Cult Illustration #17, ball point pen on paper, 11" x 8.5"

          This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  

It was a classroom full of L.D.B.D. (Learning Disabled, Behavior Disabled) 7th graders, Language Arts, when Ms. X first learned of the accident. Students were asked to write in their journals about a time when they lost hope and a girl blurted out her topic. She was a very large girl whose abiding menace was more apparent in her eyes than in the way she wielded her formidable body, standing up abruptly when Ms. X approached her.

 “What?” asked Ms. X.

“Two of my friends died,” the girl said as she loomed over Ms. X, arms outstretched, mouth agape,

“They were drunk and they crashed.”

The next day she heard about it while subbing for the high school art teacher. This was her favorite assignment because the students were calm and thoughtful and they were challenged with interesting projects set forth by their young male Artist-Teacher. Ms. X had cultivated her relationship with him carefully, so as to be requested whenever he would be out.

He left great lesson plans and would usually stop in to creatively compose the assignment on the board, in colored chalk, complete with drawings. He meshed so well with the students, a cherub faced, curly headed dude, but he also had an aura of fatherly authority that motivated kids to work hard to please him.

Ms. X held him in high regard and found herself viewing his website which bragged of his many shows and posted the photos of skate boards and surf boards he painted. Most impressive to young minds, thought Ms. X, were the examples of CD covers he created for bands.

During drawing class, several students asked Ms. X to turn on the television. It was mounted high on the wall,  next to the flag. She could not find the remote control and was leaning into obfuscation when the students became irritated. They wanted to view a special program about drunk driving.One boy demanded to see it and he wouldn’t back down. She scooted a chair under the old box style TV and promptly climbed up.

“I’m surprised you want to watch it so badly,” Ms. X averred.

“It’s about the kids who died in the crash . . .”

“Oh, the accident.”

She fiddled with the channel nob unsuccessfully, then hopped off the chair and asked a tall boy to stretch up and search for the correct channel. No show. The video had been pulled for some reason.
“Their car is parked out in front,” said one of the girls.

Intrigued, Ms. X planned to go take a look at the wreck during her free period.
She ambled outside into the bright sun light. It warmed her and made her feel more alive. Even a pleasant day inside school made one feel drugged and sluggish. The classroom felt like a freezer box with its air conditioning but this coolness wasn’t enough to thwart a decline into sleepwalk.

The crumpled car was circled with yellow police tape stuck to orange cones, but one could still get close enough to touch it. She wondered if that were purposeful. It was a small older model, teal colored, conceivably a gift from a grandparent or something scavenged from the junk yard. It was intact, the hood pushed up into the windshield which was cracked and caved in and as Ms. X studied it, she concluded that someone could have survived this collision, had they used seat belts or had there been air bags. Tiny grid like bits of glass clung like a mesh over the place where she supposed the boys’ heads were crushed but there were no signs of blood, at first.

The side windows were smashed, one completely out, in the rescue attempt she surmised. The small glittering cubes lay thick over the cushions, which Ms. X noted, were unsoiled by blood. Then she saw the red splatter on the frame between the front and back doors and a perfectly formed red hand print. She was fooled only for a second. She knew what blood looked like in its various stages of decay after leaving the body. It would be dark colored and cracked at this point not bright and plastic like acrylic paint.

How very uncouth thought Ms. X but her eyes were still dancing over the details, a small rubber toy, a Simpson figurine on the back seat, a few papers with the school’s letterhead on the front seat, and she pondered, they too were planted. On the driver's side, a large sign draped from the busted window, painted in black letters and dripping also with red blood, admonished drinking and driving. It was canvas, like a sail, weighted down at the bottom with a thin log lashed with red rope. Strong winds caught the sign and bandied it back and forth causing the log to clunk rhythmically against the ground like an awful death march. A plywood sign was propped against the back bumper saying, donated by Scotty’s Gas Station.

Ms. X was carried off to a far away place when she was eighteen. She drove outside town to a gas station, nearly lost in the cornfields. The wreck was not set so close to a place where people might be. The building and pumps composed a backdrop barely visible and here she stood beside the smashed car. It was so isolated here, by itself, as if forgotten. Alone, she inspected the tomb, looking for blood or some kind of sign. The wind buffeted her ears and sent her hair into a turbulent frolic. She found what she was looking for on the southern edge of the steering wheel, a bit of scalp with a clump of pretty white-blond hair. She pulled the tuft off and put it into her purse.

Back inside school, it was 4th period painting. She asked the students if they had seen the wrecked car and if it weren’t, in their opinion, painted.

“Yes,” several said and they paused as if they wanted to say more but couldn’t yet give form to their thoughts.
Ms. X persisted, as usual, without wondering how real she could be in this situation.
“What kind of a tactless idiot would desecrate the place of the newly dead? It’s like pissing on a casket.”
As usual, she was met with frozen, wide eyes, and silence and it dawned on her that perhaps their Art Teacher had done it, or maybe it was a class project. Thinking quickly, she tried to diffuse the situation.
“Class, there was an artist named Serrano. He photographed a plastic crucifix in a jar of his own urine and showed it at a gallery in Washington DC. Piss Christ, it was called. He received death threats and hate mail, and lost grant money due to the controversy it caused. His photograph was kind of popular, though, and it traveled around the world. Finally, the piece was destroyed by Christian protestors while on exhibit in France. This happened a number of years ago, before you were born. Yea, Piss Christ it was called.”






© 2017 Lea Atiq, all rights reserved