My hand wanted to write something that I was unaware of, but I agreed just for the fun of it, thinking it good sport. I tore off a sheet of loose-leaf paper from my composition notebook, and reached into my back pocket for a pencil.
My fingered glove fell on the sheet with little control, and the point of the pencil was flimsy against the medium. It scrawled some shapes, big round ones, sharp geometric others, and continued swirling about the length of the paper. Before I knew it, my nose became fat with all the lead I had wasted with my doodle, and I sneezed a splotch of the stuff at the very end of the page, sort of like a signature. The smudge looked almost like a hat.
I held it up to admire the work of art. I wanted to trace those shapes, those great monuments of lead, but these I didn’t see. They hadn’t gone anywhere, but they weren’t there. In their place were words. Mountains of words, columns and fountains of words. So many and with such a size that there could’ve been hundreds there or many more. I stared at the sheet with a glare of amusement wondering if I should treat the sheet as an opprobrium to my works. I decided that I should know the words first, and so I had to conduct a test.
Michael sat next to me in the classroom, so I tapped him gently on the shoulder. When he prompted me for an answer, I explained that I wanted him to read over the work. He took the paper in hand.
“Aloud please.” I said. Michael obliged.
“Jester-Jokester makes me sick. He’s a lummox, a jerk, and a crucifix.” Michael paused and looked at me strangely. He appeared to be looking beyond me.
“I won’t know if it’s good unless you read all of it.” I said.
“Please.” This last thing made him sigh and shake his head, but he did continue.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell, he made it. Jester-Jokester defends the abandoning lady. And who do you think—” Michael stopped again. “Why would you write this?” he asked me.
I smiled and shrugged.
“Just read it you damn coward.”
“No, are you trying to get me in trouble?” Michael cast the paper back on my desk. This caught the attention of the person in front of me, Franco.
“Hey, Franco, tell me you’re not afraid to read a little paper. Michael suddenly became too afraid.”
“Hey, keep your voice down, Mr. Willis. Some people are still testing.” Mr. Giles said. Meanwhile, Franco had nodded to me and taken up the paper.
“You have to read it aloud, Franco.” I told him. He too cast the paper down.
I stood from my seat.
“Is there anyone in this room who isn’t too much of a coward to read my paper to the entire classroom?” I said. Mr. Giles stared at me like I had gone crazy.
“Mr. Willis, what are you doing?”
“I need a damn reader!” I said, my voice contrasting with my smile.
“No one’s going to read anything that I disapprove of, so sit down.” Mr. Giles said.
A chair slid back and of all people, little Ralton got up and walked over. He took the sheet.
“Everyone sit down.” Mr. Giles said. He had a magazine in his hand that he would ball up whenever he addressed us.
I sat down.
“Please read, Ralton.” I said. “And start from the beginning.”
“Jester-Jokester makes me sick. He’s a lummox, a jerk, and a crucifix. Don’t ask, don’t tell, he made it. Jester-Jokester defends the abandoning lady. And who do you think—”
“That’s enough of that.” Mr. Giles said getting up. But, Ralton went on, and Mr. Giles stayed where he was behind his desk.
“And who do you think called the resplendent Godhead? The Messiah is the taken of the fiend, the fiend is the puppet caught in between, the between is formed from crooked straights, and the straights were built from ruinous fakes. The real were real before the time was ripe, but Jester-Jokester pulverized the wrong to right, the real to unreal, the world to us. The truth of our creation is thus.”
Everyone in the classroom was silent. Ralton turned the paper over, and after realizing nothing else had been written, he returned it to me. I accepted it, not fully understanding any of what had been written on the paper. Even though I had acquired fifteen years of humane experience, I had never done well in English class. In fact, most of those words sounded foreign to me.
“Now, Mr. Willis, would you mind explaining the meaning of that to us all?”
“They’ve been lying to us.” Michael said.
“They’ve all been lying.” Ralton said, his head approving his message.
A chair went flying across the room, hitting the wall with considerable, paint-chipping force.
“Revolt.” someone said.
“Revolt.” Michael repeated.
Soon, everyone was throwing something. I put the paper down and sat on my desk, looking at my hands. They were flat, but normal enough.
Everyone moved to the front, but I just hung out on the desk, my back to the world.
“Revolt.” I heard Mr. Giles screaming, but I paid it little attention. I ignored the spritz of wet stuff that got on me from their playing, too.
For some reason, I decided to look up.
At the classroom door, I saw someone standing, laughing silently, dancing and prattling around on one foot. He wore a half-black, half-white costume of a clown. He pointed at me while laughing and twirling. My mouth opened and real laughs came out. I forgot all about Mr. Giles even though he was still screaming, and the spurts of jelly were still getting on me, percolating through my shirt.
I left the room, taking care to close the door. I didn’t expect that I was ever coming back.
© Joseph Jones
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