Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hemingway’s The Killers

“What’s he going to do?”
“Nothing.”
“They’ll kill him.”
“I guess they will.” -Hemingway's The Killers

They found those kids, the ones that busted up my room. Funny thing was, they weren’t even mine. Didn’t even know me. They were just passing and thought it would be a lark. No punishment for them. No bowing to superiors. No community service. No withholding of diploma. No disallowing them to walk at graduation. It was just internalized with all the other deplorable student actions. It was explained to me this way: “Students needed to release their stress from all the pressure they’ve been feeling from national exams.”
Yes, that makes sense. Doesn’t it?
Outside it was getting dark. The street-light came on outside the window. The two men at the counter read the menu. From the other end of the counter Nick Adams watched them. He had been talking to George when they came in. -Hemingway's The Killers

I’ve spent the week dreaming of students. In one dream all of my 9th graders boycotted my class and I found them sitting in the air-conditioned library laughing. In another, I came to school and their faces were the faces of students over the years who moved away or were detained by police or were suspended or expulsed and I never had a chance with them. One of the dreams ended abruptly with this boy named Eric asking where I put his Nintendo DS. He just kept asking it over and over again until I opened my eyes and saw Xian staring at me. I nearly jumped out of the sheets.
“What are you going to kill him for, then?” George asked.
“We’re killing him for a friend. Just to oblige a friend, bright boy.”

-Hemingway's The Killers

Speaking of falling asleep. I crashed early on Thursday. Just exhausted, I laid on the floor at 6 p.m. while my girls built forts with blocks and colored tic-tac-toe books. I awoke to Kinu jumping on my head and Rebekah laying on my back.
I didn’t realize this for the next hour or so, but Kinu had taken a magic marker and drawn clouds and smiley-faces all over my cheeks and forehead, the backs of my legs and arms. I couldn’t be angry, rather I asked her what she called her artistic creation.
“Conversation,” she said. Nick opened the door and went into the room. Ole Anderson was lying on the bed with all his clothes on. He had been a heavyweight prizefighter and he was too long for the bed. -Hemingway's The Killers

There has been little rain this rain season. The ground is dry and cracking and there is a crispness to the air that is unsettling and aggressive. The cicadas are boisterous and maddening, and the mid-day heat like a guillotine.
I sometimes think of Hemingway when the air is like this, his descriptions of Spain or Africa. Characters that sit in the heat and order drinks, the sound of ice against glass, the uselessness of fanning oneself with a straw hat, the misshapen forms in the distance dancing in the faraway steam.
It needs to rain. I need it to rain.
“I can’t stand to think about him waiting in the room and knowing he’s going to get it. It’s too damned awful.”
Well,” said George, “you better not think about it then.” -Hemingway's The Killers

It’s morning. The light on the building tops is dull and without emotion. Scooters slowly pass through intersections and the old women twist and turn in garden exercises. Mud and soot and cement and caked grime collect on the sides of houses. I take off my shirt and sit on the balcony, feel the dry air on dry skin. The girls are up, playing cards on the floor, speaking the rules out in Chinese. In a moment I’ll go inside, pour coffee, and start the day.

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