Wanting What’s Right

“But it’s time.” Double-J straightened his body in the billowing cushions of the sofa, grabbing the long neck of the guitar and laying its rounded end softly on the floor, then releasing the neck to rest against the sofa. “Let’s get to the reason for your visit tonight.” He cleared his throat with rough loudness.”I’m not going back to Bark Bay High. Ñeed two credits to graduate, but I worked things out to do the work, without ever hvaing to step into that hell-hole again. And if the school changes its mind, deny me a diploma – fine, I’ll get a friggin’ GED.” The teen glared at Lefty – “Not like I need a degree to work at the shop, do I?”

Lefty lowered his gaze to the floor, shook his head slowly.

“Didn’t think so.” Double-J now looked directly at Rex. “And yeah, that means I’m not on Jacobs’ fencing team no more neither.”

“I don’t get it.” The challenge in Rex’s reply was as obvious as a head cut. “Fencing’s the only thing you enjoy, don’t know how many times you told me that.”

“And that ain’t changed.” Double-J pointed to himself – “I ain’t changed – it’s the damn team that changed.”

“Annie – ” Jimmy’s voice sounded strained, as if the words he was about to speak were coerced – “she says if’n you wanna be captain –”

WANT?” Double-J grabbed the seat cushions underneath him. “You go tell Annie, that I got no interest in her damn offer, ‘cuz she’s acting like being captain is something she owns, just another thing her family could buy for her. This ain’t ‘bout ownership, it’s ‘bout what’s right, recognizing who’s earned the right to be captain, and most of all, recognizing that Annie IN NO WAY earned that right.”

A car engine sputtered in the street below as the apartment fell silent, stillness descending after Double-J’s storming screed.

The car engine roared into life. Jimmy cleared his throat. “I ever tell you – why I started coaching?”

[“Gray Metal Faces”, March 13D]


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