This is the fifth in a series of short stories written to music. It’s Cool was written while listening to Devo’s album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
This is Jimmy. Jimmy is in the ninth grade. He’s one of those kids that just kind of does everything right. Very few people particularly like him, but no one really hates him either. It’s an agonizing shade of grey.
Jimmy has perfect A’s, takes all the advanced courses, and has never been truly in trouble. Yet at this very moment Jimmy is walking to detention.
Why? Why is Jimmy going to detention? Did he get in trouble? No, of course not! I just told you he’s never been in trouble.
To answer this question we have to travel back two years and enter the life of Ali Najjar, an extremely persecuted man, who after many years of extreme ass kissing landed himself a TV show on one of the major networks. The moment in question happened before his television show, Metropolis, first aired.
Metropolis was an introspective look into the lives of citizens all across the country. It was an ambitious project that Ali Najjar hoped would display the impressive emotional ties held between people despite geographic connections. Everyone is a person and everyone can love everyone. He thought it was an important message, now of all times.
He had just been told that his show wasn’t being received well by test audiences. Ali Najjar Ahad could have told them what them that, they didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars testing. The test audiences thought it was slow, boring, and they didn’t get the point. They didn’t think the characters were interesting enough.
They were wrong. At least, Najjar thought so.
Cutting to the point: Ali Najjar had a choice. They were going to gut the show, replace the actors and bring in new writers, and they were giving him the opportunity to stay on and shepherd the show through the transition and beyond. Salvage the wreck said the memo. The day before, Ali Najjar was simply happy to have his work considered for publication on a platform that went out to millions of people every day. In fact he was astonished that it could ever be picked up at all more than anything. However on that day two years before Jimmy stormed down the halls of Kingsley High to the fear filled detention room, Ali Najjar found himself furious.
And there was nothing he could do. He held no sway over these executives. He didn’t have any past work to point to – to say see! My vision works. If you show people something real they will respond to it. These executives had never learned that so they would only have Ali Najjar’s word against theirs. Theirs won.
So Ali Najjar stepped away from the project. He couldn’t take a part in bastardizing his own creation. The executives came in and hired some white guy to come in and fix everything up for a mass audience. The show launched with a new cast and a reworked script. It wasn’t the show Ali Najjar had dreamed up. He couldn’t bring himself to watch it.
Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that they changed one of the leads from a black codeine addict to a hunky white guy named Jimmy who worked at a bar. I know.
So let’s flash back to present time, just a few hours before our Jimmy was marching through the halls with such determination that if a hall monitor saw him they probably wouldn’t stop him or ask him what he was doing out of class because they’d think: wow he’s so determined; I wish I’d have ever been that determined in my life because then I wouldn’t be here monitoring halls at a shitty high school.
Here: Nancy Thatcher, a peer of our ninth grade hero Jimmy, wrote a note to her friend Sarah Krauchevick. We’ll get to the note in a second. First you should know that Nancy Thatcher and Sarah Krauchevick were 100% hot. Like date twelfth graders even if it’s not such a good idea kind of hot. The whole ninth grade knew it. Jimmy knew it. Jimmy had even known Nancy since like fourth grade or something. She’d always been in his sights so to speak.
So what did Nancy Thatcher, established babe, write to Sarah Krauchevick? Well. They were both avid viewers of the television program Metropolis. They loved its fast pace, easy to understand plot and of course it’s endless supply of hunky guys.
They were talking about it when second period Geometry started, and would have kept talking, but Mr. Cunningham yelled at them to shut up. He wasn’t at school to make friends. So Sarah, completely used to that sort of thing, tore some paper from her math notebook and wrote: who’s your favorite?
Nancy of course wrote the only answer imaginable at this point: Jimmy. After all everyone knew Jimmy was the hunkiest of the hunks on Metropolis, even Ali Najjar would have to agree if he ever worked up the courage to watch an episode of the show that had his name plastered over every opening credits sequence. Nancy finished the note off by dotting the eye with a little heart that she even filled in with a little anime sparkle. Who knows. Maybe that’s what did it.
Either way, Sarah left that little note on her desk because it didn’t mean anything. It was just one dumb piece of paper with one dumb piece of one dumb conversation. Sarah had thousands of dumb conversations to get her through the day. She didn’t have time to remember one of her dumb friends opinions on a TV show that was in truth not an opinion because lets face it: Jimmy was every teenage girls favorite.
Jimmy, on the way out of second period Geometry found the paper, thinking he would recycle it. That is until he read what was on that shred of paper.
Duh. Heart. Jimmy. Jimmy knew who passed that note, and suddenly the world was like a crystal ball. He could see his future. His future was Nancy. Man she’d probably been in to him since fourth grade and he just hadn’t noticed it. All those other guys she’d “dated” or whatever were just like practice cause she didn’t want to mess up with him. Maybe he should have done that? No… she probably had enough practice for the two of them.
The next passing period Jimmy hunted through the halls for her, but he didn’t know which class she had. Instead he found Sarah. She said that Nancy was in detention.
So there we are. That’s the answer. End. Goodbye. Oh. Fine, I guess that’s not really an end is it.
OK so here’s where we stand: Jimmy marching towards detention totally and utterly ready to declare his love in front of everyone. Nancy, the damsel in distress, chewing peach gum and trying to hide the earbud in her left ear.
Got it? Good cause here we go.
Jimmy slammed the detention room door open. Ms. Newton, the detention room…person sat behind her desk with a scowl on her face. She had one of those big, big, BIG crooked noses that made it so you couldn’t really look at the rest of the persons face. It was like it was all nose. She turned her nose to Jimmy and demanded to know what he wanted.
Jimmy had never been here before, and never heard Ms. Newton’s voice. It was cacklish like a witch on an old early morning cartoon. Behind her the phrase, the witch is watching, was written in black on her whiteboard. This was followed by a series of no’s. No moving tables. No talking. No cellphones. No happy thoughts.
There were four rows of eight or so seats about half full of students. He didn’t know any of them. That is, except for Nancy. Her graceful brown locks were hiding her face, as she rested her head on her hand. This place was destroying her! The rest of the denizens looked mostly bored, and pouty.
The extreme divisiveness of the room made Jimmy chuckle. In fact it emboldened him to do what he was here to do. This place was a joke. Jimmy, head high, announced his love for Nancy.
A few people looked up. She wasn’t one of them. Maybe he wasn’t loud enough. He was starting to draw some interest though which meant he was doing good.
Ms. Newton asked again who sent him, and called him a wise ass. Jimmy met her gaze. He’d just moments before convinced himself that he was a man of action.
Just then: a screech. The screech of metal rubbing, un-cohesively against tile. The sound was short, but loud. It’s frequency was exact, piercing.
Jimmy was so in his own zen like state he would have hardly noticed the distraction if not for what it did to Ms. Newton. The sound seemed to catalyze some biomagical reaction in her that started a transformation.
Jimmy watched as Ms. Newton’s nose extended even larger than he thought was possible. It widened and darkened. That’s when Jimmy began to notice that the rest of Ms. Newton was changing as well. Her entire body was growing in size, and to a dark red color. Scales protruded from her skin, as her frame extended to the ceiling. With a roar the roof bust open, while Jimmy deftly dodged the oncoming debris.
Where before had stood Ms. Newton now stood a forty five foot tall red dragon. It roared up into the sky, and made a show of it’s fiery breath.
Jimmy rolled his eyes and drew his trusty rangers sword. He leapt thirty feet into the air and met Ms. Newton’s red nose in the air. It snapped at him, but he was able to use his small size to his advantage. Jimmy grabbed a hold of Ms. Newton’s gums and swung up to the dragon’s crown. He summoned all of his might for a mighty swing just as Ms. Newton rocketed into the air.
Jimmy flattened against Ms. Newton’s scaly brow. He held onto a mighty horn as Ms. Newton rose higher and higher into the atmosphere. Jimmy thinking he’d had enough, slowly rose to his feet and brought his sword up.
He slammed his sword down into Ms. Newton’s skull with a satisfying thunk. The beast roared and fell to the ground. Surely the whole world heard the crack as Ms. Newton fell to the ground.
From the rubble and dust our hero rose, his head held high. He took his fair maiden’s hand and lead her out of the dungeon. It was out of pure awe of his might that the rest of the room stood stock still.
“Jimmy,” said Nancy. “What the hell are you doing? You know they’re going to like suspend you for ever or expel you or whatever.”
“Whatever,” said Jimmy trying to mean it. “I mean. I just had to come get you.”
“The note,” said Jimmy smiling. “I’m your fave.”
Jimmy handed the note over to Nancy nervously.
“Jimmy. I was talking about the Metropolis character. You know. The hunk.”
“So it wasn’t. Um.”
“Sorry. Um. I guess I’ll go back in there. I don’t want to get any more detention. Thanks though. I mean that was pretty cool.”
Jimmy nodded weakly. His legs started to shake as he realized what he’d done. His legs gave way and he backed into one of the security guards. The fight had gone out of Jimmy.
A couple of days later when Jimmy returned from his suspension he was known around the school. No one had ever taken it to Ms. Newton like that before even though everyone had always wanted to. He was suddenly the baddest, ballsiest kid around. Nancy even came back and asked him on a date.
After the rush of being popular wore off Jimmy found he really didn’t like his new status. He didn’t like who he had to be to hang around the sorts of people who suddenly wanted to be around him. He didn’t like putting up an act so he slowly tried to go back to his old life. Turns out he actually liked being ignored by most everyone. By the end of it he couldn’t remember what had gotten into him in the first place. Nancy sucked. Like at everything, but especially being a decent human.
Ali Najjar eventually sat down with one of those executives who’d stolen his show. This one turned out to be the guy who argued for his show to get picked up in the first place. He said that the script had really spoken to him, but that there was no denying that it would never work on a network. Ali Najjar wanted to yell at him and ask why he’d optioned it in the first place then, but the executive seemed like a was trying to be nice so he held his tongue.
The executive said that he was starting up a new cable station as a subset of the network and he wanted Ali Najjar to create a new show for it. He promised full creative control.
Basically art is dead and things that you think are going to be good aren’t most of the time. But, eh, whatever. It’s cool.
THANKS TO Ms. Mareavment for the note.