Schloop: a novel. Chapter 1: What went down in first grade

Schloop: a novel.

Chapter 1: What went down in first grade

I. John

John Robert Jupiter appeared in Mrs. Greene's first grade in the fall of 1966. He and his family had lived in Iran while the Shah was in power.

“It was great!” he said. “We had everything. American cars. American stores.”

His father was an exec, a contractor for Standard Oil.

John liked “I Dream of Jeanie” on TV and nodded and blinked like Barbara Eden performing forbidden magic, never mind the gender identification, we all did it.

He was also the only first grader to come to class high on LSD. We sat in reading circle on the floor and he played with the linoleum as if it were a cube of Bora Bora blue Jell-O. He made squish-squish sounds with his lips. He was a soul migrated here to change the spiritual vibrations of heavy, dense earth to something lighter than tropical-scented helium.

He wore black turtlenecks like Johnny Quest and punctured his neck with pencil point graphite vampire bites which he revealed to Rhonda Mayers in the custodian's closet near the cafetorium.

The only thing I, Dennis Schloop, have against him is he ground a piece of chalk to a fine dust and blew it into my eyes. It was something he saw on “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” It burned and I spent the remainder of recess on nurse Sturtz' cot with a brown wet paper towel on my face. Still, it was one more experiment with death, something we evidently were contracted to.

Tetherball was a lesson in a simplified solar system.

I fell from the top of the jungle gym onto the top of my head.

John said, “Cool! Were you trying to kill yourself? What did you see?”

II. Rhonda Mayers' Rubber Monkey

Rhonda got a little toy monkey from the dentist for being a good girl and for not biting and screaming. He was a red monkey and his arms stretched and he could sit easily in Rhonda's palm. She brought the monkey to Mrs. Greene's first grade class and she made the monkey squat on her desk and wipe his bottom with his stretchy hands. The monkey made us laugh. Mrs. Greene snatched him away and locked him in her desk drawer. I could hear the monkey crying for an entire semester in his metal desk prison with a yo-yo and a black alien squirt gun for cell mates.

When Christmas break came, the monkey was paroled. Rhonda told us she went to church, but on Saturdays and their church didn't believe in Jesus. We boys stared at each other in disbelief. Church, but no Jesus. On a Saturday. You'll miss all the best cartoons.

We ground our way toward Easter and Rhonda brought the rubber monkey again in her Magilla Gorilla lunch pail. John made a cross from popsicle sticks and we crucified the red monkey with thumb tacks and planted him on a hill of green Play-Doh.

Our principal, whose name was Violet, caught wind of this and called us into the office, me, John, Rhonda and the kid with the crusty scalp, Horace, who liked chili with crackers in styrofoam bowls. We were lectured about blasphemy and respecting the symbols of religion whatever they may be– a heavy rap for six year olds.

No parents were called. “This is just between me and you; now get back to class, and no more monkey business!” His stigmata healed instantaneously, but he was put back into the slammer and didn't see the light of day until June 6th, a day we ran out into the park near the zoo and threw our shoes into the stream of mud, water, and wicked corn snakes.