Hey, hey watch this!”
The skateboarding seventh grader gained momentum up the concrete ramp for the gym used for handicapped wheelchair users, across a level area past the building entrance. He jumped over the guardrails with the help of a homemade ramp he had made in woodworking class. He tried to use the skateboard to glide down the descending rail, but nearly midway lost his balance. He did not land well, crashing onto the sidewalk.
“Woe, dude, that was so gnarly!” said his friends, who were also skateboarders.
It was after school at 5 p.m. and the deviant seventh grade skateboarding clique were beginning to get rowdy.
The seventh graders at Bernard Berenson Middle were, simply put, lesser forms of eighth graders. They were the great divide; the servants of the eighth graders, guardians against scummy sixth graders.
But they were only the guardians and servants of the cool crowd. Those eighth graders who were average or lowly were either seen as other seventh graders and befriended or were picked on, depending on the seventh grader.
But all these particular seventh graders thought about was the next rad trick on a skateboard after school. They weren’t really into the social agenda. Therefore, they were left to themselves.
So when Shawn Skipperson, the next skateboarding seventh grader, sped up the ramp, over the guardrails, successfully pulling the guardrail gliding stunt, for a few seconds, only to fall into a large open gutter drain— no one heard his fall. And no one expected the drain to close by itself.
The boy’s friends looked for him. He wasn’t far, just in an obscure place, on the blind side of the gym. But they did find him.
“Dude, Shawn, why’re you in there?”
“Major bummer, man! Get me out!”
The three boys pulled on the grate to the drain. It would not budge.
“It won’t open!”
“Ah c’mon, man, it’s dark down here.”
“I think all the teachers are gone, right?”
It got closer.
“Well let’s try again to open the grate, ready?”
“Holy crap, guys! I just heard something!”
The three boys pulled again on the grate. It started to open. Something was weighing it down.
“C’mon, guys, please hurry!”
Shawn’s legs were pulled back from under him. He fell to the ground on his belly. He was being pulled backward, away from the light of the grate.
“Ok, got it?”
“Glad I had these on hand. Yeah, now put your crowbars in the grate opening for leverage. Yeah, that should do it. Now Pull. Pull. Pull! PULL!
It had been two minutes since they had heard anything from Shawn.
Good thing Mr. Hind, the assistant basketball coach, was still around to lock up. With his help the boys were able to open the grate. He had also called the police. Paramedics were on their way.
The grate behaved like a great weight was attached to it. They got the grate open, but it slammed shut.
Mr. Hind called again.
“Shawn. Shawn, can you hear me?”
Nothing could be heard from Shawn. But soft, barely audible words could be heard seemingly far below.
Subsssistence. More. Subssistence.
From “Fall from Autumnway” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?
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