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The Reunion

Short Fiction by Jonathan Mitchell

What the hell am I doing at my 20 year High School reunion? I hardly knew anyone. In high school I had no friends, I was always alone. High school had been nothing but a rotten memory-- shitty grades, being picked on by other kids.

I was jolted out of my reverie, realizing I had reached the Red Room of the Blue Oaks Country Club where Century High's 20- year Reunion was being held. I did not know how they had found my current address--a tenement in the worst section of town--when they sent me an invitation for the reunion, but I had accepted and here I was. They had had a 10-year reunion, but for some reason, I had not been notified and I may not have gone in any event.

"Hi, how's it going?" a guy in a ponytail came up to me, waving.

"Ron Cohen!" I replied, perusing his nametag with a senior year picture over it. He looked much younger in the black and white photo. "Sorry I don't remember you," I said.

"Ah that's okay", replied Ron. "I don't remember your name, but I know we had fifth period gym together in 11th grade. How come you don't have a nametag?"

"Well, I wasn't into having my picture taken for the yearbook, and they only have the nametags for people who had their senior yearbook photos taken."

"Oh, bummer. Well, I'm gonna go into the Red Room, catch ya laterz."

I entered the Red Room with the sign Century High, 20 year Reunion written on it. I had no idea why they called it the Red Room. It was not red at all. The carpet was a strange magenta color and the walls were a hideous chartreuse.

Now why the hell did I come to the reunion? It suddenly hit me. There had been two reasons. The first was that I had had nothing to do that Saturday night. The primary reason, though, was that ironically enough, high school in some ways had represented one of my few triumphs. I had been afflicted with a congenital neurobehavioral disorder that had made me very hyperactive as a child. Consequently this precluded me from attending regular public school classes. I was placed in EH classes until age eight when my parents enrolled me in a private special education school. Then, I was mainstreamed and able to attend regular classes at Century High School at the age of 16, placed in the tenth grade and managed to barely graduate from regular public high school.

Life after that became worse. I attended junior college for a year after graduating high school before dropping out. Then from age 20 to 26 I tried to work but was never able to hold down a job. I was now 39 years old--the same age as Jack Benny, I thought to myself wryly--I had not held a job of any sorts for 13 years.

I looked at a large chart which the first arrivals at the reunion had crowded around. It was an enlargement of the yearbook with all of the various categories that the senior class had voted for themselves. Jennifer Hannah had been the most likely to succeed.

"So, what's Jen doing these days?"

"I got a letter from her, she and hubby aren't coming to the reunion, she's a vice-president of a large bank. Not too shabby for a 38-year-old."

"Yep, I always knew she would make it," said one gal, whom I did not recognize at all, but whose nametag and yearbook photo read Carol Wendt. She now looked much older than her senior photo and had gained weight.

Then there were the other categories such as class clown, most likely to go to Hollywood and most likely to go to jail and brainiest and most athletic, and best dressed seniors- both boy and girl. Then my eyes scanned the only photo on the chart. The photo was of the boy and girl in our senior class who had been chosen for the category of best undressed- Bifford Swerdloff and Carolyn McGlory. It showed Bifford with his shirt off, showing his well-defined torso, reading a Playboy magazine. Bifford Swerdloff, jock extraordinaire, had been all city linebacker. He had a physique that most 17 year old boys could only dream of. Everyone at Century had admired and liked Biff. It had not mattered that he had been a first class schmuck.

Carolyn, had been an extremely attractive girl. She surprised everyone by becoming a Playboy centerfold while still in high school a few days after her 18th birthday. The issue she had been in had hit the stands just a month before graduation. Then she had become the talk of our entire town. She had been nicknamed 'Morning Glory'. Playboy's caption for the article that had preceded her Centerfold and pictorial was entitled "In all her glory." Everyone had wanted to date her, but most had been too intimidated to ask.

Now, the Red Room was becoming more crowded as more people arrived at the reunion.

"Think Morning Glory will show?" asked one guy.

"Naw, she prolly thinks she's too good for us common folk."

I waited in the long line to buy a drink. I rarely drank alcohol, but thought I might like something stronger than a coke. I had decided to order a screwdriver.

I then looked at the person ahead of me in line. It was Dennis Givvens, a happy-go-lucky surfer and volleyball player who had long wavy blonde hair and always seemed to have a girl on his arm. Twenty years later, he still had a girl on his arm. I could tell from their matching rings it was his wife. His hair was not only shorter, but he had a receding hairline and was starting to go prematurely bald at age 38. I felt a kinship with him as I was starting to become prematurely grey at age 39.

"Hi, Dennis, how's it going?" I asked.

He shook my hand. "Do I know you?" he asked.

"Yea, don't you remember? Mr. Gardener's tenth grade English."

"Oh yea," said Dennis in a friendly tone. "Nice to see you again, old what's-your-name", looking for but not finding my absent captioned photo. "This is my wife, Theresa." I shook hands with the attractive redhead.

"So how's life treating you?" said Dennis.

"Not as well as it's treating you," I joked, making a hand motion towards Theresa.

"Thank you," replied Theresa, blushing slightly.

Theresa then produced a couple of photos.

"Here are our kids. This is Billy, he's eight now. This is Pam, she's five. I was working as a Real Estate agent until last year before devoting more time to taking care of the little tykes. We can get by on Dennis' salary from the fire department now that he made captain recently," she said, putting her arm around Dennis proudly.

I felt a bit weird talking to this lady, the wife of someone whom I had not seen in twenty years and had only known vaguely.

"Cute kids you got there. So, Dennis, you're a fire captain at age 38, pretty impressive."

"Yep. So, you have any kids? What do you do for a living?"

"Nope, no kids. I'm a writer."

It was not exactly a lie. I had written a number of non- fiction articles and short stories. I just had yet to get one published. I did not tell Dennis and his wife that I had not worked in 13 years and that my income consisted of a monthly SSI check allotted in the princely sum of $648.32 a month.

"Well that's nice."

Dennis then bought a drink for himself and his wife.

"Well, lots of people to talk to, catch you later," said Dennis.

Now it was my turn to order a drink, I got my screwdriver and started sipping it.

Due to my neurobehavioral disorder, I was starting to get a bit hyper and started walking around the Red Room of the Blue Oaks Country Club. Walking around, I looked at all the people who were coming in. A lot more people were here now, and it looked like most of the people who were going to show were showing. Like every other red blooded heterosexual male there, I also looked for Carolyn McGlory, but I did not see her either. "Hey how you doin'," said an Oriental chap whom I did not recognize. He did not have a photo or caption either. "Hi," I said.

"Weren't you in my third period drafting class?" the Asian inquired.

"Nope, I think you are confusing me for someone else."

"Okay, catch ya later," he said and he walked off fairly brusquely. His friendly demeanor had changed immediately.

I then thought back with nostalgia what it was like going behind the snakepit and smoking some pot. The snakepit was a nickname for a space of dirt that was conveniently enclosed between the music and the drafting bungalows where people would smoke cigarettes--both tobacco and marijuana--during lunch and the morning nutrition break. Also, even stronger substances were sometimes partaken and dope deals of all sorts would go down in this strip of dirt ground. Eventually a number of people got busted and the snakepit became defunct shortly before our senior year ended.

Finally, it was time for the dinner of steak and spinach. Later, a band would start playing oldies that were popular when we were in high school and there would be dancing for those who wanted to dance.

The dinner was a buffet and we had to stand in line with our plates and our silverware and be served meager helpings of steak and spinach which was the two-course meal for the reunion. I finally got my helping of a slightly too well done steak and some soggy looking spinach. Just like high school, they want to remind us what the cafeteria was like 20 years ago, I thought to myself. I went to search for a table to sit at to eat my dinner. All of the seats at all of the tables seemed to have been taken. I finally found one vacant seat at a table with the standard five seats.

"It's taken," said the occupant, a fat balding male in an obviously rented tuxedo, in a rather curt tone of voice while covering the seat with his hand before I could sit in it. He was someone else from our senior class whom I had no recollection of. Seemed like there had only been a handful of people whom I remembered. I kept looking around the table for other seats and finally came to a table with one unoccupied seat.

"Is it taken?" I inquired.

With a perfunctory shake of the head from the inquiree, whom I did not recognize either, I sat. I then looked at the name tag which said Dan Podosin and the 20-year-old photo and both immediately rang a bell. It was Danny "Lefty" Podosin, one of the more well known teen dope dealers at Century.

"Hey Danny, remember me? I'm the dude who used to buy weed from you by the joint behind the snakepit."

Danny then looked up at me and did an immediate double take.

"Oh yeah. You're that cheap shit who couldn't even buy pot by the full ounce lid and it only cost ten bucks an ounce in those days."

Danny immediately started salivating. "Ten bucks for a full ounce lid as recently as 1974. My god those were the days," Danny said as he started looking around the table, eyeing the other occupants for a reaction. "Hard to believe the price of high grade boo just went through the roof in only 20 years, oh well."

"Well, I never had that much money Hell, why did you sell it to me by the joint if it bothered you that much?"

"Geez, I don't know, guess I felt sorry for you cause you seemed so pathetic. You still look pretty pathetic," commented Danny, not really showing any emotion in his face. His hair was now much shorter and darker and he had gained some weight in the 20 years since high school; however, personality-wise, he was still the same.

"That reminds me. I happen to have a joint on me, some pretty good Thai weed. How would all of you like to come back in the alley with me and take a few hits after dinner? You can come too," he nodded towards me as sort of an afterthought. All of the occupants at the table, myself included nodded enthusiastically.

I never thought that the dinner of overdone steak and soggy spinach would be done, but finally my digestive system had miraculously been able to dispose of it. I anticipated smoking of the good Thai weed that 'Lefty' Podosin had been raving about. I immediately followed Lefty with his friends. We were behaving as if he were the pied piper and we were the rats. Naturally we were enticed by the promise of getting high. I had not smoked any pot in quite some time and it would be quite a treat for me. We went outside to the back part of the Blue Oaks Country Club. There was a back porch with a number of outdoor tables where a good number of the members of my graduating class were shooting the breeze and/or finishing up their dinner. We came to the end of the porch where there was an outdoor stairway which Lefty's entire entourage walked down. After walking down the stairs, we encountered a side alley.

"Ah, perfect! Hey, how'd you know about this alley," said one of the entourage, someone I did not remember at all from high school but who was already totally bald at the age of 38.

"You know, I've always had a sixth sense about these things," replied Lefty.

"Oh, you haven't changed since high school."

Lefty then put his hand inside his shirt pocket and produced an immense joint.

"Ahh, seem to have left my lighter at home," said Lefty.

"Allow me," said one of the ladies, producing a lighter and offering Lefty a light. She was, in my opinion, the most attractive of the group. I finally recognized her. She was Carla Schultz who had been on the cheerleading squad and had cliqued with the straight/jock types. I did not picture her as a pot smoker. Of course, people can change in 20 years, and, of course, I did not really know anyone that well from high school, so there may have been a few things about her which I did not know.

"So, what do you do now, Danny?" asked Carla.

"I sell cemetery plots," replied Danny, lighting the joint. "I guess I haven't changed much. Gone from selling dope to selling cemetery plots. 'Course, some people say the two are the same and I have not changed my occupation at all since high school." Lefty starting snickering, but immediately stopped when he realized that he was alone. He then took a big hit off of the joint and passed it to Carla. Carla then took a big hit also and passed it to the next person. As luck would have it, I was at the end of the line that formed.

"I'm a publicist for the Metro television network," said Carla proudly, forgetting to hold in her hit. Her voice sounded funny, like the voice of someone with a bunch of smoke in their mouth.

"Goddammit, Carla, hold in yer hit," said one of the group.

The joint finally came to me and I took a hit. Boy this feels good, I thought to myself. I then passed it to Lefty who took it and the circle started again.

Some of the people started talking between hits. No one talked to me.

A bit later, I waited in anticipation for another hit as the person preceding me in line was hitting on the joint.

"Oh, it's just a roach now," the guy said.

"Trash it and step on it," said Danny. The guy, another person whom I did not recognize, complied.

We started walking back up the steps, walking back towards where the reunion was still going on full swing. The people from Lefty's dinner table still seemed to be hanging out together, like they had known each other well and had kept in touch over the last 20 years since high school. A few of them started to digress in their own little separate groups after a while.

"Catch ya later," Lefty said to me and then started walking off with his group away from my direction. I then tried to join another group.

"Catch ya later," was the same response from one of the people in the other group.

I finally took the hint. I finally found a group consisting of three individuals--me, myself and I. I went in from the outdoor patio back into the Red Room. Due to my neurobehavioral disorder I was starting to become rather hyperactive, not to mention the fact that the few hits of Thai weed and the screwdriver that I had drank were not exactly helping my condition either. I began hyperactively walking around the Red Room, looking sort of funny, getting a few weird stares from some of the other people. The band had started playing songs that had been popular when we were in high school. First they started with the old classic 'Smoking in the Boy's Room'. A lot of the people there were talking, undoubtedly reminiscing about some of the good times and people whom they had known in high school. I knew that a good number of these people had either not been found by the reunion organizing committee or had opted out of attending the reunion entirely. I began wishing I had been one of those people. I still could not find anyone to talk to or even many people whom I remembered from high school. I certainly had no good times to reminisce about, only bad times. The band then started playing "Ricky Don't Lose That Number."

I continued to amble about in my hyperactive manner, exacerbated in part by my slightly intoxicated state. I started to pick up on some strange thoughts about my former classmates. Many of the men seemed to be getting fatter. A good number of them, myself included, were starting to go gray prematurely or were completely gray. This seemed funny since we were only 38, or, in my case, 39, since I had been put in the lower grade down for my age. This had been done presumably to help mitigate my hardships of going from special education to regular public schooling. A number of the women, I noticed, were pregnant. A generation ago, women 38 or older having children was very rare. Now, based on the small sample that this group represented, it seemed like it was beginning to be a trend. It seemed like many of these women might even be pregnant for the very first time at the age of 38. This just might make an interesting magazine article, I thought to myself. People looking older before their time. Women putting off childbearing to pursue professional and other goals and then getting pregnant at the last minute, at age 38. I would work on this magazine article after the reunion was over.

What the hell, I'll have another screwdriver, I thought. I waited in the line for drinks. After what seemed like an interminably long wait, it was almost my turn. I felt an immense arm grabbing my head, putting me into a headlock. "HEY HOW'S IT GOING? LONG TIME NO SEE!" a loud voice shouted in my ear. I turned around. He had changed. He was still quite burly but some of the muscle, particularly in his previously well-defined torso, had turned to fat. Also, he definitely looked older and had more gray hair and a somewhat receding hairline, following a similar pattern to my other classmates. It was Bifford Swerdloff!

"I still remember when we used to hassle you and all the other wimps you hung around with. Shit, what am I saying? you never hung around with anybody did you?"

I shook my head.

"Guys like you...... shoulda been pumping iron instead of spending all that time behind the snakepit getting stoned." Biff then made some sniffing noises. "I see you haven't changed in 20 years," he commented, smelling the pot on my breath. "Kinda funny when I threw water down on ya. Also when I obstructed your path, makin ya tardy."

"Yes those were the days," I replied.

"I was a pro football player for a few years, but had to quit. Torn meniscus." Biff then motioned towards his left knee. Those meniscectomies only do so much," he added.

"So, whatcha been doin' with yerself these past 20 years?"

"Writing, I'm a writer."

Biff threw his head back, laughing.

"Yea, right! That's what they all say when they don't have a day job, they're either an actor or a writer. You married?" Biff asked.

"No, are you?"

"Divorced for six years," Biff replied. "I still get laid regular like though. 20 gals in six years. Also, a few when I was married, that's why I'm divorced," Biff snickered. "107 gals in the 22 years since I lost my virginity, when I was 16. You never got any chicks in high school, doubt your situation has changed much. Do you beat off?"

"Yeah, I'm an old hand at that." I started chuckling at my own feeble attempt at humor, trying to counter Biff's crass comments and make light of the situation. I immediately stopped, realizing the dumb jock probably hadn't even gotten the joke.

"You seen Morning Glory tonight?" asked Biff.

"Nope, been looking for her just like every other guy in this place."

"God, what a relief, sometimes I suspected you were a fruit. She blew me off in high school. Tried to get her to go out with me, she wouldn't. It really sucked. We shoulda been a couple. After all, we were voted best undressed guy and gal."

"So, what do you do for a living?"

"Are you shitting me? You never seen me on TV I guess. I'm a sports announcer, been one ever since I retired from pro football almost ten years ago."

"I don't watch sports."

"It figures. So, what are you drinking?"

"I thought I'd have a screwdriver."

"Hell, whatcha want with a pussy drink like that? Let me buy you a real drink, no problem."

Finally our turn in line came.

"Two shots of Wild Turkey, 105 proof," said Biff before I had a chance to even say anything. The bartender then produced two liquor filled shot glasses which Biff took and then handed one to me after slipping the bartender a twenty dollar bill and insisting that he keep the change.

"Now this is a real man's drink," said Biff.

Biff took his shot really fast. I started sipping the drink slowly but surely. It tasted terrible, but I felt obliged to finish it.

"Well, I am going to cruise around and look for McGlory and some other people too. Nice seeing ya."

Biff slapped me as hard as he could on the back, forcing me to swallow the Wild Turkey shot which at this point had just been residing in my throat. He then walked off. I choked a little bit from the shock of the terrible tasting booze going down my throat so fast. Biff had not changed at all. He was still a first class schmuck.

Once again, I walked around the Red Room of the Blue Oaks Country club in my inveterate hyperactive fashion. The band was still playing and a fair number of people had begun dancing. I wondered if I should try to get up the nerve to ask any of the few single women to dance. I still felt as out of place as a snowball in a coal bin. Why did I even come?

I also thought of my former special ed school, the School for the Educationally and Developmentally Handicapped, often abbreviated SEDH so the children who were students there would not be so embarrassed by the school's name. This ploy, abbreviating the school's name when someone would ask me the seemingly innocuous question 'what school do you go to?', never worked. They would always ask what SEDH stood for and there was absolutely no convenient lie that I could tell. I would often break down and admit to what SEDH stood for. Then I would get a barrage of teasing, usually being called a 'retard' or having people say or do things even worse. Even if I found some way to successfully evade answering the question, word of mouth would spread about the 'neighborhood retard' and the funny name of the school he went to, which was not the local public school all of the other neighborhood children went to. Then I would have to endure the same humiliation and teasing. Besides, SEDH had a large sign out in front displaying their full and nonabbreviated name. Having had to go to a special education school was unpleasant enough. Having to go to a school with such an embarrassing name had been absolutely intolerable.

I can still remember complaining to my parents about this. I will never forget what Mom had said to me though:

"There was a great man named Shakespeare. He was a famous playwright and in one of those plays he had a line 'what's in a name. A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.' So, don't even worry about the name of your school, honey, it doesn't matter. Just ignore those mean kids when they tease you."

I couldn't help wondering whether William Shakespeare would have written those words in Romeo and Juliet if he had gone to a school named The School for The Developmentally and Educationally Handicapped.

"Why can't I go to the regular public school, like everyone else?" I remember asking my folks.

"You just aren't ready yet. You have to wait until you are ready," was their response. But I would never be ready or so it seemed.

When I was five years old, my parents had enrolled me in a private kindergarten. The behavioral difficulties caused by my neurologic problems had resulted in my expulsion from kindergarten less than halfway through the first semester. Then I was either enrolled in EH classes or in SEDH. Then I was put in the tenth grade in regular public school, though I was 16 at the time and the kids my age were in 11th grade. I felt as though I had been degraded both figuratively and literally. It had seemed that graduating from a regular public high school in nonEH classes was an extraordinary accomplishment. This and incredible ennui were my reasons for attending the 20 year reunion. It had suddenly dawned on me that these were dumb reasons. Fuck it, I'm leaving. Then the band started playing 'Born to be Wild'. I could not resist. At least I had to stay for the song. I moved a bit leftwards to get a better view of the band. I then bumped into someone. "Oh pardon m....," I immediately did a double take. I was looking into the baby blue eyes of Morning Glory herself!

"Hi, uh, Carolyn, isn't it?"

"Oh hi," she said in a very friendly voice.

"I remember you. Mrs. Cross' eleventh grade history, right?"

"You got it."

"Let's dance!" said Carolyn enthusiastically and immediately started grabbing my hand, leading me to the dance floor with the rest of the people who were fast dancing to 'Born To Be Wild'.

I really did not know how to dance at all but I watched what the other people were doing and started to wing it.

After the song was over I walked back off the dance floor and into the main area of the Red Room. Carolyn walked directly behind me. I decided to say goodbye to Carolyn and make a hasty exit but some powerful force seemed to be holding me back.

"Oh, I am just so glad to see you here," said Carolyn in an enthusiastic voice with her hand on my shoulder. I looked her over again for the first time in 20 years, thinking the last time I had seen her in person was when that issue of Playboy in which she had been the centerfold had hit the stands. I was awestruck by the fact that at age 38, she had not changed at all and looked basically the same as she had in high school, as breathtakingly beautiful as ever.

"I almost did not recognize you with your clothes on," I joked lamely. She must have heard that line about a zillion times in the last 20 years. "Haven't seen you since that issue of Playboy came out."

"Ah that old thing. It's ancient history now," said Carolyn, waving it off with a hand gesture.

"It's nice to see you after all these years. So, what do you do for a living now?"

"I'm a writer."

"Really, what do you write? I don't think I've seen any of your bylines. As editor of Que Pasa magazine I think I would have seen something by you or about you."

I knew I had to come up with a quickie if I wanted to cover my gluteus maximus adequately. Que Pasa was an up and coming trendy magazine catering to the tastes of yuppies. That was one place I had never bothered to submit my writings to, even though they usually published a fiction piece in each issue and I was very anxious to get one of my short stories published. Carolyn, being an editor for a magazine like this, would be hip to what was out there in the freelance magazine world as well as the literary world in terms of writers.

"Ah, lots of it is in fiction reviews an editor for Que Pasa might have missed. Also, in some trades publications you might not have heard of. Things having to do with computers and gambling, stuff like that."

"Oh that is so interesting. This reunion was so boring until you came along," she said in an unmistakably amorous tone of voice, giving my sport jacket sleeve a knowing squeeze.

"We're always looking for new types of material for Que Pasa, both fiction and nonfiction. I'd love for you to come down to the office and bring your stuff for me to see. Here's my card." She handed me her card which merely said Carolyn McGlory, Editor, Que Pasa Magazine and had her phone number as well as the address of the corporate headquarters of Que Pasa.

I was starting to feel tired. I thought it was time to cut the conversation short and leave the reunion.

"Well, I'm getting kind of tired now, think I will go home and hit the hay."

Carolyn looked genuinely disappointed. "Aww, you have to go so soon? Well you have my card, I sure hope to be hearing from you." She then kissed me on the cheek and walked off. I walked out of the Red Room and then out of the Blue Oaks Country Club albeit with some difficulty due to the tremendous boner that I now had.

A few days after the reunion I phoned Carolyn and made arrangements to see her in her office. I brought along all my writings, including an article I had written right after the reunion about new trends in women putting off childbirth until their late 30's.

Carolyn met me in her office. I then presented her with my writings which she read rather hastily.

"What do you think?"

Carolyn looked up, obviously nonplussed. Finally she started talking.

"Well, these are not exactly the type of articles and short fiction that we publish in Que Pasa. However, I want to encourage you to keep on writing. These samples I have seen do show promise and they are certainly no worse than the first efforts of a typical freshman english composition student."

I wondered if she might go out with me, even if she was not interested in publishing my writings. I had just cashed my SSI check so I could treat her to lunch.

"So, what time do they let you out for lunch, Carolyn? Thought you might be interested in accompanying me to Shakey's and I will treat you to one of their all-you-can-eat buffets."

"I am sorry, but we're really busy here and they are not letting me out for lunch, but you are welcome to come by soon and take a tour of our offices. However, we are busy all this week, so just call me next week."

"Ok, good enough," I replied, walking out of the office.

The week passed quickly and I tried to call Carolyn at Que Pasa to take the tour of their company. After all, I was interested in how magazine companies were set up. Every time I tried to call I always got a receptionist, who insisted Carolyn was out sick or busy in a staff meeting. I knew what that meant. Carolyn had just been leading me on. What a bitch she had been! She may have been very attractive on the outside, but she was not an attractive person on the inside.

I decided to go to the medical school library at the local university to read some journal articles about the brain. This was an activity that I enjoyed doing, hoping I could uncover something that would help me get to the root of my problems and learn something about myself. I walked around the campus, eyeing all of the young coeds, many of whom wore shorts since it was getting so close to summer. I then came to my senses. I was pushing 40 and way too old for these gals so I did my best to suppress my amorous thoughts. I tried to read the journal Neuro Reports but I just could not concentrate on the article dealing with the effects of ablation of the locus coeruleus on self- stimulation of the superior cerebellar peduncle in rats. I decided to leave the library.

I then started walking in the direction of the SEDH. Interestingly, the SEDH was located less than a mile away from the university. Upon arriving, I looked at my former alma mater and I could not hold back the tears that came to me. The bitterness of having had to attend a special ed school until high school, the humiliating name, having had to go an extra year of school, having been put in tenth grade at age 16. Twenty-three years now since I had left, but I was still bitter after all this time. I then spat a few times on the front of the building, right on the sign with the name, School for the Educationally and Developmentally Handicapped. I felt a bit better after this. Fortuitously, I realized I had to go to the bathroom. I unzipped my fly and began urinating on the sign. Afterwards, I decided I would commit suicide. I would not do it right away though, I would go out with a real bang.

The following Sunday I returned to the SEDH with several small glass bottles. These were not, however, ordinary glass bottles. They were Molotov cocktails, meant for destruction of property. They had been used in student demonstrations in Berkeley in the 1960's. They also came in handy for committing suicide. I started throwing the Molotov cocktails at the SEDH one by one, doing some damage to the school. I could not seem to destroy the entire complex though since a lot of it had been made with concrete and was not terribly flammable. At this rate, I would run out of the glass bottles and would not be able to commit suicide. Now is the time, I thought to myself. I lit one of the Molotovs and got ready to break it across my head. Then I heard what sounded like dozens of sirens. Shocked by this, I dropped the bottle before I could break it against my head.

I had never seen so many cop cars in one place at once. It seemed like the entire police force had come. The cops started running at me, guns drawn.


I complied and the cops started frisking me and removed my wallet from my side pants pocket.

"What's your name?" one of them asked.

"Beverly Gaylord," I replied, wincing, thinking of the old Johnny Cash classic, 'A Boy Named Sue.'


"That really is my name. Look, really, What's in a name?"

Another cop then pulled my I.D. card out of my wallet.

"Sheet! That really is his name! Are you some kind of faggot or something?"

"I have the right to remain silent," I said.

I was subsequently, arrested, booked, given a 26-year-old public defender who had been out of law school only 8 months, had copped a plea for me, given a one year sentence in the county jail.

"What's yer name, son?" asked the obese deputy sheriff at the receiving desk.

"Beverly Gaylord."

"Sheet, might as well have it changed to Very Queerlady." He smirked.

After an intense strip search I was escorted to my cell by another deputy.

"GET THE HELL IN THERE NOW, LITTLE GIRL! DON'T WORRY, WE KNOW HOW TO TREAT QUEERS HERE." He shoved me into the cell so hard that I was sent sprawling.

Then I was pulled up. Strong arms were holding me as I heard the barred jail door clank shut. I looked into the eyes of my cellmate, a very obese--weighing approximately 340 pounds-- black man. I did not like the amorous look in his eyes.

"Ahh hopes he dint huht yew, honey. Mah name iz Omar and yew iz gonna be mah boy."

Omar pulled my pants down and then inserted his immense penis into my rectum. He then started rocking back and forth.

"Ahh laikes dem waite boyz."

Six months had passed. Omar had inserted his penis into my rectum 97 times before he had been transferred to the State Penitentiary. I had been relieved that my second and current cellmate had been an 82-year-old forger.

A guard came to the cell door.

"Hey Queerlady. Got some really good news for you," said the guard.

"They've decided that you've been such a good little girl these past months to let you out early to relieve overcrowding in the jail." I left the cell.

I decided to walk down to the University Medical School library to catch up on all of the brain research reading I had missed during those past six months. Upon entering, my path was blocked by a 6'6" individual wearing a blue shirt marked University Security in bold letters.

"Mr. Gaylord, the university has declared you persona non grata from this library. Before you leave, however, there are two ladies who wish to speak with you." Two sixtyish-appearing ladies emerged, both wearing name tags. One read Ella Silverstein, librarian. The other's read Mildred Moulton, Ph.D., research psychologist. Ms. Silverstein started speaking first.

"Mr. Gaylord, you are a trespasser on this campus and you are going to have to leave. People who destroy campus property are not allowed here. Before you go, Dr. Moulton has something to say to you.

"Campus property?" I queried.

"That's right," replied Dr. Moulton. "SEDH was only nominally a school. All these years SEDH was a front for obtaining human research subjects to use as guinea pigs in psychological experiments, due to the difficulty of finding suitable subjects, particularly those with developmental disabilities. Also, one of our main longitudinal projects, taking more than 30 years, is finally over. It's an experiment comparing an experimental group of developmentally disabled children who were mainstreamed in public school and a control group of like children who were put in a special ed school owned and operated by the university, namely the SEDH. The school was also given the most embarrassing name we could possibly think of so as to humiliate them.

Unfortunately, for you, Mr. Gaylord, you were chosen at random to be in the control group. The majority of our experimental subjects went on to be successes and made something of themselves. The control group ended up being mostly unemployed and developed profound psychological problems. Your behavior six months ago was especially useful for us in making the main point of the article that mainstreaming of developmentally disabled youth is necessary. We just can't thank you enough. Now we can claim that mainstreaming is important and this will make me look good and I will be the most famous psychologist in the United States. The study is going to be the lead article in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology next month."

"Such a shame you won't ever be able to read the article, since our library is the only one in this state that carries the journal," said Ms. Silverstein sarcastically.

"Of course we may have to fudge our statistical data a bit," said Dr. Moulton.

"You'll never get away with this, I'll blow the whistle on you."

Ms. Silverstein, the neanderthal security guard and Dr. Moulton spoke in unison. "Who would believe a puny ex-convict like you. GET OFF UNIVERSITY PROPERTY NOW!"

Acquiescing, I walked away. I left the building when something came over me. Apparently it was some uncontrollable urge caused by my neurobehavioral disorder and exacerbated by this most unpleasant incident.

"WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, YOU ARE FULL OF SHIT, WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, YOU ARE FULL OF SHIT," I yelled over and over again, waving my arms hysterically, letting my tongue jut in and out of my mouth and rolling my eyes around, ignoring the curious glances of all the onlookers.

The End

Copyright 2002, Jonathan Mitchell - All Rights Reserved.