When I was in high school, there was this kid named Chase. Every freaking day, he would do some damned thing to piss me off. One day, he would intentionally pile rocks in my parking spot. I paid for my damned parking spot just like everyone else, for Christ's sake! And he was going to ruin it every third Monday of the month?! Parking spot aside, sometimes it was more personal. Every now and then, just when I had let my guard down, he would sneak into the football locker room (he didn't play) and snag my cleats from the bottom of my locker. I always just shook them off into the recess of the locker behind the bench after practice and never bothered to lock them in the top compartment. Well, Chase would take my cleats and, at least the first couple of times, put something unsavory in them, like shaving foam, or toothpaste.
I really never understood this kid. I mean yeah, I beat the shit out of him in, like, third grade, but what the fuck?! Get over it.
But after that one time, I started locking my cleats away. Top compartment. Coach said the smell will never come out and I had to keep one of those pine-tree scented car air fresheners in my locker. Of course, I could never prove it was Chase that dropped a huge deuce in my football cleats, but I knew it was him. And after that, the whole football team dubbed me Shit-Stain, or Stink-Bomb, or Poo-Foot, or my personal favorite, Athlete's Crap.
And yes, maybe I did insult this Chase guy's mother a few times. It's not like I knew her. What's a few harmless "your mother" jokes every now and then? I sure as hell didn't know she had died of breast cancer when he was fourteen.
And so, there I was, Shit-Stain, soon-to-be-third-string tackle on the varsity squad and none-to-popular-all-of-a-sudden with the cheerleader chicks. So what does a fairly popular, jock-turned-leper do now?
I bought a guitar. A shitty Peavey Predator with an amplifier. The whole setup only cost me three hundred dollars (you'd be surprised how much money you can save when the local stores will let you walk out with a six-pack of beer for free... well at least they used to). Every day, I went to school, brushed aside the rock-pile in my parking spot and kept on going. I quit the football team two weeks later and never bothered to clean out my locker. Someone else would have to dispatch those cleats. I always imagined a man in haz-mat gear reaching into my locker with giant tongs, searching and finally finding a smelly pair of white and black Nike's. He'd stand at arm's length, hands shaking, slowly dropping them into a biohazard bucket before swiftly closing the lid and rushing out of the locker room as if the whole package might just explode any minute.
But yeah, I bought a guitar, and I quit the football team, and I kept taking shit from this Chase bastard. So what if I teased his kid sister when she was a freshman? She was ugly as sin! She had the worst acne I've ever seen in my life. Hand-to-bible. Two seconds after she set foot on campus, the entire senior class had already tagged her as "Crater Kathy." I mean, they probably wouldn't have called her exactly that if I hadn't been standing right by her when she stepped out of her mom's car that day, but when opportunity knocks, you answer, right?
Anyway, our school doesn't officially have a band. We have people who sing and praise Jesus and such at school mass (yeah, I went to a Catholic high school), but nothing that involves more than an organ and a few high-pitched girly-voices. So I'd bring my guitar to school and act like I knew what the hell I was doing. I figured that I would eventually attract a few people who wanted to jam and - BAM - we'd have a band and the rocking would ensue. Unfortunately, school policy did not allow me to lug around my guitar all day long, from class to class. So I had to leave it either in my locker (where it did not fit), in my car (where it was vulnerable to Chase attacks), or in the back of the classroom (so as not to disrupt the other students ... right). Naturally, I almost always opted for the latter. But all it took was fifteen minutes. I slept late one day, just by fifteen lousy minutes, and my Predator stayed in the back seat of my car as I raced out of the parking lot to the sound of the school bell. When I had made it squarely into my seat I looked to the back wall of the classroom, and a sinking feeling instantly crept into my stomach.
Sure, I may have accidentally run over this Chase guy's dog when me and a few football pals were riding around his house after a game, but come on?! We had just won the district championship! We were gonna throw eggs at somebody's house! It just happened to be his. Plus, we were way too drunk to know that dog wasn't just a speed bump.
At lunch, I found it in the back seat. The strings were all splayed out like some futuristic bouquet of flowers. The pick guard was entirely colored in with black marker (it must have taken half an hour to do it with a sharpie). And the body of the guitar was strewn with "Hello Kitty" stickers (the industrial strength kind that you can't even sand off). It'd be impossible to get them off without messing up the finish.
That night, I restrung my guitar and sat looking at Hello Kitty as I strummed out a few bleak chords. I plucked the strings and traversed the notes I knew and eventually I started to hum a tune. I didn't really know where it was going at first, but I kept playing. It wasn't long before I had worked up enough for a few verses and even a chorus. And by the time I went to bed that night, I knew the next day would end up in the yearbook.
Sure, maybe when he was a sophomore, I welded his locker shut. I had shop class at the end of the day that year. Who wouldn't be bored by then? It was funny as hell when he got to school the next day and had to explain why he didn't have his report for english class. Mrs. Widerman eventually agreed not to give him an "F" once she saw the janitor prying open the metal locker in the hallway. No harm done.
When I got to school, I went straight to the principal's office. Guitar and amplifier in tow, I stormed the morning announcement system like Normandy on D-Day. The room was separated from the front office by a door and had only one exit, so it was no large task to brush by the secretary and lock the door behind me. So, at seven fifty-five that morning with the sound of muffled fists pounding the door behind me, instead of Principal Levin, every student at Elmherst High School heard Greyson Walker's melodic musing in the key of C major.
Unfortunately for me, the school board and faculty at Elmherst didn't see my performance quite the way I had anticipated. I suppose, in hindsight, playing a song called, "I'll Kill You All Tomorrow," over the loudspeakers to three hundred students is probably not the best way to go about expressing one's teenage angst. No, principal Levin certainly didn't see it my way. Neither did my parents. Or the police. I thought the song would be funny, really. But my mom wasn't laughing later that day when officer Clark from the bomb squad rifled through my closet looking for home-made explosives. And my dad's face only turned a bright shade of crimson when the rest of the officers confiscated every length of steel pipe in the garage.
Me and my dad used to go hunting. Duck, goose, deer, we did it all. Now his gun case, with his rifles, shotguns, handguns, ammunition, even the stupid hats with antlers sticking out of them and the tacky sign that says, "Gone Fishin'", it was all getting hauled out of our house and into a police van.
They kept me at the station for seven hours. People kept coming in and asking me questions about the posters on my wall. If I had ever been influenced by heavy metal music, or violent movies, or video games. I just kept telling them I was joking around. But as soon as one would leave, another would come in, asking me over and over if my mother ever spanked me with a broom handle, or if my dad had ever beat me with his belt-buckle. Did I ever play games that involved shooting people or using explosive devices? Did I ever watch films that involved violent behavior as a means to solve a problem? Did I ever listen to Slipknot?
Apparently, I wasn't enough of a threat to society to warrant a trip to jail or juvenile hall, or any other mental institution. So after my seven hours of incarceration, I was released, but I wouldn't be welcomed back at Elmherst, or any school in our town for that matter. We moved to a town thirty miles north of Elmherst three months after my little song went over the air waves. And my mom and dad divorced six months after that.
Later that year, one of my old football pals came to visit me. Good guy, not too bright, but he never called me Shit-stain like the other assholes on the team. He sat on a chair in the corner of my bedroom while I reclined on the bed, strumming my Hello-Kitty-Predator. He said they were going to the state finals and the team had a good chance of going all the way. I told him I was glad and just kept on plucking the strings. But as he kept talking, something made my fingers go stiff. What did he say? What now? This jock, this big dumb animal, he repeated himself.
He said, yeah, it was the strangest thing. That kid, Chase, the one you always made fun of... Well, he was in the same classroom when ... well ... when it all happened. And funny thing, when you were, uh, yeah, ... when you were playing that song over the loudspeakers, that kid, Chase, he was just laughing his ass off... like he couldn't help himself... he was just laughing his ass off. I mean, everyone else in the class was dead quiet. Nobody made a single sound. But he was laughing like crazy. The teacher almost kicked him out of class, but he just kept on laughing .... just laughing...