He knew his mother would be very angry. How could he have lost a single brand new loafer? His heart was still racing. He was still trying to think of what he could have done different. He knew that everyone on the bus was pointing and laughing. He couldn’t bring himself to look up from the floor and his feet. He reached down and picked at the black tar that coated the bottom of one white sock. He was so stupid. He pulled at his thick lips. The tar smeared his chin. So fat and stupid.

The bus would have left him if he had tried to go around back. What if he had missed the bus on his first day on his own? His breath came faster as he again saw himself standing with one shoe and one sock in tar and looking back at the black loafer stuck in the busy street. Again he tried to decide whether to get on the bus or go back for the shoe. Again he stepped onto the bus, his umbrella clutched tightly in one hand and ninety cents in the other. The driver sneered at the black goo left on the floor. Another stupid fat thing to do.

Happy sixteenth birthday. He rubbed his thick brow. He was sweating heavily. The newly ironed shirt was soaking wet. His mother would be so mad. Stupid. Fat. He continued to stare at the floor. He rocked back and forth ever so slightly. He started to hum softly.

I growed up po and ignant in Alabama. Then I went off to college and became a socialistic atheistic business school grad with an MBA. Not wanting to add evil capitalistic bastard to my resume, I obtained an antidote degree -the MFA. What a difference a letter makes. Now I teach college and make art. That's more fun and I'm less prone to drift toward the dark side. So, at the advanced age of sixty.... I have chosen mind over matter, joined the League of Defensive Pessimists and have no better answers, only fewer questions.

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