Flannery O’Connor Revisited

“The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind.”

“Oh shit not this story again,” Jeremy thought as he slammed his new lit book shut and tossed it on the car seat next to him. “Six different high schools in two years and I hit them all when they’re reading Flannery O’Connor! Fuck.”

He leaned back and reached into a plastic tote full of notebooks and paper. He had written a theme about Christianity and grace in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and it was floating around in the box with old algebra tests, a few term papers, and sketch pads with the bad beginnings of poorly thought out super hero graphic novels, the kind a bored 14 year old boy might make on endless journeys riding from place to place.

“Lucky for me lit teachers everywhere like the same stories!” he thought. He found the theme, all marked red with spelling corrections, grammar fixes, and commentary from the enthusiastic bearded teacher who wanted to be everyone’s favorite. Mr. Adams sometimes wore a turtleneck sweater instead of a tie like the other  male teachers. He stood around the school parking lot with groups of crushing teen girls giggling at both his wit and lack thereof. He crushed back behind mirrored sunglasses, always planning on who had low enough self esteem to be alone with him, who would not tell but keep it as a secret, a pebble in her shoe, a stitch in her heart for the rest of her life.

“Mom, the principal’s office sent a note home today. I think it’s about registration.” Jeremy handed her an unsealed envelope. It said the main office needed his paper work from the last school ASAP. He had not shown a birth certificate or transfer papers since starting school weeks earlier. The principal’s note emphasized that he would check on the boy’s background himself if Jeremy did not produce the documents.

“That’s okay, sweetie. Bill will take care of it, won’t you baby?” Nancy, his mother, said. She looked at Bill, her boyfriend, who was driving the older SUV a little too fast and poked him playfully.

“I just don’t want to be interrogated like they did in Detroit.” Bill said anxiously. Detroit had been a close call. He had lost his prize dog Bullseye in a fight and was in no mood for school administrators nosing around in his personal life. The principal asked for Jeremy’s records, got strident about it, and threatened to call social services. He was the reason they had to leave Detroit so quickly. They did not want to be questioned about the nosy man’s disappearance.

“Well I’m tired of being the kid on the milk carton but you don’t see me hollowing out corpses, filling them with rocks, and throwing them over bridges, do you? Deal with it, Bill!” Jeremy spoke angrily. 

They drove on in silence, aware that at some point Bill would turn the SUV around, drive to the school, and take care of things. He always did.

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