"Do you believe in God?" I ask.
"I'm not sure why that would matter, but yes, I do."
Ms. Taylor is the school counselor. She looks too young to do her job and I think she wears wire rimmed glasses to hide it, but her habit of chewing on her bottom lip cancels them out. She graduated from here when it was Dobbs high, back when they called the 'hood little Vietnam.
"Do you believe in demons?" I mentioned the beast to Ms. Taylor once. We spent the entire session discussing dream theory and philosophical metaphors. I don't mention it anymore.
She writes something down on her notepad and looks up. "Do you think angels and demons have something to do with your problems with Dada?"
"Me and Dada don't have any more problems. I handled that and we real clear on where we stand."
"You know, among other things, increased aggression is a side effect of abrupt withdrawal of your anxiety medication. Sleeping well? Anymore nightmares?"
I move a little closer so she can understand me when I say, "I no longer have anxiety, because I no longer have a bully. My so-called increased aggression handled my bully, therefore I have no need of the medication, and I sleep like a baby on Benadryl."
"Oh," she says, drawing out the vowel with more condescension than I can stand. "So you think everything is squashed now that you won the last fight?"
I shrug, letting my eyes rove around her office. She's got a thing for elephants. Two glass statuettes flank an otherwise uncluttered desk, along with some stone thing that looks like a toddler carved it. I can't look at it for more than a second without getting a weird feeling in my chest. Nerves. Just nerves.
"I know about the name calling. I've spoken with some of your teachers about being more proactive about keeping that to a minimum.
Fat lot of good that will do. Sometimes I think they start it.
"That's nice of you, Ms. Taylor, but Dada is who he is. No amount of interventions or therapy sessions or whatever ya'll hand out is gonna help. He's got about a year before he's in the pen with his Dad and his brother."
"So you do know about his family?"
Everybody around here knows everything about everybody. Apparently privacy is too expensive for people like us.
"Am I supposed to feel sorry for him?"
"No, but I'm surprised at your lack of understanding. I think you and Dada have a lot in common."
"I'd say that we were polar opposites, but whatever, you're the expert. You know you have a bad habit of telling the victim to turn the other cheek. I did that. The only thing that gets you is two black eyes."
She laughs. I'm not sure if she really thinks what I said was funny.
"Let's backtrack a second. You believe Dada is who he is."
"What do you think made him that way?"
"You said you believed in God."
"God is the term you used. What I believe is more complicated than that. I guess it's clearer to say that I believe in energies." She sets her pen down and picks up the ugly sculpture. I think she's going to say something else but whatever it is she holds on to it.
"People are too vicious for God to be real. Complicated or not."
"Have you been doing your exercises?"
YOU ARE READING
A modern retelling of Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass", Hunting Grounds tells the story of a boy at war with a world he sees and doesn't see. Is it the world outside that's hunting him or a mythic beast run wild? Themes of homophobia, res...