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“Graduation Day”

It was late spring in 1983 and all the towns foliage was in full bloom. The City of “Fort Windsor” is world famous or at least well known in the region for the most amazing purple lilacs that grow wild, and in baskets hanging from every single lamp post along Main Street in down town. It was like a giant purple splash, fully alive with deep scarlet centers and violet hues on the end of each pedal. Fort Windsor was a purple oasis in an otherwise flat, sage brush brown town in north eastern Colorado. But it is a strong community with a strong sense of itself. On this crisp and clear spring morning there were white and yellow banners with big purple letters that read,
”THE CLASS OF ’83 – JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE”, and Staggered between Every other light post were pennants that read,

“GO FIGHTING FALCONS”!

This was always an exciting time of the year in Fort Windsor.

Traditionally, graduation day was on the last Saturday in May and was always held in the “big gym” at Fort Windsor high school. The décor had a theme that had to do with “moving on” or “realizing our dreams” or the occasional “beach” theme. The “big gym “was ground zero for every single dance, social and senior graduation. It was responsible for dozens, if not hundreds, of relationships and marriages and countless first kisses.

It had retractable bleachers and the basketball hoops had motors and pulleys to lift them up to the ceiling. The scoreboard was modern and the whole “big gym” was lighted with new and very powerful fluorescent tubes. Yes, this was an exciting time of the year For the Fort Windsor graduating class of 1983.

The committee was going all out with this year’s festivity. They procured the best and the only rock band worthy of such an event in the tri-county area. It was “The Flame”, and it was lead by Tony Palmer. He was a senior at Fort Windsor High and hands down the best six string guitar player that town had ever heard. “The Flame” started in Tony’s parent’s garage in sixth grade, and if you like “Skynard”, and “Led Zeppelin” this was your band. Their show led up to a climax with Bob Segar’s, “Turn the page” as the “cu-de-graue”.

The band got the cute girls who weren’t the prom queen’s cronies, who were way too good to fraternize with the likes of musicians.

This year’s ceremony will be the grandest, most regal graduation event of Fort Windsor’s long and illustrious history.

Chase Murphy, one of the grads, was sure that the graduation committee mislabeled his invitation and it was hung up in the snail mail. He would go to the event anyway, everyone knew everyone else and there were only 38 seniors graduating.

“No invitation and no date”, Chase thought.

He saw no reason to not be invited, but he understood the no date part. It was 1983 and Chase Murphy was a nerd and girls did not go out with nerds. Not even the nerd girls would go out with the math slash algebra slash physics club members.

Chase straitened his bow tie and pulled on his lapel in the mirror of his mothers 1968 “Super Beetle”. She drove it because it was economical and she thought it was cool. Chase’s mother was a nerd too.

They made two rights and a left and pulled into the Fort Windsor high school parking lot which was brimming with activity. There were girls laughing and showing off their dresses and the guys trying to look like they are not looking at the dresses. A couple of “greasers” squealed their tires in the back of the lot. Photo flashes were plentiful and smiles were worn by all. Even Chase could not help but feel like part of the occasion and dawned a toothy grin.

Chase began to scan the perimeter for his friends which he often called his “constituents”. This wild posse consisted of four of the only four members belonging in the F.W. Algebra/physics/math club. Mike Michaels was a tall and gangly kid who had absolutely no athletic ability, but could multiply five figures in his head faster than a calculator. Theo Miles was short, wide and ginger. He could get a sun burn under the fluorescent lights in the school lab and he could do calculus at a college senior level. The third was a real, living, breathing math prodigy. His name was Glenn Basemen and he was short too, only he was thin and confrontational. Rumor had it that in his previous middle school, he punched a kid so hard the kid’s mother felt it. He wasn’t great at people skills, but it felt good to have some muscle in the group and he was much smarter than any of us.

The four looked at each other, gave high fives of approval and headed for the double doors to “dream land”. They are met by Evelyn, Sue and Karen, the female majority in the graduation day committee.

“Hold on right there, boys”, she said.

“Look guys, it’s the witches of Windsor”! Glenn said and we all busted out laughing, except Evelyn.

Evelyn smirked and said,

“Where are your invitations” with such indignation our smiles disappeared.

“You can’t enter with out an invitation”, she spoke and a small smile lifted the corners of her mouth.

The social elite have a way of running things in small town high schools and this school was no different in that regard. The prom was fixed, as it was every year, and the majority of the grads were followers as they had always been.

“I will go get Mr. Daniels, so he can deal with you low lifes”,

And all the witches began to cackle.

“You know who we are and you know we are graduates”,

Mike yelled.

“This party is not for the losers, it’s for the winners, so you guys just don’t belong here”, Karen said with great condescension.

Chase chimed in and gave logic a whirl.

“Perhaps you mislabeled the envelopes, accidentally”.

The laughter escaping from Evelyn’s mouth was ego smashing.

The three girls went into the big gym and the four young men were standing there, looking at each other.

Glenn spoke up immediately,

“Let’s get out of here, this is bull shit”.

“No, we have the right to be here, and we have ate crap from those preppies since kindergarten”, Chase said.

“We are going in”.

The four opened the double doors and entered the big gym un- noticed.

Theo starts to “bop” to the music and tells the rest of the nerds he will meet them at the snack and punch bowl after a “restroom break”, as he called it. The three meandered to the snacks and punch table, and Theo made his way down the hall to the room marked “Lavatory”. It was old terminology, but a lot of the old décor was left in to give the school that nostalgic feel.

As Theo pushed open the door he was grabbed and gagged by a hand over his mouth. Theo was terrified and let a little bit of his urine go making a small puddle under him.

“You freaking geek, you pissed on my Nikes”, Tom Davison said.

“Make him lick them clean Tom”, Keith said.

There were five of the starting seniors from the Fort Windsor Fighting Falcons football team, known to the math club as “The goon squad”, in the Lavatory waiting for just such an opportunity.

They were always waiting for an opportunity to humiliate us.

In the big gym, the lights went down and the band got quiet for the moment that everyone was waiting for. Some wait for it to be here, and some wait for it to be over. At the moment we were all expecting to see the spotlight go to Tom and Evelyn as the King and Queen we all saw a quivering, crying math geek named Theo trying to cover his naked body from the spot light. At that moment a lineman from the football team slapped Theo on the ass so hard that Theo lunged forward, crying out in pain, and fell on his face. The big gym erupted in laughter and screams and people began shouting obscenities at Theo.

The math club members felt nauseous as Theo got up and ran out the side door, not the double doors, and before the club could reach him, he was gone.

So without so much as a word, Theo jumped off the “Southern Pacific Railway” bridge into the South Platte River. The fall alone is 75 feet and the water is about 23 inches deep. Theo was humiliated right out of existence by the goon squad and all he wanted to do was go away. So he did, permanently. His body was pulled from the South Platte 4 miles downriver, with nearly every bone broken from the fall and landing.

Welcome to “The Ultimate Burger”

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