Formerly Badass Horrible Poetry

This isn't just a poetry blog. Let's be honest, a lot of what I post is poetry but there are more often than not also postings about short stories. I do try to keep this blog separate from my others and post strictly creative work here. Some of it will be better than others, and much of it is in first or second draft stage when posted. These are raw works, and there will be spelling and grammar troubles at times because I use this blog to gauge what works and what doesn't. I use it as a place to get feedback. That's the reason it is "horrible". Because it's not finished-- And why should it be? We all want feedback but most of us are too afraid to put ourselves out there.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Sinner's Halo: Book 1 Weaver of Snares - Chapter 3


You're dangerous 'cause you're honest
You're dangerous, you don't know what you want
Well you left my heart empty as a vacant lot
For any spirit to haunt
-U2 Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses


Chapter 3: The Liar and the Cat

           
† It took me a few minutes to realize that Zack’s muscles still hadn’t unclenched. I jumped off and before I could tell him, Luke was at his brother’s side. Zack waved off the need for the nurse and said that his legs had just cramped up and he just needed a minute to relax. However, each of his fingers erected into stiff rigors, as his blood pulsated inside. Each muscle spazzam ran through Zack like ripples through a river. His breath quivered but he smiled. Liv had forgotten her momentary attention ploy and run to get Zack some tea, leaving Asher looking on, running a hand fruitlessly through his hair. Luke coached him through breathing – four count inhale, four count hold, four count exhale, four count hold. Repeat.  
The Styrofoam cup Liv set down on the table in front of Zac squeaked. The steam that rose in curls from inside smelled of burnt bread. Zac wrinkled his nose and moved a little closer to me so that Liv could squeeze between him and Asher on the bench. One hand in each boy’s, Liv clenched her fingers between theirs. Playfully she began a surprise thumb war with both of them at once. Slowly Zack’s shoulders relaxed as he concentrated moving his thumb. Zac’s paroxysms subsided as he and Liv struggled to force each other’s thumbs down. I barely heard Luke exhale as he got up from where he had been crouched in front of his brother to join me at the table. While Zac relaxed, Luke remained tense.  He glanced at me and let the shadow of a smile form. I thought he was looking at me, but his gaze was pointed, like an arrow, past to my plate.  
            “So you’re not going to finish that brownie, right? Great. Thanks a bunch!”
            “No wait I—”
Before I could finish, Luke picked it up and smashed the entire brownie in his mouth. When he smiled, his teeth were blacked out by chewed brownie.
            “dhoo ymm wnnit bmack?”
            “No Luke, but thanks for asking…”
            “Imn—” Luke swallowed what he had in his mouth. “In that case, I’ll be taking that!” And picked up the other brownie from my plate. This did not go unnoticed by the other boys, and after a brief argument, they split up the brownie in crumbling pieces. The atmosphere was wrong. Bubbly laughter replaced the static electricity that had burned through each of us only moments earlier. Just like that, we were kids again. Asher chased Luke around the table, both passing pieces of ever decreasing brownie off to Zack for ‘safe keeping’. At one point, when he thought none of the teachers were looking, Asher shot a purring smile at Liv and me and propelled himself over the table. Finally both Luke and Asher triumphantly held as the boys finally decided that their pieces were equally sized, a stout man in a hideous orange tweed suit trotted up to us.
The man’s dark brown hair was gelled into wings on either side of a slightly zigzagged part. His eyebrows were so small that only appeared visible on the very ends, which curled up in a tight corkscrew. His flabby face concealed beady black eyes behind a bulbous nose and his upper lip extended itself far over his bottom lip, glistening with saliva.
Stale silence had infested the room, not just from our table, but the rest of the cafeteria as well. The hum of smacking lips and grinding teeth and all levels of chatter had been stifled as if a deadly virus had killed every sound-making thing in the room. All faces turned, anxious sunflowers towards a bulbous sun.
The man jutted out his lower jaw so that his yellowing teeth met.
“What in the name of all that is good and holy and liminally appropriate is going on here?” He spoke in a forced British accent, clicking his tongue against his teeth with every ‘t,’ on every ‘p;’ his vowels were wide and round. 
             I wanted to laugh. I wanted to speak. The words almost drizzled off the tip of my tongue: The hell are you talking about? Zack’s lips were quicker. 
            “You see Professor Lyre, the three of us,” he indicated himself, Luke and Asher, “were just working on a—a celebratory dance to celebrate the—the innermost workings of your high and glorious mind. Those two,” He shoved a finger in the direction of my chest, ignoring that Liv sat at least two people away. “Were giving us constructive criticism—in hopes that it would better portray it… it being, uh, your mind.”
            Not a single person laughed. Several eyebrows were raised, and some eyes shone in ridicule, but no one even betrayed a smile. Professor Lyre’s chin rose revealing the uneven stubble around his adam’s apple. He studied us each in turn for over a minute. 
            “Was this the way of it?”
 When Liv, Asher, Zac and Luke nodded, I copied them.
            “Then you must continue. It had better be perfection if you expect me to put it into the end of year galleria—you there!” Professor Lyre’s head turned suddenly in the direction of a small dark haired freshman standing rigid next to the tray return, her spoon about to push grey potatoes off the plastic plate.  
            “WHAT ARE THOSE GHASTLY LUMPS YOU HAVE LEFT ON YOUR PLATE?!”
             
            Twenty minutes later, the five of us left the cafeteria in silence. It wasn’t until we reached the main quad that people started muttering about what had happened.
 “Dang, that was harsh. We got so lucky no one laughed, or we would be worse off than potato-kid.” Liv whispered.
            I was totally blown, nodding. “What was up with that? All that she did was not finish her mashed potatoes. Half the people sitting next to her hadn’t finished their food.”
            “Yes, but they all finished their potatoes,” said Luke.
            “She still didn’t deserve detention,” I rolled my eyes, and glanced in Asher’s direction. He shrugged.
            Zack’s gait slowed. Despite the limp, he swung his cane like a golf club before tossing it over his shoulders to use as an armrest. “I guess there’s only one way to explain it.” Zack said. “Professor Lyre is completely insane. Crazy. Any rule that he comes up with himself is irrational—sometimes dangerous, always stupid. Rule one: if anyone takes potatoes from the Cafeteria, they must finish the whole thing or else get detention.”
            Asher slowed to walk beside Zack. “All of his rules have stemmed from some sort of epiphany that he had during one of his mind exorcize classes.”
            “That particular one,” explained Luke, “came after Professor Lyre did a study on Ireland. He thinks that the potatoes famine is still a problem, and he refuses to let anyone waste even a tea spoon of any kind of starch.”
            “I saw that thing the school sent me in the mail but it just seemed like such a joke…” I said, reaching for the doorhandle of the Bram English Center.
            Through the door I followed my friends into a corner of the building, shaped like an oversized book. Sculpted pages seemed frozen mid page-turn and disappeared as I wandered into the foyer, an airy indoor garden. Light poured in from the wide skylight, broken up by the ribs of a vaulted ceiling. Sunbeams settled on a small waterfall that graced the front of the room. Several classes were already stationed around the garden, some sitting on benches, some on giant rocks near the falls, while many others sat on thick grass that carpeted the floor. Classrooms dotted the edges of the atrium on three floors.
            “And this, my friends, is where leave you,” said Liv as she executed a swirling bow, “Have fun in the bookworm class!” She hopped to her English class in the nearest doorway. I waved, turned without looking and ran right into Luke’s chest. The slight bump on my nose did not hurt but I lost my balance, and landed on mossy floor-tiles. I grasped Luke’s wrist as he pulled me up.
            “Ugh,” I said, shaking off the clammy cold of his fingers and reaching for the Purelle in my pocket. His skin had been so warm in the past that we had often joked about selling him as a Space Heater to our grandparents. “You better not have gotten me sick, Luke.”
            The boys dragged me up two flights of stairs, down a hallway and up another small set of steps before we found room 333. The atrium may have been gorgeous, but the layout of these buildings was a laberynth. I was dragged to a desk in the back row and caged in by the twins and Asher.
            “I can see you have all found your seats.” 
The angular young woman I had met during homeroom strolled through the rows, handing out papers to each desk she passed. Alongside her name, Ms. Ayern Fendever, she had listed an email address and her office number.
            “I hope you liked the seats that you have picked, because they will be the ones you will have for the remainder of the year. That is of course,” she stopped next to Zac and Asher, who had plastered cherubic big eyes to their faces in mock adoration. “Unless you distract each other so much that I need to move you.” She handing them each a piece of paper and continued, “I doubt any of you really want to sit half a foot away from the desk. Again.”
            Zac and Asher exchanged guilty grins.
            On the board, Ms. Fendever wrote down book titles. To my surprise, she put the chalk back down after only three.
            “This year, we will be going over, in depth, the following books. Romeo and Juliet, Catch-22, and A Tale of Two Cities.” Groans revved up like engines at the start of a Grand Pre.
             “Come on Ms. Fendever, Dickens was paid by the word— Can’t we just do what the regular English Class is doing and read To Kill a Mockingbird?” Zack said, running a hand through his hair until it stood on end.
“Zack, we discussed Harper Lee last year. You haven’t read Dickens yet. How would you know if you do or don’t like him?” Ms. Fendever challenged him with a raised brow. When she again turned her back, Zack turned to us and made a vomiting sign with his hand, which I returned with a polite grimace. Truth was, I loved the book. Sydney Carton happened to be a favorite of mine, right up there with Atticus Finch. Ms. Fendever must have seen the exchange, as she straightened her back, like an angry raven ruffling its feathers.
“Its just so boring,” Zack whined, shrugging at her.
            “Zack, don’t be biased because you couldn’t get halfway through the book.” Luke chuckled, taking a worn copy from his backpack. “How many times do I have to tell you? Just get to the ending. Throws you for a loop – not to mention the freaking glorious imagery.” He added for the teacher’s benefit.  
            “Thank you, Mr. Cane. Though, please refrain from using the word ‘freaking gorgeous’ to describe Dickens. I think I heard him roll over in his grave,” Said Ms. Fendever.
            The rest of class went by in a blur, and too soon the bell rang. Asher and Luke grumbled something about Spanish on the other side of campus and dashed out. Before I could read it myself, Zack grabbed my schedule from my bag and scanned it.
            “Sweet! We both have Felis for history next period. You’ll like him.” 
            We ran down the hall and thousands of stairs, wizzing past Liv arguing with a freckly underclassman and out the door.  Across the neatly trimmed grass we approached a building shaped like a globe. Grey veins littered its surface and a loose map design covered the marble façade.
            “So,” I was almost more out of breath than Zack, he was moving me along so quickly. “Who’s this Felis guy?”
            Zack shrugged. “You would have seen him in homeroom this morning, but he came in late. He never likes coming in on days where we have long boring homeroom explanations. You’re in his advisee group.”
            “With who else?” I asked.
            “You, Me, some ugly dude named Luke, Liv, some uglier dude named Asher and a chick you don’t know called Kelly Ovis. Kelly isn’t technically in our advisee group, but she’s skipped out on her own to bum around ours. Senior, not high-strung or anything.”
            I held the thick oak doors open, noticing Zac was favoring his cane. Inside, I gazed across the newspaper wall again. People still loafed around the circular entrance, and a glance at my watch told me I had a minute or two to browse through the history wall.
            Titanic. World War I. World War II. Woodstock. The Berlin Wall. Some Clippings as early as the Civil War and some as recent as 6 weeks ago just pinned to the wall. I got so caught up in touching the crinkled parchment of some old letters I almost didn’t hear the bell sound. Luckily Zack was there to tug me along to Mr. Felis’s classroom.
            I was digging around in my bag for the extra notebook that I must have misplaced when the door of class clicked shut. As I fumbled for a pencil I glanced up at the front of the room, where a very young teacher pulled out the chair from an ancient looking desk that I hadn’t noticed when I entered. Mr. Felis could barely have been over 25, if that, and would have appeared completely unremarkable in his button up shirt and coordoroys had it not been for his hair: styled like a ginger Lawrence Olivier with a thin mustache to match. All I could think was that this was the first line of hipster gone corporate. Or educational, anyway.
            While we waited for the rest of us, students, to find their way in, Felis never looked up from his hands where he played with a string, making adept loops and images between his fingers. When the last kid finally ran into the room and apologizing a million times a second, Mr. Felis finally stood, tucking the string into his pocket.
            “Good afternoon,” Felis waited patiently until we all mumbled as one, “Good afternoon,” back. “If you read the schedule, the syllabus or my desk nameplate, you are probably aware that my name is Mr. Felis, comma, William, and as I always ask, I hope that by the end of this year you will all call me William, at least behind my back, if not to my face.” He gazed off into the motionless fan above our heads. “Nothing makes you feel like an old man more than people refusing to say your first name…”
            “Its alright, Bill, that’s what we’re here for. To keep you feeling youthful and fresh.” Zac smirked.
            “Hardy har har, Zac. It’s pronounced Will- eee- um.”
            “I mean, if you insist, Willie.”
            “You know what?” Felis raised his fist in an imitation threat. “One of these days, kid, one of these days.”
            Zac rolled his eyes and gave an overindulgent sigh. “William is too old man, Old Man. You don’t want ‘Felis,’ you don’t like ‘Bill,’ or ‘Billy,’ or for some reason ‘Willie,’ so what do you want us to call you? ‘Hey you,’ ‘teach’?”
             “Lets hold a congress about it and vote!” said wafer-thin girl.
            “Wait – hold on – what’s wrong with ‘William’?” Felis said as everyone got up and moved to the back. I followed as Zac dragged me along to the back of the class beside some industrial fake-wood cabinets.
            “I, Secretary of Education Coggins, call to order, this cabinet meeting,” said the thin girl. Suddenly everyone was talking over one another about what to call Mr. Felis, who stood helplessly at the front of the classroom. In a few moment we were divided by neighborhood, given a district number, and informed of our electoral college votes. I was handed a small piece of notebook paper and given the choices. We voted and the paper was collected. Votes were tallied in the back by Zac and Ms. Secretary of Education Coggins, who was really just a girl named Amser, while we all went back to our seats. Felis inhaled deeply as his head swung side to side.
“Nice to know you remember what I taught you in Pre-American to Revolution last year,” he mumbled under his breath.  
            “Votes have been tallied, sir,” Zac said from the back of the classroom. “You’ll be glad to know that Willie tied the popular vote with Billy, however, as per the electoral college, it turns out that we have decided on ‘Mr. Will,’ for the remainder of the school year.”
            “All in favor?” said the girl named Amser.
            “Aye,” was the unanimous response, even from Mr. Will at the front of the room. The whole thing had taken up ten minutes of class.
            “I knew I could count on you guys for a great introduction,” said Mr. Will, “But now we move on to new learning and new revolutions,” he moved to the board behind him and began to write down the periods we would study. “This year, the curriculum will revolve steadily around the French revolution. This time in history is a great epic of pandemonium, bloodshed and is also the only course that the Prof would approve in the budget. This will coincide nicely with what some of you will be reading in your English classes.”
            “Aw jeez,” I heard Zac swear under his breath, “Not Dickens again…”
            Once he finished the summery of the syllabus, Mr. Will sat down lazily in his chair, took out his string from the desk and fidgeted with it once more. I looked around and everyone watched him expectantly.
            “What?” Mr. Will said to our staring. “That was all I had planned. The Congressional hearing and vote ate up a lot of the extra space already, but since you guys really don’t want free time –” We all stared in horror at him, shaking our heads – give us free time, Mr. Will, give us free time!— “—since you really don’t want free time, then everyone gets to do an oral report – right here, right now—on what you did over the summer. Amser, start us off.”
Everyone was grumbly after that, though ‘tell me what you did last summer’ was hardly the worst way to spend the rest of class.  
            Some people, boys mostly, gave a one or two word answer such as, “went to the beach,” or “played video games.” One guy, Tamãs, just grunted. Some people went off on long-winded rants of how amazing their summers were as they traveled to far away places. Zac told us how he went to what he thought was a heavy metal concert but turned out to be a senior citizens jazz festival—and how he was pushed on stage by a very flirty grandmother and made to play the harmonica.
            “At first I was wicked freaked, but then I started playing my harmonica, and it turned into one of the best nights of my life. People were throwing flowers and all sorts of things at me—some crazy granny even threw a bra.”
            There was a collective mummer, and someone said, “Right on Grandma.”
When he was done, everyone turned to look at me. Except, the thing is, I don’t have any good stories to tell. Interesting stories, sure – but they always end in me getting a black eye, suspended or ducking under a fence to keep from getting arrested for trespassing. What can I say – the asylum a few towns over makes for some great photography. Instead I said something about how I babysat my sisters through Hurricane Frank when my parents got stuck a few hours away at their monthly square dancing meet up. Mostly we just sat in the basement with a thousand water bottles, watching movies on my laptop till the battery gave out and we went to bed.
            The door to the classroom opened midway through a rant from Natasha Damalez, a nasally blond girl, who was ranting about how her mother bought her the wrong $200 dollar crop top for some party she went to.
            Crazy Professor Lyre skulked into the classroom, brandishing a harp from underneath his neon orange blazer. “Oh Felix-man, vat is this? ‘I vent to zee zoo,’ ‘I ate a lot of grapes,’ ‘I sat through a hurricane’ –” He had obviously been listening from behind the door as he rattled off the past three or four summer story accounts. “Vie do none of zem have their books open? Vie are dey not listening to you speak? Vie do zey look amused?” He was glaring daggers at Mr. Will.
“You see, Sir, right now we are examining the history of each students individual summer. Later, we will analyze them to see how they relate to the French Revolution, in a culminating Midterm paper. And once again, the name is Felis, not Felix.”
“Bah. Felis, Felix – all is the same in Latin. If I find out that you haff been goofing around, heads will roll.” Professor Lyre waddled back through the door, briefly sticking his head back in to say, “I geef you, B-. Good effort, get better.” And with that he closed the door.
A long silence followed.
Zac asked what we had all been thinking:
“So, uh, Mr. Will, do we really have to write a summer vacation paper?”
“If I said yes, would any of you do it?” Mr. Will said, still glaring at the door.
“Not even a little,” I said.
“In that case, you don’t.”
Then Natasha returned to her story and bored them all through the end of class. †

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