Club Dead

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Frank

He told me that his name was Jesse. Jesse James.

“Uh-huh,” I answered.

He followed me out of the office and down the hall.

“Okay, my real name is Frank. But I am so totally done with Frank. I can’t believe I lasted this long.”

“I understand.”

“Do you?”

“Were you a ’Francis’?”

“No. Frank.”

“Frank what?”

“It doesn’t matter what I was. I’m now Jesse James.”

“That’s silly. I can’t call you Jesse James. Jesse maybe. James. Jimmy. But not Jesse James.”

“Why not?”

“I told you – it’s silly.”

“Is ’Madonna’ silly? Is ’Lady Gaga’ silly?”

“Slightly. But those are artistic personas.”

“As is Jesse James.”

“Oh, are you an outlaw out to stick it to the man?”

“I am exactly that.”

I laughed.

“Are you crying?”

“A little. But I’m laughing too.”

“Could have fooled me.”

We turned the corner. I was late for math. I really didn’t want to go to math. There remained twenty minutes of class.

“Where are you headed?”

“Spanish. God what a joke that class is! Senor Davenport went to Chile this summer so all we get is Chile. I’m sick of Chile and would be fine never having to read another Neruda ode.”

“I like Neruda.”

“Where are you going?”

“Math.”

“Sounds fun. Want to cut?”

“Yes.”

“Where to?”

We did nothing but walk for the rest of the period.

“What were you yelling at Mrs. Pedlow for? She’s a nice lady.”

“Are you kidding? She’s a bitch.”

“No she isn’t. And don’t use that word around me. That’s an awful word.”

“But she is.”

“Later.”

“Okay, okay. She wouldn’t let me see Blok.”

“About what?”

“Nothing important.”

“Really? You seemed pretty worked up.”

“I get worked up easily. I tend to see fascists at work everywhere.”

“You use words very casually. I don’t like school but the people who run the school are not fascists.”

“A metaphor.”

“You’re careless with words. Words hurt.”

“You’re sensitive. You cry a lot.”

“I know.”

“So why are you so special? You actually got to see Blok.”

“I have been told to start a club.”

“’Ordered’? See, fascists.”

“Actually, Mr. Blok is trying to help me.”

“By starting a club? Clubs are for followers.”

“But I’m starting it. How can I be a follower?”

“You must have a big ego.”

“You have no right to lecture anyone about egos.”

“Or you are needy.”

“You know I think you have a mean side.”

“What’s the club?”

“Club Dead.”

“Club Dead?”

“Yes.”

“That sounds possibly cool. How does it work?”

“It’s a club, that’s how it works.”

“I mean, what do you do?”

“I don’t know.”

“But it’s your idea.”

“I told you – it was Mr. Blok’s idea. He thinks a club will help me.”

“With what?”

“My crying.”

“But why Club Dead?”

“I figure a club should reflect the person starting it.”

“Let me guess: you’re suicidal?”

“No. I’m generally in favor of life.”

“Lost a pet?”

“Never had one.”

“An existential phase?”

“I did that two years ago.”

“That’s very young.”

“I’ve been called precocious.”

“Well then. What is it?”

“Come to my club and you’ll find out.”

“Super! What day is it?”

“I have to first write up a mission statement for Mr. Blok. Then I need to find an advisor. Once those are in place, the time and place will be announced.”

“I’ll be looking for the flyers. What do you have now?”

“English.”

“I got History. Want to cut?”

“No, I like English.”

“And history’s okay too. I really like what we’re studying right now.”

“What’s that?”

“Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.”

“Oh my god!”

“You like that stuff too?”

“Gag me. You like tariff law?”

“Love it.”

“Bye Jesse James.”

“Bye. Hey, what’s your name?”

“CJ.”

“Let me guess – Carol Jean?”

“Nope.”

“Christy Jospehine?”

“Later.”

“Clarissa Jill? Calamity Jane?”

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