guess the smell got to her!  Side by side, we valiantly fought the battle of “Drunker Hill.”  She never said so, but I think we bonded that night. 

      When the puking was over, I was put to bed.  The digital clock played games with my head as the digits danced around in a circle.  I learned a very important lesson that night; although, I can’t remember what it was.  Fortunately, I didn’t get into much trouble over the booze fest.  I guess Mom and Dad figured that getting sick was punishment enough. 


       I never drank wine again after that night, just an occasional beer with my father after working in the garden.  He would buy a six-pack and put it on ice.  We would work till dark, and then go sit on the porch.  He would grab a beer and toss me one, then go inside and hide the other four.


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