Sunny Oaks Correctional Institution… (Round 2 : Page 4)

August 12th, 2007

“Hi, Class!” I say, striving to sound cheerful yet cool.

“Hi, Victor!” the class chants back at me.

“Okay, this week I’d like to discuss some techniques.” A moth flits in and out of the flickering light cast by one of the dim fluorescent tube bulbs ruining our eyesight in the dank dayroom. “Can anyone tell me what an ‘objective correlative’ is?”

Just as I was about to start gibbering with fear and urinating all over my freshly pressed court-date suit, the judge bared his teeth, a predator’s grin. He is, after all, a lawyer. “Or…” he drawled.

The light bulb goes out. “We discussed this when we were reading Updike,” I prod. “He’s very skillful at it.” I write the words on the whiteboard. “Think about the words separately,” I plead. “Objective, as in something an outside, or objective, observer would notice. Correlative. Like correlate. Relates directly to.” I hesitate, having run out of hints. Repetition, that old standby of the incompetent, seems my only recourse. “Objectiiiive. Corrrrelatiiiive,” I drawl, hoping against hope that condescension will bring comprehension.

Mercifully, Trombone, my star student, raises a cautious hand. “Is it, like, when the description of the scene includes carefully placed parallels to some theme or the silent monologue of a character? In order to reinforce semiconsciously the deeper meaning? Like, they’re thinking about the Trinity, and there’s three of everything around.” The light clicks back on.

I almost rush to hug him, but of course that’s stringently prohibited. Kids like Trombone make me almost glad to teach this course. “That’s exactly right, Trombone! As a reward, why don’t you read first today?”

“I’ll need to discuss this with my client,” my lawyer said, hope creeping into his voice. Indeed he did.

“Certainly,” the judge said, smirking. “Go ahead. You have until the foreman tells me the jury’s come to a decision. After Clarence Darrow’s little performance, it shouldn’t be too long now at all.”

“I can’t plead,” I plead. “This is a test case. The underlying law’s on our side.”

My lawyer stared at me stonily. “The fat bald little fuck wearing the graduation robe, that’s the ‘underlying law’. Did you hear what he said? He wants to cornhole you with a two-by-four. He can do it, too. Think he’s scared of being overturned? By a panel of constipated marionettes just like him? Be grateful he’s giving you a way out, enter the plea before he changes his mind, and let’s get the hell out of here. I’m starving, and, besides, I’m absolutely dying for a line of good coke. Do you know where I can hook up a teener or so?”

“But I promised myself and a lot of others I’d never put it on record that I was guilty. I didn’t commit any crime.” I wonder who I’m trying to convince. My attorney’s opinion is kind of irrelevant at this stage.

“For chrissakes, it’s a misdemeanor, like a parking ticket. If you want to spend tonight lubricating your asshole, that’s your business. Myself, I’m going to get wired, drunk, and laid-by a female-in that order, no matter what you decide. Make up your mind: party, or prison? Dancing till all hours of the night in a club with beautiful women, or an hour of exercise in a chained courtyard under rifle guard with a guy named Junkyard? Fucking, or getting fucked?”

In the end, I wound up copping a nolo contendere, something my genius lawyer would have thought of earlier, had he not directed his meditations so single-mindedly on the evening’s blow and blowjobs, highballs and high times. I was given a sneezable thousand-dollar fine and 100 hours of community service, to be performed during my year’s probation.

That was how I ended up teaching a weekly creative writing class at Sunny Oaks Correctional Institution for Men. I might have had better luck, not to mention more fun, in a women’s pokey; but I have nothing to complain about. In two hours I’d be leaving; in two hours and two minutes I’d be sparking the doobie under my dash, driving away in perfect freedom in my own overpriced status machine.

~ )))0((( ~

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