Here is, as promised, today’s story “The Flying Linskey.” Check it out at Figment.com and show it some love.
“The Flying Linskey”
When the alarm goes off at 6:35 I’ve been awake for forty minutes. The clock-radio plays a blizzard of morning talk, The Strokes, an announcement to the people of the second floor, 53 Airport Road, Bridgewater, Massachusetts, that we are in for another unseasonably warm Wednesday. Sometimes I overhear classmates saying they set as many as five “safety alarms,” or they bury their phone in some far corner of the room so to be forced out of bed after it. My point being, I set my alarm to 6:35, forty minutes after I’ve entered the shower, and if I fail to do so I can become lost for hours…on several occasions father has had to fish me out of a fetal corner of the stall. –What are you doing, he asks, mystified that I am his son. I do not discuss these alarm tactics with my classmates. I share very little with them, actually.
Since transferring from private academy to public school, my objective has been modest: sleep with a girl. And by with I mean inside of. Upon completing this primary objective, I move on to a subsequent phase: sleep with as many girls as possible, and not just inside of, but also under, behind, and further unthinkable configurations.
Academy was heavily religious but not the all boys. Ironically, the repression associated with plaid skirts and weekly confession is the same repression that drives girls wild and lustful for sex––specific sex, though, with an upperclassmen, in the backseat of a twelve-thousand dollar car, ideally after an Usher concert (an event that sensible, tasteful parents would never finance). My point being, sex with private school girls entails having a license, having a job, and (most importantly) having already had sex with private school girls.
I’d made a list of every potential match at public, and in the nine days since transferring had recorded statistics to narrow the field: weight, height, temperament, projected running speed of father—you see, sleeping inside of a girl on a budget is diligent work.
Of course I was not Han Solo in my conquest of the pony-tail gender: every morning, afternoon, evening, and sleepless pockets between dusk and dawn, my parents demonstrated an intimate, unwavering example of how not to make someone lust after you. They had a specific romance, one characterized as high school sweethearts who marry young, divorce early, crave routine and move back together without again exchanging rings, without ever saying sorry. In reality they’d met at work and been married four careful years before deciding to have a go at child-rearing. I, Noah Snow, am the uncertain product of several sterile conversations. Mother fell hard for me. I am her June-bug, her brown-eyed baby boy. Father briefly resented me, I suspect, but views me now as the false-god that I am. He looks at me sometimes like wishing to free me. From what? When and how?
Internet has been another friend in my search for a consenting mate. I’d begun researching erotic positions this past summer on Google, research cut short when my parents confronted me about several hundred viruses our PC had been swamped with. Like any only child I was well-trained in deceit and, gambling that my father frequented similar web-pages, admitted nothing. The charges were dropped, a Firewall was installed.
Now I was without Internet, still without money, transportation and skill (a recent Cosmo interview with John Mayer suggested it was possible to trick a girl into experiencing pleasure; it involved propping her ass with a stack of pillows so penetration commenced at a 35-degree angle, and informing the girl that you loved her repeatedly without blinking). I’d survived three and a half months of academy with nothing to show but a prayer recited by the student body when I had my appendectomy. I intended to enter the post-freshman/pre-sophomore summer as, at the very least, an adequate lover. Admittedly the aim was not unique; I’d watched Rushmore a hundred times on HBO, listened to “Everlong” and “Just Like Heaven” on loop, and in fourth grade I stayed up late to secretly watch marathons of MTV’s Undressed.
This past Monday something changed. An opportunity to study under a legend. Concurrent with this opportunity I’d docked my list of potential partners to twelve. By the end of the week I intended to have just one––though, the list didn’t matter much. I’m the kind of tramp who will sleep with anyone.
My schedule was an amorphous entity, its most recent incarnation involving my study block being (arbitrarily) shifted from the gymnasium bleachers to the music room, an eighty-minute block presided over by John Linskey, amateur historian, girl’s basketball coach, all-around minor playboy. On the distant side of twenty-six, he was the ideal of every peachy vulva at public school. Athletic, unimposing, rosy-cheeked, could grow a beard at a moment’s notice.
I’d acquired several details regarding Linskey, most coming from his many detractors (see: virgins). He was a rebellious educator, supposed successor to the varsity football team (the Trojans), he’d been nearly expelled as a student for gambling, was so skilled with women he’d nearly turned Ms. Jackson, our lesbian vice principal, On. I observed John from a distance, picking at my lunch.
I was a spoiled June-bug, I knew it, hardly grasped the fineries of cooking an Ellio’s. Mom made my five lunches Sunday night, so the love they were baked with degraded in authenticity as the week wore on. Wednesday ham and cheese showed not half the affection of Tuesday bologna. Two bites in I noticed a troll named Littleton sticking his bulbous nose in my business.
–Hey Noah. How’s life?
When Littleton spoke his worm-brown lips could not help but curl and snivel. I felt bad, really.
–Good morning Brain. It’s delicious.
–Did you say “brain?”
–I misspoke, sorry.
Small black eyes examined me with a dimwit’s patience. He took what remained of my lunch and deposited it in the trash.
This sandwich business was but another lapse in Brian Littleton’s character, along with the swift checks to the gut he gave me when we passed in the halls, the threatening e-mails, the constant abuse of his position behind me in math class. What I could not forgive the dwarf for was his robbing Clarisse Anders from me, a girl I wooed all summer but failed to recover even a grazing of the breast, tentative cupping of balls––she caught wind of me headed for academy and settled for a slightly shorter, somewhat darker, altogether despoiled version of Noah Snow.
–Noah. Mr. Linskey waved me to his desk as the bell called for lunch.
Linskey had these slick shocks of hair he could do anything with, pale blue eyes that did not reflect images but saved them for later.
–Noah, I told you, you don’t need to call me coach. You’re a boy.
–I mean I thought so, how much more you going to let Littleton hassle you?
–However long it takes to steal his girlfriend. Or until he’s tired of it.
Linskey nodded distractedly, bored already. Linskey had protected me from the prying seniors who had all sorts of colorful comments about the Christmas tie I’d worn first day, the sweater vest and freshly ironed polo. But he didn’t understand my problems, he hadn’t had to steal a girl ever. A rumor existed that he picked a “prize freshmen” every year to “train” until she turned eighteen and graduated from public, then he immediately landed a date. This year’s senior was Lindsay Rapoza, a snowy blonde who looked like an undamaged Hilton. Another rumor went around that Linskey didn’t always wait for graduation, or eighteen.
–Bell rung. Lunch.
No, coach was not interested in my melodramas, but I’d devised a plan.
I passed #11 Naomi Rodriguez on my way to lunch, the only black girl who’d made the cut (if the term “black”’ is unacceptable I’ll amend this passage immediately; in furthermore defense, there are only six blacks in the freshmen class, two females, one over six feet tall, hence the scant representation). She’d made the list on the grounds of excessive niceness, encouraging attitude as a lab partner and a stunning bust/waistline.
I ate at the “Peanut Free” table. For normal students this decision spells social suicide—Ellen Campbell’s reputation had been irreparably forsaken after the near-banning of peanut butter, and she’d practically died…sympathy was a rare commodity in high school. However, a distinction was made for myself: I was cultivating an air of mystery.
Without anything to eat, I used my lunch period to chronicle the habits of potential girls: the voracious eaters satisfy their emotional holes with food; those who pick and peck hunger for something else (Noah Snow, I hoped).
Being a Wednesday, I knew instinctively four were local. #4 Rebecca Gold was pale, had a face resembling an egg on her good days, more often a partially-deflated soccer ball. She sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at least once a week at school functions. Upside: she was shorter than me yet also had the only D-cup in the ninth grade (discluding the obese). She’d given her only previous boyfriend a blowjob in school––in the seventh grade.
#12, the Page twins, merely represented my caterpillar scheme of a threesome, the mechanics of which I hadn’t the faintest clue.
#9 Emma Spark (no kidding) was on the verge of being snuffed as well, being a full two years younger than me through some blunder by Admissions at Raynham Middle, plus she surpassed me in height, was developing a figure only an upperclassman could contend with, and was rapidly losing interest in the newest thing: me. So like that I fashioned an elite 8. It was not a matter of putting my plan into action.
–Hey Coach, I announced on reentering the Chorus room. –I asked Meghan out.
His expression was terrible. I further prompted his normally-latent paternal ego: –What do you think she likes? (Lord, what a question! He practically leapt at me!)
Linskey strained to not not-smile and said –Interesting Noah.
–Noah I could use a hand at practice, are you free?
Wheels in motion. Meghan Linskey, his niece, had been my wife for two years until, in the third grade, I cut half her hair off. Our contact has since been limited. After a fourth grade Chorus concert father urged me to fix this. He called her a “lovely girl” (These instances of precognition force me to reevaluate father—had he truly known she would evolve into a stunning, leggy, jet-black capped varsity athlete of super computer-level intelligence? I have to assume he guessed, as he’s yet to display similar episodes of providence). I decided to speak with her after class, giving my trick some semblance of credibility.
I found Meghan neck-deep in her locker, cramming a biblical History of Rome into her bag. She resorted to carrying The Last Tycoon and an educational graphic novel about bees––alas, she was several inches taller than me, completely incompatible. –Noah, hey.
–Afternoon Meg. Meghan, sorry.
She continued packing, and even her preoccupied eyes could knock the wind out of a boy. –So I’m having trouble still, getting around. Wonder if you could show me your uncle’s office?
–You mean the gym?
Meghan is not a girl to walk an additional arm’s length apart from, nor did she feel any shame being seen with a short, rambling freshmen famous for ruining her second grade class photo with a pair of safety scissors. So maybe we looked like a couple.
Meghan had vaulted the eighth grade and, as a sophomore, seemed world-traveled. Rife with symbolism, she’d broken state records in the high jump. Despite his mastery of female emotion, Linskey had yet to talk his niece onto the Trojan girl’s basketball effort (despite his mastery of basketball, this year’s team was a 1-4 start).
–I bet you have a stellar jump shot. I realized the remark made no sense without the contextualizing stream of consciousness, and amended –You look less boyish in skirts than I remember.
Meghan granted me a slender show of teeth. –You were better with women when you were seven.
–I know nothing about women. Girls I have a limited understanding of.
The basketball team was running laps and shooting threes. Linskey looked appropriately distressed at my standing beside his prodigy niece. I attempted to position myself at a more intimate proximity, and said loudly –See you later, Meg. Meghan regarded me politely. –Okay Noah.
As I crossed the gym (making a note to strike #3 Mary Zoster from the list as I caught her licking a beady mustache of perspiration) Linskey commanded his captains to run practice. –Walk with me Snow.
The cockpit of Linskey’s automobile was depressing, strewn with leafs of school newspaper, quarter-filled Gatorades, dog track ticket stubs and voluminous, empty Advil and Ibuprofen bottles. I began to worry about his detractor’s favorite rumors, that he owed the Bridgewater-Raynham Contingent of Bookies a sum of eight thousand dollars, that he vomited on the bus after every basketball game, win or lose, that he was depressed and had slept with Holly and Heidi Connolly while they were juniors. Linskey jacked the engine into gear and we pulled off the lot.
–What’s on your mind coach?
–What’s on your mind, Noah?
Delighted, I pretended not to follow, and said as much.
–In the ninth grade, Noah, you are as subtle as they come. You’re interesting. But soon you’ll realize, parading a man’s beautiful, very young niece in front of him is a bad way of getting his attention.
The way Linskey said this looking at me and not the road for a full five seconds was thrilling. I buckled my safety belt.
–Sorry coach, you’re right, that was bush league.
–This isn’t Nickelodeon either Noah, if you call me coach again I’ll smack you.
–So, Linskey? Mr. Linskey? Professor?
–How about John?
–How about it?
–Okay. I guess I have to bust your bubble about my subtlety John. I’m trying to get a girl, John. No, I mean, Meghan—that was only to get your attention.
–So you’re stringing her along, huh?
I considered it. –She’s six inches taller, she’s brilliant, she’s an athlete. If anything––
–She’s stringing you?
–If anything. I’m looking for guidance. Okay. Don’t freak out, this isn’t a Weird Science situation. I’m not invisible to women. That’s sort of the issue––I can’t step up. I’m good in notes, on internet.
Linskey prompted me with a look to conclude.
–It would be helpful if I could get to second base, just get some momentum going.
He seemed skeptical and exhibited symptoms of someone in need of a cigarette, but both his car and person implied no prior tobacco use. –Can’t you talk to your dad?
–I think the discomfort would kill us both. Him first.
He half-nodded. –So you want to be a whore?
The inelegance of his claim calmed me. –Well, yes.
–That can’t be it. Because that’s easy.
–I have standards, if that’s what you’re suggesting––look. As we pulled onto Airport Road I fished the list out of my bag.
He glimpsed, absorbing the names. –Tayla Moslem, number one.
The smug approval on John Linskey’s face confirmed my suspicion that Tayla was being groomed for a hotel room rendezvous in three and a half year’s time. Suddenly John wanted me to know things. –She’s taller than you, right? Make every move sitting down. When you flirt, ask her out––all of it. Easy. You known her since what, kindergarten?
–We hid under a shed together during flashlight tag last summer.
–Noah, that was your chance. You might never get a chance like that again. So…. Then something magic happened, like a curse: as we pulled into my driveway the color left him…His eyes, face, hands and lips. Linskey looked corpselike, searching feverishly for that invisible cigarette. –Okay, he said sullenly, gravely. –You can get a girl like Tayla. Easy. Be smarter than her.
What he suggested sounded like it made me a horrible person, a fate I’d surrendered to ages ago. –Yeah, I know that.
He perked up a little, let go of the steering wheel and mopped his forehead with the backs of his sleeve. –Get her to talk about her mom, Ms. Moslem, you know? He breathed. –Don’t talk about my niece to me Noah.
–You can go now.
–Right coach––oh shit.
Father was in the living room with the TV on and the shades drawn.
–Should you be at work?
–It’s three o’clock.
–They gave Dave Chappelle a pilot.
I took dinner in my room, readying, rewriting and rehearsing not merely a speech, but a scenario…a trap I would unleash in Biology next morning. In my loins I felt the tingling verge of evolution. I watched True Hollywood Story: Pamela Anderson in my underwear and fell asleep on my stomach.
While other kids zombie-walk to first period, Meghan Linskey is bounding along on endless legs, fantastically toned with a natural tan. I waved to her meekly and received a warm –Morning Noah! She told me her locker-neighbor, Janine Blevins, was sick with appendicitis. She asked if I knew the appendix was basically a sack of poison. –Two days after rupturing, it bursts, and sprays you inside with toxic…STUFF.
–I carried my bag of poison for four days, I boasted.
Unlike previous mornings, the lab was not empty when I arrived for Biology: a flush John Linskey exited the room ahead of me. Ms. Norman flattened her dress behind the human skeleton every high school lab is designed around. I murmured –Good morning?
–You’re hilarious Snow, he quipped. –Fucking hilarious.
As peers filed in I heard Linskey’s detractors grumbling about him being so rude, how he was dispassionate about teaching and unsympathetic with cruel deadlines. –He don’t know Asia from Asia Minor. John’s detractors are as you imagine: crooked, slightly overweight frumps…pretentious, indie intellects. The worst sort of peanut gallery. I desired to please them badly. –That beard makes him look like a pedophile, I supplied. The rumor escalated wildly.
After attendance and everyone pledging their allegiance, Ms. Norman called for order. –Quiz today, she sang, and over a chorus of groans the quiz appeared magically before us, and just as quickly was collected and filed away forever as twenty unique Failures. –Okay, partners for this month’s project. Kelly and Chambers. Zoster and Wales. Chapman and Brown. Uh––she stuttered, then resumed in artificial reading voice–– –Moslem and Snow….
A finely tuned chorale of archangels. I stifled a gasp.
Tayla Moslem had eyes like green sea mist. She had long-jump legs and mermaid hair. She had purple “dick-sucking lips” that seniors raved about in the parking lot. When our eyes met the synth-line from “G Thang” played. We buddied up to talk Ebola.
–What even is it, she wondered. –What was that quiz about?
–I’m no good with biology. Ebola is gory, you bleed out fairly quick. The kill rate is near one-hundred.
–Get out. Ew. Gross.
Ah, great romances of the twenty-first century. What had John advised?
–I saw your mom this morning. She was looking, um––
–Like a total bitch? Tayla shuddered with rage. –She freaked on me this morning. She said my skirt is too short. Is my skirt too short? Noah?
Sorry, I was looking at your pussy. –Sorry, no, it’s fantastic.
She winked. We made plans for Saturday morning. –She’ll be out, my mom, Tayla explained carelessly.
The rest of the day I hummed the Hives tune that goes I’m on my way…can’t settle down.
For dinner we ate seafood despite father’s mild allergy. –It’s alright, he assured my mother the way he always did. –My throat closes only halfway, the swelling goes in a day or two.
I refrained from sleeping, entered the password to the Firewall (N-O-A-H), shifted to the setting Unrestricted and began my search for the most nonchalant position to be blown in.
In my dreams Meghan is jumping hurdles and never touching the ground. I am standing underwater, watching her dance across the surface.
In the dusty shadows of a winter morning, the insides of a girl’s unsupervised bedroom is an unimaginably quiet place. I had the sensation that behind every shut door lurked hordes of surly cousins, uncles and grandfathers. But no, alone as leopards. She suggested I sit on her bed, casually closing a laptop aglow with photos of her in a gold bikini. I unzipped my jacket and sat on the bed, a vast, pink expanse shrouded in glimmering curtains. She kept mumbling my name. I tried to sound clever but felt an Imperial vice-grip at my throat. A stereo somewhere bragged I know I love you better.
Tayla felt no need to impress. –Can you believe Norman quizzing us like that?
–The height of injustice, yeah.
My palms like bars of soap.
With her back to me she drew the shades. –You talk funny, like Seth Cohen.
–I’ve read a few instant messages to that effect.
She came very close, so the hairs on our noses…I threatened investigating her mother’s bedroom but was told firmly not to, and suddenly eight of her fingertips rested along my collar bone, thumbs pressed gingerly into the depression beneath my Adam’s apple. Her green eyes pestered me, persuading her brain I wasn’t (yet) a mistake.
I swallowed what was left of myself. –Oh, good. And great. It’s great.
Mick Jagger and Method Man argued about who was getting off whose cloud. The cushionless seat of my father’s ‘69 Schwinn had never been so welcome in the recesses of my anus. I’d forgotten my jacket but didn’t feel cold. I’d forgotten to cum but would deal with that later. Sadly though, as fate would have it (otherwise when else would we notice?), I was destined to crash.
I recognized Linskey’s car right off. The weary figure scraping ice from the windshield with a plastic coat-hanger did not register so quickly.
The conversation that follows, held on the snowy shoulder of a busy Route 104, would be the last contact he was to have with humankind for eleven days. –Noah. He was displeased to see me seeing him in (car) trouble. Vaguely aware of his living across town, I asked how he’d driven so far with his windshield that way.
His eyes were spider-webbed licorice red. He began to shift (wearing, I remember now, bedroom slippers, soaking wet in the slush). –I didn’t notice I had the washer fluid going. When I pumped gas it froze.
–Yeah it’s freezing. But guess what––
–Give me a hand here.
–Use your fingers, I don’t know.
We worked silently for a minute. –Hey John, did you know psychologists have proven that ninety-nine percent of our memory is actually false-memory––
–Doesn’t Tayla live around here?
–Tayla Moslem? I think so, yes.
Immediately I recanted the tale in its entirety, uncensored, from Thursday morning Biology to the absurd kiss goodbye. Linskey nodded, making a face equal parts fatherly, disillusioned, bemused. He said nothing. I considered telling the story again, but John cast his hanger into the snow and sat with his legs out of the driver-side door. At last he produced the magic cigarette. Fearing he might ask me for a light, or worse, if I wanted to smoke, I stood my bike. –Well, I’ve lost feeling in my thumbs.
–Yeah John? But when I’d turned to face him the door shut, the car kicked on and sprayed me with brown slush. With a sigh I realized, nothing had/ever changed.
I heard that on Friday night the Trojan girls had been pummeled 52-26 by the academy team. It also came out in the BRRHS underground that Mr. Linskey was not, as we had been told, “ill,” but a missing person being looked for by the police. His detractors spoke impatiently. An art movement involving crude sketches of John driving his now infamous Chevrolet developed, cruising various exotic locals, always with Xs over his eyes, all titled THANATOS. Whispers of gambling debts.
I was infinitely more interested in locating Tayla, making plans to go steady, phase two be damned. The searched proved fruitless, as she’d become, not an hour after brushing the taste of my dick out of her mouth, the long-term girlfriend of starting QB Ryan Buckley. I never saw the jacket again.
It did not sink in until study that John was gone.
The week ticked off and I realized I hadn’t showered in days. My hands were always clammy. At night instead of sleeping I observed endless hours of Girls Gone Wild infomercials, desensitized to the pixilated eighteen year old chests. I saw a German named Rainer get clobbered by Andre Agassi in the Australian Open final. I began to perceive the horrible sins of my parents: he never asked if she’d like to see a movie, but if she wanted to go with him to a movie he’d decided to see; she would return any bit of what she considered to be superfluous “personal history” like Patriots updates with a look that said –I never bother you with things that interest me, I wish you’d be so considerate.
On the eighth day of the search I spoke briefly with Meghan.
–You haven’t heard from him, anything?
She shook her head. –Just that tape, from the bank.
John’s detractors had been mollified with the appearance of his blonde, twenty-two year old substitute and her dangerously low-cut blouses. John’s fate had been resigned, in my mind, to some community college in Buena Vista where he could duck his debts for awhile (maybe his depression, too). I wondered vaguely, once, how he’d known where Tayla lived.
I spent the weekend stretching, having resolved to go out for tennis in the spring. Or baseball. I’d flip a coin.
Monday morning, at 6:35, my phone trills helplessly under my bed. Father has to rouse me from the shower (–Noah what’s happened to you? Your mother thinks you’ve been sleeping with your arms off the mattress, or something). He drives me to school, forging a late note about the death of a pet.
Walking into the lobby, I was thinking about what breed of dog would attract women best when I overheard a trio of boys laughing––Linskey’s detractors––passing around a sheet of paper. Approaching, I overheard –I don’t care man, I don’t. People are going to cry and shit, and be sympathetic––uh, what? Dude kills himself. That’s cowardly. That’s a coward.
–Hey Snow. I’m saying, suicide, right? It’s selfish.
–Linskey. They found him in a hotel, Mansfield or something. Strung up.
–You don’t know that, another chimed.
–Well yeah, pills maybe. But check this out. He handed me the sheet of paper. A bare-bones tableau, obviously pared down by time constraints, depicted Linskey in midair, classic motel room around him––twin mattress, cobwebbed vanity––a cartoon rope running from his neck to the blades of ceiling fan that was, as made evident by heavy-graphite lines of motion, spinning, swinging his body in animated circles. It was titled in Beavis and Butthead typeface THE FLYING LINKSEY.
I struggled. Rumors like this flew with the concussive force of bombs. It was not true, could not be true, so it was easy to say –People shit when they die, you know, maybe you should have some shit shooting out.
Brilliant, right. Good one Snow. Fucking hilarious.