Illustration by Max Currie

The woman beside him was unremarkable save for layers of makeup over an acne scarred face and an amateurish attempt to dress Tokyo. The Japanese were fond of the expression: the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. Kent guessed this woman had been hammered back into place a few times. Her eyes were shadowed in amber, eyelids brushed with glitter. Her lips painted chocolate. Her hair straight and long, frosted with streaks of vanilla and brown, the tips rust colored. Platform shoes lifted her to five feet seven inches. She smoked menthols, lipstick staining the filter, a light chocolate frosting passed from mouth to cigarette and glass. The cigarette never left her fingers, a sixth digit on her hand, practiced at remaining in flight as she smoothed her hair down or dabbed at her mouth. She held her drink with the same hand, inhaling between sips of her Calpis and vodka, tapping her ashes to the floor. When she talked, she looked over Kent’s shoulder but never at him, as if ready for someone more promising to turn up in the Club Tamarindo.


As the show’s host prepared to segue into a commercial, they reran another clip of The Strange Bonanza. On the television, a rail-thin goof in enormous black glasses screamed, RI-CHU-MAN-SAN! as Kent’s trademark loop played: a hip-hop mash-up highlighted with beatboxing and a chorus of soulful women singing: Baby, you’re a rich man! Kent didn’t remember just when he’d abandoned any sense of control over his career, but he guessed it might’ve been when that loop was created. TV Kent dropped his head, his Lennon glasses perched at the end of his narrow Roman nose, and smiled. The audience clapped and cheered on cue.


Life Imitates Art: Boy, seven, kills brother while copying pro wrestling moves, the newspapers reported.

The doctors explained to Kent’s dazed parents that a direct blow to the chest directly over the heart at a particular time in the heart’s cycle can produce catastrophic consequences, something called commotio cordis, a form of ventricular fibrillation. The heart’s electrical activity becomes disordered and its lower chambers contract in a rapid, unsynchronized way, allowing little or no blood to be pumped. Collapse and sudden death can follow, which it did. Such cases are rare and always tragic, he told them, sorry he couldn’t do more. If only—

For weeks, seven-year-old Kent Richman, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, had been famous, the story rippling across the country to cries of disgust, sparking debates about the effects of television violence on children. Kent was the example de jeur for Parents Against Violence on TV, who used his case in congressional hearings and in television ads, and even tried to coax his parents into joining them on nationwide tour to promote responsible television viewing. Kent had been big in America long before he was big in Japan.


  1. Jon Sindell says:

    Tasty bites! As I’m in a baseball frame of mind, I think of the crack of the bat, the purity of a well–thrown ball, the grace of an outfielder gliding under a high fly ball in the Arizona sun—and how, though pleased, I want more. I want April and Opening Day. And I want May, and this book. And a glass of midori.

  2. cjbundy says:

    You remind me that I really want to write a baseball book someday. Look forward to checking out The Mighty Roman.

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