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SPARK » Kasey Coyle and Quentin Paquette

Kasey Coyle and Quentin Paquette

 

Inspiration Piece:

The Brick- By Quentin Paquette

It’s hard to put myself back in this moment. I’m uncomfortable here.
I can’t say that I have regrets, that captures some of how I feel about it, but it’s too strong.
Looking back to here, knowing what comes next, I’m okay with what led up to now, and I’m okay with what comes immediately after. But this very moment? It’s difficult. When I tell this story, it’s not to build myself up. But then, neither is it to indict myself. Still, for whatever reason I do tell it.

The party had been typical.  I generally kept my expectations low, and that always helped.  I’d had work that really needed to get done, and I couldn’t be irresponsible all the time, so I’d arrived late.  I don’t imagine I missed anything that I hadn’t already experienced without great effect at any of a string of these things.  Still, the library closes eventually, and when I was 19 I was unlikely to just go back to the dorm and dismiss the possibilities of a Saturday night.

 

I remember a couple of details from the party that set it apart from how many of the others blur together. First, I didn’t have to show my school ID to get in.  Two brothers were at the door checking of course, but one of them and some others hanging out on the stairs knew me, and I was welcomed in by an over-enthusiastic cheer.  Not that I wasn’t good company, I’ve just never been the life of the bacchanal.  I went upstairs and got a beer, noticeably unaccompanied by any of the cheering group who had seemed so happy for my arrival.  That was okay with me.  After a long afternoon and evening of trying to project so many towering ideas on the screen in my head, I’d need a beer to dim the light before I was ready to respond to the party scene.

Next, I had to put my beer down at one point and go downstairs to help out.  It wasn’t my first beer, but it wasn’t much beyond that, which was fortunate.  Someone still reasonable was needed.  There was a big commotion at the door, and one of the brothers grabbed my arm to get me to go help “handle” it.  When I got to the door, there were some high school kids trying to strong-arm the college kids to let them in to the party.  It was a huge pissing match with threats tossed back and forth.  There was a palpable sense of disappointment among the two groups when I talked them out of it.  I sent the brothers back inside and was trying to talk sense into the high schoolers when a campus police car rolled by slowly and sapped their enthusiasm.  Jeers and curses rained down on them from the upstairs porch as they slunk off, and I went back inside a found my cup still where I left it.

I might have danced some.  Probably.  I usually did since most of the girls like to dance but only some of the boys do.  I also probably tried to make conversation with a few people, guys I knew, girls I knew and their boyfriends, girls I thought I wanted to know.  Still, you get to a certain point in such a party and everything is already determined, and that point had already passed before I got there.  So, I ended up hanging out at the foosball table, where I ran into my friend JD, who could often be found at the foosball table if his girlfriend wasn’t with him.

At 1 AM, the party was closing down, but I didn’t want to think the night couldn’t still be exciting.  JD didn’t either, and we decided to walk to The Tiki and see if we could get served there.  We hadn’t yet walked a block when here come some of those high school kids walking towards us.  Right at us.  I half-step to the side, but one of them still leans in to make contact.  He’s mad at how I’ve disrespected him, apparently by being corporeal, and his two friends are backing him while I just keep walking.  JD stops and turns around to offer some choice words, so I stop to wait for him.  One of the kids is right in his face now questioning his manliness and daring us to fight them.  JD tells them that’s not going to happen.  Why? Because you’re a chicken shit and afraid?  No, just because he’d mess them up so bad, and that he wouldn’t get charged as a minor, and they weren’t worth it.  Oh, you’re a real tough guy with your friend around.  Well, I am about half again bigger than JD, but I tell them that no, he wouldn’t need my help giving a few kids their spankings, I’d just be inconvenienced by having to wait for him to finish up.  We turned and walked on our way, with the usual empty taunts chasing us.

About a quarter mile later, we’re about to step up on the curb after crossing at the corner, when a car roars by behind us, with kids cursing at us.  Aggravating, but merely a nuisance until I feel the impact between my shoulder blades.  It pushes me forward, and I thought JD had pushed me out of the street.  Then I heard something land on the pavement behind me, turn to look, and see the brick.  I’m not forming thoughts now, not analyzing anything, and I see myself crouch down to pick it up.

Here we’ve arrived at this moment, as I’m springing back up from the crouch, brick heavy in my hand squeezing it tight.  As fast as I’m coming back up, the brick is being lifted faster.  Feeling the strain in my shoulder and arm from the weight of it.  Seeing the car speeding away.

I recognize this moment as being my memory the same as I do what I remember from the rest of the evening.  But I don’t feel the same activity of my self in it the way I do with the others.  The constant analysis and commentary are absent from this moment, the most I am doing is watching, realizing what’s happening just a moment after the action.  Coming back here now, the whole scene slows down and I can try to think about it.  But only from the outside.

There are plenty of things I do now without a declarative thought: tie my shoes, ride a bike, type.  But that’s after having practiced them deliberately, and having had to work through the problems that taught me what I know in the doing.  I don’t feel any disconnect in saying that it’s me that does them, even though I no longer have to attend to the details of them anymore.

But maybe the truest measure of my current self is what I do the single time, under unique, once in a lifetime (I hope) circumstances and challenges.  Without the chance to hide myself, to move from cover to cover, testing and retreating from my hypotheses before weighing all the options and then proceeding.  On the other hand, that is the essence of what I usually do, my general way.  That should count for something as we move on.

My eyes stay open and fixed on the car accelerating away.  My legs drive my feet into the pavement.  My whole torso pulls me forward as my arm continues overhead.  My hand lets go of the brick and it whistles through the air.  Looking back, the path seems impossibly straight, impossibly well timed.  And as I watch the brick crash through the back window of the car, I have to wonder, “Who did that?”

Response:

Social Elixir- By Kasey Coyle

Social Elixir

 

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