Visitation Rites (sample page)

He plods down the hall, eyes shifting to and fro, hesitating to come to rest on anything. He fears that. Fears that contact, as if to look into the eyes of some long forgotten teacher or trapped student would pull him straight into their prison. The school is the same now as it ever was, only the names and faces have changed from when he was one of the prisoners. Walking past those blue lockers, paint chipping at the corners and joints, he almost feels he could turn the corner, find his old locker, turn the Master lock to the combination he knows so well, and look in on all his books and things. He resists the silly impulse to bang his hand against the lockers as he walks by. David Barrett hunches his shoulders, hands in pockets, and continues down the hall. I have come, he tells himself, to visit teachers, not to rehash my troubled youth. God knows enough people rehash their troubled youth at any given time without my contributions.

His eyes stray over the banners lining the walls, but he reads the slogans of the old ones, Class of ’86 slogans and regalia. Boasts of the football team’s victories. Even were he told of the 1991 seniors’ despairing last place football standing, he would deny it inside, where it counts. To him, the Constables would always be the State Champions, as they were in ’86. Green and yellow, victorious forever.

He is so lost in the past that he almost collides with the girl before he is aware of her presence. He brings himself to a halt not two feet from her. She is standing just outside one of the windowless wood doors: Room 149. Even though she is obviously too young for him, he feels an almost perverse attraction to her, her close-cropped blonde hair (he always prefers longer hair on women), those deep blue eyes, the halter-top outfit that seems so out of place in this cover-the-skin-but-fit-the-form generation. He feels almost a pull toward her, which he casually resists by leaning against the wall. She smiles then, a brief, intimate thing that lights up her face. And it must be contagious, for he finds himself smiling as well.

It seems that any minute the bell will ring and the hall will flood with students, kids her own age, who share her interests, kids who relate to this girl far better than David can.


This story and 8 other short stories, as well as 1 prose poem, are now available for your Kindle device or app as an Amazon Kindle eBook titled “The Rubberband Man and Other Stories”. You can buy all of them for just 99 CENTS!

Buy through Amazon (Kindle Edition available now)

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(c) 1991 by J. David Clarke


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