After today, I'll be publishing Charlie Foster in another blog, so here I can continue on with 'personal essays'. However, my writing energy lasts only four to five hours a day, so the three months I figure I have to finish this novel, will probably take most of my writing energy, however, I will attempt to apprise you of what is happening in my life, but for now, it has to be, finish the novel, and write like the madman that I am.
(More Charlie Foster)
The improvisation class was a another life changing experience for both Jodie and Juliet. Not only was the theatre teacher from the university in his early thirties, but, as Juliet said, "He was drop dead gorgeous."
It was obvious that he loved what he did, and his love was contagious amongst the students. It was the first time the girls found that Shakespeare was really pretty sexy, and that all things were possible on the stage and maybe, in life as well. The instructor sat on a chair several feet in front of them on the first day of the class, staring at each one of them silently. Finally, when the silence was so deep Juliet thought that she would faint, he spoke.
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy,
with his satchel and shining morning face,
creeping like snail unwillingly to school.
And then the lover, sighing like furnace,
with a woeful ballad made to his mistress' eyebrow.
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
even in the cannon's mouth." Immediately after he had finished, the entire twenty students were hooked.
The very first improvisation they did was the dead body improv. This was an exercise where each of the students were asked to come upon a dead body in the woods and react to it. Maybe it was because he had them under his spell so completely, or maybe it was because they were so curious and eager that the exercise became so powerful that no one ever forgot it. Or, maybe, it was because Charlie Foster was still on everyone's mind. Mr. Fincher could not have known about Charlie, or maybe he did, and that was the point. No one had the courage that first day to ask him. When Mr. Fincher asked who wanted to play the dead body, Jodie immediately shot up her hand. She lay down on her stomach, spread her arms out to her sides, turned her face downstage and let her breathing become shallow. Then she closed her eyes and died. The first girl walked up to Jodie's dead girl, took a step back and walked on. Every one looked at Mr. Fincher, but all he said was, "Next." But, as each new student advanced on the body, the reactions became more dramatic and real. Finally, when it was Juliet's turn, she walked to Jodie's body, stopped, got on her knees and began to sob. At first, Mr. Fincher, the teacher thought of stopping her, for it was plain to see that her sobbing was real. But just as he was about to stop the exercise, Juliet grabbed her friend's arm and turned her over. She then reached beneath her shoulders and pulled her up into her arms. The room became silent again, except for the gently sobbing in Juliet's chest.
It was a full ten seconds before Mr. Fincher stopped the exercise. He walked onto the floor where Juliet was kneeling and gently touched her on the shoulder. When he stopped her, Jodie suddenly opened her eyes and made jazz hands, "Surprise!, she said, dead but not forgotten!" It broke the ice for the rest of the class and everyone started laughing. Juliet tried to laugh, but she was disappointed that the moment had ended. She thought she could have sobbed for a very long time. Mr. Fincher then explained the reason for the class, passed out the rules of improvisation, and bid them goodbye with another monologue from Shakespeare.
It was the first time in the budding relationship between Jodie and Juliet that they had nothing to say to each other. They walked to Jodie's car, saying nothing about the class or Mr. Fincher, the silence continued until Jodie dropped Juliet off at home.
Kyle Smith talked to Mike Berry only one more time after the day at the river. Kyle and Mike had been best friends since eighth grade after Mike had got him out of a scrap with some older boys. Of course Kyle was very different in eighth grade, insecure, tall and lanky, and full of questions. Mike had been just the opposite then, outgoing and fearless. It wasn't until he got in high school did he begin to feel insecure. In eighth grade, he was rather big for his age, maybe that helped him realize that he could use his size for good or bad. In Kyle's case, he used his size to scare the older boys away from Kyle, and eventually, took Kyle under his wing. Kyle was grateful, and became Mike's right hand man, doing things for him and making sure he knew he was a special person.
When Kyle finally got some one to answer the phone, it was Mike's mother, who only said that Mike was staying at his aunt and uncles, and that he was going through a terrible time. When Kyle asked for a phone number where he could reach Mike, his mother had told him that it would be better not to call right now, that Mike would call him when he was ready. Kyle wanted to press the issue to Mike's mother, but decided that yes, Mike would call him for sure, after all, they had been friends for going on five years. Mike's mother then asked Kyle how he was doing, he said fine, but was also very sad that Mike was not around. Kyle tried to keep her on the phone, but it seemed like the more they talked about Mike, the more upset she got. Kyle told her he knew that Charlie Foster's death had a really strange effect on Mike, but it was ruled an accidental drowning and that it was determined that Mike had nothing to do with it. "Yes," she said, I know." And that was the end of the conversation.
Debbie Logan did not want to go to school the day after the accident. She didn't want to face the other students, she didn't want to answer any questions, and she certainly did not want to spend the day lamenting someone she had no real connection to. She was angry at herself for feeling this way, that Charlie Foster's most certain death had kept her up all night. She convinced herself that maybe he wasn't really dead, that maybe he just swam down the river and disappeared, finding a new identity in a new town. This seemed to help, and finally, at four in the morning, she drifted off to sleep. When she woke, she called Nancy, and told her not to pick her up, that she was taking a sick day and that Nancy could go on without her. "What?" Nancy had said. "No way! You are coming with me, on today of all days."
"What's the big deal about today," Debbie responded.
"Look, I know its Monday, and I know its going to be weird at school today, but you can't let me be there by myself," she said.
"Okay, are you on your way?" Debbie said.
"I'm almost there." Nancy responded.
It was almost ten minutes before Debbie emerged from her house to get in Nancy's old volkswagen. "You're stoned," she said when she got in the car.
"Half stoned," Nancy replied, I smoked about an hour ago, but plan on smoking the rest on the way to school. You in?"
"Might as well," replied Debbie, "I mean it is Charlie Foster day. Let's smoke to Charlie, and to the river, with its current so swift."
"Wow, gettin' poetic on me," Nancy responded. "You know, there's one thing I don't understand. Why didn't anyone just step forward and tell the police what happened. I mean, it was still an accident. Why didn't we say something?"
"I've been thinking about that all night," Debbie replied. "Its just, you know, one of those things."
Nancy took a half of a joint out of the ash tray and lit it. She took a long drag and held it in, then handed it to Debbie. Debbie took it, and did the same. The both finally laughed when they exhaled the smoke at the same time. It was almost time for the first bell to ring, and they would be ten minutes late. "I hate being stoned and late, said Nancy, everyone looks at you like, they know."
"That's because they do know," Debbie replied. They laughed again as they sat at a red light. The light seemed to take forever before it turned yellow. "Caution, said Debbie, caution light." Debbie wished she was still in bed, wished she could shut the curtains tight and sleep all day. No one was ever home from seven o'clock to six thirty in the evening, sometimes later, and today would have been a good day for sleeping. It was still cloudy, with a chance of a thunderstorm, exactly the kind of day that she liked to sleep.
Stephanie Knox started a shrine to Charlie Foster on the bank of the river where Charlie fell into the water. Although the river was fifteen miles away from where most of the kids lived, she figured that some would make the trip at least once, even if it were out of curiosity. She was right. Flowers, notes, little statues of Jesus, balloons, and candles began to show up each week that she went back to the river bank. Although she had told several of her friends what she had done, it was amazing that so many kids began to make the pilgrimage to the shrine. By the end of the first week, the river had subsided, and so the shrine looked a little odd on the river bank, so far from the water. When she made the third trip up to the river, she had blown up a photo of Charlie Foster from his freshman year of school. It was a strange picture. Charlie's hair was much longer then, hanging down over his face, one eye barely visible. If you looked closely at the washed out picture, you could see the horrible scarring that had taken place on Charlie's face, maybe that explained the long hair, that he was trying to cover all of it up. All she really knew of Charlie until that day in early April, was that he was a boy that was continually picked on by many of the students from school.
One day, she had even been a witness to this. It was on lunch hour, inside of the cafeteria. Charlie had milk dumped on his head. Although she saw it happen and felt bad for Charlie, there was nothing she could do, after all, she was not someone who was very popular herself, and had also been picked on relentlessly by a girl in the seventh grade. She understood that awful feeling of being called out by name, and waiting for the girl to walk up to her. Mostly, though, it was a general name calling, the girl never touched her. At first Charlie seemed surprised when the cold milk seeped down his face and onto his striped shirt. There was a momentary quiet in the cafeteria as everyone became aware of what had happened. Then a couple of kids started to laugh, and to everyone's surprise, Charlie started laughing too. Then to everyone's wonder, Charlie took his own milk and poured it over his own head. This seemed to evoke hysteria amongst the kids in the cafeteria, and even a couple of cheers went up. The boys who had poured the first carton of milk on Charlie were a little shocked by Charlie's self abuse, and quickly left the cafeteria so as not to get in trouble. As for Charlie, he quickly left the room too, leaving his half-eaten lunch on the tray.