“Burk’s Nub” from LOOK! LOOK! FEATHERS by Mike Young
Because “Burk’s Nub” isn’t concerned with the gadgetry of cyber-punk. It’s just concerned with youth, with bodies, with tubas, and with language. And because it is full of concern and not full of fetish, it gets to be fuller and more satisfying and more interesting.
It’s red and bubbled and if you press at the places in the story where all the stuff has accumulated underneath the surface, you can get a little glimpse of how it moves. You can just a bit see how it tries to hide things.
THE STORY: Burk’s got a nub. It’s there on his hand. With it—pulse-y bubble of flesh—he can access the internet. Burk’s at the periphery of a band of band geeks. The nub may be true. The nub may be a lie. The narrator circles Burk to figure out the truth. The rumor goes Burk is a freak who takes his shirt off when he gets home from school. The narrator goes home with Burk, and it turns out Burk takes his shirt off when he gets home from school. The nub pops.
THE UPSHOT: Instead of wriggling around in the ins and outs of the technology, Young—like a tapeworm—wriggles around the ins and outs of the body. And Young wriggles around in the ins and outs of what’s real and what’s a lie. What a disaffected young boy will tell his friends in order to feel like being apart from them is not being outside, but in some way above.