"Right here," I said. And hugged him. My wife smiled at us from the other side of the table. When I kissed them all good-bye, I lingered before stepping out into the driveway. As if I were attempting to soak up enough good vibes to last me through the night, straight through the redbrick archway of Attica and into the fetid rec room. Like a magic aura that might protect me from harm. "Be careful," my wife said from the front door.
When I went through the metal detector, it went off like an air raid siren.
I'd forgotten to take my house keys out of my pocket. "Hey, Yobwoc," the CO said while patting me down. "Keys are like. . . metal." Yobwoc was Cowboy backward and stood for Young Obnoxious Bastard We Often Con. PHD was just one of my monikers here. "Sorry," I said, "forgot."
As soon as I entered the classroom, I could see there was another piece of the story waiting for me at my desk. Eleven pages, neatly printed. Yes, I thought. The story is just getting started. Other sections soon followed like clockwork. From that first day on, there would be another piece of the story waiting for me every time I entered the classroom. Sometimes just a page or two--sometimes what would constitute several chapters. Placed flat on my desk and all, like the first one, unsigned. The story unfolding piecemeal, like a daytime serial you just can't pull your eyes away from. After all, it would end up containing all the staples of soap opera-sex, lies, and tragedy.
I didn't read these installments to my class. I understood they were solely for me now. Me and, of course, the writer. Speaking of which.
There were twenty-nine students in my class. Eighteen blacks, six Hispanics, five pale-as-ghosts Caucasians. I was reasonably sure that none of them had ever ridden the 9:05 to Pennsylvania Station. So where was he?
Copyright © 2003 by James Siegel
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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