Sheer Drowning

Picture 15-year-old Manny Furious. Wild hair looking as though it were straining to get as far away from from the chaos inside his skull. That same perpetually befuddled look in his eye that existed partially from being perpetually befuddled, but also because he still didn’t wear his glasses, even though he now knew he needed them. And that same, oblivious, naive demeanor.

Picture him at a high school track meet, in his joggers. Enjoying the warming of the spring air, where the sky itself seemed to thaw and crack at the soft heat of actual sunlight. Picture him on the greening grass, inside the track, with dozens, if not hundreds, of other track athletes from a dozen different schools all scattered about like malfunctioning ant colonies. Picture a smattering of tents throughout the field where the athletes can escape the sun, if need be. Picture him catching a a looksee at a pretty girl from the Canelo High School track team. Canelo being the nearest town over from Rio Frio. Picture her with long curly hair, dark skin, braces, and that endearing awkwardness teenage girls tend to radiate.

Picture 15-year-old Furious thinking to himself, “It’s time. I’ve got to be a man, dammit. If I want a girlfriend, I have to make it happen.”

Picture the Canelo High School girl crawling into a tent with several other young women from Canelo High.

Picture 15-year-old Furious ambling over.

Picture 15-year-old Furious sticking his head in the tent and saying:

“So, uh, is this the fine girls’ tent.”

Oh god.

The looks on those poor girls’ faces. Picture them. Sheer horror and embarassment.

Sheer drowning.

The silence that hung in the air was heavy and thick, suffocating, as if everyone involved had suddenly been caught up in a sudden and catastrophic avalanche of silence, and not a single one had a plan out.

…Twenty years on and Manny Furious still loses sleep over that one, occasionally.

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