N o v e m b e r   2 0 0 1

Guest Writer

He couldn't die. He had finals.
Senior skip day
by Edward Morris Jr.

When he slipped on the antifreeze in the crosswalk while trudging the last mile to homeroom, the lowrider pickup truck full of stoned football players pulped his midsection.

His last thoughts were whether or not he could make up the SATs, and a confused, distant realization that he'd forgotten to take out the trash before he slogged the last cup of coffee and bombed it out of the line of sight of the house to light a grateful Marlboro.

He couldn't die. He had finals.

The thought kept slipping away and coming back, pulsing through his brain as the will to power rose slowly, with in-between scenes strobing into repressed memory. The sealant on the casket-liner was still fresh when he got the get-up-and-go. He had a hard head. His teachers were always telling him that he could move mountains if he just buckled down and did it. But it was touch-and-go for a while.

When he got back home, he half expected his parents to ream him out and make him get a summer job to pay for the funeral. Under better circumstances, he'd probably agree.

School the next day was heaven.

He smoked a joint with the security guard in the morning, and learned gory strike songs from Bloody Mingo County, West Virginia. Filled with smoke and bravado, he rose during the morning announcements and roared that high school had nothing to do with reality, that what people managed to actually learn on their own would be their only salvation.

But he was drowned out when the students mechanically, somnambulistically began to rise and pledge the flag before Mrs. Johnson's Prozac hand could twitch out 9-1-1.

Swami-like, he scryed for the pregnant transfer student who sat behind him, and showed her incontrovertible evidence, in symbols so personal to her that she could only gasp, that she didn't have to abort if she didn't really want to – that she could, in fact, get state aid to stay in school and be moving on with college in a year and a half if she just patched things up with her mom and looked for the information in the right places. The girl kissed him on the cheek, leaving him to puzzle and predict.

At lunch, he went for a walk downtown to clear his head and caught the principal staggering out of the Pipe Room Bar. He and Dr. Robertson revolving-doored it back in and had a beer in the back room. They also had a very nice chat about arts funding, the U.S. Constitution as it applied to minors, and kids who had to turn their T-shirts inside-out because the administration didn't like to think about what the existence of a band like the Dead Kennedys might mean for their own worldview that went as far as the Allegheny Ridge.

He showed the principal some Bible passages that the good doctor was less than familiar with, the introductory notes from Charles Fort's New Lands, and a Harlan Ellison short story called "Eidolons." The principal left the bar snarling, fragile, hypoglycemic and possessed ... and cackled quietly, shaking a fist at the sky.

But a white light kept blurring the edges of his vision through the sunglasses he somehow managed to get away with wearing in sixth-hour study hall. A timeless, hazy glow kept pulling him forward from his seat and the old tenured bat on duty at the desk there in Room 54 grated: "Siddown if ya don't have a pass."

He sang Figaro's famous opening declamation from "The Barber of Seville" and breathed into her face the pure-ergotamine spores of a punctured glenoid cavity's rot behind his black hoody. And then he did, indeed, sit back down and got back to where he'd left off ...

"Lookit him drawin' pictures," the diamond dog behind him whispered through her gum. "I bet he's on acid."

Mrs. Garver was later to bail from the room and make a hysterical conference call from the office to her two estranged sons, sobbing that it was never too late to patch things up if they'd only listen.

But he did not see that. He was in English class, analyzing Jesse Glass' poem, "Gnosis-M,'' watching with delicate hunger the looks of rapt understanding on the faces of all those rich idiots.

This was what he came back for, the priceless sanguine apocalyptic light in all their eyes.

And then Uriel was smirking like LL Cool J beside him, straightening his skinny black tie with the little sickle for a tack.

"Pass from the nurse," the archangel whispered. "Show's over. But don't trip. You gonna see some things you'd never believe. It's off the hook."

So, shrugging, he let it go, let it pass, let it wash away. When they got to the lobby, he found that he was strong enough after all to not look back.

See more from Edward in our archives.

site design / management / host: ae
© 2001-2005 nwdrizzle.com / all rights reserved.