The Boy Who Laughs

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Written when the author was eighteen years old, this Semi-Autobiographical novel, based on his observations growing up in Italy and the US, explores a damaged outlook of a young man on society and reconciliation with his past. After being expelled from the Liceo (Italian Highschool) Nicholas Durán, tough, alcoholic, anger filled, thrill-seeking, self-destructive teenage poet, leaves home to start a journey in Beat Generation style, through Italy, the UK, and the US where he was raised in the Bronx, looking for revenge against the boogey men of his past that made him a monster, his childhood babysitter, his father whom he never met, and ultimately himself, within a society that struggles to help young ones in need. If Holden Caulfield, Arthur Fleck and Henry Chinaski were brought together in a 'Fight Club' loving character, to underline the importance of mental health among young people, The Boy Who Laughs deals with a young broken man striving to figure out that the only way to grow up and grow out of one's nightmares and traumas is through developing acceptance, forgiveness, and responsibility towards loved ones.

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PART I: Lolita

My friend, my friend,

I am very very sick.

I don’t know where this evil comes from.

If it’s the wind that hisses

on the empty and deserted field,

or if it’s the alcohol that upsets the brain,

like a grove in September.


My head no longer has strength

to rock on the neck.

A boogie man,

Boogie, boogie,

a boogie man

sits on my bed,

a boogie man

he doesn’t make me sleep all night.

A boogie man

moves a finger on the abominable book

and, with a nasal voice above me,

like a monk over a dead man,

he reads me the life

of a certain rascal,

chasing anguish and fear into the soul.


Listen, listen, -

He mumbles, -

there are multiple plans in the book

and beautiful thoughts.

There was a man who lived in the district

of the most terrible

bandits and charlatans.

In December in that district

the snow is pure to the devil

That man was an adventurer,

but of the best species

The highest.

He was elegant,

and also a poet,

even if small,

was his strength,

is a certain woman,

Over forty years of age,

he called her a bitch

and his beloved.

-“Happiness,” he said,

is dexterity of mind and hands.

All clumsy souls

are known for their unhappiness.

It does not matter,

if many torments

are fruit of ambiguous

and liars gestures.

Between storms and torments

in the cold of everyday life,

in severe losses

and in sadness

–always appearing smiling and simple -

is the supreme art of the world ”.

Boogie man!

Don’t dare this!

Who cares about the life

of a scandalous poet.

Please, to someone else

read and tell ”.

The boogie man

stares at me.

And his eyes are colored

of a blue vomit,

almost wanting to tell me,

that I am a thug and a thief,

that in a shameless way

has robbed someone.


Night of frost...

Peace at the crossroads is silent

I’m alone at the window,

I don’t look for a friend nor a guest

the whole plain is covered

of a friable and soft lime,

and the trees, like knights,

are gathering in our garden.

Somewhere he cries

an evil night bird.

And the boogie man still

taking off his cylinder

throws the coat carelessly,

he comes to sit in my armchair...

Listen, listen! –-

he says with an unpleasant voice,

looking me in the face,

even closer

even closer I bow. -

I have never seen

Never a rascal

suffer from such stupid and vain insomnia.

Ah, maybe I was wrong!

Tonight is the moon!

What needs

this little drunk and lazy world?

Maybe with her big thighs

“She” will come in secret,

and you will read her

your languid exhausted lyric?

Boogie man!

You are a very bad guest.

This fame

has been around you for a long time.

I am furious,

and I throw my stick

right against his face,

at the root of his nose.

The moon is dead,

dawn dawns at the window.

Oh you, night!

Why so much trouble?

I’m standing here with my top hat.

There is no one with me.

I am alone

With a shattered mirror...

-loosely adapted from The Boogie Man, by Sergej Esenin, 1925.


There he was, sitting on one of the bunk beds of the LOLITA. The dormitory housed twenty-four people, of all kinds, and it was cheap, of course; a bit dirty and noisy but somehow it was fine. It was dark, and he stood there, with that insignificant expression on his face, ruffling his mustache, crooked and weak like those of a wild animal. He contemplated a smeared yellowish mush of mucus on the green carpet - a small purple light radiated from under the door. He hadn’t taken a shower - poor thing - for almost three weeks. He hadn’t changed clothes for almost two months. He would have, if he had had them. He is not a dirty boy. The last time he washed, he had done it in the spray of a drinking fountain in a park in Dublin, I don’t remember where, under the eyes of the tourists and golden children, who interrupted the games looked at him with curiosity.

He got up, opened the door; the light, now strong, now soft, almost ghostly, illuminated the narrow corridor which connected the hostel dormitory to the bathroom and common area. He went to the bathroom, pissed as everyone does, apparently; after washing his hands, he looked at himself in the mirror. A small and squared mirror. The inconsistent neon light gave his presence something inhuman. Not at all how he remembered himself, - in any case - one of the many stragglers and petty thieves who walk the streets in the evening. And to think that when he was little he felt so special.. He went to the common area, - in the common area there was always someone - seated on untidy stools there was the usual group of Spanish boys and a crazy Pole. He talked with them a little, smoked some grass; the Pole, with a smudged, drunk accent, spoke of World War II. (Nobody knew why). He hated the Russians. When he spoke the word Russians , his small and rowdy eyes burned, like those of a horny fawn.

Nick went back to the bathroom - who knows why - he stared at himself again in that sort of mirror. He rinsed his face, crumbled, and began to laugh; without reason, as children do, he looked at the mirror and laughed; a nervous laugh, almost metallic. A strong cough, then he returned to the dorm. From the backpack he kept near the bed he pulled out a blue pen (he had stolen it in a Pakistani free license); he went to the reception. He asked for a sheet of paper. They gave him a purple sheet and he returned to the common area. No one was there anymore. ‘Luckily’, he told himself, and sitting on one of the stools, I don’t know how, he leaned and began to write:

I do not speak of ravine,

nor of well,

let alone death.

When symbols are missing.

When instinct fails.

Things that were,

Are not anymore.

When screams do not pronounce.

Noise, noise.

Noise that in any case,

disturbs a peace, which does not deserve to rest.

All this symphony,

this harmony,


finally condenses,

until crashing.

-I don’t know if this is a good story; maybe a little sad, sometimes funny, for some, I guess. There is suffering, egotism, probably, even a good dose of victimhood. Maybe the boy made bad choices. Perhaps he should have used his reason a little more, although some say he thought too much. And then when he’s there, alone, with his dark and curly hair in between his forearms, or simply there looking at things, standing, smoking distant from the crowd, perhaps it makes sense that he only followed a path already outlined for him, having had no choice, but to laugh, or maybe smile.

For those born in the Bronx it’s difficult to get out unscathed, in any case. It’s a question of skin, of colors; like the wind, ruffling the hair of anguished mothers on Orchard Beach. They shout in unknown languages to their children to go out from the ocean. Perhaps from the ocean, sooner or later you’ll get out; mum scolds you, you feel bad, she consoles you; then, who knows why, she smacks you, and you all go home. Before going to bed, you’ll take a shower. Maybe you’ll cry under the jet. Maybe you’ll think about it, instead of laughing like an idiot, or like a child. But for those born in the Bronx, child or not, the real challenge is to get out of the Bronx itself, not from the ocean. It’s like some kind of condemnation, a big reddish wish on the neck that you will never be able to scrape off you; it gets stuck, like the tattooed name of a woman who doesn’t love you anymore, or who maybe hates you. Never mind that you are black, white, Puerto Rican, Chinese, Martian, in the Bronx it doesn’t matter; it’s an extended family, an environment that protects and poisons all its members, like a jealous or wicked mother.

When one is part of the Bronx you can see it from the pupils and the fingers, - you can’t go wrong - at the mercy of turbulent and aggressive motions, such as a genetic change, or a failed experiment. And this obviously doesn’t apply only to the Bronx, or to New York, but to All those places that somehow were preserved natural and wild. I’m talking about the people. I’m talking about buildings and streets. I’m talking about children struggling under a fire pipe spray. I’m talking about old farts sitting on broken chairs in the middle of the sidewalk, cussing out passers-by. I’m talking about a black man telling another black man in the ghetto that smoking is a white man drug. I speak of the Dominicans, when on Sunday they organize squash tournaments. I’m talking about Mexicans playing soccer in the fields, twenty against twenty without goals. I’m talking about beautiful girls, so beautiful that it took the DNA of the whole world to make them come out like that... I’m talking about this. And in the jungle you can only lose yourself once. Nick lived in the Bronx for eight years, the first eight years of his life.

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Further Recommendations

monicamcurry: I really love this story. The plot is great, the characters come to life and the story is addictive. I hope that the will be many more chapters. Please author keep the story going.

stephdk1139: I really enjoyed the story it was a good read👍👍👍👍👍

Bello: I really found this story good more than I even thought,it was so interesting, I have never read a story so interesting as this

Jhandere: Me gustó casi todas los capítulos pero no me gustó cuando termino ahci , ojalá allá más capitulos

Animba Jessica: Beautiful story, it's quite interesting

Benard: Awesome experience though the updates are be slow and disappointing

Shyanne Frisbee: I loved this book so much it was amazingly written

Jennifer Leigh Anne Ciliska: Loved it!! Awesome read!! Thank you for sharing your story with me

Carito: I loved this short story… can’t wait to read some more of your stories

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Afeline Curmi: Love the story. The epilogue is lovely.❤️❤️

Karim: This story is awsone I love, but there are a lot of grammar mistakes

Jennifer Stevens Johnson: This is one of my favorite quick reads for MC romance. The characters are relatable. The journey of love for them is fun to follow.

Columbine Pirouette: Great story!👍👍

Michelle: Great read but felt the ending was incomplete.

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