Larry’s Claims by William C. Blome


  1. It was at the time of Crazy Horse and not earlier (as Larry claimed) that a young squaw with the largest breasts any Sioux had ever seen came of age in the Dakota Territory. Now Larry is correct when he indicates the young squaw’s bosom grew so heavy that she began to keel over whenever she had to walk quickly or start to run. Larry is also correct when he claims the tribes had to place the young squaw under the constant surveillance and guard of a contingent of older squaws, lest the chiefs and braves continually pester and attempt to mount her.

However, where Larry is at his most conjectural is when he attempts to sustain the notion that the blanketing blue snows that fell in the northern part of the Territory during the early 1860’s were the Great Sky spirit’s warning to the Sioux to allow any man who desired her to propagate freely with the young squaw. Oh, to be sure, there is ample, credible documentation about the blue snow phenomenon, and no one in his right mind would dispute the power or authority of the Great Sky spirit, but to forge a link between the snow, the spirit, and the practically non-stop attempts to rape the young squaw may be pushing things too far, and Larry just doesn’t seem cognizant of that.

  1. When Larry was much younger, it wasn’t unusual to come across Americans who harbored a gut-hatred of Asians, but there’s not that much of that anymore, and that’s where Larry’s account of a man and Rose Shen does have a whiff of fiction about it.

Larry said a man from Philadelphia attended a one-week summer music conference in a hilly college town. Each attendee got a map of the campus as part of their orientation packet. The map showed the paths between the dormitory, the cafeteria, the library, the classroom and concert sites, and the rest of the school and town, but what the map failed to show were the steep hills on which most of the buildings were located. So sure, things were relatively close to one another as the crow flies, but you huffed and puffed to travel anywhere on foot because of those hills. Larry relates that the man went from eager arrival to scowling, winded participant in less than two days, and by the end of the week, Larry claims the man was hair-trigger anxious to board the earliest shuttle bus out, to joyously ride the fifty miles between the college and the train station.

When the shuttle schedule for Saturday was posted outside the cafeteria on Thursday, the man and Rose Shen, an Asian violinist from Richmond, were the only passengers slated for the first of three buses going to the train station during the day. The pickup for the first bus was to occur near the dormitory following breakfast.

Larry describes how the man wolfed down his Saturday breakfast and was leaving the cafeteria when Rose Shen approached him and mentioned that she too was going to grab a quick breakfast that she was all packed and ready to leave, that there was plenty of time, and that she’d be there soon to catch the shuttle. The man stared awkwardly at this somewhat mousey, skinny Chinese, with her straight and thinning black hair, black eyes, pale skin and black dress, and then he told her he’d see her on the bus. He trudged back to the dormitory, and Larry notes that the shuttle bus had already arrived and was there waiting when the man got back. The driver was a cheerful, eager young guy, a summer student making a few extra bucks. The man from Philadelphia quickly went inside the dormitory and brought his bags out to the bus; the driver stowed his gear, and they both boarded the bus.

The driver told the man they were waiting now for one additional passenger, a Rose Shen. It’s here where Larry remarks the man hunched slightly forward in his seat, his chin resting on the back of his cupped hand (the hand whose bent elbow pressed into the top of his knee (all in all, a pose not unlike Rodin’s Thinker)). The man held the pose for several moments as he did a rapid re-run of the week’s incredibly tiring events; then he gazed across at the driver, smiled and held the smile, and decided to intervene. He told the driver, oh that’s okay, they could leave right now, because Rose Shen had told him that she’d had a change of plans, that she was going to take one of the other shuttles out to the train station later that day.

  1. As more folks come to know about the Punjabi family who attempted to freeze the growth of their youngest member, Larry’s ultimate thoughts about the family’s motives and success in this regard will likely be seen as a puzzling flight from the evidence of Larry’s own investigations. For it was Larry who first wrote about this family of five living near Zirkapur. The husband and wife were both employed by a zoo, and they lived a relatively comfortable life by Indian standards. Their two children were out-and-about, healthy teens, and the family never appeared shackled or hobbled by the zeal of mental aberration or religious orthodoxy. But it is Larry’s claims about how the family members treated their four-year old girl that is the sum and substance of the family’s significance—well, that and Larry’s strange denial.

A nearby neighbor—Reena, the white-haired purveyor of curries—first told police of her suspicions that this family of four was really a family of five. There was, in other words, another child no one in the area had ever seen, though she, Reena, had chanced one early evening to peek in a back window and had beheld the child—a girl of perhaps four—stretched out on a table and held rigidly in place by four leather straps, each of which was notched around one of the girl’s arms and legs. Larry states that Reena emotionally told him that the opposite end of each strap ran to and was secured within a standalone chain and crank mechanism. Larry reports that it was, in fact, the clanking and high-pitched squeal of the turning of the crank and chain that had first drawn Reena’s attention to the bungalow months before and that finally caused her to steel and re-steel her fragrant self several times before she had the courage to again venture over and peer into the family’s uncurtained rear window. Larry recounts that’s when she saw each of the family taking turns pushing down on and turning the crank handle. Each person was thus tightening the straps in such a way as to exert a push-in or contracting force on all the little girl’s limbs. This was the very opposite, Larry observed, from the pull-out or stretching force naturally and normally associated with a youngster’s physical growth.

Larry did not forget to detail his opinion that Reena had little or nothing to gain from making up this account of the Punjabi family. He did reveal his wonder over the fact that the little girl at no time was said to have screamed, called out, or offered any resistance to a procedure that must have been a painful daily occurrence. (In point of fact, Larry quotes Reena as saying the little girl steadfastly maintained a radiant countenance.)

To his credit as an objective person, Larry documented his attempts to call upon the family on two successive evenings to find out for himself if there was a young person, a fifth family member, imprisoned within the dwelling’s four walls. He relates the family’s astonishment and strident denial of Reena’s account of things. He discusses his own failure to ever cross their hearth and gain entrance to their home. Larry then imparts that it was following the second evening of trying that he simply concluded the family had nothing to hide, and that he therefore could not believe Reena. Interestingly, Reena herself didn’t strengthen her case when, according to Larry, she suggested that perhaps the family’s real purpose was not to halt the little girl’s growth, but rather to use the girl as a guinea pig to test the straps-chain-and-crank machine; i.e., to decide if the device was worth building and deploying in quantity for greater and more profitable purposes: for example, to indefinitely preserve the youth of extinction-threatened Asiatic lion cubs, so that arrangements could be profitably concluded to have them smuggled off the Indian subcontinent.


William C. Blome writes short fiction and poetry. He lives in the States, wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as Amarillo Bay, Bangalore Review, Prism International, Laurel Review, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly.