Part 5: Two Thumbs Down, Well at least according to Nature Critic
“Is it over?” I asked FrankEinstein and Waterboy as Cowhand Luke and Insomnia left in Luke’s truck about twenty minutes before school started at 8:00 AM. Before anyone could answer a large group of students burst into the doors to satisfy their curiosity, whether it was hopeful or morbid.
”To bring up the gunman from yesterday,” I said quitely, “he was the protagonist in his own eyes. He risked his life for the physically disabled, although he carried it out in a fashion suggesting a mental breakdown.”
“He became the person he sought to eliminate,” said Nature Critic. “But even tyrants are idealists, and for that matter, Changents. What makes common sense better than an uncommon mind? The only reason we are not screaming in pain right now at this moment is because we are selfish prigs who avoid pain and seek comfort. Even self-denying moralists seek satisfaction through peace of mind.”
“I’m always reminded of Stanislavski’s acting method,” FrankEinstein said. “Acting first and letting your thoughts catch up is perhaps the key to a truer selfless act. Perhaps a true martyr would donate to charities he or she cares nothing about.”
“Take you, Nature Critic,” said The Waterboy as he dawned a scornful glance. “You aim to tame the wild, primal, and competitive urges of Mother Nature through your powers of animal magnetism.”
“And take your, Waterboy,” said Nature Critic as he returned the stare. “You speak with dead people in hopes of understanding the living as if nature were something to be revered. Do you still find comfort thinking that the reason you, and most of us for that matter, are still virgins is because Mother Nature has a special plan for us Changents, the mighty generals behind the scenes where the reason she doesn’t want us to procreate is because we would have too many generals and not enough soldiers if we passed down our special powers? Ridiculous. We are losers and that’s all.”
Part 6: Cowhand Luke
Once Insomnia and I were in my truck we headed over to Insomnia’s house. Ron’s speech was safe on the tape that I placed in the glove-box.
”What is your hypothesis?” Insomnia asked.
I kept driving and let George Jones croon over the awkwardness of our being alone together. We eventually reached Insomnia’s house. I grabbed the tape as Insomnia went to unlock his door. Insomnia led the way inside and into his basement. There were diodes, transistors, hunks of metal, plastic, and a bunch of other high-tech gizmos scattered around appearing half-finished.
”All right,” I said, “Let’s be the next Cohen brothers and edit this footage. Then, we will steal the air during the 10:00 news and become a couple of hard-on Harries. I know you gots the components. Can you do it?”
“You are actually asking me?” Insomnia asked. “You aren’t going to stick a gun to my head this time?”
“You too?” I replied. “I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.”
“By tonight,” Insomnia said, “all we will need is the popcorn.”
Part 7: Waterboys Don’t Grace the Covers of Wheaties Boxes
Nature Critic and FrankEinstein left while ProZac and I stayed leaning against the juice machine.
“I am glad you are all right and that things ended without anybody getting hurt,” Gale said as she approached.
”It’s funny that the whole ordeal took only took about 20 minutes.” Waterboy said. “It looks like school will start as normal in about ten minutes. Nobody but the Changents and Ron will have a clue about what happened today. As for me, the last couple of days got me thinking. Ron is just like me. All that suck-it-up and water-off-a-duck’s-back stuff are the things I always say. That could have been me who reached my breaking point waving a gun around. It makes sense now. Expressing emotions is nature’s way of releasing excess pent up stress.”
”In my experiences from nursing,” Gale said, “people cannot endure as much as they think they can. Many soldiers just charge into battle thinking they can handle anything. In the 40’s, some people called this the warrior myth. Not only does war take a toll on the body, but it also takes a toll on the mind.”
I said, “Sounds like what we call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder nowdays.”
”I suspect as much,” Gale said. “Some people play the hero and take on too much. Others play the victim and take on too little. Like the Serenity Prayer, the trick is to know when it is time to ask for help. The Changents are there to help those who are too ashamed, proud, complacent, or in the dark to ask for it. Sometimes it is the seemingly stoic and proud who will complete a suicide while the seemingly most suicidal, dramatic, or emotional will live right up to old age.”
I didn’t know exactly how to respond, so I said, “the squeeky wheel gets the oil.”
“Maybe something like that,” Gale said with a laugh.
”I have to get back too,” Gale said. “My friend Herbert is coming to visit later. Make sure you spend time with those you love and those who love you. Your father may seem trite and superficial at times, but I can’t help but think that the moment he didn’t say anything to you in the morning would be the very moment you would take notice and feel isolated. I didn’t get along with my mother, if that helps.”
Talking to Gale always helped me, even if I didn’t exactly agree with everything she said. Maybe it was a relationship something like Mr. Miyagi and the Karate Kid.
All this time I felt superior to the other Changents. Aside from Skits, all they ever did was sit around and bitch. ProZac was the worst. He would moan and brood about not having enough raisins in his raisin bran. I suddenly realized that acting tough doesn’t mean you are tough.
Gale said, “Your test you were so worried about yesterday must seem trivial in comparison.”
”The test!” I said frantically. “Oh Gale, I gotta go!”
“Tag along, ProZac!” I said as I rushed ahead. ProZac removed his earbuds and followed.
“Just when you think you are at your wits end with Cowhand Luke and have him pegged as the most despicable fuck up alive, he risks his life to pull off quite a stunt,” ProZac said as he kept a brisk pace.
“The eggshells he makes us walk on will give us all a coronary,” I replied.
We entered the science room. The teacher was not present. I was excited to see the graded tests stacked neatly in the tray on the teacher’s desk. As I flipped through them I saw mine. I got an A. I had to see how Jeremy did next. He got an A-. I beat him. For some reason it didn’t bring the joy that I thought it would. In fact, I felt sick to my stomach.
”I guess Jeremy got his just deserts after all,” ProZac said. “You always said there was justice in the world.”
“After today,” I said, “I’m not so sure anymore.”
“Want to cut class and play some Turok 2 deathmatch or something?” ProZac asked. “If you want to, of course, and stuff, if it’s alright.”
“Yeah,” I said, “but while we blow each other to smithereens could you keep an ear open? I have a problem.”
“Sure,” ProZac said, “What’s wrong?”
“I’ve been having problems at home,” I said. “I need some advice.”
“Anytime,” ProZac said. “Is everything alright?”
“Let’s just say that tonight, I plan on giving mom a little call. Dad and I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye.”