Page 60 - WTP Vol.VII #3
P. 60

Vigil (continued from page 30)
As Jim Keegan staggered toward Patti Rizzo, she began Ray. “No, I’m okay, Richard.”
to twirl again, either to excite or to keep him away.
“You sure? You look like you’ve been crying.” “It’s been a long night.”
 After tonight, he knew his life would never be the same. Too many kids were there, too many wondering why their history teacher was standing next to Patti, bleeding from the mouth. Too many witnessing his fight with Frank. He could say he came out of concern for Alex and then became worried by Patti’s strange behavior and dance. It would be a stretch, but, still,
he might pull it off if he left right then. But there was Patti, spinning wildly and smiling at him.
Richard took a drag from his cigarette, then turned and blew the smoke behind him. “Yeah, I’ve sure had my share of those.”
“I can take you home,” he said.
“You mind if I borrow a smoke?” Jim asked. Richard looked startled, but said, “Sure.”
She kept spinning, and as he reached out to her, she collapsed onto the ground. He knelt next to her, but she pushed him away, laughing.
Jim got out of the car and followed the boy to the area by the garbage can, where they both sat down, their backs against a brick wall.
“You weren’t the first,” she said, and then she pointed to her brother. “He was.”
“I’m surprised you smoke,” Richard said. “I usually don’t.”
Near Jim’s car, he saw Campbell McVeigh and his
friends beating up Frank Rizzo. Although he knew,
especially now, that Frank deserved it, he ran to break
up the fight. After everyone had calmed down, he tried
to compose himself and find Patti, but she was gone.
He was tired and anxious and scared, so he got into his
car and sped away. No more than a block from Alex’s “For some reason Richard works better with you.” house, he gripped the steering wheel and started to
cry. He would have to tell his wife about everything now. And then what? There were so many grim pos- sibilities that the smart thing would’ve been to get on I-95 North and not to look back.
Jim watched the boy take a drag. He had always thought Richard was a curious kid. He had missed his share of classes, but when he came, he did the work. Jim was told early in the fall that Richard had an anxiety disorder, which was being managed with
Instead, he drove aimlessly around, his ancient red medication. Sometimes, though, the wheels came off Toyota laboring up and down steep hills, groaning like the track, like the time Richard wrote a paper for Jim’s an old refrigerator. He eventually ended up in a parking class arguing that Tupac Shakur’s murder was a con- lot behind the local convenience store. He shut off the en- spiracy engineered by Tommy Hilfiger.
gine and sat there. No one seemed to be around, except for a kid to his right, who was sitting on a small garbage can, smoking a cigarette. Jim lowered his backrest, then closed his eyes, replaying the events of the night. At the part where Frank Rizzo tackled him, he was jolted from his reverie by a knock on the driver-side window. He opened his eyes to see a boy’s face about a foot from his own. The kid was smiling. His straw-colored hair lay flat on his head like a swim cap.
“Are you going to graduation?” Jim asked.
“I dunno, I don’t think I’d be missed.”
“I’m beginning to think the same about me.”
Jim rolled down the window, and the boy said, “I thought that was you, Mr. Keegan. I got worried because you weren’t moving. I thought you might’ve stroked out or something.”
“No, Mr. Keegan, you’re the best. There’s not much I’ll remember about high school, except all the cool shit you did in class.”
Jim stared long and hard at the boy, finally recognizing him as Richard Peterson, a kid who students called X-
“Remember that cool shit because you might feel dif- ferently about me in a few days.”
“I got back into it a few months ago. It’s supposed to hype you up but it kind of relaxes me.”
Jim borrowed Richard’s cigarette to light his own. He inhaled deeply, surprised at how good it tasted. “You want me to call you Richard or X-Ray?”
“Will you do me a favor, Richard?” Jim asked. “Sure.”

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