Club Dead

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The Awareness Club

I attended the first meeting of the Awareness Club.

Frank and I talked for ten minutes before he called the meeting to order.

“Frank, we’re the only people here. What are you calling to order?”

“Have to make it official.”

“For when Blok drops in?”

“Exactly. Will you keep the minutes?”

“For you Frank, I will keep the minutes.”

“First I will announce the agenda.”

“Very official.”

“I learn from the best.” Frank read aloud his agenda.

1 Mission Statement

2 Opening business

3 Closing thoughts

4 Adjournment

“I’m jealous.”

“Of what Frank?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“Club Dead is a hit.”

“I had no intention of producing a hit.”

“But you have to admit, it fills a need for some kids. What a creative thing you’ve done.”

“I hadn’t given that much thought.”

“What do you give thought to?”

“I think about how near I am to being useless, as a human. I don’t care about anything.”

“Does that frighten you?”

“Not really.”

“Make you nervous, anxious?”

“Not at all. Frank, I don’t feel anything.”

“Even when we kiss.”

“Sorry Frank, no.”

“Do you like to kiss me?”

“Yes. No. Sometimes.”

We looked around the room.

“But you don’t care?”

“Frank, I thought you were made of tougher stuff. Don’t get sentimental on me. I’m in the midst of something big. Bigger than kissing you. And I don’t understand it.”

We don’t say anything.

“Frank, I like you well enough. But kissing you is not going to combat the effects.”

“Of you trying to figure out who you are.”

“That sounds about right. Sorry.”

“No apologies necessary. You know, I look at the other people at Club Dead, and I see something familiar among them all. It’s not just you. There is this intense ball of energy. It says “Don’t approach! Danger! Don’t touch” Do you see how far everyone sits from each other? And they talk like no one else is in the room. It’s like they’re speaking to - ”

“Death, Frank. They’re talking at death.”

“Not ’to’?”

“It’s not a conversation.”

“And there’s a meanness.”

“No, they aren’t mean. It’s funny to think that the tone of anger could hold off death, but that’s partly it. I’m feeling very violent.”

“You don’t show it.”

“No one wants to see it.”

“Have you?”

“Yes. A month ago, Mr. Blok had me see Mrs. Stone.”

“She does not exude warmth.”

“She’s a tank of a human. Has me talk about what ails me. I figure, what the heck, I let it out. Know what she says?”

Frank nodded.

Calm down.”

“Calm down?”

“Yes.”

“Was that a mistake?”

“I stabbed her in the hand.”

“Well.”

“It was in reach, in a pencil holder. I pulled it out, reached high in the air and came down on to the middle of her desk. It could have stabbed any part of the desk. I got her adductor pollicis.”

“What’s that?”

“A muscle. Soft tissue. She screamed. Then fainted.”

“Blood?”

“A little.”

“What did you do?”

“Got the nurse. I left. By the time I get home my parents have talked to the police. Stone tried to have me sent to Casa Serena.”

“Up on the hill?”

“Yes.”

“I hear people enter but don’t exit.”

“I ran away for a short week. The weather was good.”

“You make that sound easy.”

“Easy enough. Do you know how many people from our school are on the run? They introduced me to this community of homeless people living down at the pipes near Six Mile Creek. Some behind the supermarket. They secure food. Plenty of cardboard boxes to make shelter. I felt okay there.”

“All because of your transition.”

“No. There’s other stuff.”

“Were you afraid.”

“I don’t feel fear.”

“And then?”

“No then. The adults understood their mistake in thinking they could help me.”

“Are you beyond help?”

“That’s exactly how I feel Frank. Beyond help.”

“I can see how my kisses don’t make much of an impression.”

I looked out the window and Frank scribbled on his agenda.

“You don’t talk about what happened, I mean, between you and death.”

“Not since telling Mrs. Stone.”

“You keep quiet in the meeting when others talk.”

“I know.”

“Do you want to tell me? It might help.”

“That’s another thing I’m working on Frank. This concept of ’help’. Mr. Blok wants to help me. That’s why I started the club. But really Mr. Blok wants me to stop crying in his school. It doesn’t make him look good. I question his intention to ’help’ me. Mrs. Stone can’t ’help’ me. She needs help herself. No Frank, it’s not ’help’ I need, or want.”

Frank expected an answer.

“I have no idea what I need or want. But I know ’help’ is not the thing. Others want to help because it will make them feel better to see me the way I was. That probably explains my lack of caring.”

“Because they don’t really care.”

“Frank, you’re listening! Right, I think it’s some automatic thing going on within me. I am the way I am, people want to help, which makes me not care.”

“A vicious cycle. How will it end?”

“I don’t know Frank. That’s the story I’m involved with. And I think I’m still in the first part. There’s more to come.”

“More viciousness?”

“Could be.”

“Maybe my kisses will count, later on in the story.”

“You and your ego Frank.”

“I was trying to be funny and stop your tears for a second.”

“Logic is useless Frank. They fall and fall. I have no control over them. Do you mind that I call you Frank.”

“Yes. But you don’t care, right.”

“Want to know my real name?”

“No. I don’t care.”

“That’s the spirit Frank.”

“We’re not going to make it.”

“Make it?”

“As a couple.”

“For a radical, Frank, you can be pretty corny.”

“You really know how to hurt a guy.”

“You’re a good kisser, though.”

“Think so? Well, I think that will close the first meeting of the Awareness Club. You know, I feel more aware. How about you?”

“Part of my problem is too much awareness.”

“Maybe we should make a new club? The semi-aware club, or the not-so-dead club, or the…”

I no longer listened to Frank. I thought of the people at the river and hoped they had enough to eat today.

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