Regarding Horny Hank
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Johns,
While it is not my intention to alarm you in any way about the academic performance of young William, I am deeply saddened to have to write you re: a disturbing trend that I have noticed, that indeed many here at the school have noticed, and that is that your son’s imaginary friend, an entity upon which William has bestowed the most unfortunate moniker, “Horny Hank,” a nickname objectionable in its own fashion that has caused many problems at the school (I’ll get to that), has captured, so to speak, to turn that phrase, the imaginations of many students here at our beloved Frank Lloyd Wright Elementary School (go Fightin’ Keystones!).
Again, I would like to stress the notion that William is an excellent performer in a vast majority of his subjects, providing an exemplary role model for his fellow fifth graders. William leads his class in archery, hitting seven bull’s eyes out of eight in the last exam, even going so far as to serve his instructor, Ms. Laurie Ross, in the role of teaching assistant, yielding tangible results (for instance, the newfound accuracy of both Peters twins, good for them). Excellence on the performative and academic side of William’s permanent record leads me to feel the absolute necessity in contacting you about the distraction that his new imaginary friend, the aforementioned Horny Hank, has become.
And what a distraction, indeed! For example, Ms. Laurie Ross has relayed to me a particular incident of distraction which also serves as the origin of Horny Hank’s intrusion upon our educational facilities. The students were taking a spelling test. While the class attempted to spell “perfidious” (a word I admittedly just had to look up myself, as it has been far too many years since I took a fifth-grade spelling test), students and Ms. Laurie Ross became aware, most abruptly, of a loud, prolonged presence, both odious and odorous, a, shall we say expulsion (forgive me for using the word in this context, I assure you it carries no threat to your son). As all students in the class turned, some pinching their noses, toward the source of this “presence” in the center of the room, young William looked up from spelling “perfidious” (and I am told he spelled it correctly, another outstanding mark) and said, “Wasn’t me. Horny Hank is here and he ate burritos for lunch.”
If only Horny Hank had died there, dissipated back into the ӕther, the simple construction of a boy looking to avoid embarrassment. But, as the crafting of this letter must have no doubt spelled out for you, Mr. and Mrs. Johns, Horny Hank is very much alive, still haunting Frank Lloyd Wright Elementary School (Keystones, hurrah!).
William blamed further outbursts on Horny Hank. If Susan Wayne’s pencil sharpener went missing, William claimed Horny Hank had stolen it. If William felt the need to shout an obscenity in the middle of silent sustained reading, it was because Horny Hank had pinched his bottom. If a food fight broke out in the cafeteria, Horny Hank had instigated it. If a student returned to class from recess with clothes and hair disheveled, it was because Horny Hank had “roughed ‘em up.”
Other students have gotten in on the delusion (or cult?) of Horny Hank. It seems this is the figure around which they have chosen to rally, a new student mascot, if you will (though how could we ever replace Archie the Keystone?). Roger the goldfish, the class mascot of Room 305 went missing, and when an investigation was suggested by the faculty, students responded by chanting, “Hor-ny Hank! He’s our Man! Fry them goldfish—in—a—pan!”
And fashions have changed. Students are wearing less and less. Bra straps and tan lines are now apparent. The prolific exposure of skin can only be a distraction, especially to our young students, just coming to terms with the confused hormones wreaking havoc within their fragile bodies. When questioned about changes in wardrobe, many students have replied that they want to impress that “dreamy” Horny Hank.
More disturbing yet are the pictures being produced in art class that William attributes to Horny Hank: pictures of men and women performing sex acts on animals, such as dogs, porcupines, and even a blue whale. What’s worse in these pictures are the dull, smudgy lines of the pencil sketches, lacking definition, or even character development in the picture’s subjects. Sure, a sex act is occurring upon a sea mammal’s blowhole, but how do the parties feel about this? I can assure you, if Horny Hank were a student at our school, Ms. Laurie Ross would have no choice but to fail him in art.
A classmate of William, young Sally Ann aged eleven, has become pregnant, and I’m afraid we have the newfound obsession with sexuality brought about by Horny Hank to blame for this twist. It will be a hard pregnancy for one as young as Sally A., we can see that quite clearly, but there is reason to believe that this particular situation will be harder on her than we would have expected. Looking into Sally A.’s permanent record, I can tell you (though I probably shouldn’t [but let this breach of conduct on my part belie the desperation we, your children’s educators, all feel re: the epidemic that has become your son’s imaginary friend]) that Sally Ann Roberts has scored extremely unsatisfactorily in all facets of maternity studies. In nurturing, four out of ten; in kindness, five out of ten; in labor simulation, two out of ten. More perplexing still is her insistence on Horny Hank’s paternity in this case. This is unprecedented, and in the rough draft of her future child’s birth certificate we have been left in the unfortunate situation of listing an imaginary friend as father. How will an imaginary friend will fare in providing child support? William has indicated to me that, “Horny Hank is not the marrying kind,” and that “That cooze is on her own.” Though we have pled with William to help broker a compromise on this subject, it seems the father of Sally Ann’s unborn child, whomever he may be, will not budge.
It was around this time, though student accounts differ in the details, that during a biology lecture the figure of a man strode into Room 305, walked up to the cage of Hero the Hamster (the newest mascot of Ms. Laurie Ross’ classroom), scooped the rodent out of the cage, and flung her out the window. He then declared, “I’m Horny Hank and I’m the only symbol you’ll ever need.” Cheers erupted.
All of this has led us to the conclusion that Horny Hank must go. And by go, I mean die. And by die, I assure you I mean we need to kill him. This is all very legal. The student government, led by student body president Brook George, voted on the matter following a long trial in which evidence was brought forth to suggest the guilt or innocence of Horny Hank, and he was found to be “obstructionary to the educational process.”
Horny Hank was well represented in terms of defense. The opposition party, led by young William, whom I am sure you know is a leading member of the student government, argued passionately in favor of keeping his imaginary friend around. William, in what I assume is his Sunday best, pounded the podium with all his might. Beads of sweat stood out on his ardent young brow (I myself witnessed much of the “Horny Hank Hearings”). His voice, cracking with the changes that must now be occurring in his young, muddled body, trembled. This was the beginning of the ten-day filibuster, now legend in the annals of our student government records (also, that’s where William was in late April), in which William argued for a cause that he must have known, for I saw defeat twinkle in his eyes even as he sweated and pounded that podium, would thud in defeat. And so it did. 
Yet here is where we come to the ultimate problem that must be addressed in this letter, a problem of logistics. As is tradition when performing an execution that has been so ordered by the student government, the culprit killing is performed, via bow and arrow, by the best shot in the school. This happens to be, as I have mentioned, young William Johns.
I’ll describe to you the Tuesday set aside for the execution of our newly dubbed criminal, as I have amalgamated from a compilation of student testimony. One of the Peters twins (no one can tell them apart) handed William his bow, the other an arrow. Sally Ann Roberts caressed the small swell of her belly. Susan Wayne grinned and sharpened a pencil furiously. Student body president Brook George attended, reader of last rites. Ms. Laurie Ross chaperoned. William stood in the archer’s circle, surprising seriousness enveloping his aura. A lock of red hair had fallen loose across his forehead, but this did not hide a shining in his eyes, reflecting the spring sunlight. He lifted bow and arrow, strung the bolt, and, so slowly, pulled, aiming with both eyes open at the bound prisoner. Horny Hank fell to his knees. He brought his duct taped hands to his face and tore out pieces of his beard. He wept, earnestly I am told, begging the boy not to do it, to just let him live his life, that he would do anything, would even become a teacher if asked, if only he could be forgiven his trespasses. “Save me, father,” was heard by the students in attendance. And William, sensitive boy that he is, wanted to relent, yet it seemed at that moment he would not relent and would perform his duty, but the sound of weeping and William’s heart thumps were broken by a familiar, loud, prolonged auditory presence. And then there was silence. Until, I am told, bursts of laughter, violent in their insistence, rang out through the courtyard. Hysteria blanketed the solemn occasion. Students rolled in the grass, clutching stomachs in an agonized fever of hilarity. I am told that even Ms. Laurie Ross gave a wry smile (something for which she has been disciplined, I assure you). William shot his arrow at the sun and declared, “I will never, ever, give up my friend Horny Hank.”
I want to stress the unfortunateness of what comes next, that viewing these events as unfortunate is the official position of the council of education professionals at Frank Lloyd Wright Elementary School (Keystones to victory!). We decided by vote, with only one dissenter (whose name is being withheld as per the order of the Ross family lawyer), that William must face punishment. Methods of punishment thus far enacted by the council are as follows:
1) Scraping off the accrued blackened pieces of gum that have been stuck under every desk in the school, a collection that goes back at least twenty-seven years.
2) Sticking said blackened gum into several balls so that it might be more easily delivered in a chewable format.
3) Using saliva to moisten, teeth to soften, reforming said gum pieces, one at a time, until they could become a more flexible texture, usable in the construction of gum sculpture.
4) Corporeal punishment.
5) Forming a ball of gum into the shape of a fully grown sticky male, hauling it into the courtyard, and shooting arrows into it.
6) Fashioning a sign out of rope and cardboard reading, “Here’s what happens to Horny Hanks,” tying the sign around the neck of the pin cushioned gum man sculpture, dousing the sculpture in kerosene, and lighting it on fire.
7) The denial of nourishment.  
It is true that perhaps the punishing of William would not be necessary if Horny Hank had had back in April, during his creator’s act of unfathomable mercy, a change of heart. However, this has not been the case. Horny Hank has been as much a blight to the school as ever, making his presence known through a variety of senses. And it has become apparent that student body president Brook George has a new swell to her belly. And I am told that Ms. Laurie Ross is late on her monthly.
The school year is coming to a close, which brings with it new desperations. This is to say that time is not on the side of young William Johns. I want to be clear about that. That is why I am writing to you, Mr. and Mrs. Johns, to do everything in your power to help us, your son’s educators, reform the boy by consummating his punishment and encouraging him to perform his duty as executioner to Horny Hank.
And yet, as I reread this letter to myself, it seems as if I have only focused on the negatives of our experience with your son. It reads as if it were a list of complaints against the boy. I assure you, we care deeply for William and, again I want to stress this, he is a most gifted and potential-filled student.
This is all to help us avoid making an unfortunate situation even more unfortunate than it needs to be. We could all use some good fortune.
All best wishes to you and yours,
Catherine Riley O’Leary, Ph. D. Behavioral Science,
Lead Guidance Counsellor, Frank Lloyd Wright Elementary School (Go, Keys, go!)
 During the trial, Sally Ann Roberts spoke (eloquently, I am told) for about fifteen minutes, though transcripts were lost, and it is unclear as to what her intent was.
 Turning enough students against Horny Hank to ensure that the vote went the way we needed it to go was no small feat. However, as is so often the case, the blueprint to our villain’s downfall was coded into his own divisive behavior. I mentioned earlier that he had been accused of stealing Susan Wayne’s pencil sharpener. We soon discovered a penchant for the disappearance of pencil sharpeners (though we never discovered the purpose behind the hording of pencil sharpeners). We decided to exacerbate the situation, limiting the use of public pencil sharpeners to occur only between the hours of 8am-9am and 2:45pm-3:15pm. Eventually, a pencil sharpening toll was instituted, one cent per shaving. Public opinion began to shift. Protests, led by Susan Wayne (who has become a bit of a rising star in her own right, and, it is suggested, might make a run at student body president), gathered, calling for the sharpening of Horny Hank’s pencil. Incidentally, funds raised by the pencil sharpening toll have been quite the windfall for school funding, and we are considering adding another wing to the history department.
 Items 1-3 in the punishment list took place over the course of two months. This was an admirable space of time for William to have achieved so much. He stayed after school every day for hours on end, chewing and chewing. His jaw must have most certainly ached, for he would become lethargic at times, clutching his face, but still he chewed on, facing punishment as befits a member of the student body government. The council was very impressed at this time and voted on whether to commute William’s punishment based on the spirit that he had shown in scraping the desks and chewing the product. We decided that, unfortunately, systemic problems still occurring as they are in the school, the punishment must continue. Moreover, William expressed in explicit terms, unrepentantness. As he chewed the blackened accrual of the underdesks, small streams of sticky drool streaked down his chin, and he declared, “This chew’s for you, Horny Hank!” I myself witnessed this.
 Perhaps you have noticed how thin William has gotten over the last two months. His clothes hang about his boney frame. Hollow cheeks. Skin graying.
 This punishment is complicated by the fact that William has been receiving nourishment when he goes home from school. This is a regrettable avoidance of punishment, for which the cessation is a part of the purpose of the letter you hold in your hands.
 Yet more complications have arisen as a result of this punishment. In solidarity with William, a certain segment of the student populace has gone on hunger strike. They call themselves the “Hungry for Hank Foundation.” As you can imagine, this has resulted in backlash toward our community’s children’s educators. We receive phone calls daily. Sometimes hourly. Just yesterday, I received a phone call from one Mrs. Marks. It seems her son is no more than skin and rib bones. And Phillip Marks was one of our overweight children just two months ago. This is to say that this problem, the very real problem that Horny Hank represents, is bigger than you or me or William. Horny Hank is a danger to the health of all the young people in our community.
About the Author: Clinton Craig earned his MFA from Western Kentucky University and is currently working on his PhD in creative writing this fall at University of Louisiana, Lafayette. His creative work has appeared in Tammy, Microtext 2 (Medusa's Laugh Press), a glimpse of, and Coldnoon. Originally from Texas, his hometown is forever Flagstaff, Arizona.