(a chapter within Wonderbread Man, novella, foundation for a film)
“In medias res” from the Latin meaning “in the midst of things” or “in the middle” as a manner to commence a narrative story such as the Odyssey which begins, of course, with Odysseus on the voluptuous Island of Calypso, held captive by his lover or as in the Iliad, beginning with a torrent of spear-shaking Greeks battling over another lover, Queen of Sparta, Helen, the prisoner of her love to Paris, the curly, locked Trojan Prince. The narrative will sort itself out, to and fro, backwards and forwards, and fill in the spaces. Such shall we begin…
I handed in my notice and left it all behind me. I handed in my cerebral cortex tied round by my spine and all its central nervous system, like some dead octopus set upon a platter. I had fallen on my sword as I had been taught. I had said not a word nor exclamation nor given horizon not even a soliloquy in some corner of the school. What would be the use with no audience, no footlights, no Director’s stage cues. It, me, I, am, is, was, over.
33 years. Then, 18 years I would think since 15 maybe longer that I had been an English Major’s English major. An English teacher last, a lover of stories first. Spin a yarn for me. An ear for sound. A heart for music. And language…and language… like breath upon my soul.
People spoke music. My father cursed from his working class, Philadelphia street, downtown mick, pole, black, catholic, peg pants, and white shirt, one tie, and desert booted slacks. Mother, had an accent to others which I never knew for it was her tongue, her tone, her lifting cadences, like the word “Callipolis” also meaning beautiful city. She called herself sometimes Mexican, sometimes Latin, sometimes Hispanic. I never knew. Tex Mex was a name for chili not for a people, a soul, a culture, a passion.
The Principal of my high school, where I taught mind you, barely said a word but there was “Good Luck, John” and then the ceremonious pause, like the playing of taps or the lighting of a final cigarette, “What will you do?”
“I have some opportunities….There’s a financial institution that would like me to sell securities given I pass a few exams….There’s an insurance company that would like to have me present to companies and talk…There is a management consulting firm that is looking for trainers… and a factory….”
“Good Luck, John. Good Luck.”