That anyone survives high school, when I think about it, is a tribute to the power of mind over murder. I know it's tempting to ask why so many, but maybe the better question is why so few? So many minds seeking escape. So, relatively, little murder.
If I were going to paint high school, I'd need a canvas the size of the Atlantic ocean. Angular cement block buildings shaded some faded mix of puke and dinge best called Dismal Days. Fake wood desks with metal legs so shiny and hard-edged you can practically hear the echo when they scrape against the tiled floors. Metal lockers that special shade of grime gray that instantly recalls the frantic between-class open and shut clang. Oh, and high out of reach bells and big faced clocks that count off the seconds between eruptions that go off in some design only God and the principal understand, but which everyone – even the janitor – responds to like poor Pavlov's dog.
The round black bombs with fuses springing from the top that cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote use? That's how I'd paint the students. Bombs with backpacks. And maybe some teachers, too, although they'd be bigger, slightly more sophisticated and capable of triggering all the little bombs wedged into rows of desks.
I'm not usually a cynical person. I try to see the good in people, and even in necessary evils like school. I believe in God and I go to church every Sunday. Divine Redemption on Fourth Street. After my weekly confession, I do the penance that Father Kelly sets for me, even though he'd never know if I didn't until he got to Heaven and God told him. If there is a God. Not that I'm not sure there is. Just...I think we can't know what he looks like, or says, but if he exists, he has way better things to do with his infinite time than to rat out a kid.
So, really, I'm a good person, a positive person. Maybe I was a bit of a time bomb, but getting my braces off and growing a decent set of boobs my junior year kept my fuse way too damp to blow. So how fair is it that I got to be there when one of the ticking time bombs went off?
It's funny. You go along, planning and waiting and counting down until you're an adult and free, and then some kid you've known since kindergarten steps in front of your first period World History class with a gun and everything melts away like fresh spun cotton candy on your tongue.
I don't know what sparked the fuse on the bomb that was Jamie that day, but when I looked into his eyes, I could see the fuse burning down in them as clear as I could see the peach fuzz on his chin. There wasn't time to ask him why. Or maybe there was and no one thought of it because we were all busy wondering if we were going to die.
I still needed to know, even though knowing wouldn't change anything. So I sat down across the table from him in the jail. It wasn't anything like what I thought a jail would be. A little like what they show on TV, but the smells--disinfectant and despair. Kind of like I'd imagined detention would be, if I'd ever had one. Which I hadn't, because my mom would have killed me. Irony much?
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish