How in the world could it ever turn out like this? That thought kept coursing through Jim’s veins and into his frontal cortex no matter how many times he pushed it away. Was he so brilliant as to have turned a simple prank into a lifetime of privilege and opulence? He was too smart to fall for that bit of self deception. No, it was more a matter of being a little too careless to even consider the possibility of failure or its consequences and just mischievous enough to take someone else’s brilliant fantasy and turn it into something real. And now here he was, rubbing tennis elbows with Upper East Side Manhattan’s art buying elite, a glass of Dom Perignon in his good hand and a society gentleman’s smile grafted onto his upper middle class face? Kensington sign It all started one pot fueled night in Kensington, a comfortable if not upscale community on Washington DC’s now famous beltway. Families of beauraucrats, diplomats and government contractors have made this enclave their home since the federal government started its explosive expansion in the aftermath of Roosevelt’s New Deal and World War II’s resolution. A break in to the local high school somehow became the focus of mischievous planning among a group of seven high schoolers that night – five boys and two girls. By the time the flashlights were packed and the plans became a car ride, the group had thinned to four. Jim was more follower than leader at that point, more interested in Tina’s smile and tanned legs than in any profit. But a simple act of bravado – indistinguishable from massive fear of being left out or branded a coward – kept him in the game. For Joel, his motivation was clearer. Joel’s parents were society wannabes, and his own wrestles boredom drove him blindly toward adventure the same way his parents hunger for acceptance among the elite prevented them from ever pursuing it. Billy was from the other side of the tracks. Suburban Washington’s working class was no heroes though. Good government jobs meant pencil pushing purposeless security. Billy never wanted for anything, save parents with ambition. His rebellion was always to take chances. He longed for the pain that would explain his criminal tendencies, but never quite felt it for real. And then there was Tina. Who could ever understand what made Tina do the things she did. Certainly not Jim. He only knew that she was incredible – and just out of reach enough to keep him stretching beyond the comfortable boundaries he had grown up with.

Of the crowd, Jim was the rich kid, though he certainly never saw himself that way. He knew of real elites in Long Island, Greenwich, New Jersey’s wooded outskirts of Manhattan. He moved to Maryland following his father’s appointment to the foreign service. The move to DC never made sense really. Father and mother were divorced and both remarried, but somehow they remained inextricably bound. Mom seemed to remain the driving force behind dad’s carreer aspirations. Alimony and childcare amically arranged, she certainly benefitted from his constant, if incremental, financial improvements, but that wasn’t it. Jim’s stepfather certainly was not a poor man, with his business of installing home theatres in luxury homes. Somehow mom’s self image was linked to Dad’s political advancement. It wasn’t about money, but rather prestige. And it was a sense of serving his country’s interests that brought that feeling. She was one part patriot and one part publicist. His acscension thought the ranks of the state department was her greatest source of pride. The only rational explanation for the move, given that Dad spent most of his time overseas and only made it to Washington for quick meetings and must-be-seen-at galas, was the prestige thing. Career diplomats are only famous among other carreer diplomats and politically minded policy nerds. Jim always figured that mom needed the warm glow of the almost yellow dwarf known as Washington.

Jim sometimes wondered why his stepfather never expressed jealousy for mom’s persistent attachment to Dad’s every move. Was he just a dud, with no drive or testosterone of his own? Was he secretly shtupping the rich housewives of his clients, with their sculptured by personal trainer mid sections and their best you can buy boobjobs? He was certainly good looking and on the road enough to have plenty of opportunity for such daliences. His installation business was mostly in Greenwich, Connecticut and when mom forced him to move to Washington upon Dad’s latest appointment, he became a travelling man. Thoughts about such matters always left Jim feeling cheated that mom somehow managed to maintain two husbands without ever sharing even one of them for Jim to have a real father.

Standing in the swampy heat of the Washington summer air he never quite got used to, Jim waited with Tina as the Billy and Joel took turns trying to bend back the metal latch of the window through a pane they had cracked ever so slightly. When they finally succeeded, the window gently swung open and a gentle rush of air conditioned pleasure washed over Jim’s face. That moment of pause that no professional criminal knows suddenly sunk into Billy and Joel’s hearts. There was no goal of thievery after all. The only purpose of this adventure was the adventure itself. For the foursome of suburban teens, the climax of the story had just been reached. “I’ll go,” said Jim, surprising himself. With that he entered the 11th grade English classroom he had been in way too many times.

Jim instinctively headed for the teacher’s lounge next door, one of the few places that held any sense of the unknown for him. The others followed quickly behind. As he entered, he could feel Tina’s approval at his gutsiness. With a surge of adrenaline in his heart and pretty much nothing in his head, he began pulling open file drawers and throwing papers all over the place. Billy enlisted Joel’s help in taking things way too far by flipping over couches, tables, chairs and pushing whole filing onto the floor. Billy produced a small can of spray paint from his trousers and shrieked with glee as he guided its contents into inevitable obscenities on the bookshelf.

It was amidst this melee that a yellowing, long forgotten English essay slid out of a spilled folder and glided onto Jim’s left shoe. Stoneybrook Stupid, he read on the title page as he bent over and grabbed it by the staple. It felt about four pages thick – turned out to be five. Jim folded it in quarters and stuffed it in his right pants pocket, apparently as a souvenir that would immortalize the feeling of triumph, which was already receding as a dread of getting caught started welling in his throat. “Let’s get the fuck out of here,” Jim said. “Our work is done here,” he added boomingly, hoping his friends would think him indifferent rather than scared. It worked. Billy grabbed an NEA paperweight and hurled through a showcase cabinet in the hallway filled with antique books and trinkets designed to make students think that this month’s unit on William Shakespeare was fascinating rather than stupid. There were high pitched “yows” and low pitched “hoo hoo’s” as the four barreled down the hallway and out the front door of the school.

They trampled the carefully planted flower bed on their way out, just for good measure. And deep in Jim’s pocket laid the seed for a mischief so impossible – a dream so big – that it would soon change all of their lives forever.

mormon temple
–to be continued–

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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