Short Reports: Michelle Kondrich vs. A Confederacy of Dunces
“When he had finished the first hot dog, Ignatius prepared and consumed another, contemplating other kindnesses that might postpone his having to go to work again. Fifteen minutes later, noticing that the supply of hot dogs in the little well was visibly diminishing, he decided in favor of abstinence for the moment. He began to push slowly down the street, calling again, “Hot dogs!”
George, who was wandering up Carondelet with an armload of packages wrapped in plain brown paper, heard.the cry and went up to the gargantuan vendor. “Hey, stop. Gimme one of these.”
Ignatius looked sternly at the young boy who had placed himself in the wagon’s path. His valve protested against the pimples, the surly face that seemed to hang from the long well lubricated hair, the cigarette behind the ear, the aquamarine jacket, the delicate boots, the tight trousers that bulged offensively in the crotch in violation of all rules of theology and geometry.
“I am sorry,” Ignatius snorted. “I have only a few frankfurters left, and I must save them. Please get out of my way.”
“Save them? Who for?”
“That is none of your business, you waif. Why aren’t you in school? Kindly stop molesting me. Anyway, I have no change.”
“I got a quarter,” the thin white lips sneered.
“I cannot sell you a frank, sir. Is that clear?”
“Whatsa matter with you, friend?”
“What’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with you? Are you unnatural enough to want a hot dog this early in the afternoon? My conscience will not let me sell you one. Just look at your loathsome complexion. You are a growing boy whose system needs to be surfeited with vegetables and orange juice and whole wheat bread and spinach and such. I, for one, will not contribute to the debauchery of a minor.”
“Whadda you talking about? Sell me one of them hot dogs. I’m hungry. I ain’t had no lunch.”
“No!” Ignatius screamed so furiously that the passersby stared. “Now get away from me before I run over you with this cart.”
George pulled open the lid of the bun compartment and said, “Hey, you got plenty stuff in here. Fix me a weenie.”
“Help!” Ignatius screamed, suddenly remembering the old man’s warnings about robberies. “Someone is stealing my buns! Police!” Ignatius backed up the cart and rammed it into George’s crotch.
“Ouch! Watch out there, you nut.”
“Shut up, for Christ’s sake,” George said and slammed the door. “You oughta be locked up, you big fruit. You know that?”
“What?” Ignatius screamed. “What impertinence was that?”
“You big crazy fruit,” George snarled more loudly and slouched away, the taps on his heels scraping the sidewalk. “Who wants to eat anything your fruity hands touched?”
“How dare you scream obscenities at me. Someone grab that boy,” Ignatius said wildly as George disappeared into the crowds of pedestrians farther down the street. “Someone with some decency grab that juvenile delinquent. That filthy little minor. Where is his respect? That little guttersnipe must be lashed until he collapses!”
I chose to illustrate a scene from A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I read the book sometime last year and it has stuck with me all this time. I’ve never read such a confidently belligerent character, so choosing just one scene to illustrate was challenging.
My name is Michelle Kondrich and I was born, raised, and educated in cow and corn country before I made my way to LA and on to New York City. Due to a recent move, I’ve been thrust into the life of a full-time illustrator and I’m loving every terrifying minute of it. My work has appeared in The Deli Magazine in NYC (www.thedelimagazine.com) and I have written and illustrated a short children’s story that will be appearing in an anthology later this year. Check out my website for updates or to view more of my work.