The girls only look at hulking football players or smirking greasers wearing black leather jackets. If they could hear the things this boy says to them in his head, they would look at him too. But they are untouchable, unreachable, these magnificent creatures adjusting bra straps in the hallway between classes. He feels like a sixth grader still, unprepared to live in a dynamic, violent present that features legendary Vanderpool holding onto a touchdown pass after colliding with the goalpost. Later in the lunchroom Vanderpool falls from grace, dumping delicate Marc Plitt headfirst into a trashcan, then flashing a hardened criminal look as the police arrive. Safe at night under his Speed Racer blanket, this boy prays for a bit of that fire. At the Kiss concert a bag of weed is passed along the third row but he can’t touch it, just as he can’t join in the serenade of nine-fingered Greg on the ball field, shrill, tuneless voices rising to the heavens in a triumphant rendition of Number-Nine from Schoolhouse Rock. This boy will feel the push and pull of good and bad, sense himself sliding one way, then re-balancing and sliding back to center. He believes the world should know about all these boys: the softies, freaks, romeos and ruffians labeled on the outside but all quite similar on the inside. At the very least the world should know about him because tonight he’s on the train tracks, running toward a distant locomotive light, heart pounding in his throat, escape path up ahead. If only the girls could see me now taking such a chance. Christ, I could die. If only they knew that tonight I am someone to be reckoned with, a powerful force charging into the black unknown, willing to risk everything.
John Meyers’ poems, stories, and essays have been featured in The Louisville Review, Lunch Ticket, BlazeVOX, Fiction Southeast and Jellyfish Review, among others. He has work forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly. John can be found online at http://www.johnmeyersauthor.com