Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Short Happy Life

So, I'm joining "The Alchera Project" The first writing prompt was:
"This month’s starter: I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. (Hunter S. Thompson)"

So here it is


The Short Happy Life
By Chris Halverson
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. Drugs was the first day, alcohol the second. The third day… That was the day of the robbery, the forth… well, I’m only human. Trauma like that, it gets to you. Yet, those four days were the first days of my life.
“Get your arms off of me!” I shouted, scraping the attacker’s face with my key chain.
He grabbed harder, pulling at my wallet.
I turned around
Fuzzy. Fuzzy. It was cuddly, smarmy comfort, piss. I lapped it up as best I could.
“Adam! Adam!”
Funny blue man. I think. “Not so funny,” said the voice.
He was going to attack me. Like before. Like before. Like before.
“No, I understand. Last night was a bit much. It was kind of fast. Fast for me too. Sorry about that by the way.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. I. I enjoyed it.”
“I know,” she said, kissing high on my cheek bone.
I could feel the lipstick cling to me. I smiled, “bye.”
“Bye,” she said, walking down the street, her body swaying the way only a woman’s body can.
You know man. Fuck it. Seriously, if those kids don’t respect you. Fuck em. Tell ‘em they don’t need to be taught,” Allen was pissed. He couldn’t believe that happened. He had been born in Zambia, to him schooling was still a privilege, as he told me all the time, “you know,” he said, “Back in Zambia school was a privilege,” then he’d always tell me about how he even felt it was a privilege to be beaten by Mr. Everet” an overly zealous Anglican school teacher. “You know what. This is going to sound strange, but I even enjoyed it when Mr. Everet would beat me. I felt at least I was learning. It was a hard lesson, but a lesson none the less.”
Blue. That’s what they call ‘em. Blue is black. It’s all sensicle, because black… men can’t be black, so they called them blue. I saw that in that smarmy cute movie.
My head ached. I hadn’t felt like this since I was a freshman back at University. I opened my blurry eyes. Not my bed I think, and look around.
“Wow,” I say, mystified as this woman comes in, with some bacon, toast and an Asprin.
“Hey, Adam,” she said, smiling, satisfied.
She was beautiful, long black hair, athletic build, green eyes, in her mid twenties.
“Hey…”
“Elizabeth.”
“Adam,” I replied. I was already on my 5th drink and the night was young. The music was campy, all smiles. I put out my hand to shake hers. Then. I was all smiles and kissed her hand.
She smiled too. I think she liked me.
“Care to go to a movie?” she asked.
“What’s playing?”
“It… Doesn’t matter,” she replied, pulling me from the barstool. I almost fell into her, she just laughed, and tugged me onward. I followed.
“Tell you what would make you feel better.”
“Hmm?” I questioned.
“One… of these,” he said, producing a little round pill with a hello-kitty image on it.
“I don’t know. That seems.”
“Dude. You have a couple of days off. This doesn’t do anything worse than weed.”
I shrugged him off, “Na. I’m… you know, a teacher… DARE and…”
“Come on Adam. For this week don’t be a teacher. It’s like back home, a right of passage.”
The blue fuzzy African man held me down.
“Calm man, calm. Put that shit,” and something fell from my hands.
“Adam!” he shouted into my ears.
“Did. Did you see
“He didn’t just disrespect me. He attacked me.”
“Shit. That is bad. Tell you what would make you feel better.”
She at down next to me, “So, you’re a teacher.”
“Not a very good one,” I replied.
“Yeah? Why’s that?” she asked, putting her arm around my shoulder and filching one of my toasts as I reclined and ate.
“I was
In America was all that was playing. The parts I caught were kind of entertaining, but not as entertaining as her hands on my chest, her lips on mine, her tongue with mine.
We wrestled through the credits, and the usher, younger than the kids I taught, in his bellhop-looking outfit, humming and hawing, finally made us go.
We turned to a liquor store, and soon enough we were in her flat.
“Why the hell not?” I said, popping the Hello-Kitty into my mouth.
“Should drink something, otherwise your mouth will get kind of dry,” Allen said, handing me a gin and coke.
I swigged it down in one gulp. I felt a bit of a buzz, but I think it was from the drink, “When does this take effect?”
“Should start to feel it pretty soon.”
I decided to go to a ‘Hole in the Wall’ before I went home. I looked at my face in the tinted window of a Woolworths. I liked the red lips she left on my cheek. I couldn’t help but smile. My head was clearing up.
“Mr. Davidson!” someone shouted at me. I could recognize the voice. And he was on me
Twice. Twice. Twice twice twice twicetwicetwicetiwice. Twoittwoittwoit.
“ADAM.”
“Twice!” I shouted at Allen.
“Twice what Adam?” he asked, putting the lamp I had held in my hand onto my dresser.”
“He-he, attacked me two-twi-twice.”
“Who did?”
And hit him hard.
He fell down, as did my wallet. I

I woke up late. It was after noon. My mouth was dry, cottonball dry. On my desk lay my students’ essays about In Cold Blood. They were already graded.
“What the hell?” I looked closely at them. It was my writing, a little sloppy, but my writing.
Sandra. C
You missed the point of the book entirely, it is ‘non-fiction novel.’ I know you can do better.
Thomas. B+
Good stuff. You really are improving. You’re literate now! Good job.
Brad. F
Ssee me after class. This isn’t your writing. You obviously got this from the internet. You’ve done this a lot. I’ve let it slide because I don’t expect much from you. That’s wrong. You deserve to be held to the same standards as the rest of your class… And another thing! If you ever hit me again I swear I’ll rip your heart out.
“Shit.”
I showered, made myself some breakfast, and called up Allen.
“Hey. That was good. You know what. I finished all my grading…”
“What?”
“I finished all my grading. I read 31 four page essays and.”
“Cool. So you have some free time?”
“Yeah.”
“Let’s go drinking tonight. There’s someone I’d like you to meet. She’s the Residential Director at the Empire.”
“Well. I was thinking… I need to…”
“What? You’re done grading, and you don’t have to deal with students for a couple of days still.”
“Okay. I’ll go.”
I was breathing quickly, hyperventilating. “Gotta find Brad.”
“So what, he can attack you again?”
I shook my head no… vigorously.
“Make sure he’s okay.
“This is good,” I said, referring to the breakfast, and the cuddling, and the whole situation.
She nodded.
“You know what? Last night, after you passed out on my bed.”
I laughed at that.
“I got to writing. I hadn’t been able to… to do it well, for a while. But I just sat down next to the bed, watching you kind of writhe around, muttering. And I got something! I wrote a whole monologue in one night!”
I sopped up the last of the yolk with a piece of toast, “What’s it called?”
“The Short Happy Life.”
“Like Hemingway.”
“Yeah!”
Things were smashing around everywhere. Allen was laughing. I was to, but I didn’t know why.
“There you go. Not so bad my little Adisa,” he said, hefting me up and walking me to his car. We drove around for a while in the rain. Things were blurry and passed fast.
“Now my little Adisa,” he always calls me that when he’s gotten me to do something new. It means ‘one who will teach us.’ ‘Adisa why don’t you rap Shakespeare.’ ‘Adisa, let’s go clubbing, maybe you’ll find someone.’
“Yes, sweet Feirefiz,” I responded. Feirefiz was the only black in Arthurian legend.
“Just sit down. Enjoy the night. Do whatever strikes you.”
I nodded, stumbling up the set of stairs to my flat.
I picked it up and put it back in my pocket.
“You know what,” he was getting up from the ground, holding his jaw, “you get an F. Brad. You get an F, its what you deserve. Start taking life seriously. Start realizing this is all you have, and you might as well do well at it!”
I walked off one way, toward the ATM, he ran off the other way. I hear someone shout, “You got it from the teacher!”
I think it was another student, Victor, who said it. I didn’t care.
I had a hell of a time convincing Allen to take me. I was glad he did. Brad’s house was in the worst part of Hackney. I was the only European for miles. I’d stopped stuttering, though the idea was still rather mad.
I knocked on the tenement door.
“Wha’s you want?” asked a skinny African woman.
“Mrs. Carpenter. I’m Mr. Davidson, your son’s teacher I would like to talk to Bradley.”
“Sure, come in. Would you like some tea?”
“Yes please,” Allen followed me from behind, locking his BMW with his keyless entry. Two homeless men were looking at the tire. Allen shrugged, the car beeped, and they went away.
“Bradley Adisa Carpenter, get down here.”
He came down a set of creaky stairs into the kitchen. When he saw me his eyes went big, the pupils went small, the whites large.
“Mr. Davidson. What you doing here?” he chewed on the side of his mouth, looking at Allen. I doubt he watched the kind of movies Allen acted in.
“We both have a little time off from school. I graded your paper, and wanted to talk to you about it. I don’t think you wrote it.”
Mrs. Carpenter was shocked. Bradley nodded, “Nah, I didn’t.”
“But you should have,” I said looking more at Mrs. Carpenter than Bradley.
“Yeah, should have.”

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