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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » Landmark: Negligent Homocide (True Story)

   
Author Topic: Landmark: Negligent Homocide (True Story)
mothertree
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Negligent Homocide

It was the worst essay Erol had ever read. It wasn’t merely incompetent, there were those papers and they were sad, like a emission of bolus on the sidewalk. No, this paper was like a fruicake that someone had accidentally put bacon in. Something that invited you to take a bite only to reward you with a hideous betrayal. He remembered well the expression from his college days, that the professor “bled red ink all over the paper”. This wasn’t going to be pretty.

But this was why he had left the University to teach high school. Some parents clearly thought he just couldn’t cut the “publish or perish” environment. There were those who didn’t bother asking why he kept the title “Dr. Lewis” at parent-teacher conferences. They just assumed that he had a Napoleon complex. The idea that their child might actually get a college level instructor didn’t dawn on them. But he wasn’t here for the admiration.

He was here because back in 1980, as it became apparent that Reagan had a chance to win the presidency, he couldn’t figure out why. All the other history faculty knew that despite his faults, Carter was a much better choice. All of the university students seemed to know it. But somewhere out there in the majority of the country, everyone else was being taken in by Reagan’s charm. It was like Watergate had never happened. Erol had striven to claim the Ivory tower, but now realized he was irrelevant. He was surrounded by like minded folks, which meant he had no influence on anyone who didn’t already agree with him.

“How can you live on a High school teacher’s salary?” his colleagues had asked. Well, millions of high school teachers managed to. And Erol had no dreams of dynasty. He was a confirmed zero populationist, all he needed in life was a SAAB 900. And so he had left academia to teach High School. But it wasn’t the pay that frustrated him, it was moments like this where he could see the disfigured intellect in black and white before him.

This student, Trisha, there was little hope that she wouldn’t be a Republican. She was Asian and Mormon. Erol wished with all his heart that minorities could understand the principle of solidarity and not war amongst themselves. But somehow the Asians were often lost to the left. And the Mormons were one of the reasons the Republican party had formed, to fight the twin barbarisms of slavery and polygamy. How could she reconcile all these contradictions and not be a little crazy? She was quite possibly the smartest kid in her grade, and the trouble was on some level she knew it. She wouldn’t accept instruction.

The essay was a bizarre mixture of reasoning and fable. Over and over she would pose a thesis about the evolution of economic systems that sounded like it was going somewhere and then illustrate with a story from her family history. Ancestors on the Mayflower. Chinese Nobility. Even the polygamist cooperative. Erol cradled his head in his hands. The cheeseburger he’d had for dinner was rebelling. This essay couldn’t get any worse and yet it wasn’t over yet. With trepidation he turned the page. Good Lord, she was now trying to argue that even if she was wrong, she was right because of some principle of homeopathic medicine.

He completed his comments at the bottom of the page and groped for the number that would sum up his essay reading experience. And yet he did have some responsibility to not singlehandedly wreck her GPA. That was, by the looks of this essay, her mother’s job. So he mercifully gave it a 59. Still an F-.

He looked at the clock and had to think a moment through the throbbing of his head to see if he were mistaken. How could it be 8:30? He’d spent 45 minutes on this one paper. He would have to take a break and finish the rest tomorrow. No time to catch up on journals tonight.

He gathered his papers and went to the elevator. The disagreement with the cheeseburger had sharpened into a stabbing pain. As he approached the exit, a peculiar black spot began to float before him. This couldn’t be from that one time he had tried LSD…

The next thing Erol knew was a sensation of being kicked in the chest by a kangaroo. A man in a white shirt and a badge was lifting two paddles away from his chest.

“We have a pulse” Another voice said. Someone shone a pen light in his eyes. “Equal, round and reactive to light. He’s trying to talk.” The man lifted the mask from his mouth. “Mr. Lewis?”

“Dr. Please.”

“I’m Dr. Sims.”

“No, I’m Dr. Lewis.” Erol whispered.

Dr Sims smiled. “I think you’re going to make it.”

“What happened?”

“You were clinically dead for 27 minutes. You are stabilized for the moment, but apparently have internal bleeding. We'll need to get you into surgery."

Erol rested his head back. Trisha's essay was bad, but who knew it would kill him.

(I'm editing this to mention that the events really happened as he told me 4 years later when I graduated, though I changed his name and filled in some gaps. He was my first real mentor. The ailment was a ruptured stomach ulcer, though I couldn't figure out how to unfold that with this narration.)

[ March 25, 2005, 10:37 AM: Message edited by: mothertree ]

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AntiCool
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0_o I have no response to that.

[ March 24, 2005, 06:56 PM: Message edited by: AntiCool ]

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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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Nice work. Energetic and impressively well-edited, or at least, tightly edited. I'm a still a little curious about what this is about. It seems to concern twelve things dancing around the one thing. I'd like to know how this incident changes either Trisha or Erol's life in any way. Again, this piece is rock and roll, I just need some context for the tune. You give all of the characters a sense of history, which is good, but I don't quite know their dreams for the future and how this incident will inform their dreams or their actions.

Edit:

I think it's strange you are writing about the other. It's obvious that you don't like him. You aren't giving him any admirable qualities. The bit about the F- is over the top. It makes it seem like he gets a perverse thrill out of docking students papers.

[ March 24, 2005, 07:39 PM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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Dagonee
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Actually, I thought the professor came across well, but I can't explain why.

I don't think the F- is supposed to make him look bad, is it?

Good story, mothertree. Thanks for sharing.

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beverly
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Whoa. That was a psychedelic experience. [Smile]

No commentary?

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mothertree
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I changed his name, but it really happened. He told me about it after I graduated. We actually became friends in my junior year. I consider him my intellectual godfather, because he forwent having children of his own with the express intent of nurturing the children of others. I guess I could have gone more into the ailment, which was a stomach ulcer rupture. I think Dag likes him because he was also a Wahoo, and you can just sense that about the man. [Cool] [Frown] [Cool] [Frown] He loved to tell us the story about how Poe got expelled from UVA, for running over an administrator with a keg of ale.
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beverly
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Cool!
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AntiCool
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That really happened?!?!?! [Eek!] [Eek!]

I thought it was part of your novel.

[ March 24, 2005, 10:20 PM: Message edited by: AntiCool ]

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mothertree
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No, my novel is written in first person. I wrote this last sunday, when I didn't feel like I should be editing. I hadn't really tried to write in 3rd person much, so it seemed like an interesting idea. Also, pretty much everything that happens in my novel really happened.
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skillery
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quote:
Mormons were one of the reasons the Republican party had formed, to fight the twin barbarisms of slavery and polygamy.
Really? I never thought of it that way.

So you go around killing people with a combination of bad essays and your severe hotness?

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TomDavidson
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Hm. It stinks a little of the straw man, but it's not bad as social satire.
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