© 2011 Josh pennies

The Apath Guide to Reality: Excerpt 3

“The greatest victory is not to compete”

Elias was the pariah of the 10th grade. A terrible student, a chronic iconoclast, and a disinterested malcontent.  Elias preferred to spend his afternoons cutting class and scribbling in his sketchbook and the margins of his textbooks.  He showed up to school not because he had to, but because he wasn’t particularly interested in doing anything else.  Elias couldn’t really be considered a burn-out, he didn’t do drugs or smoke cigarettes, or really even cause trouble.  He wasn’t a slacker, because that implied he was falling short of some goal; Elias didn’t have a goal.

If you had been one of Elias’s teachers, you may have tried to ‘reach’ him, held him after class to ‘figure him out’, or sought the incentive to motivate him.   Elias wasn’t unmotivated, there was simply nothing he could be motivated towards.  If you were one of Elias’s schoolmates, you most likely distanced yourself from him, but you may have been tempted to romanticize him, to figure out his ‘mystery’, to learn what was ‘up’ with him.  If you were one of Elias’s parents, you were either the dead one, or the detached one, either way, you weren’t particularly interested.

There were people who took a passing interest in Elias; a self-important administrator, a compassionate guidance councilor, and a slightly damaged girl named Margaret, Mag to her friends.  Mag, on several occasions went out of her way to sit with Elias, found ways to end up where he was at odd times, detention, lunch, walking home from school.  He took as little interest in her as he did in anything else, but they were as close to friends as anyone could have been with Elias.

Mag wasn’t quite so antisocial as Elias, and had friends in several of the high school cliques.  Among those friends, Mike Harmon, star lacrosse and soccer player, had taken an interest in Mag. As the classic high school drama should unfold; conflict blossomed. Elias was elevated from the status of ignored outsider to iconic underdog, and his disdain for the entire situation was interpreted as a level of cool akin to the antiheroes established by John Hughes in the 80s.

Mike, true to form, took every opportunity to humiliate Elias; but protected by a shell of nonchalance, Elias skated through the hardships.  Despite attempts from Mag to reconcile matters between Elias and Mike, the situation continued to intensify as Mike desperately tried to evoke some kind reaction from Elias.  Mike eventually directly challenged Elias to a fight, one of those after school affairs, surrounded by a bloodthirsty crowd of their peers.   Elias didn’t show.

Mike showed up later that day at Elias’s house, drunk, with a few friends, and proceeded to trash the lawn, vandalize the house, which escalated, as things do.  Before long, Mike and his friends were in the house, drunk and destructive. Elias’s mother, hiding in her bathroom, despite a haze of anti-psychotic medication, managed to call the police.  Mike and his friends were arrested, expelled from school, fined, and forced into an alternative school for young offenders.

Elias took to carrying a gun to school with him, but there was never a need to use it.


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