Xavier Days – Late for Class

Fuck it. I couldn’t find my blazer.  No school insignia for me. No school colors for me.  Wrong kind of sweater today. They will say something to me.  Maybe. Most of the time they leave me alone. Not because they don’t care. But because my mom is a beast.  She will come at them like a lion. Lion of judah who speaks more languages than the head of the Language department.  She will also smile which will make the priests who are not gay bend before her will. French. Spanish. Latin. English. Jamaican. And after she is done, they will all be bending over, praying maybe, renewing vows and shit.  Advantage to having a hot mom.

Fuck it. I’m late.  Crazy insane not healthy kind of late.  Someone will suggest I was hanging in Union Square Park.  Smoking weed. Or worse. Smoking a pipe. Cracking out on crack.  Someone will say I was at the pool hall. Maybe they know about the periods we sneak out to shoot pool.  Julian’s pool hall which is closed for everybody so early in the day. Except for the initiated acolytes like me.  I live in the pool hall. Smells like piss and chalk all the time. Filled up with ancient, wrinkled-up hustlers who can outshoot almost everybody.  They could be blind and deaf and any other shit that should put them at a disadvantage. And they would still beat every idiot dumb enough to place a bet on the table.  Fucking love it. Julians is church. There are also the Chinese gang-kids, tattooed-up superhero looking kids. They shoot like demons and have hot-Chinese-girls dangling off their titanium-wolverine-looking arms.  Everyone is scared of them and excited by being around them. Except for me. Not that I am all that courageous and shit. Just that one of my best friends is about as gangster as they come. A Filipino-one-man-gang who can make butterfly knives dance on his fingertips.  He can shoot pool too. Though not as good as I can. The hustlers adopted me and one other kid from Xavier. So they taught us secret-secret-secret shit about curves and angles and other shit that makes the cue ball spin on stars and blow out suns.

Fuck it.  I’m late. Some lame-ass old white teacher is going to get in my face.  Fuck. I’m late. And I think there is blood in the air still. Floating in the air still.  Except this is not space and blood only floats in space. At home it did not float. It was pouring out.  So much fucking blood pouring out. Like when my friend’s father was bleeding out on the staircase in our building.  A kitchen knife stuck in his gut. Bleeding out on our fucking staircase. Crumpled up like a fist, he held his hands to his stomach, trying to catch it all.  All that blood. And all I could think was who is going to tell his daughter. And how do you tell a daughter that their father was bleeding out on the staircase?  But my mom couldn’t stop the blood with her hands. Too small, her hands, too delicate. How can one stop all that blood with such small hands?

Maybe they will hang me out the window.  Like they did to that kid. Haitian kid they hung out the window to dry.  His head aimed at the concrete yard below. Several flights up. Just because he didn’t do his homework. At other schools, kids get detention.  At my school too, except sometimes you get hung out of windows as well. That shit was funny when we heard it and then after a while, it wasn’t funny anymore.

Some old priestly-brother will see me without the school colors, no fucking blazer, and no tie, because I also couldn’t find my fucking tie. But he will see that I have my skateboard in my hand.  And he will get pissed that I could forget everything I am supposed to not forget, but had the time to find my board.

But it’s not my fault. What with the sirens and the EMTs barging into our apartment and my step-dad crying as he held my mom’s small hand, and the fucking blood, so much fucking blood. How can such a small woman have so much blood?  How the fuck was I supposed to find my tie. And then the smell. I didn’t know that blood smells. No one ever told me that blood smells.

Fuck it.  I am in the hallway, next to black and white pictures of Xavier students.  Peachy-white faces looking out at the teacher, Italian-teacher from Bay Ridge, I think, screaming his fucking head off at me.  He is in my face, blowing fucking words at me, trying to intimidate me and shit. Maybe he is thinking he is going to hang me out the window.  Or maybe he will pick me up and slam me against the lockers. I have seen them do that. Slamming people and hanging people and fucking with people is a point of pride for some of the teachers.  I wish he would try. I wish someone would fucking try to slam me against the fucking lockers. He is so close I can see the shit-brown color of his eyes. Fuck him. He needs to stop fucking screaming at me.  Fuck it.

My mom was crying.  She was crouched over, bending into herself, trying to hold back something.  To keep it from falling out. She looked up at me when I opened up the bathroom doors.  But she did not see me. Even with her eyes on me, she was still focussed on her hands. So much fucking blood.  Why is mom bleeding like that? My step-dad is shaking. He cannot stay still. Now she is screaming. Fuck it. She is screaming and her hands are covered in blood  and the blood is on her legs and on the floor.  Fuck it.

He is about to put his hands on me.  I am waiting for him to put his hands on me.  I want him to touch me. Give me a reason to fuck you up.  I am saying this to myself. He cannot hear me. Even if I said something, he would not hear me.  He is screaming too much to hear anyone else. Some other teachers are sticking their heads out of the classrooms.  Maybe they want to see me hang out a window. But I am not hanging today. Fuck it. My mom is at the hospital now.  This fucking prick is yelling at me and my mom is at the hospital trying to stop the bleeding. Trying to keep it in.  But it is too late. Because before I left for school…  I am sure I saw something fall out.

Fuck it.  The dean is in the hallway now.  He is looking at me as if he has never seen me before.  But he has. He knows that I ride my skateboard to school.  He knows I always have my uniform on. He puts his hand on the teacher’s shoulder.  The teacher stops screaming. But i still hear screaming. Where is it coming from? I ask the dean.  Do you hear it? Do you hear the screaming. I can still hear it. Because her hands are covered in blood.  And she cannot stop the bleeding. She is screaming. My mother never screams. She is this beautiful small woman who buys her sarees from Jackson Heights.  She works at the U.N. and speaks several languages. The old, retired, mobsters, who hang out at DeRoberti’s pastry shop, who sip espressos in one hand and hold cigarettes in the other, all of them are in love with my mom because they say she is a ruby.  They say my mom is a ruby with their Sicilian-New York accents. Your mom is a ruby. A ruby who never yells at me for being a prick or a teenage-nut-job. I think she is screaming and I can hear her screaming.

The dean looks worried.  Maybe he thinks I am losing my mind or that I am tripping off of something.  He brings me into his office. He sits me down. He calls my house. No one answers. I could have told him.  No one is home. They are at the hospital. They are at the hospital trying to stop the bleeding. He takes a card out of his rolodex and looks up another number.  He calls it. Someone answers. He tells them I am not well. That I am sitting in front of him and I am crying. I am crying at his desk and the school is concerned.  The person on the other end cuts him off. They tell him something that makes his eyes water. What the fuck? This is the dean who flicks kids across hallways with his fingers the way my friends and I used to flick marbles in Kingston.  And his eyes are watering.

Fuck it. I am crying.  I didn’t know I was crying until he said I was crying.  And now that I know. I am crying even more. I am crying so much that I am coughing up tears.  All these fucking tears. And now I am falling. Though I am still on the chair, I am falling. How do you fall without moving an inch?  And why do I still hear her screaming?

He puts the phone down.  He takes out a cigar. He lights it with a silver lighter.  He blows smoke in rings that float up in the air. He says nothing.  Just stares at me and nods. Like he is giving me permission and shit.  Permission to cry more. And yet, though I don’t need his permission, I cry more and more and more.  Then I look at him and say, “There was so much blood. My mom was bleeding in the bathroom. I didn’t mean to see her bleeding in the bathroom.  I was just going to brush my teeth. If she had not been bleeding, then I would have found my tie and my blazer and then I would have been able to leave the house on time.   But there was so much blood. And she was crying. My mom rarely cries. But she was crying and trying to stop the blood and my step-dad was on the phone and then opening the door and bringing the EMTs to my mom.  They also tried to stop the bleeding I think, but the blood would not stop coming. And I had to get to school. On time get to school. So they sent me to school and someone said not to worry. But I knew. I know now too.  Because she couldn’t catch it, right. That is what the person told you. You were probably talking to my aunt, right. She talks a lot. Did she tell you? What did she say? Is my mom okay?”

He stood up and came around the desk.  The sweet smell of his cigar reminded me of the pipes my grandfather used to smoke before he died.  He looked down on me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, Sean. Everything is going to be okay.  Your mom is fine. Just know that God has a plan. And right now he felt that she should not come down to earth yet.”

“Who the fuck should not come down to earth yet?”  

More smoke rings.  No flicking fingers, no hanging me out of windows, no slamming me against lockers. A firmer grip on my shoulder.  

And more faces on the walls.  His office is lined with all these black and white faces, framed-faces, dead-faces, from the past.  All of them looking down at me, all of these white-dead-faces looking down at me.

“She is okay,” He says.  “The doctors say she will be fine. Your aunt told me tell you that she is okay”  

“And the baby?”


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