Archive | April, 2010

For Whom the Blog Tolls–Blogging in the voice of Hemingway

30 Apr

I started reading For Whom the Bell Tolls yesterday and, when telling a friend about it via text, used a Hemingway writing-style. It was then that I got the idea to do an entire blog in the voice of Ernest Hemingway. Just imagine that he wrote this next piece.

Yea, Ernest wrote this.

From beyond the grave

The coffee shop was almost empty. It was warm outside, but the inside was air conditioned and the cold air running across the sweat on the back of Kyle’s neck made him shiver. It was just after five o’ clock and the sun had already begun descending in the western sky, its rays bouncing off the verdant pines and scrub trees that grew along the perimeter of the shop.

Kyle sat at the corner of the room of the café, reading. He closed the book and sat it down on the table before him. The coffee was making him hot and he could not focus on the pages. He also had to fart very badly, and the constant clenching of his butt cheeks distracted him. His cheeks shook with the strain.

Kyle heard footsteps and a moment later a beautiful woman entered. She sat in a chair on the other side of the room. She had tawny brown skin and hair that was the color of night. She was very beautiful. Her ass was also fantastic.

“Bounce a quarter off that ass,” Kyle said wistfully, his eyes full and dreaming. He did not realize that he had moved from his seat and was standing mere inches from the woman. He was also looking directly at her when he said this.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

“Excuse me,” Kyle said.

“What did you say?”

“I said ‘excuse me.'”

“Not just now, a second ago.”

“Oh,” he said. “I’m Kyle,” he said, introducing himself. They shook hands.

“I’m very busy,” she said. There were several books spread out on her table. Kyle did not think they belonged to her. She was much too pretty to read, he thought. He thought a prankster had put them there to confuse her.

“May I sit with you while you get busy?” Kyle asked.

“There’s not another seat here,” she responded. She was right. There was no seat opposite her own.

“That’s okay. I was tired of sitting anyway.” He moved to the empty spot across from her and stood.

“You’re making me incredibly uncomfortable,” the girl said. She shifted in her seat.

Kyle was uncomfortable, too. His butt cheeks were still quivering.

He stayed where he was.

The End.

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Wedding Bells Are A-Ringin’

28 Apr

My friends Lanny and Angela got married this past weekend. I liveblogged the entire experience.

10:18 am:

I wake up with a massive headache. I decided to use the rehearsal dinner to have a rehearsal hangover for the day after the wedding. Great success.

10:22 am:

This is bad. I briefly consider asking Lanny to postpone the wedding until I can open my eyes again.

10:25 am:

I remember that I left Derek outside the night before with no water. I get out of bed and let him in.

“Thanks man. I was scared.”

“Scared?”

“Raccoons are scary.”

I nod solemnly. I notice a small raccoon bite on Derek’s shoulder and my heart sinks. I wonder if I’ll have to kill him before he becomes a raccoon himself.

11:30 am:

Derek and I decide that, to pre-game for the night ahead, we should watch Wedding Crashers. Also, in case things take a turn for the worst, Dawn of the Dead.

12:00 noon:

Derek and I fall asleep on the ground, surrounded by candy wrappers and bottles of Mountain Dew.

12:37 pm:

We are awoken by our friend Wesley tapping us on the head with his foot.

“Guys? Are you guys ready to go?” He surveys the scene as me and Derek moan and grunt into the waking world. “What were you guys doing?” Wesley asks.

“Partying,” Derek says, his voice slightly muffled by his hand wiping at his face. “Partying on Mount Dew.”

We get up, gather our things, and walk to the door. There’s no time for a shower, so I simply cover myself in Axe body spray and put cinnamon in my hair. Derek does the same, except with ranch dressing. The odor is incredible. As we pile into Wesley’s minivan, I pull Wesley aside and whisper, “Hey, Derek got bit by a raccoon last night.”

“Oh, God,” Wesley gasps, struggling to control the volume of his voice. “THAT POOR SOUL!” He yells, completely losing control of the volume of his voice.

“Wait, why poor soul?” Derek asks as Wesley slides the van door shut in his face.

1:08 pm:

Wesley, Derek, and I reach the reception site, where the wedding party will all load into a hummer limo and head to the church. Everybody convenes at a small house on the property and drops their stuff off. It’s strangely similar to the first episode of a season of The Real World, except in this season, there’s already years of baggage to deal with and most of the cast members have already hooked up before.

I’m pretty sure I hear a child being conceived during the limousine ride.

1:55 pm:

SPOILER ALERT: There’s a lot of wiener in this next part.

The male portion of the wedding party is led to an office we’ll be using as a dressing room. The woman who leads us is a bit older, and very short. She has a squatty, pear-shaped frame, and her skin seems loose and baggy.

“Well, here’s where you’ll dress,” she says. We all quietly look the room over. A few members of the party set their tuxedos down. “Go ahead,” she says, not moving an inch. Her eyes seem to be glistening with desire.

“Um, do you think you could–” I begin, but am interrupted by Derek beckoning toward the party.

“Can somebody hold this while I put on my vest? It keeps getting in the way.” Derek has completely exposed himself. He is fully erect. His penis looks like Andy Rooney if someone stretched him out a bit.

“Incredible,” the old woman says. Chad Hammock, of the Chad Hammock Band, steps forward and throws Derek’s tux jacket onto his exposed crotch.

“That’s enough,” Chad Hammock of the Chad Hammock Band says. “Ma’am, we’d appreciate some privacy while we dress.”

“Yes, yes,” the woman said, almost whispering. She starts to walk out, slowly, then abruptly turns and scurries behind a plastic tree.

Von Aday, another groomsman, sighs heavily. “Ma’am, we can see you. Can you please leave? You’re making everyone really uneasy. Look, Derek’s completely flaccid.” The room collectively turns and looks at Derek, whose limp dick now resembles Mickey Rooney instead of a stretched-out Andy. Derek is frowning like a child who’s dropped his sweets.

“ALL RIGHT!” the woman screams and leaves.

We all dress without further incident.

4:00 pm:

One hour until the wedding, we’ve just finished taking photographs. Nothing weird happened here.

5:00 pm:

The wedding begins. I’m getting nervous. In my sweaty right hand, I hold Angela’s wedding ring. To stave off my nerves, I begin ranking the groomsmen in terms of what they look like in a tuxedo. Here’s what I got:

Church Deacon with Hilarious Drinking Problem: Kendall ChaseChurch Deacon

Small Child  Who is Angry Because “My Mom is Making Me Wear This”: Von Aday

NFL Player on Draft Day Who Seems Terribly Uncomfortable in Atypically Formal Clothes: Robert Santos

Bitter, Vietnam War Veteran Pall-Bearer: Chad Hammock (of the Chad Hammock Band)

Proud, Ethnic Father: Joey Kochetta

Friendly Waiter at High-End Restaurant: Parker Thompson

Young, Drunk Stock Broker: Kyle Irion

James Bond (Goldeneye-era): Lanny Thompson

5:08 pm

Bride’s maids file in. Lanny seems frustrated when I ask him which of the maids he’d most want to bang. After a moment, I lean close to his ear and whisper that I want to bang “Almost all of them.”

5:15 pm

Preacher mentions “the blood of Christ.” I turn to Parker, who stands behind me, and whisper-yell, “GORE FEST!!!” while holding up devil-horns with my right hand. Those in attendance all turn and look at me. I think it’s because there’s something on my tux, so I look down to check. There isn’t. I return my gaze to the preacher.

5:34 pm

A man from the audience, a family friend, goes to the podium to read some passages from the Bible. Before the ceremony, I switched the man’s bible with a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. Nobody (including the man reading) notices the switch. Everyone is very moved by the readings.

5:50 pm

BORED.

5:58 pm

The wedding party begins to file out. As I walk down the aisle, trying to pinch the Maid of Honor’s butt with the highest level of genteel-discreetness, I realize that I just saw something pretty special. I feel a swell of pride in my heart then a harsh slap on my hand as it grazes the Maid of Honor’s tookus.

Congratulations, Lanny and Angela.

I Am the BEST Man.

22 Apr

A few months ago, I got a call from my friend Lanny.

“Hey man, I was wondering if you’d want to be in my wedding.”

“Groom?” I ask. I can hear the ambient hum of the road on the other end of the line.

“…No, that’s me. I’m the groom.”

“Congratulations!” I say. The hum again.

“All right,” Lanny responds, then asks “Do you want to be my best man?”

I’m elated. “I am the best man. I–” Nipping a convoluted, painfully obvious joke series in the bud, Lanny cuts me off.

“No. The best man. Emphasis on the neither word. Don’t say best man or best man. You’re not the best male in the world, don’t say it. Just stop right here. We’re having a nice moment. You are the lead groomsman. That’s what you are.”

“So, in the wedding, I come behind you but before the rest of the groomsmen?”

“Um, yes.”

“So I came in second place in the wedding. That’s fantastic.”

“You what?”

“I almost won…” I say wistfully. I quietly vow to myself to win the next wedding.

“That’s right. Nothing wrong with second place. See you, dude.”

And that’s how the conversation ended. The weeks to come are filled with hundreds of wedding-themed tweets and facebook statuses. Lots of ideas getting tossed around. Everybody seems pretty stressed out by the entire thing. I decide that it’s about time, as best man, that I try to help in the planning.

“No,” Angela, the bride to be, replies flatly.

“Really, though. I have some great ideas!”

“No. We hired a wedding planner to plan the wedding. Thank you for everything, though.”

“Can I j–” tears well up in my eyes. My lip begins to shake. My hand slowly creeps to my butt and pulls out a wedgie.

“God, okay Kyle. Okay. What’re your ideas?”

I tell her of the many Irion family traditions I’d like to see employed–my favorite being this: the elder of the family goes out to the chicken coop. All great men have chicken coops. The elder of the family takes the chicken that most resembles the bride from the coop and brings it to the wedding party, who has amassed in a great, open field.

“Do you love this woman?” the elder asks.

“I do,” the groom says.

“Then you also love this chicken.” Nobody quite understands what the elder means by this. The elder slips the bride’s wedding ring onto a small chain then ties the chain around the chicken’s neck. He then drops the chicken to the ground. “Now go,” he says. “Go and grab my chicken.” Some suspect that this last line was lost in translation from its German origin.

I finish my summary of the idea. Angela seems pained. She scratches her head.

How long has this been a tradition, did you say?” she asks.

“I think it just happened once–or not at all. Anyway, I was thinking that maybe I could work some magic in at the altar when I hand Lanny the ring.”

“No,” she says sternly. She pauses, takes a step closer, and points directly into my face. “I swear to all the Gods that have ever been and ever will be–if you dare pull any of your stupid, ‘Hey everybody! I’m IronKyle! Look how funny I am! Whiskey!’ bull shit with that ring, I will peel the skin from your bones and use it as a table cloth at the reception. Do you understand me?”

Twelve ounces of urine escape my body. I nod quietly. Angela takes a look at my now wet crotch and scoffs, disgusted.

I stand, humbled. I get out my laptop and begin liveblogging the entire wedding.

Be ready.

The Old Man and the Sea and Kyle

17 Apr

I hold tightly to the big pole thing in the middle of the boat. The waves are rocking the boat back and forth and back again then forth one more time. So typical.

“Typical ocean,” I say. The leathery, stoic captain of the vessel I stood aboard turns and glares at me.

“Tell me, fairy,” (He calls me “fairy” because I bring sweet, innocent magic into his life. He also thinks I’m homosexual.) “What do ye mean when ye say ‘typical ocean’? Because in my experience, there is no such thing as typical ocean.”

“Well, my dear captain,” I say, looking dreamy-eyed into the water or whatever, “The blue mushy mistress is tossing our tiny bread chunk throughout the wild blue squish.”

There’s six or seven seconds of crushing silence.

“What the fuck are you talking about, boy?”

“Nothing,” I say. Then, quieter: “Merely dreams.”

The captain looks at me with the same beleaguered expression, his mouth slightly open, one eye closed against the northern wind. His face looked as if it had been carved out of stone. It showed the cracks of old age and a life at sea.

“Why don’t you unclench the jib sheet, boy,” the old man says.

“I love your old-timey expressions,” I say, smiling. I have no idea what he’s talking about. The man looks at me again, sighs, and unclenches the jib sheet, which is the smaller sail opposite the main sail. We begin to slow.

“Ease the main sail, fairy. We’re going to stop here.”

I walk to the main sail. It’s a web of ropes and pulleys and various other mechanisms. A few ounces of vomit creep into my mouth. I swallow three-quarters of the vomit and leave one-quarter to keep myself humble. Okay, Kyle, I think. The old man’s lookin’ to you for this. Time to make him stop regretting his decision not to shoot you as soon as we reached open waters. I pull at one of the ropes. It doesn’t budge. I look out into the vast ocean–pleading for her help. Oh great Wet Lady, please help me and my old friend catch so many fish  today–we’re just borrowing them. We’ll bring them back. I knew this was a lie. We were going to turn those fish into jelly. I beg you, Wet Lady. Put your big ol’ wetness all over me and help me untie this sail. I was now working hard to hide the boner that had formed in my board shorts. I should have worn my cargo pants.

“Boy! Slow the boat! Ease the sail!” the old man commands from the front of the boat. He doesn’t look up to see my fear, though. He’s too busy loosening the nets for the day’s catch.

“Yes sir!” I reply, terrified. I desperately need to stop this boat. I need to make the old man proud. Seeing that I have roughly the same chance of figuring out how to manage the sail mechanism as I do understanding what was so damn great about The Hurt Locker, I decide drastic measures need to be taken. I lift a sheathed scaling knife from the floor of the boat. I remove it from its sheath and begin slashing great holes in the sail. The wind begins to pass through each successive hole until the sail is pretty much useless. The boat slows to a stop.

“There you go, lad,” the old man says, tossing the nets over the side of the boat. “Now, we can–” he turns, and the sight of the shredded sail stops his voice in its tracks. He looks at the landless horizon surrounding us. There is not a boat to be seen. There is no communication device on the boat. “Well, now we’re fucked,” he says.

And indeed we were fucked.

The End.

Whiskey Kyle Letters: The Whiskey Kyle Story

12 Apr

The following is a correspondence between Whiskey Kyle, the alcohol-fueled alter-ego of Sober Kyle, and Sober Kyle himself.

——-

Dearest Whiskey Kyle,

Hello. It has been some time since we have conversed. How have you been? I heard you had quite a weekend. I hope you played it safe–no need to put oneself into unnecessary danger in order to experience a few laughs and some good times. I’ve been well. I’ve been working and writing and trying to stay in shape as much as I can. Our love of sweets doesn’t help though, does it? Please let me know how you’ve been.

Yours always,

Sober Kyle

STUPID KYLE,

What’s chiLd support? What’s bActerial meENingitis?

I hate you,

Whiskey Kyle.

Dearest Whiskey Kyle,

Why are you asking about child support? Did you father a child, my burden of perpetual body odor? Child support is money that you are legally required to pay the mother of your child. I cannot stress the seriousness of the situation if you by some incredible miracle made a child with a woman and now owe child support payments. I pray that this is not a problem you have been keeping from me for long. Please respond as quickly as possible.

Yours always,

Sober Kyle

Ssss Kyle,

Don’t wROry. It’s gonna b OK. she says it’s my BaBy but I knoW it isN’t.

It isn’t tall enough adn it’s black.

StiLl waitiNg for answer on BacterIal meningItis.

In lots of pain,

Whiskey Kyle

Whiskey Kyle,

If the infant seems to have some African-American descent from the father’s side, it definitely cannot be yours. Crisis averted. Bacterial meningitis is an extremely serious medical condition. I need you to tell me your symptoms so we can decide if you need to go the hospital or not.

Yours,

Sober Kyle

DeaR Mr. Bryant,

I loVe the way you plaY basketball. You”re so good. R U betTer than my Dad? I think when you played wiTh Shaq itWas better.

Can I live with youU?

Sincerelly,

Whiskey Kyle

Whiskey Kyle,

It seems you’ve sent me a letter that you meant to send to Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant. I can only assume that you mailed Mr. Bryant the letter that should have been sent to me. Please rewrite your response. I’ll repeat my previous request. I need a list of your symptoms so I can decide what kind of danger you’re in. Time is wasting, Whiskey Kyle.

Please hurry,

Sober Kyle

Spber Kyle,

Please fowrard my letter to kobe Bryant. im probably dying.

CAN’T SEE COLORS,

Whiskey KYkele

Whiskey Kyle,

Please. Please, please, please. I am begging you to for once take something as seriously as you take drinking that swill you fill your body with every night. A life hangs in the balance. Bacterial meningitis can kill you. I fear that the time this letter reaches you, it may be too late. Please seek medical attention.

Yours,

Sober Kyle

DeAR roBoCop,

heY! Howdju fit that Gun in UR LEG?!

Did THat hurt?

ur Friend,

Whiskey Kyle

Whiskey Kyle,

Try not to die where anybody can smell you.

Yours,

Sober Kyle.

Big Brother Little Brother

9 Apr

I was going to write a blog about being assigned a Little Brother and having comic hijinks with him, but then I remembered somebody else had already done that.

I quickly realized that, if I didn’t want to go through the trouble of typing a new title in the title bar, I’d have to come up with something new that also utilized a brotherly tone. Maybe something like…

This joke was too easy. I don't deserve your laughter.

Sitting at my desk, looking out over the parking lot/late-night asphalt bathroom, it suddenly struck me: I too have a brother–a little brother–and he isn’t McLovin.

I call my brother on the phone.

“This is Nick.”

“Hey man, what’s up?” I ask. I can hear Nick sigh.

“Do you need more money?”

“What? No!” I say, smiling and embarrassed.

“Do you need more money, Kyle?”

“Nick, I’m just calling you to see how you are and to see if you want to come spend some time with your big brother.”

“Really?”

“Yea. You want to come hang out?” Nick seems a bit dumbfounded but, after a moment, responds.

“Sure, man. Sure. I–I’ll be at your place in a few.”

“Oh, before you go–” I say.

“–yes?”

“Thirty dollars. I could use thirty dollars.”

Another sigh. “I’ll stop by the ATM.”

Nick arrives half an hour later. My brother Nick is tall and thin. His face is made up of sharp features that lead their way up to eyes that always carry a kind of heaviness. Also, they carry tissue scarring because of that time I threw a box of tacks at his face.

He steps out of his car. I walk out to greet him, my steps making crunching sounds as they pass over the dry Texas grass.

We greet one another and go to our first activity.

“Have you eaten lunch?” I ask from the driver seat. I’m sitting on Nick’s lap while he drives.

“Eh…” Nick, trying to see around me, emits a grunt of frustration. “Man, no, but can you please just sit in the passenger seat? I understand that you want to be closer, but this is incredibly unsafe.”

“Love is incredibly unsafe,” I respond, looking deeply into his eyes. “Even brotherly love.”

Nick doesn’t respond. He just glances up at me warily, his eyebrows furrowed. He must be nervous about how much he loves his bubby, I think. He’s afraid to open up because he’s afraid I’ll hurt him. I look out the windshield, thoughtful. He’s afraid I’m going to throw more tacks at his face. I carefully remove a box of tacks from my pocket and throw them out the open window. Nick smiles, his expression showing gratefulness and relief.

We reach McDonald’s.

“We’ll have one quarter pounder meal with a Dr. Pepper and a Happy Meal with an orange drink.” I smile to myself and look to Nick, who is waiting at a booth at the side of the restaurant.

Our food is brought out promptly. I take the tray to our booth and set it down in front of my brother.

I take the quarter pounder.

Nick surveys his food. “This is all the food you got me?”

I smile at Nick, adoringly. I say nothing.

“Is this all the food you got for me? Kyle, I’m a grown man. This isn’t nearly enough food. Listen, I don’t mind getting myself some more, I just need to know if there’s more on the w–”

I reach out and rest one finger on Nick’s quarrelsome mouth. “Quiet now, little bro. Eat your meat cookie.” I hand him his tiny, child-sized burger. “After you’re done, I have a big surprise for you.”

Nick seems nervous, but he’s always been kind of a pussy ever since I tricked him into grabbing that electrical wire, so I ignore him.

After the meal, I lead Nick by the hand through a series of doors, making sure to remind him to keep his eyes closed until we reach our destination.

“Are we there yet?” he asks.

“HERE WE ARE!” I yell. Nick jumps back, covering his face. “No, Nick, you’re okay,” I say, reaching out and pulling him forward. “Just open your eyes.”

“The ball-pit.” Nick says flatly. “You took me to the–damn it Kyle! I’m twenty-one years old! I’m three feet too tall to even step foot in the play area.

A small crowd of laughing children scurry by us.

“Go play with your friends, Nick!” I command, smiling, filled with false exuberance.

He exhales, his shoulders slumping. Eyes downcast, Nick slowly walks into the play area. As he approaches the circular opening to the pit, I call out to him.

“Nick! Your shoes! Take off your shoes!”

With a look telling of great pain, Nick turns around, takes a seat on the plastic steps leading to the opening and removes his feet. After he’s in his sock feet Nick struggles into the much too small opening. I hear a deep thud that must have been his head. He crosses onto the ledge overlooking the pit. He looks to me balefully, then falls limply into the pit.

No more than two minutes later, the McDonald’s manager comes out and asks Nick to get out of the pit. We’re escorted from the premises.

Nick isn’t answering my phone calls.

I love my brudder.

April Fool’s Day, A Reminiscence

4 Apr

I had a fantastic April Fool’s Day. It started out as every April Fool’s Day has since I was a boy–my father slowly opens my door as I sleep, so as not to wake me; then, at the top of his lungs, screams “APRIL FOOL’S!” and dumps a pillow case full of cats on my chest. They growl and claw and bite. The pain is excruciating. After a moment, my dad snaps his fingers and the chaos ceases. The cats stop fighting and fitting, descend from my bed, and leave my room. My dad says not a word.

As I shower this particular April Fool’s day morning, bolts of pain ripping through me as the water runs over my wounds, I contemplate what my big April Fool’s joke will be this year. It isn’t until breakfast that it hits me.

I arrive at the school to which I am employed in much the same state as I usually do: half-naked, a partially-eaten peanut butter sandwich tucked into my waist-band. As I rummage through my trunk for a shirt, I see my boss park a few spots down from me. She gets out of her car, pulls her purse over her shoulder, locks the door of her car, and turns toward the building. Upon turning, her gaze falls on me. She looks at me with a stare as cold and motionless as stone. I look back at her, smiling widely. There’s a tiny chunk of peanut butter at the corner of my mouth.

“Mrs. Rodriguez!” I wave emphatically. “Ready to teach?!” I take a bite of my sandwich.

“I–” Mrs. Rodriguez starts, as if to say something of some importance, then gives up on whatever message she had planned to deliver. She sighs, smiles weakly and walks into the building. She has no idea of the mischievous, spring-time hilarity coming her way.

It just so happened that this day, the tutoring program at the school I work for had arranged for a guest speaker. Perfect, I think to myself. This prank will be so much easier with all the kids in the same room.

At the first bell, all the students participating in the tutorial program are led into a large lecture hall in the newly-renovated portion of the high school. Me and my fellow tutors, along with Mrs. Rodriguez, follow them. The students file in and fill each row from front to back.

“I think I’m going to sit more toward the front,” I say to the other tutors. “I’m a big fan of this guy’s work.”

The group halts their ascent up the stairs. Walt, another tutor, looks down at me, confused. “The speaker’s a girl.”

“Oh yea, yea. She’s hilarious,” I respond. “I love her energy.”

“She’s going to talk about overcoming an abusive father and the AIDS virus to attend Harvard. How is that hilarious?” Mrs. Rodriguez interjects.

Tell me about it,” I say, smiling nervously. A thin line of sweat has broken across my forehead.

I sit down next to Emilio, the boy who sometimes sells me Tic Tacs that are actually Xanax.

He nods to me. I nod back.

“What’s this about?” Emilio asks. I’m only half listening, surveying the room and mentally preparing for my prank.

“What?” I ask, calculating the relative distances between different points in the room.

“What is this speaker going to talk about?”

“Oh,” I say, “Something about abusing her father and giving Harvard AIDS.”

“Huh? But Kyle, th–”

“–Dude,” I say, turning to look him in the eyes. In a hushed tone, I continue. “If you don’t stop asking me questions, I’m going to stop buying glue for you and your friends. Do you understand me?” He nods in agreement.

The speaker comes out. She’s probably a six. Without the AIDS diagnosis, though, she’s an easy eight. I weigh my options and continue undressing her with my eyes. I take a mental note to wash my eyes later.

“Hello, everyone,” she says. “My name is Sarah Estes. I’m here to tell you my story, not to scare you, but to insp–”

I zone out completely. Now, my focus is solely on the clock. In twelve minutes, I pull the trigger on my great prank.

Eleven minutes, forty-five seconds: “–to perhaps be better people and to never ever stop believing in the power of your own personal intention.”

Eight minutes, thirty-seven seconds: “He locked the door, turned to me and said, ‘Now you’re going to get what you deserve.'”

Seven minutes, six seconds: “I thought the bruises would never heal.”

Five minutes, twenty seconds: Emilio sneezes, startling me. I almost chop him square in the throat.

Three minutes, eighteen seconds: “Then the doctor came in with my test results. I knew it wasn’t good.”

Two minutes, two seconds: “How could I face my family? How could I face myself?

One minutes: I shift in my seat, restless.

Ten seconds.

Nine.

Eight.

Seven.

Something less than seven.

Four?

Wait, are we counting down or up?

Two.

Five.

One.

Blast-off.

I leap from my seat, applauding.

“What a beautiful speech,” I proclaim. Murmurs of confusion ripple from the students. “Now now, students,” I say, smiling amiably, hands slightly raised, “Do shut up. Yes.” Mrs. Rordriguez quietly slinks out the rear exit. So sly. She must be sneaking out to eat a sandwich or something. Walt, eyes wide, looks down on me, making eye contact. “What are you doing?” he mouths. “I’m about to fuck this whole place in two,” I mouth back.

“I wasn’t quite done, sir,” the speaker says.

“Sure you were,” I say, patting her on the back, then removing a small bottle of hand sanitizer and thoroughly washing. I gently remove the microphone from her hand and wash that to. Now, speaking through the PA system, I say “Kids, I have something I need to tell you. A month or so ago, the high school made some phone calls, inviting all your parents to a special, surprise event at the school here today. They were set to be standing just outside these double doors after the presentation. We had record attendance planned. I mean, every single parent and or legal guardian volunteered their presence here today. They all met at a restaurant in town, and were taking a bus to the school from there.”

Silence now. I have their undivided attention.

“Well, here’s the thing. I just got word that that bus has been outfitted with a bomb.”

A shocked inhalation from a girl in the audience sets off a clamoring, chaotic wave of questions and shouting.

“Calm down!” I command. “They’re okay, for now. But, you see…”

They begin to quiet down again. From the rear of the lecture hall, I see the double doors swing open. Several principles and security guards are there. They begin walking down the aisle.

“You see, the bomb has a trigger attached. They have to stay at a speed higher than fifty-five miles per hour, or the bomb will detonate, killing them all.”

All born in the nineties, these kids have no idea what I’m referencing. Not a single one of them has seen The Mask.

A principle reaches the podium where I now stand. “Mr. Irion, I think that’s enough. Come with us.”

An alarm goes off on my phone. Set to sound like a ring tone, I pretend to answer it. “Hello? What? Oh…oh no…NO!…They’ll all be orphans now!” I say. The students are at a near-frenzy. Administration tries to keep everyone calm. “Yes, I’ll tell them. Someone needs to come claim the remains, right? What? Oh, oh. The remains have all be incinerated, you say? How foolish. How… APRIL FOOLISH!” I put my phone in my pocket. “April Fool’s, everybody! Your parents are all fine!”

The cries of lament and woe vanish. All faces are vacant edifices behind which advancing flames rise.

The room darkens.

The End.

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