(First published in SubTerrain Magazine) The second eagle, the one he’d been dreaming about for nearly two decades, graced Walter’s life like a bookend – by falling from the sky and landing in his back yard, several feet away from where he was cutting wood. It was a Sunday morning, late in September. When he cautiously approached the bird, he saw the valentine-shaped stain from a bullet in the chest, just below a thick and regally ruffled neck, which was slightly crooked and unmoving. “I’ll be damned,” said Walter, poking the bird cautiously with a piece of wood to check that it was dead.
Le grand solitaire of my high school hallways had an easy amble, seaweed-green eyes and jaw like a shard of Michelangelo’s beloved Carrara marble that, by memory alone, still floods me with the feels. Every school had one: that guy in the worn leather jacket who walked through the school doors as if in slow motion, hair ruffling in an invisible wind as all eyes turned to stare in envy and desire, depending on sexual orientation – and sometimes not.
Let’s go back, way back, and take a moment to observe one of the more public teenage mating rituals, in a small northern town during the mid-90s. There they are congregating in a dark gym that is strewn, with little forethought, in coloured balloons and droopy streamers. Beside a ghetto blaster are two large black amps from which uberous energetic tempos pour forth belonging to Ace of Base, Counting Crows, Boyz II Men, Gabrielle and Garth Brooks. A 30-something DJ is owning his Magnum PI moustache.
The story behind the mysterious disappearance of the grad car began when the Grade 12 Autocad boys fashioned it out of a rusted-out Pontiac in the school’s garage. It was a junk heap, but they got it running about as well as an old dog, and gave it a new coat of metallic orange. The doors were welded shut, out of necessity, so the only way to get in and out was through the windows Dukes of Hazzard style. It was covered in black graffiti from the obvious, “Grad ’95 rocks!” to the moderately clever, “Tell the cops we went the other way.”