A Black Comedy

Amidst their turbluent lives, Tyler met a girl named Stephanie.

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2. Where I Get My Sense of Humor Part 1

 

What happened…

 

           It was honestly a beautiful night, insanely beautiful. I couldn’t believe how perfect everything was, how perfect I felt. It was a beautiful, beautiful night: the kind you want to last forever—the kind you want to end slowly.

           I was seated on my back porch, leaning back, mesmerized—amazed. The air felt like paradise, flowing around me, lifting profoundly. I was absorbed, encompassed by the smell of watered grass, freshly damp, lifting towards the sky. The dew, collected; the view, reflective; the world was darkening—peace. I sat back and felt the sun sinking, as my thinking mind whispered away. The horizon, a stark orange, lowered in hue as a dimming light. The wind blew through the trees like chimes, leaves like flutes, and weeds like bells—calm. The birds sang themselves to sleep; the bugs sang themselves awake. The world was turning; life was moving. Everyone was at their business; some sleeping, some working, all alive, all living—life. The sky, dimming, would brighten again. Our world was spinning, dancing with the planets, with the stars, lowering and rising, twirling around and back around. I sat there on my porch, rocking in my seat, feeling a still shiver, but content to be alone.

           I was alone—so alone—but so happy.

           I was happy.

           I held a cup of coffee to my lips, parted them, and took a sip. The smell of roasted beans and nuts held me for a second. I paused, and breathed again, taking another sip, loving the flavor of a warm drink pouring down my throat, filling my stomach—the heated mug thawed the joints of my fingers.

           It was bliss; I was in bliss. The sun was setting and I was in love with every minute. I felt purity in the moment—as strange as it is, I felt oneness. Every inch the sun lowered, was an inch I’d never get back, was inch I’d never see again.

           Time was passing; I wanted it to end slowly—end.

           Finishing the last taste of coffee, I gazed into the bottom of my cup; easing myself up, I walked back into the kitchen. As I left, I began to hear tight murmurs of crickets serenading outside, tying lurid melodies together, enchanting each other. Typhoons in my mind seemed to silence and calm, fading away as I began upstairs. Tyler… they carried me away as I laid myself down.

           

           “TYLER!” he roared.

           My eyes broke wide, flushing, wondering where I was.

           “Yeah?” I answered him, drawing the words out in a slow croak.

           My skin pulsed under a sharp, nervous sweat. My back crawled under a thin jacket, trailing like ants under my skin, radiating through me, pricking my nerves.

           Under the vibrations, I noticed I was standing still. The room around me was an office, my school’s office, and a skinny, frail man sat in front of me, looking blunt at me; he stared me down with igneous eyes. I was choking on weights, but I felt light. The speakers on his desk, playing jazz, lifted my body. The music carried a subtle rhythm, mixing and mashing, skipping and crashing, capsizing my focus. The instruments chimed in succession, stealing my voice, losing my attention, carrying my distance further away. My dying eyes rocked to beat, the perfect noise to go crazy to.

           “Tyler,” he continued, bringing my focus back. “Don’t you realize how serious this is? We run a rigid system here that you don’t seem to be following, and I shouldn’t be spending my Tuesday morning talking to you.” The man looked down at his desk, grabbing his mug, and lifted it up. He held a cup of coffee to his lips, parted them, and took a sip. His eyes remained fixed on me the whole time. “I hope you realize son,” he continued while setting down the mug, “that truancy is criminal.”

           I stood glazed at his presence. My mind flew in different directions as I stared dimly at his face. I shivered, I chilled, I was in slight pain. Someone hotwired my body: stripping wires; shooting static. Currents ran through me—I wasn’t there. Electricity stung my nerves—it was an experiment. My skin coiled, my mind was shocked—I was a lab rat.

           “But…” I began to say, forcing out the words that crawled from the depths of my body, scratching my throat along the way. “At this point… I feel like you should just let me go to class.” I took a breath, “I’m only a little bit late to school.”

           “It was FOUR hours! Listen to me, Tyler,” He began to say, “Regardless of how long it took you to drag your ass out of bed, you’re a truant. I get paid for helping our students here succeed, and this includes individually working with them on ways to ensure their success. You’re four hours late to school, Tyler, and it’s a Tuesday. This isn’t like you; what the hell happened last night?”

           My body was shaking under its skin. I crossed my arms, breathing through the flashes I felt; my mind boiled; my eyes were burnt and bruised.

           What happened last night?

           The music in his office switched. In the next piece, a voice sympathetically sang through the speakers. The artist’s words were carried; his voice seemed thoughtful, seemed important. I was distracted again at the present silence. Being fully entertained, I lost my grip and spaced out to the song. I began to relate the words to the voice: the artist was in love; the artist knew his art. I enjoyed the music; I enjoyed the distraction.

           “TYLER!”

           I jumped, snapping back.

           In front of me was the man. His face was bunched and twisted, casting a shrewd shadow on the lights in the office. After a few seconds, I noticed his eyes were at me, casting down at me. I scrambled internally for a second.

           “Huh?” I muttered.

           “God fucking damn it!” He yelled, slamming both fists on his desk. His cup rumbled, his pencils toppled, his nameplate shook. Noticing that was there for the first time, I glanced down and read his name, but forgot it instantly. He got upset and raised his voice.

           “I was talking to you, Tyler!” He screamed. “Why can’t you fucking pay attention? Why don’t you care? Give me a damn answer!”

           “Sorry,” I jumped, snapping back at him. I took a breath through the high tensioned air between us. Fiddling with my hands, words jumped off me, giving a response. “I’m sorry sir… I didn’t mean to ignore you; I was just listening to this music.”

           “This music?” He asked, “You like this song?”

           My eyes glazed over; I licked my lips and collected my face. I nodded.

“That’s Autumn Leaves,” he smiled, “by Nat King Cole.”

           In that excitement, I realized that I had defused his anger. “It’s a very simple song, Tyler, but a good one. It’s one of my favorites.” He spun in his chair, turning to look at the speakers playing behind him. He seemed to really enjoy his Jazz.

           “Jazz is great,” he began to say. “I’m not a musician at all, but I can understand a few things about music.” He leaned back in his chair. “You know Jazz, right? It may be boring to you, but there is a reason it’s soothing. That’s because it’s complex—it’s very complex music, Tyler.”

           I shuffled my feet and a chill went down my spine.

           “When your brain hears something complex, it gives up.” He clapped his hands for an effect. “Your brain gives up! It gets hard; trying to understand, to predict, to think. You think with standard music, but Jazz makes you float—you accept whatever hits you, avoiding complexities, Tyler.”

           I shivered.

           “But you know what,” he continued, “It’s understandable: your brain tries to predict—it tries to think. Floating is pretty good, it’s good for your brain. I find this interesting; people wouldn’t guess this, but sometimes it’s predictability that can stress you out.”

           He looked at his desk with a rye smile. Picking up a messy pile of papers, he tapped them on the table to straighten them out. “Lets not forget why we’re here, Tyler. I love discussing the characteristics of music, but I’m off topic.” He slipped his papers into a folder and set them aside. “I’m getting way off topic, and we need to decide what we’ll do with you.” He laced his fingers together and looked up, grinning a wide grin.

           I took a long, drawn breath.

             “You need to get your focus back, Tyler.”

           I began to focus on the music, and to my surprise I honestly began to enjoy the jazz. I felt it now, but I didn’t last night. It was silent last night—only images, only moments. I was so focused.

               “Your grades are suffering; your school work is suffering.”

           But it didn’t work. It really didn’t.

                   “You’re a smart kid, Tyler… you have potential.”

           But it didn’t work. It was perfect—almost perfect. The night was perfect, even with no music. It was a beautiful, beautiful night.

                   “But the worst thing you could ever hear…”

           God...

                     “…is that you had potential.”

           I feel like shit…

                       “…”

           My stomach is gyrating; my head is fermenting.

                         “…I want help you.”

           I wanted it.

                           “…”

           I was happy.

                             “…but I can’t.”

           I was alone.

                               “…what happened last night?”

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