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Authors: Patrick Flores-Scott

Jumped In

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For Emma and our boys

 

Contents

Title Page

Copyright Notice

Dedication

Home

Fleeing Puget High School

A Thug in No-Man's-Land

He's Everywhere

Stop Noise

The Rules

Ojos
Means “Eyes” Means “You Better Watch It”

My Fault

Fire!

I'm So Dead

One Thing in Common

I Won't Do That Again

Tell Us All About
the Life
, Gangster Boy

On a String

Luis and the Go-To Girl

Contemplating the Vortex

The Revenge of Cassidy

Luis and Sam, Meet
Luisandsam

I Can Take Care of Myself, You Crappy Teacher

The New Deal

Not Funny

Losing

Unaffiliated

Three Words

Big Fat Stupid Joke

The Only Way

Scared

Not Getting Excited About Writing Poetry

Home Early

Must Be Nice

Hello, Sam

Waffles

Sun Break

Making Sure It Doesn't Suck

Bounce

Yelling at an Old Man

Solos

The Blue Notebook

Morning

Don't Look Back

Can't Escape

Mummified

The Next Day

Phone Call

Boxed Set

Up Against It

My Way or the Highway

Step Back

On a Team

Reality Sucks

Away

What Do You Say?

Back on the Horse

Rollin'

Another Shoe Drops

Wanna Know

The Moment of Truth

When It Comes Right Down to It, I'm a Big Fat Baby

Miracle

The Twinge of Wanting

What Is It?

How Long?

Bittersweet Doughnut

Learning What It Takes to Make Me Go Ballistic

Jelly Doughnuts

Aimless

Sneaking into School

Gregory, Mendez, and Díaz

Suspicious Behavior

Banana Bread

Bob's

Stuff a Mother Should Know

Rupe

Looking for Luis in Second Grade

Team Meeting

More Bread

Leyla and the Truth About the Scar

Spilling My Guts

No Words

My Friend

Morning

Out to Sea

Luis's Stash

Secret Poet

Good-bye, Man

I Got Something to Say

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Author bio

Copyright

 

HOME

nir·va·na
n
def:
an ultimate experience of some pleasurable emotion such as harmony or joy

Nir·va·na
n
def:
a legendary kick-ass rock-and-roll band from my hometown of Aberdeen, Washington

I
'M THINKING ABOUT
R
UPE AND
D
AVE
.

My buddies from Aberdeen, out on the Washington coast. It's where I used to live before I was “temporarily” moved away. And it's where Rupe and Dave and I used to dream of becoming the next Nirvana.

The next hard-rocking, ass-kicking, world-famous band from Aberdeen.

A movie rolls in my brain. I'm watching us fish for cutthroat trout from the muddy banks of the Wishkah River. I see Rupert smiling at me with his big ol' buckteeth, his long, rust-red hair flowing in the wind as he baits his hook with a massive, wriggling night crawler. Dave zips back and forth along the bank, a blur of Coke-bottle glasses, dirty blond buzz cut and turbocharged ADHD, pointing and shouting, “Cast here! Cast here, guys!”

We're just little seventh graders fishing and having a good time, but all we can do is argue about Nirvana.

We argue about what Nirvana would be like now if Kurt Cobain hadn't decided to leave this world.

I argue that “Scoff” is a way better song than “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which is awesome, but there's no way it rocks as hard as “Scoff” does.

And Rupe and Dave argue over who should play what when we start our own band.

We wipe the mud and worm and fish muck off our hands and rock-paper-scissors it for who's gonna be Kurt and who's gonna be bassist Krist Novoselic, the two original members of Aberdeen's Nirvana before they added drummer Dave Grohl and became
Seattle's
Nirvana.

We take our
Nirvana Tour of Aberdeen
and walk in the shadows of our idols, sneaking into Aberdeen High School, strutting the halls like we don't give a shit, peeing in the weeds on the banks of the Wishkah, smoking stolen cigarettes beneath the pier at night.

Stalking their ghosts.

Because those guys had something we want.

And we're not gonna stop until we find it.

We hang out at the abandoned old house where Kurt and Krist and a parade of drummers used to rehearse before their band had a name. Dave carves our initials into the peeling white shingles, and we stuff our faces with fat blackberries plucked from the tangle of vines taking over the yard. Sprawled out on the front porch, Rupe writes list after list of possible band names while I scrawl lyrics in my blue spiral notebook and imagine my voice belting those songs out over thumping drums and bass.

We dream of making Aberdeen rock again.

Making the country rock again.

Making the world rock again.

On summer nights, my mom stuffs us full of her incredible barbecue chicken and homemade mac and cheese and s'mores. Lying in the tall grass, under the ancient cedar tree, we press Play on the boom box and lose ourselves in “Scoff,” “Paper Cuts,” “Swap Meet.” We leave our troubles behind, shredding air guitars, pounding imaginary snare drums and tom-toms as we sing like rock stars and float way up to the clouds—then higher and higher, and far, far away, to a whole 'nother world of head-banging nirvana.

That was then.

 

FLEEING PUGET HIGH SCHOOL

I
'M ON A PISSED-OFF WALK IN THE GRAY
,
DRIZZLING RAIN
.

I'm thinking way too much.

I can't stop fucking thinking.

My socks suck up water through worn-out boots. Watching for potholes and mud puddles is nothing but a frustrating waste of time. You're wet if you do, wet if you don't.

It's just the way it is around here.

From Puget High School to my grandparents' house, it's four blocks up Twenty-fourth Street. Eight massive blocks down the steep, never-ending hill on 216th. Every step of the way, the fir trees drip gray and the fat black clouds droop low, dumping buckets of rain into the murky waters of Puget Sound. It cracks me up how people here in Des Moines, and up in Seattle, all love to say that this is one of the most beautiful places in the country. All the evergreen trees and Vashon Island and the Olympic Mountains to the west. Massive, snowcapped Mount Rainier to the southeast.…

Beautiful?

Sure.

But who gives a rat's ass if you never get to see any of it? This place is covered in a blanket of gray mush for about nine months a year and it wears on you. It's like the dripping, wet gray takes everything you could see, all the nice stuff, and pulls it out of focus so there's nothing in front of you but fuzz.

Nothing to distract you.

Nothing outside of you to think about.

So you're forced to turn inward, to go deep into the world of your own dark mind.

And that's the last place I wanna go.

So on days like this, I fight to stop the dark thoughts. I struggle to fill my brain with lyrics. I try to think about the most useless crap I can come up with. I think about stupid kids and the stupid things I see them do at school. I think about idiot teachers and the idiotic stuff they say. And I make up lyrics about them.

Lyrics exposing their stupidity.

Lyrics for great songs I'll never write, for cool bands I'll never join.

I spin the loudest Nirvana—the old stuff—the wailing wall of sound stuff, and I fight to leave this place, to float away, to get back to the coast. Back to Aberdeen. Back to Rupe. Back to Dave.

Back to my mom the way she used to be.

But today, the music doesn't come.

I'm stuck solid on the dark, wet, messed-up side of my brain. And it's all the fault of one kid.

Luis Cárdenas.

 

A THUG IN NO-MAN'S-LAND

I
T HAPPENS IN
M
S
.
C
ASSIDY
'
S TENTH-GRADE
E
NGLISH CLASS
.

“Scholars to the ready!”

Aw, shit.

It's one of Cassidy's
spring-in-her-step
days.

“I'm sooo excited about this poetry unit, people! Seriously!”

She bounces around talking about metaphor and the senses and the end-of-the-unit poetry slam. “Poetry is meant to be spoken and heard,” she says. “So we're going to have to trust each other.”

I look around at my “trusted peers,” and I know I'm not gonna write a fucking thing for this woman.

“For today's assignment, we're talkin' personification. When might one choose to
personify
?”

Cassidy's voice melts into the never-ending drone of jumbo jets skimming Puget High School's rooftops. I figure I'm home free for the period, so I pull my hood over my head and tight around my face and lean onto my desk.

Then the door to the class opens and
he
walks through it.

A Mexican gangster with a shaved head and a linebacker's body, he saunters on in and everyone—
everyone
—shifts their focus. All eyes are on this kid.

It's like you can hear the shift. Like you can
feel
it. Like a bunch of tipsy, whale-watching tourists scrambling from one side of the ship deck to the other to catch a glimpse of a breaching orca and they almost tip the boat over.

He's one of
those
types. The type that every girl wants to
do
and every boy wants to
be.
The boys all wanna be him 'cuz the girls all wanna do him. The girls all wanna do him 'cuz he's a bad boy and girls love bad boys. Or maybe it's that he's six feet tall and good-looking.

He hands Cassidy his transfer slip. What does she do?

She looks right at me.

Damn!

It's the seat!

The seat next to mine.
No-Man's-Land.
The empty seat I fight to keep clear in every class. So no one bugs me. No partners. No one to turn and talk to like they're always telling us to do. That empty seat means teachers forget I exist. It means I don't have to act like a fake-ass dumbshit like everybody else. And when the bell rings and class starts, I can lay my head down and disappear under my coat and under my hood and escape from everything.

But right now, that seat is the only empty spot in the whole class.

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