The following are a series of story fragments that I wrote. They actually were written to be complete works in themselves, written as if they were clipped out of a larger story. I put them here, in the hope that someone might read one of them and find it would be great for a larger story idea and will actually build upon it and make it into a larger story. In short, if someone is inspired to do something creative with one of them, then go right ahead. They're free to use. If you read them, you'll see they're pretty dark stuff, suitable for a good horror story or mystery story.
Table of Contents
The Fragment of A Gathering in the City
Devon picked up his glass of gin on the rocks with tonic and a lime wedge and took his first sip from the glass. As he turned himself and looked around a room filled with men in dark suits standing beside long, red evening gowns and the women within them tugging on their arms, he was suddenly struck more acutely than he had been before that he did not belong. That they accepted him was not enough—he truly did not belong.
It was then, while making his survey of the room that he saw a woman he did recognize striding through the entrance in the same simple, black evening gown she'd been wearing before. He couldn't understand what she was doing in here or how she'd gotten in here. On second thought, she probably got in by dropping his name at the door. She was Miriam; he remembered it now. He dreaded having to help her, but he feared what might happen to her if he didn't. He very deliberately but quickly finished the last of his gin and set it down on the bar. He did not want to appear hasty, he did not want to appear concerned or unnerved. He wanted as little attention paid him as possible and tried to ignore the men in all corners standing up and turning to look at her.
He grabbed her by the arm and led her to a corner with some visible anger and spoke directly into her ear in a low voice: "you don't know what you've stepped into. How did you find me here?"
I followed you," Miriam said.
"You shouldn't have," he said. He pushed her into the coat check closet and told her: "take off your dress." She looked at him appallingly, hesitating, but he went away and she could tell that his fear was real; he was angry because he was afraid. And she began to unzip the dress. As she dropped the dress to the floor and her black heals he pulled aside the curtain and threw a red dress to her, and said, "just hang the black dress in here. And the red dress is backless so don't wear a bra." He then closed the curtains, turned his back and stood in front of the closet. When she stepped slowly out the closet and presented herself to him, he said, "it does fit you." He looked at her through narrowing lids and then said, "I should have told you to leave, but it was too late."
He led her now into the main room and he looked around him subtly, seeing how the men reacted, without them noticing he was doing this. She rested her chin on his shoulder and spoke quietly, "just tell me I look beautiful. That's the thing I need most to hear tonight, that I look beautiful."
He spoke to her as if he had not heard her, saying, "kiss me." She looked at him quizzically. He said it again, "kiss me. Make it look convincing. Maybe on the cheeks first and then on the lips." His eyes were still moving around slyly. She did as he told her, first on the cheek and then on the lips; he didn't close his eyes.
She pulled away from him and he said to her, "if you can make all appearances as if you were invited, you may survive the evening, and so might I." He then pulled out a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped away the lipstick on his cheek and lips. "I'm sorry," he told her.
She should've been frightened but as she wrapped herself around his arm she wasn't. She'd only just gotten to know him this afternoon and yet she felt she could trust him without question. As he looked down at her and she looked up into his eyes longingly, he thought to himself that she certainly was beautiful. It would not be her looks to give her away.
The Fragment of The Battle Prologue
It was casual the way they strolled around before the battle, not caring who was who or where they were, or what they would so carelessly do to each other in such a short time. I wandered, casually like the others, from one side to another, looking. I observed anxiously a rack filled with the opponents' spears—long, narrow, light, steel-tipped, sharp. They so much contrasted to ours—short, heavy, hooked tridents of sharpened blades and triangular points. Our weapons were designed for swiping and slashing in close combat and would stay in one piece through many heavy blows, whereas there's were fine, penetrating spears that could disable from a distance. It was a great contrast in fighting styles
Few people were talking much and I imagined that all of them too were as anxious over this game as I was. The opposing soldiers wandered intermixedly through the central atrium, not much talking. The central atrium opened upward a few floors above, with upper floors, where snipers could perch, looking over the atrium and directly at each other from opposite sides. The atrium was in the middle of the two low-ceilinged arcades, where each team's separate base was stationed.
My mind was hazy. My reasoning was unfocused and my ideas were confused. But I was certain that my life was being squandered. I stood in the middle of the atrium and I looked upward at the overhang, and I knew the random scatter of the spears that fell from above and sprayed on whomsoever fell in front of them. I was meant for more things than to be the dice roll of spear clouds, and anxiety rolled through me.
The ceiling was dotted with many of clear domes protruding downward. The domes were made of an extremely tough plastic, to protect them from the blows of any stray spears or blunt objects. Within the bubbles were cameras that rotated freely and recorded and transmitted the events of the cramped arena.
Our armor was sleek and colorful, not that different from the padding of a football player, though with the obvious differences of protecting the wearier from spear wounds and stray arrows than from sudden collisions. Our high-tech gear was a much sleek and lighter version of the traditional armor of warriors. Over that armor we even had a jersey of sorts meant to distinguish the division between us that could only be determined with references to the color of the jersey—"if he is blue he is your enemy, if he is red he is your friend."
An increasing buzz of preparation began to grow and I thought again to myself, "I am meant for greater things than this," while taking a spear from a rack and weighing it within my hand.
Fragment of The Night Out
He raised an empty bottle of wine and shouted, "Waiter, another bottle," to a slender, well-dressed young man with a bow tie and apron.
"When shall you've had enough tonight," the woman sitting at the table across from him said to him.
"It shall be enough when the sound of your voice sings in my ear," he said to her with a broad smile across his cheeks. Her frown did not change.
A little bit of moonlight was pouring in from the window which they sat next to. The moon had just ascended over the wall of the garden which the window looked out upon. Nothing was blooming in the garden and a trimming of frost glazed the edges. She looked out the window, leaning close enough to block the glare of the room, close enough that her breath wavered on the glass.
"I hate you, you know?" she said, and he simply smiled and retorted, "and that's truly a good thing. I don't like the idea dying without having had any enemies. I need a few at least. And the end could come at any moment, so I might as well get to it."
"Well, I am fond of you dying without enemies," she stared at him across the table, sliding her hand across a bright white tablecloth to touch a small white candle in the corner of the table, "But no more so than I'm fond of you dying with enemies."
"Ahh," he said, "So this evening does have a purpose, "I thought you just found my conversation entertaining."
"I know you're the not the type to get the law involved (it doesn't matter anyway), so I wanted to give you a little head start," she continued to look carefully at him, "so the person I hired may better earn their generous salary."
"That's bad grammar. Don't you mean his generous salary? or her generous salary?" He looked at her, waiting for a response. As there was none, he continued, "Then I thankyou," He bowed his head a little, "from the bottom of my heart."
It was while he was saying this that the waiter arrived. He presented the bottle to her, she nodded. He corked it and poured a bit into her glass. She took a sip and nodded again. Both of their glasses were filled. He took a large gulp from the glass and moaned a pleasant "mmm, this wine tastes wonderful. I'd love to sit back and savor," taking another large gulp, "but you always make me feel so rushed. Why do you make me feel as if I have to hurry through my meal and be on my way?"
"Oh, please, no. Don't feel rushed at all," she said with a politeness meant to hide all sarcasm, "just because I hate you, doesn't mean I can't enjoy spending time with you."
"And why do you hate me?" he looked at her with the first air of genuineness the whole night, "I guess we never got that cleared up, did we?"
"I thought it was quite clear," her expression changed from a sarcastic sourness to one of earnest displeasure very quickly, "I understood you were perfectly aware of how you damaged my reputation, how you ruined multiple prospects, and how you in general made my life unpleasant." She observed a blank look on his face and it made the furrows of her frown deepen, "not that it makes a difference whether you knew or not."
He waited for a moment, when he was sure that she wasn't going to say anything else, and then he opened his mouth, "I wouldn't be the type of person to tell you, ‘forgive me, I didn't know what I was doing,' but I think I am not being modest in saying that you flatter me to think that I could effect so much intentionally." She didn't like the sound of ‘flatter' and began to bite her lower lip nervously. "Don't get me wrong, I knew I was doing nothing to help you," he continued, "but so much? I'm glad you told me. It gives me a sense of pride, despite that what I did was unintentional," she was still looking sternly and quietly into his eyes. "Though I would still like to know what I really did," an evil pleasure in his voice.
"I will not tell you what you don't know," she sneered at him. He then intentionally knocked over his glass of wine, and a spreading circle of red was drawn into the white tablecloth. He looked at her for a long while before he raised his hand to catch the waiter, telling him, "I seemed to have spilt some of my wine, could you clean this up and bring us another bottle of the same."
When he looked back at her, her expression had not changed and she was still looking at him with that same mixture of surprise and disgust. "By the way," he said, taking a sip from his glass, which he had just filled with wine, "thankyou for the dinner. The chef here makes the most marvelous food. I wish I could afford a place like this."
The Fragment of Fortune
Stefan could finally make at least one resolution: to leave the question of how to do it until he answered the question of whether to do it or not. Though that was the more perplexing problem and he generally preferred to tackle the easier part first whenever doing an assignment, he was able to make this resolution. The knife peaking out of the kitchen drawer still held such an attraction over him that he had to shut the door quickly to concentrate on the problem at hand. Everything must be considered, and time was against him.
It was still dark out. He had never thought about when a day really begins until just this yesterday. "Does the fourth of November begin at the strike of midnight as it is recognized on New Years, does it begin at sundown on the night before, does it begin at sunup on the day of? Wouldn't these last two be incredibly inconvenient around the time of the solstices if one were living near one of the poles? Maybe it's determined by the time of sunset during the equinox. Does it matter what time zone your in? Does a day begin at midnight Greenwich mean? But midnight is an artificial signifier. Maybe's it's halfway between sunset and sunrise. But then again, Greenwich mean is artificial." and on and on he thought to himself of this most puzzling problem. But the even more puzzling problem was, "how does a person know what day it is when he's looking into the future? Does he look into his crystal ball, see a vision, and then, within the vision, look around for a newspaper lying around and look at the date on it before he sees what will happen? Then wouldn't this mean that the day begins as soon as the newspapers are distributed? Or does he look at a calendar?" One would probably guess it was more the movement of the stars that determined the date—that they just looked at what the position of the stars would be and then make predictions for that time. But the last thing he would do is trust astrology: "what do the stars care about me? I've done nothing for them, why would they do anything for me?"
But he realized that all of these problems were getting him nowhere. He didn't know the exact time when death would come, just that it would come the day which had officially started about four hours ago and would officially end in another twenty. And he was nagged by the problem of "why didn't I ask her how it would happen. Just ‘painfully and slowly' versus ‘so quick you never knew it was coming' would make all the difference in the world." He was angry with himself for not asking, but she still should have told him, "If she actually knew, that is. And if she didn't know how it was to end, why would she have enough of a clue when I was going to end to be able to fix it upon some day which I don't even know when it begins or ends."
But he tossed these doubts aside. He turned himself around and sat atop his kitchen counter to give himself a rest from the pacing that had continued almost without break now for nearly six hours. He wouldn't even be considering it if events had not already confirmed her predictions: "a close relation had his life ended abruptly; a child of my own flesh and blood is alienated from me; and the sun has set on my future ambitions. The three signs that were supposed to assure me. But they don't assure me."
He hadn't slept. He had thought a few weeks ago as the approach of this imminent day was getting closer that he would already by now have a detailed list of events planned for his day, but that was before the seed of doubt arrived and he began to question the prophecy. He'd even had suicide assuredly fixed upon at that time, but that was when suicide was distant.
Then, as he recounted all of this in his mind, he did realize that he was wasting a last chance to live on useless thinking, "All these things that I have to get taken care of before my end and here I am sitting in my lonely kitchen, dead tired from sleeplessness worrying about when a day officially begins!" He actually yelled this sentence at himself, even slapping himself across the face with the palm of his hand both to reproach and to wake him from his drowsiness, "The brain doesn't work too well when I'm drowsy."
He looked toward the east and, though the sun was a long way from rising, he thought to himself, "I imagine I should have wanted to put ‘watch the sunrise,' on my list of things to do today if I'd made the list. I'd probably even have things I meant to do before the sun was even up, like hike to some perfect view." He looked at his watch, thinking, "Maybe I can just drive to a perfect view," and rising abruptly from his seat on the corner with some sudden resolve.
And then a thought struck his mind so strongly that he pushed all other thoughts aside with one broad sweep of his hands and resolved out loud in audible words, "Yes, I will end it today. By what means I'll decide on the way." And he began to boldly stride toward the front of his house, grabbing his coat and putting his hand to the front door knob. The thought that gave him such resolve: "what becomes of the life of a man who wastes it in the inaction of overthought! I have one day to live up!"
As he walked towards his car and began to drive he started to think about the course of his life up until then.
The Fragment of Diamond
All of us came together in the common chamber at around midnight, as that was generally the time when all of us were awake. Cougar and Diamond were each finishing a shift in the caves and Bear had to be woken out of sleep. My group was already there on surveillance. We gathered together in the common cave, sitting on benches and on floors and leaning against walls.
"Surface contacted us about ten hours ago," Mick began, looking pale as ever in the dull fluorescent lights, "And they told us that the fire spindles are migrating early this year. They spotted them on sonar and they're over three weeks ahead of where we usually expect them. That means that we're staying a few more days."
"What? Staying? I thought you said they're coming here sooner. Doesn't that mean we should get out of here as fast as we can," said little Frankie, usually the most outspoken guy in the group. He usually spoke on behalf of Diamond, his team.
"It's too late for that," Mick said, trying to remain calm, though I could see that his forehead was beading with a little bit of sweat, "You see, the shaft that we take up, they'll be crossing possibly as soon as tomorrow, and until as late as four days from now. But they won't be coming through this cave where we're working until about six or seven days from now. They don't really move in straight lines, as you know. That means if we leave in five days, around 1200 and we move fast then, we get the best margin of error. That means we have the best chance of having a good safe distance between us and them. If we could know exactly where they were and when we probably could leave earlier. But we don't. This way we play it the safest."
"Talk to me like I'm an idiot," said JD, quiet and confident, "I don't understand how we're gonna miss them if they're coming toward us? I'm new to this, okay? I don't know anything about these fire spindlers, or whatever they are."
"Corporate's just trying to keep us down here longer and get more ore," someone ejaculated quickly, I think it was big Frankie. There was some grumbling.
"I assure you that's not the case. These fire spindles don't migrate in any normal way," Mick spoke anxiously, "They move erratically. We know a few things about they're cycles, which are very consistent. The crawl between the rocks in huge herds which cover large areas. We used to know nothing about them. And we lost men to them because we walked right into them," Mick paused for a moment and stared inward, then he continued, "Why they're ahead of schedule we don't know—shifting plates, earthquakes, change in magma flow—I don't know. In a few days they'll go off away from us, and far away from our route to the surface, and then they'll aim right straight for this room right here, and they'll walk right through here. But we won't be here for them to find. Right?" They crowd grunted, a few people agreeing, a little sparkle of optimism rising through the crowd. "So we leave in five days, 1200. You keep on working like usual. But no one better be wandering. You work in your assigned cave, you relax in the mess or in here or in your dorm. That's it. We don't want to lose nobody. We're liable for you. And besides, I like you guys. I want to see you all up there."
"We'll all be seeing your ugly face in the sunshine in under a week," Frankie shouted and a couple of his Diamond buddies began to laugh.
And that was that for the day. My group was working in cave 2 right after that, with Alice over in cave 5 and Diamond on surveillance. And Cougar and Bear were off to sleep. Everything was fine for that first shift, but we were scared. I can't say I'm a weak person. I've seen my share of awful things that I don't want to remember, but I was scared.
At first I didn't see none of it in anybody else. Morale seemed okay. Nobody looked scared. But that changed. After we got our sleep, we took our first shift back in cave number 2, and then we were on surveillance. It was my turn in the video room with Jeff and Lug and stalwart Bruce, and I was watching the cameras on Diamond. I was bathing myself in the full spectrum bulbs, when someone snapped in Diamond's group. One of the boys (I think it was Soggy Tom) called out for his group, "Diamond, you there?" with a plaintive wail, as if he needed their help. I thought he saw something, and the three of us began scouring the screens to see if we could see what it was. Another of them, Frankie this time, then took up the call, "Diamond, you there?" and I could see him calling and I could hear him both through the speaker and behind me from through the caves with his loud yell. Where he was working he had his forehead almost bumping right into that camera lens so I saw his face distorted by a fish-eye lens opening that huge mouth. And he shouted, "Diamond, call if you can hear," and two guys picked up the call, and then others, shouting "Diamond." And they just kept repeating the shout over and over again. I don't how it escalated like that, but it was eerie. Diamond's fear and frustration just boiled over all at once.
I think maybe the boys in Diamond really just wanted to reach out and cling to each other, which is hard when you're wedged in your part of the cave. That scream was a bunch of boys trying to remind each other that they weren't alone under there, even with all that rock between them.
By that point, I could see that all of us were scared, and not until then did our fear have a sound. And there was still another five days of us being stuck down there in that darkness.
The Fragment of the Secluded Conversation
The room that the two teenagers had chosen was dark and decrepit, with walls made from old planks of wood, through which long slants of light exposed the slowly settling dust in the air. The dirty and stained, and several unused stables retreated behind them, while rusty metal tools hung quietly on the wall.
"No one saw you come here?" the boy spoke first, breathlessly, breathing heavily and sweating. The girl nodded, and he asked her, "Are you sure?"
She stopped her heavy breathing and then looked at him unpleasantly. "Do I need to repeat myself?" she said to him bitingly.
"I just don't trust you, I guess. I mean, I don't even know you," he admitted.
"Your parents must know me. Before you wrote me just last week, I assumed that meant that you knew me too. Obviously, I knew there was no way you could have known me personally, since we've never met, but, maybe you'd heard of me. I do have a dangerous reputation which precedes me."
"Really?" the boy asked, curiously, "What have you done?"
"I'm just kidding," she said, "Even a dolt like you should be able to tell the difference between sarcasm and earnestness."
"One would expect that even from a dolt," He laughed, "But I am known for being unexpected." He smiled, still amused with himself, waiting for her to show at least some sign of amusement or enjoyment, "Ok, seriously. I wanted to talk to you because my parents told me I can never meet with you, and I want to know why."
"I gathered that much from your note" she replied, "In which you specifically said your parents told you that you can't meet me and want to know why. You don't need to repeat yourself. My parents told me the same thing, and I also don't know why. But I already told you that in my note, didn't I?"
"You need to drop this," he said seriously, "I did call you here because I do want to talk with you seriously. It can't just be arbitrary. There's something behind it."
The two of them looked at each other intently across the dull, slanted light, staring. When she was not trying to be clever she had a plaintive look in her eyes, which she tried to hide by appearing vacuous and caustic, but he found it quite a seductive and rested easily in her stare.
She stepped back a second and when she did she bumped into a shelf. This knocked loose a tool, sending it crashing to the floor with a loud rattle. He immediately looked startled at it and then he pricked up his ears to hear if there was anyone within earshot and looked around suspiciously. It was a few moments before he felt bold enough to break the silence, quietly, "I wanted to meet you in person, because I thought when I met you, it would be obvious why my parents don't want us to know each other. But it's just not. You don't seem dangerous or anything. Am I wrong?"
"Oh yes, I torture animals and kill people in my spare time. I have a whole stack of bodies in my basement. I just can't seem to find the time to bury them, since I'm so busy with school," she said sarcastically.
He ignored her, continuing, "And why would they want you to not meet me. There's nothing to me. I'm so boring! I say that completely honestly."
"You're too honest! How did you get this way? Did your dad read you the business pages as your bedtime story when you were young."
"Ok," he said, "Let's just drop that. What I'm asking you to do is to find out as much as you can about your past: look into your childhood, into your birth, into things you can't even remember. And you need to look into things about your parents. And I'm going to do the same and we're going to compare, see what connection we can find, so we can answer this question."
"I can do that," she said, "I've been curious for a while. My parents didn't even want me to know I wasn't supposed to meet you. I found out completely by accident."
"There's a lot they don't want us to know," he said.
The Fragment of The Dark City
I walked through an alleyway on a covert excursion between buildings so high that daylight became like a moonlit night. Around me scattered fragments of wall held tenuously onto the buildings that stretched upward until they seemed to touch above me, dotted with boarded windows and crumbling walls, which opened wide with decay. I sidled a thin bit of sidewalk that had not fallen through into the shadows below which stretched just as deep as the buildings stretched above, but my pace was unflagging. There was a constant sound of drips and small rivulets of water which sounded all around me, echoing through the dark.
My clothes gave me away as an outsider, and in sections where the ground was more complete and intact, there were hands in need that reached out from the inlets of the walls to beg, palms upward. With one hand I reached into one of my pockets and with the other I swept the supplicating hands away. I pulled out a chained pocket watch and I looked at it, tarnished bronze with a diagonal crack across the crystal, but still ticking. The day was fading.
If I would push one of those people begging into one of those black holes, they'd fall and no one would care, or even be able to distinguish this one from the heaps already piled up. Times were desperate and this meant life was cheap. There were food starved criminals aplenty who could be compelled, for barely enough money to buy a few meals, to pick up a piece of broken glass from off of the cracking pavement and shove into another man's gut so hard that it would cut their own hand. If they were those who might be considered professionals they might pull a short knife from their pocket, a switchblade rusted open and slash a person wide across the chest and once across the neck before pushing them into any of a number of anonymous voids.
As I rounded a corner hastily my way was blocked by a gang of gaunt-faced teens armed with bats and rods and any number of other blunt objects one could find lying around. They crowded in numbers around me and edged forward while I edged back, their faces haunted by that terrifying look of a person who is willing to do anything. They wanted money, and they pushed me into a walled corner, giving me the chance to give it to them willingly before they had to take it.
Escape came quickly, in the form of a rival gang of even younger hoodlums. They whistled with an intimidating cat call as they approached, and the teens turned to face a group of young kids, much smaller in size but greater in number. They lined up in battle array across the alleyway, battling for territory and control.
I didn't want to wait and see the outcome of this battle. I pulled a few small coins from my pocket and hurled them in the middle of the two groups. No one hesitated to pick up these scraps, and I ran away. They probably weren't much interested in retaining me by then, but the distraction at least increased my chances of escape and I raced down the alleyway back the way I came, planning of finding another way through to the meeting.
The Fragment of The Lodger
"I wonder what that new lodger does alone in his room all the time. He doesn't get out enough," Ethel said, and Marlene, sitting across from her aged sister, gave Ethel a pained look. She knew Ethel had no concept of the volume of her voice. Marlene was overused to hearing Ethel through the walls, speaking of things she meant to keep in confidence.
"You shouldn't talk about this so loudly," Marlene said in a low voice close up to Ethel. Truth was, she was intimidated by the lodger, who'd grown darker and more mysterious as the months wore on. He seemed totally different when he first moved in.
"But it worries me," Ethel continued, still oblivious to her volume. Marlene shivered, overtly and deliberately, as she turned away from Ethel and tried to bury her attention in the day's paper to dissuade Ethel from speaking. If she couldn't be managed, perhaps she could be stopped.
"Marlene, you haven't said anything about this. What do you think?" Ethel's asked, her tired face leaning forward.
"I like the lodger," Marlene said, raising her voice to match Ethel's volume, "It's rare we have such a respectable gentleman staying with us. He seems to be a fine trustworthy man."
"Why are you speaking so loud?" Ethel then asked, now finally succeeding in speaking in a whisper, "I can hear you just fine. My ears are as astute now as when I was a little girl."
"This is how I always talk. With a bold commanding voice. And if I say the lodger is a good lodger and I appreciate his company, I shouldn't have to keep it to myself, but should speak it boldly to whoever wishes to listen," Marlene continued in her voluminous voice.
"Why are you talking so strangely," Ethel, was now leaning in even closer to Marlene and speaking in an even quieter whisper, "You're being weird Marlene. What's . . . "
They were broken off by the sudden sound of a poorly lubricated hinge and the emergence of the lodger himself from his secluded hideaway. He squeezed himself through the smallest opening that would allow his narrow body through, bowler hat in hand, and closed the door as soon as he was through, locking it and pocketing the key in a single motion. They watched him from around the corner, looking sidelong at the cold intensity of his face—a long, bony face of emotionless, hidden calculation. But as soon as he realized that Marlene and Ethel were in his presence in the kitchen, he turned to them and his face lighted up. He moved toward them, approaching them slowly and gave them each one firm handshake with warm silence.
"How're you finding the weather this week. An improvement if I do say so myself," Marlene broached. He merely shrugged his shoulders and indicated "so, so" with a hand gesture, smiling warmly all the time and looking intently into Marlene's and Ethel's eyes.
Then, just as quickly, he made another hand gesture to indicate he was going out, and turned toward the door, door his head backwards to look at the two of them intently in the eye while waving goodbye.
As soon as the door closed, Ethel immediately asked, "Now, why is he leaving his room? That worries me even more."
The Fragment of Spillman
Spillman was perhaps the most interesting person I ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with.
My first meeting with Spillman was an indirect one. I had arrived for my first class of the year at a new school and his presence was, as it were, all around me, though I wasn't immediately aware of it. While I was sitting there waiting for class to start, and students were mulling around in their seats, I saw three girls continuously attempt and re-attempt to contact him by cell while I waited there before class began. Perhaps I would not have become aware of their particular object had I not been struck by this strange behavior of their cell phone usage: picking up their phone, pressing a single-button dial, waiting a moment before a subtle shade of consternation crossed their face, then taking the phone from their ear and pressing the redial. They did this over and over again and each time this patient and absurd chore was repeated I grew just a little bit more curious.
I had to finally ask of one of the three girls, the one nearest me, who it was she was calling. She had blonde hair carefully carved on her head with clips and a barrette. She looked at me briefly and eyed me up and down with her blue eye, her red cheeks ablaze with frustration—even for me to ask such a question confirmed to her that I was new here, that this was my first day and she looked at me down her upturned nose. To her, my question was profoundly benighted. If she was more generous she would assume I didn't know because I was a freshman or a transfer, but she looked at me as if I was either stupid or willfully ignorant. She told me curtly, turning back to her phone as she spoke, "I'm trying to get a hold of Spillman."
She must have assumed I would immediately, "And who is Spillman?" which I did. But this was the wrong thing to ask, and several people who had heard me now noticed me, turning to look to see what person it was that so brazenly touted their unworldliness. She didn't have time to address such a question, already returning to the cycle of dial and redial without again acknowledging me.
I heard another girl, who was leaving a message on Spillman's voicemail," Hi this is Jen from your Science class, and History class and Art. I was thinking that on Thursday after school . . . " I would later discover that this girl was clearly a novice, as Spillman would never return any voicemails, ever.
The teacher was soon thereafter to enter and the girls quitted their phone calls with annoyance, turning towards the teacher perturbed but quiet. The teacher started by announcing his name, "I'd like to introduce myself. I am Mr. Davidson and this is Intro to European History,"" to make sure that everyone was in the right place. Then he started to read through his roster alphabetically, "Abbot, Allen, Bailey …" etc, each time looking up after he called a name to see someone raising their hand, or saying "here" or "present" or "it is I." If the person wasn't there, Mr. Davidson made a small mark in his notebook. As he approached S, he said "Quinn," then "Smith" then, after looking at the next name, he simply raised his head and looked out over the class without saying anything. Then, without making any mark in his book, he said "Thomas" and "Trenton," etc.
I don't know whether I was the only one to notice this little omission or whether for them it was simply a matter of course, but it made me considerably more curious than before. This made me think that the Spillman himself, who I was quite curious to see, was actually in class and I looked around, assuming that perhaps it would be obvious who Spillman was, even if I didn't know what I was looking for. Unfortunately, no one jumped out at me.