Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Grace": A story based on "Code Blue" by TSOL, as suggested by writer Matt Baker (17/100)


Most of the people who remembered Monica Kelly remembered her because she had two first names and she was dead. Will thought there was so much more to her than that, but the name and the death were the only things people ever brought up about her. Will himself remembered that her father had been the undertaker in town, running the funeral home out of the basement of his house, and that Monica looked like the people her father worked on. She wasn’t morbid or suicidal. She was just soft porcelain, shapely and white, calm as a coma.

When Will got the invitation to his ten year high school reunion, he contemplated not going, but he was more curious than spiteful. Monica Kelly had been gone for almost fourteen years and his Mohawk had been gone for about seven. All that was left was everything else.

Will had been at the reunion for over an hour and no one had recognized him yet. A few people walked by him and assumed he had shown up with his wife—the real old classmate of theirs—and had been left to fend for himself while she was away talking to old friends. He overheard one woman say to another something about that one girl who drowned freshman year, the one with the weird hillbilly-styled name, Mary Betty or something. They agreed it was a shame, a tragedy, even, and then kept eating chips and commenting on who had gotten fat, who had gotten fatter.

It had been years since Will had thought of Monica Kelly, and he hadn’t expected to hear her name that night. She came up again later on, an entire table of people trying to recall anything else about her. No one there had grown up with her. She was homeschooled until high school and even then was only with them for three months before she drowned, down in the deep, wide part of the Fever River, her ice skates sinking her to the bottom like a bullet. When Will first heard about it, he imagined her pirouetting like a drill.

The people at the table were all guessing wrong. Monica hadn’t been short by any means. She had been of average height, average weight. She had several different green shirts with the bottom hem colored in black marker. She slipped her shoes off in class and scratched the top of one foot with the bottom of another. These things were lost and Will wondered why. Had everyone done so many things before and after Monica Kelly’s death that they were able to squeeze her entire life into a non-sequitur? Will went over to the table with the yearbooks. He turned the pages of the book from his freshman year and found Monica’s picture, an inch by an inch with a timid, black and white smile in the center. He walked to the table with the people arguing, debating one inaccuracy against another, and then slammed the book down, his palm sticking to the open page.

“Monica Kelly smelled vaguely of formaldehyde and had such grace that you missed her completely,” Will said. The yearbook was splayed open on the table and Will remembered why he never bought one, from any year of high school, and looked around at the sallow eyes of the people around him, people he’s always known to have the worst qualities of both the hectic and the dull: disorganization with no eye for detail and nothing relevant to say. They turned to one another and asked loudly if the man in front of them was Will the Punk, Fuck-up Will. As they sat there figuring it out, Will walked away from them, the real corpses of his youth.



TSOL are a punk rock band from Long Beach, California. In 1988, I bet a couple metal nerd started to get into punk because they saw Steven Adler wearing a TSOL shirt in the video for "Sweet Child O' Mine." Unfortunately, Izzy Stradlin was unable to bring back the vintage Rod Stewart haircut he was sporting in the same video. In a move that I thought only happened to Ratt, LA Guns, Faster Pussycat, and other bands of that style and era, there were once two different TSOLs playing shows at the same time (sometimes in the same cities). We can get two TSOLs but not one Misfits. I call bullshit on the universe.

Matt Baker
is a writer from Kansas City who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. He thinks the movie Repo Man is awesome and he saw Slayer a few times back in the late-80s/early-90s. He also likes Bill Hicks and Barry Hannah. As if you don't think he's exceptionally rad already, he's also a badass writer, and you can read his short short story "Frank"--which is how I found out about him--over at SmokelongQuarterly. He rarely does flash fiction, though, so you should also do yourself a favor and get his novel, Drag the Darkness Down. I'm guessing his height at about 6'2".

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Farmer in the City (Remembering Pasolini)" by Scott Walker, as suggested by musician Steven R. Smith.

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