By Mark Lucius
Waking up with the birds is for the birds, ambition fading for early classes. The morning plan is Business at eight, a few winks in the BluGold Room, Western Civ at 11. Can you learn all that history in an hour? Do I look like I flung a flannel shirt and jeans into the air and wear them where they settled? A month into college, routine forming. Kasinskas up first, Holloway and me resting eyes. Today is different, conscience calling. October is not gold but cold, slate sky, drizzle, a long walk down a steep hill into the valley of the hollow halls. An umbrella? Would be wrong.
Vladimir Velickovic, I like him, you can B.S. him. Professor of Business, Certified Public Accountant, chased from his home but left unbowed by all the Commies in Czechoslovakia. Still he smiles as if beguiled at my accounting of my Dad the CPA. That’s why, that’s why I took your class. And it must be true, sure wasn’t from interest.
Not smoking yet so I don’t, but I might as well inhaling BluGold haze. It’s dim as I feel, dark-wood daring me to sit, but no friends no welcome nowhere. Hey, you want to curl Up on Cripple Creek? Is the Green-Eyed Lady sliding down Black Mountain Side? Tell me, please, when will Sweet Judy Blue Eyes wrap her arms around me? I buy a Milwaukee Journal and an Almond Joy.
Warloski, I like him, you can’t B.S. him. I miss one class, he calls it hubris, I never miss another. He stands before 200 students proud he looks nothing like us. If the earliest humans 50,000 years ago were properly clothed and barbered, they’d look just like him. That’s what he says, who am I to argue? It would be hubris.
My jeans are finally dry, but I’ve got another sore throat. I think about stealing cough drops from the bookstore. Class empties, open the paper, start with the front page wait for the sports. Page six, a tiny photo and six column inches. I think of Jimi, but even now I find it surprising that I wasn’t surprised, but held more inside, when I read that Janis Joplin died.
Mark Lucius is a writer and songwriter who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work has appeared in The Great River Review and Best American Sports Writing. His analysis of the songs and career of John Prine is scheduled to appear in a forthcoming issue of Cowboy Jamboree. He has won a Jade Ring award from the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association and five Cicero awards for best speeches from Vital Speeches of the Day.