Schoolyard Justice

The gardeners were blow-drying the lawn in front of my apartment complex. I closed the shades and changed my clothes. As I pulled up my Levi’s, I looked up and saw the eye of the gardener with the loud tools looking through the crack in my blinds. While I was shocked, I was somehow also indifferent.

Susie was quite young when she got the reputation in that midwestern schoolyard. It’s the kind of thing you can’t live down in those  towns. She would forever be “the girl that…”. Until the day she disappeared to start a new life in Los Angeles… a leader of a rock-and-roll band, a yoga teacher, or something equally obtuse, like running for office.

The elementary schoolyards of the midwest were fierce. Jockeying for acceptance, solitude or power. Lions roamed the basketball courts without nets and broken swing sets.

The parking lot was full of children. Children of the just-below-middle-class. Joey had a new box of crayons. He ran through the crowd yelling, “I have new crayons!” and laughing. I had crayons, but they were not new. They were community crayons kept in an empty cigar box. We shared them. The black crayon was only a small stump. The children of the schoolyard/parking lot eyeballed Joey with his new crayons and his pride, running faster and yelling louder, “Haha! I have new crayons!” holding them high above his head.

Alan stuck a foot out and Joey took flight. But nothing like his new crayons, that spread out like shrapnel across the crowd of the crayonless. Joey grunted something as his knees met the asphalt. The crayons fell around his crumpled body. At once, as if there was an unspoken command, all of the children of that midwestern playground/parking lot began jumping in the air, stamping Joey’s new crayons into oblivion. Mary Sue Snarky was jumping so high I could see her white underwear as her Catholic school-girl’s dress lifted on her descent, patent leather shoes crushing Joey’s rich-boy pride into the crumbs of adult ambition.

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1 Comment

  1. Nancy said,

    July 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Mmmm… crumbs of adult ambition…


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