The "Big Mutant On Campus" Series
By David D. Amaya
Part five"The Tale of the Ghetto Butterfly"
Disclaimer: As always; the first step of the journey.
We get back to the third floor, but the staircase begins to break away.
"Shit! Heads up, Lariat!"
Gary turns on the stairway and tackles Kordel out of the stairwell as it crumbles away.
As Kordel gets to his feet, he looks up at the gaping expanse barring them from the fifth floor.
"How are we going to get up there, Gary?"
He turns to his teammate, who had turned away from him, doubling over. Suddenly Gary's red practice jersey begins to rip. Large leathery wings begin to sprout from his back; his skin turns a dark shade of gray. Thick horns emerge from his temples that surround his face. The metamorphosis complete, the creature turns to face a stunned Kordel Nichols.
"Now you know why they call me the Gargoyle!" He says with what can only be referred to as a grin forms on its face. "But you'll never see me and Gary in the same room at the same time! You go and double check the bottom two floors, I'll get the twins."
Focusing on the reason they are here keeps the fear he now feels upon meeting his first outed mutant in check. "Right." As he turns to begin checking doors, the creature called him back.
"Oh, and Kordel! If anyone asks about this, tell 'em you ran into a ghetto butterfly!" He then leaped to the next floor to rescue the twins. The powerful thrust of his wings knocking Kordel to the ground.
I checked all the apartments and there was not anyone left, just as I was exiting the building, I hear a high pitched whistle. I recognize Gary calling for the one-three-one. I look up toward the roof, I could not see him through all the flames and smoke that surrounded him, but I saw he had the twins in his arms. When he sees me, I hear him shout;
"Lariat, I got 'em! I'm gonna make a jump for it!"
Gary spreads his wings. The only way he can make his escape with the twins is to jump and glide down, but there was an explosion that knocked them off the building. He falls straight down onto an old Dodge. I ran to him to see if he was okay.
"GARY!"Kordel screams as he dashes to where his friend landed. His legs and wings are both apparently broken.
"Are the kids all right?" he weakly asks.
Kordel carefully peels his wings apart, the twins look stunned, and are coughing from all the smoke, but appear to be unharmed.
"They're okay, Gary! You saved them!" Kordel takes them from his arms and takes them to their siblings then runs back to his side. In the distance, the wail of Boston Fire Department engines can be heard.
"Hang in there, Gary! Help's on the way!"
Gary begins to return to normal, his wings shrinking and the horns disappearing back into his temples. His mortal injuries though, do not disappear.
"He was in bad shape when EMS finally arrived, but by some small miracle," Kordel pauses. "NO, that is not right, because of hero named Gary Erwin! The only other injuries were minor; bumps and bruises to smoke inhalation, he saved the lives of forty people. I ride with him to Boston Medical because I received burns on my right side. That is when I saw for the first time that hate can even occur to a hero."
"BMC trauma this is Engine 42, repeat, Engine four-two, Inbound with two male patients both approx 22-years-old, patient one, suffering from smoke inhalation and possible third-degree burns to his right hand, thigh and hip. Patient two, also suffering from smoke inhalation and major injuries suffered from a fall. The patient is a possible mutant."
"What the hell did you just say!" Kordel barked.
"I heard that this mutie turned into a monster and tried to grab a couple of kids."
"THAT'S OUR GOALTENDER, YOU FUCKING IDIOT! HE RESCUED TWO KIDS ON THE ROOF AND THE EXPLOSION KNOCKED HIM TO THE STREET!" Kordel attempts to shield the truth from these paramedics coughing intermittently. "WE JUST CALL HIM 'THE GARGOYLE!'"
"No fuckin' way!" exclaims the driver, "Hey Liam, that's Gary Erwin! The BU Goalie! Remember, he pitched two shut-outs for us in the Beanpot and he's up for the Hobie Baker."
"Wait," the paramedic looks at the number on Kordel's jersey, "Hey! You're Kordel Nichols! I saw you score five goals against UMD, last month! You guys are wicked brilliant this year! You think you're goin' all the way?"
Just like that, Gary went from being a hero who rescued two kids, to being some mutant monster that preys on children, to the BU backstop. We get to the hospital and finally Gary regains consciousness. As they attempt to separate us to work on him, he lifts a broken arm and grabs my jersey.
"If anything goes wrong, promise me two things. Help get my momma that loan, and whatever you do, don't tell her how I got my nickname. She might not understand."
"They work on him valiantly through the night, but he succumbed to his injuries," Kordel tells his students and their headmaster. "The fire was caused by a crystal methamphetamine lab set up by the building superintendent. He gets 25 years to life at Massachusetts Correctional Institution, but I swear he will only get out of there in a coffin!
"I purchased building and had it torn down. Now a community garden called 'Butterfly Meadow' is in its place. I insisted a gray stone gargoyle be cast to overlook it."
The students look on, stunned at the story they just heard, Monet spoke up.
"But why do you hang this commendation upside down, Agent Nichols?"
"One reason is because of people's phobia and subsequent vilification of mutants.
"When the Governor's office hands an award there is an investigation to see if the award is merited. Some of the witness' reports claim a monster was involved though. Others flat out say 'Mutie.' Despite my influence, however, the Governor's office felt there was not enough 'clear eyewitness accounts' to give a dead hero his due. I would not have showed up at the State House, if it were not for his sisters urging me to accept it and tell the truth. At least the parts I told them.
"I had a scholarship set up in his honor, so there will always be a deserving student going to collage in his name."
"Is that why you have me call you Lariat?"
"You know, Cyrus. To this day, I STILL extremely dislike that name. But every time someone calls me by that name, it reminds me of Gary, because he is the reason I wear this badge."
Kordel took a deep breath to steady his nerves.
"I apologize for overreacting this evening." He said, and then left the room.
The students just continued to sit stunned at the story they were told, until Sean broke the uneasy silence.
"I am going to ask this politely," he said in a soft voice. "Please, no pranks or practical jokes tomorrow, Okay?"
"Yea, Irish," Jubilee answered for the group. "We promise."
"Thank you all," Taking the Commendation with him, he made it to the door then turned to face the students. "This isn't what bravery is, this is just merely an after-the-fact acknowledgment. Kordel knows what it means to sacrifice, lose the ones he loves and what a hero truly is, and what being a hero costs. Just as every one of you do. He deserves your respect for that."
As he left, Alea removed her left shoe and hit Jason with it.
"I hope you are HAPPY!"
"WHAT? He STILL doesn't know what happened! If I knew that thing was SUPPOSED to be downside up, he would have NEVER figured it out!"
"Jason!" Paige yelled at him, tears streaming down her face. "How can you say such things, especially after the story we were told?"
"Because if you were listening to what I just told you," Jason replied. "You would know that I did NOT, shit on the memory of his homeboy! Did NOT say he wasn't brave! And DID NOT say he was a selfish sonofabitch! But, you HEARD HIM, DAMNIT! It wasn't my fault he drug up the past!
"Guthrie someone needs to toughen you up! 'Jason!'" he mimicked. 'How can you say such things, especially after the story we were told?' He told a story where the main character lost someone they love so much they are willing to die and kill for them, AND THEY STILL SUFFER, because they wish every day it was them instead, but the only dreams that EVER come true are nightmares! I KNOW SIX FUCKIN' STORIES LIKE THAT! What, you guys forgot?" he glared over to the three he thought knew him better. "You had to earn EVERY LAST GOD DAMN ONE!"
"JAY!" Steward, Alea, and Nathan exclaimed
"ALL RIGHT!" he bellowed, angry that everyone in the room was upset with him. "You want me to say something nice? FINE! I'll say something fucking nice! I'll say he's tougher than Wolverine's punk ass if that makes you happy! And I'm cool with the fact that a flatscan helping save Parkman's fat from the fryer wasn't necessarily A BAD THING! But no one,and I mean NO ONE deserves one fucking ounce of respect!
"Respect, boys and girls has to be earned in EVERY aspect of your life, and once earned, respect must be KEPT! If you EVER have to ask for it, you WILL NEVER get it!"
"Alright, Jay, maybe you ARE right," Nathan replied, "AND YES everyone here IS overreacting a ton. However, if he put a marshmallow launcher in here and accidentally moved that picture of the Sarge…"
"THAT'S FUCKING DIFFERENT AND YOU KNOW THE REASONS WHY!"
Suddenly the indication that the prank Jason pulled in Kordel's office manifested, for all the academy students at once.
"How so, Kordel?"
"Well, Charlie. I head back to my room with my tail between my legs, when I get there, I try to put on some Earth, Wind & Fire to calm down. Then Sean came in with the frame…''
"Kordel," Sean inquired as he stood at the doorjamb. "Are you all right, Lad?"
"It was not their fault, Sean," Kordel replied, resting him arm on the glass of the vintage jukebox. "They did nothing remotely warranting such a scolding," he then input the number B109. "Whoever was in here just wanted to look around, several students saw this getting unpacked, and they probably wanted to see a vinyl 45-record up close."
"Look, I told the students to hold off on the pranks for tomorrow."
"That was totally unnecessary, Sean," He pressed the numbers B109 again. "Remember I told Monet one reason is because of the vilification of mutants?"
"Well, the second was the villainy that is my aunt."
Kordel in now stuck in an Emergency Exam Room at Boston Medical Center. Boston PD investigators are taking his statement. One of the investigators said that no one perished in the fire.
You and Gary are heroes, she said. She contacted the family of the eight children that were rescued; Their family wants to meet you two, she said. The families of the people you two saved want to either shake your hands, or bake you two a sweet potato pie, or give you a hug, she said.
"How's Gary doing?"
She said nothing.
"We'll check as we need his statement as well," Then she left closing the curtain behind her, leaving him alone in the ER to ponder what would have happened if he decided not to answer the phone as he left his desk back at the Secret Service office.
He would not have been burned, coughing up smoke, Gary would not have sustained career and life-threatening injuries; they both would be working on stopping the Catamounts Power Play unit with the rest of the Hockey East Conference champions.
Nevertheless, rich man's son, a voice inside his head whispers. If you and your best friend had not intervened when you did, forty innocent lives would have perished in that inferno.
You could have chosen a different path! You could have decided to do nothing and forty souls would have departed this life!
If you were to have been awarded the championship of your sport this night, would you, or your best friend, have done anything different, rich man's son?
Suddenly the curtain parts and in strolls Roslyn Sweeney, led by the unmistakable fragrance of Coco Chanel N°5. Clothed in a Louis Vuitton original, frosted head to toe in Tiffany jewelry, draped in $70,000 worth of Russian sable, and clutching a Swarovski-crystal evening bag. As per usual of entering the same room as her only nephew, she turns her nose up slightly further.
"I anticipate this ultimately teaches you a lesson of who you are and what your rightful place in society truly is, Kordel."
She strides to his bedside, she assumes the stone face he makes at her is due to the unnecessary pain he decided to have inflected, she has no inkling it could have been disgust.
"We play an essential role of the economical upper echelon of New England. Since the chartering of the New World, and in every act in which has taken part since, our family's role is vital!
"And it is a role which you have forgotten, Kordel! You persist to tarnish your family's glorious name! You act as if you are common Blue Collar trash! I have allowed you to participate in that barbarous spectacle of yours, as athletics is one way to impress the right debutantes at an appropriate venue, but you could have participated for the Crimson of Harvard, and have been instructed in a proper business curriculum!
"And now I have been informed that you entered a burning slum? Look at the injuries you have sustained! And for whom? You risk your life, one who is from the finest of families, with roots extending to the landing of the Mayflower, to rescue a bunch of coloreds who are of such low breeding? What shall I disclose of this pauper's folly, Kordel?
"You can choose to say you are proud of the nephew you have, and his duty to-"
"Your only duty is to your family and your class! If my brother, Tobias were still alive - !"
"My father would have been proud of what I have done this day! Despite your efforts to appraise people on a monetary scale, human life is PRICELESS! Now, if your only reason for granting me the pleasure of your presence is to turn my back on the destiny I have chosen, I apologize for wasting your precious time Aunt Rose."
"You are too much like your mother, dear boy."
"I thank you for that heartfelt complement, Aunt Rose."
She looks at him with a look that could kill, but chose not to continue the tirade. "I shall at least insure you are given a private room to keep from the common riff-raff." And with that she turned and strode away.
Now, the rich man's son is left to ponder anew.
He wonders, what if he had, in fact beaten his best friend to the third floor? He knows the NHL is lacking in quality goaltending, and the Hall of Fame deserves to have Gary Erwin enshrined there one day.
"Besides," he continues to ponder that twist of fate as he again presses the number B109. "The world could have continued to go on with one less twenty-something billionaire."
"No, it couldn't. You're a good man Kordel. I know what you've went through, just about everyone here has gone through that same sense of loss."
Kordel pounded on the jukebox glass with his fist.
"Don't take this so hard, Lad. The kids..."
"Oh, no, Sean," he replies apologetically. "The jukebox. We installed all the records this afternoon, it is not working for some reason."
Kordel examines the vintage Wurlitzer Jukebox to find the plug had fallen out of the wall socket.
"It is only unplugged, I shall remedy that issue."
Kordel squeezed between the wall and the jukebox, grabbed the plug and reinserted it to the socket.
What he had forgotten in the past half-hour was that one of the jukeboxes' powerful speakers faces along the side his right ear was aligned with. Upon receiving full power, the two found out the prank Jason Delano is now being chastised for.
When he was in Kordel's office he selected B137 then quickly unplugged the jukebox, but not before turning the volume to maximum.
The result was the hammer of the gods.
The battering riff of "The Immigrant Song" blaring in his ear. Kordel suddenly jerked at the unexpected Viking wail of Robert Plant, forcing him to be stuck along the wall.
"I did that!" Jason replied to the sound of Led Zeppelin wafting throughout the dorms. "and I can't undo it, even if I WANTED TO! Now, everyone, GET THE FUCK OUTTA MY ROOM!"
Sean saw Kordel's legs kicking and attempted to pull him away to no avail. Then Sean noticed his right hand pointing at the volume switch. Once the sound died down, he pulled the jukebox away from the wall slightly and pulled Kordel out.
Their eyes met, and then they both burst out in uncontrolled laughter.
"What do you have to say about your exceptionally great group of kids now, Sean?"
"They're inventive, clever, and pretty damn funny!"
End of Part five
Part Six of the "BMOC" Series "A 12-Page Letter" will be posted next month.
©David D. Amaya 2010