Friday, March 11, 2011

Pumpkins and Chickens are Orange, Aren't They?

NOTE: A short story from long, long ago. I've gotten much better now, thank you very much.


I had the book draped open in front of me though I wasn't reading It, or paying much attention to the discussion about the story we were supposed to have read. I propped my head up with mg hands, One elbow rested on the narrow, grainy desk top; the other on the spine of the book, causing its pages to strain at the bindings, I grabbed a bag of Skittles from the desk. My other elbow slipped, brushing the book, with a crash, to the floor. The jolt caused four Skittles--a red one, two orange ones and a purple one--to jump out. of the bag and hit the tiled floor of the classroom with high pitched 'snaks' as they bounced.

I glanced quickly at the two sitting In the corner opposite me, inwardly sure that they were laughing at me. My legs tensed up while mg face flushed red, I stared at the floor, at the two orange Skittles on the ground. I squished them with my foot.

The two in the corner were Indeed laughing; my paranoid mind assumed at me. University housing services never matched up two characters as perfectly as they had those two. One, a head taller than his dark companion, radiated orange to anyone who cared to look at him, Orange hair. Orange skin. Even the frames of his thick bottle-bottomed glasses were orange. He looked like a cock, ever alert, turning his head quickly from side to side, but never looking up or down. His companion resembled a jack o' lantern in November, its shriveled face caving In on itself.

I didn't know their names, though I shared a classroom with them for two hours every Tuesday night. I could have learned their names easily enough, but I didn't want to. Their nicknames sufficed.

The cock as I called the first one, was obnoxious and pompous In a loud wag, always trying to draw attention to himself. He did not merely speak, (this he did often enough to get on my nerves) he enunciated. Each word carefully pronounced and accented as If he was talking down to a roomful of kindergartners. VAC--uum. Thank YOU. There was no denying he was intelligent, but his annoying personality ruled him out as a reliable friend-Jack O', as I called the Cock's ever-present companion, was obnoxious and pompous in a quiet way- He was the Cock's one true vassal; a servant to do his every bidding. He laughed at all the Cock's jokes, and paid rampant attention to him every time spoke, which as I said before, was often.

They were both talking quitely as the teacher lectured, gesticulating with their faces and waving their ;hands about highly annoying fashion. When there was a break in class, they resumed their normal, exceedingly loud babble in the inflated vernacular popular among those who enjoy playing themselves up in front of others. They had a maddening habit that frankly drove me crazy. Every week, the Cock would come to class with a new word added to his vast vocabulary. He and Jack O' would inject it into every conversation they entered, whenever possible (and sometimes when it was impossible). The word this week was 'purge'. The sound of that word, rolling of the Cock's pompous tongue, irritated me to my very soul, (After class I would find it hard to use that word in my own conversations, even when it was proper to do so.) Every other sentence he uttered had that word in it. He's the type of person who, on an extended camping trip, would annoy his fellow campers by describing a calm lake using wilder and wilder metaphors as the trip went oh, until they were ready to break the lake's surface by throwing him in it.


Everything around me was mud and dead leaves. The few grassy patches, hemmed in by strips of wet, muddy concrete, were crisscrossed with bicycle tracks and footprints. The center of the square, between the classroom complex and the library, looked like a pig wallow. The water oozed out of the ground as if someone had stepped on a soggy sponge. The single emaciated tree in the canter of the square had but one orange leaf clinging for life to the bare branches.

I walked up the equally dismal steps of the library, and stood looking at the relief sculpture of the state mortared into the side of the building. Even that. was streaked with mud.

The woman in front of me was walking maddeningly slow, I stepped through the door she opened, then sped around her and into the library. I walked quickly to the newspaper section, hoping to find the Sunday edition of my hometown paper, which had been absent from the other campus library I frequented more often. The shelf next to the paper's label was empty. I pouted, and grabbed a magazine. The lounge couch, upholstered with a sickly orange vinyl, squeaked when I sat dawn on It. The few Skittles left over from class that were In my pocket rolled out into a crack in between the cushions, along with at least ninety cents in small change. I knew none of this, but roundly cursed my luck when I later searched my pocket for my keys, and missed the money, and the Skittles.

My feet squashed in the mud and standing water in the soggy field I had to cross to get home. I put my foot down in a puddle that was deeper than it looked. The water soaked In through my shoes, and began climbing up my sock.

The gunning of an engine caught my attention. The source of the noise was an ugly orange Volvo chugging along behind my dorm. I quickly drew my eyes away from it, and did not look up from the ground again until I stood outside my door, fumbling for my keys.

I yanked the door open and walked into the small room that I shared. My roommate was always gone when I came home. I think the jerk had a girlfriend or something I like that. The room was dark and smelled of garlic. That was better than the normal odors of herbal throat gargles or the cheap Brut cologne my roommate used. My hand slammed down on the light switch, nearly bringing the phone off the wall with it. The lamp sent a pitiful yellow-orange glow through the room. I cursed to myself as I dropped my books onto the desk. I whipped the curtains open and wrenched the windows, hoping a breeze would come by and suck the garlic smell out of the room. I emptied the contents of my pockets onto the orange desktop, muttering. My eyes bulged. Sitting there alongside my wallet, a scrap of paper, two ticket stubs and my room key, was a single orange Skittle that the couch at the library had not claimed. I picked it up and threw it out the window.


My history class was bound to be boring today. I was taking it just for the fact that it was a core requirement, nothing more. My major was communications, and, in my view, that had nothing to do with studying Rome or Greece. I highly disliked going to that class, partly because of my disinterest in the subject, but mostly because Jack O' sat next to me.

Most. of the time, I got to class a little earlier than he, to give myself a few moment's peace. My hand covered my mouth to stifle an evil chuckle, for when I glanced at his hopefully permanently vacant desk, I noticed it was a seat for left-handers Poetic justice. That would put a burr up his tailpipe. Jack O' picked that time to come sauntering In the door, I concentrated on the paper I was reading while he fussed about, exchanging the lefty desk for a righty one from the vacant back row. He Infuriated me.

He never took notes on the lectures, though the amount of information given by the professor was copious, as well as complex. What really burned me up was that he always got A's an the tests, while I, an avid note-taker, barely scraped B's. He was a math major on top of that. I hate math.

Though I tried hard enough, I could not find a single redeeming quality in Jack O', or his friend. That fact Incessantly burned in my mind because I have always been taught to love my neighbors. Trying to 'love' these two would annoy me more than if I continued to loathe them. I admit I'm crazy; my loathing for them building up Insurmountable guilt deep in my soul. I was letting two idiots drive me insane. . .but I was having fun every step of the way.

I knew I had three choices to follow, choices that would lead to permanent Insanity, or an ugly, festering ulcer. The first was to continue in my present loathsome ways, breaking them down and destroying myself with harbored guilt. I could try to strike a happy medium, tolerating their presence only, since I had already rendered loving them academic. An evil smile crossed my face as fantasized about my third choice: bump them off. Kidnap them. Tie them up. A little Chinese water torture, perhaps. Make a finger necklace. I favored strangulation for them, since I felt strangled every time I saw them, together or apart.

A loud noise, the professor clearing his throat, pulled me out of my dark daydreaming. That was the first time I really took a close look at him that. day. He was wearing a hideous orange tie. I wanted to tighten that tie until he turned blue (it irritated me so), but certain facts (30 witnesses to the crime, for one), restrained me. I laughed, silently to myself, as I imagined their shock and surprise as I murdered the teacher. I had to do something though.

Suddenly, It was all so clear. I realized that I had but one choice, not three. Reason said simply: go mad, Why not? It could I lots of fur. Maybe I could be like that guy in Arsenic and Old Lace. Being Teddy Roosevelt wouldn't be that bad. Charging up the stairs like they were San Juan Hill could be a barrel of laughs, if I tried hard enough.

So, I resigned to insanity, but in the best way possible. No, not the best way. I couldn't kill them. My conscious would weigh down on me too heavily, I would continue to loathe them. It would be fun, while it lasted. Only one thing worried me. With my luck, the added room they assign to me at the asylum would be decorated in orange.

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