Cult Illustration #57, 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.





Several were up on the stage passing around an old cordless phone.
“Justin, it’s for you, child support”
“Oh shit, tell them I’m not here."
Justin jumps off the stage into the dark orchestra pit.
“They say you owe man . . . hold on . . . Justin there gonna press charges.”
“Luke, phone, child support!”
Luke takes the phone and smirks,
“No, it’s not for me, I know when to pull out!”


As the hour wore on the cast changed as the boys chased each other, found something to do, went back to insulting each other and generally grunted, shouted, and veered around the space. Then they would settle, sitting on the stage, their legs dangling into the pit and they would banter, usually about drugs, getting drunk, or sex. They had no thought to touch on rock and roll, thought the substitute teacher as she tuned in and out of their conversations.


“Dillon, your parents are too fried to have sex!”
“Yea, my dad says to my mom, ‘you wanna have sex?’ and she says ‘no, I got the munchies’!”
“My parents don’t have sex, they hate each other so much.”
“You can hate each other and have sex!”
“Yea, like me and that one girl . . . .”
“Just because my ancestors rode horses and cracked whips doesn’t mean I’m a cracker!”
“I may be a piece of crap but at least I’m presentable.”


He had a shaved head, except for the top most part, thick black strands and these were separated into six braided tails, one draped straight down over his forehead lying along his nose, always swinging back and forth in front of his face. He was a wiry thin dude wearing all black. Metal studded bands on each wrist and a thick collar with shiny bits of metal encircled his neck. Black baggy jeans swung with dangling chains and other doo-dads chinking around his legs. His ears were decorated with rows of steel studs and big black plugs at the lobes – a real performer.


Suddenly his swirling black shape appeared from between the thick velvet black curtains, seated on a chair with wheels, he slid faster than the chair was designed, staying balanced with arms outstretched, braids flying backwards, screeching like an ape: a warning cry for the clan. Woooosh off! Disappearing into the folds of velvet on the opposite end of the stage, only to reappear like a crazy clown, balancing his feet on the wheels of a dolly, gripping the handles he hops, maneuvering the prop, stutteringly forward. Slowly, like a newly birthed rabbit, he crosses the stage.


The sub sat back in her cushy auditorium seat watching, amused, and there directly in front of her were more students watching him and she, the watcher of all.


Their teacher bragged, “It took me three months to train these kids.”


The substitute teacher wondered what that meant and, maybe, all of them in those bastard halls were trained. She herself was trained to do what she was doing everyday, in the very same way. But she had this persistent nagging day dream that she was supposed to be famous, with a capital “F”. Big fucking FAMOUS WOMAN! She should have been a famous artist, or a famous shaman, or a famous activist, or author, or something. She remembered one of her first meetings with the Guru when she was alone with him, getting one of his famous readings. How lucky was that? Very famous, indeed. But what he said was a downer. He said that she would never be famous at all, never wealthy, never known to the outside world, and yet to console her, he said that she would “always be taken care of”.


The sub was trying very hard to gain some legitimacy, some place at the high school, a semi-permanent belonging, one might say. She solicited the most pregnant teacher, who seemed so large she might explode if one did not open doors for her and step aside when she waddled through the halls, both her hands on her extended torso, caressing the one she loved most. The courting process seemed to last for weeks, as Ms. X presented herself as the best candidate. Waiting


Waiting, to know if the teacher had chosen her, teachers being the first and most important palisade to breach in the selection process. Ms. X finally came out with it and asked her while in the women’s restroom, which happened to be occupied by several eavesdroppers, but one had to snatch at opportunity in the brief lulls of a school day.


It was carefully explained to Ms. X that the administration was looking for a person qualified in the subject area, a person who knew how to teach World History. This seemed almost ludicrous to the sub, who read about history all the time. She loved historical fiction and she loved alternate news sources that delved into the false flag operations of the CIA, and the independent media that focused on the top 25 censored stories each year. She knew about the industrial-mitlitary-media complex, as it was called. She knew more about history than most history teachers, granted even she would concede, she knew too much for the position.


The woman who was the announcer for the 2,500 student school, finished the pregnant woman’s sentences as she brushed by them in the tightly packed, unkempt teacher’s rest room.
“They need someone who has taught History before . .
The young pregnant woman nodded.


Later Ms. X would think about the Announcer, the lopsidedly fat woman who always had something to say about everyone. She sat like an enormous toad at the entrance to the school, the gatekeeper whom parents mistakenly believed held their interests and their secrets in sacred awe. She played the part, efficiently aware of everyone, accurate in everything that mattered in the most discreet way. She could get you in to see the big shots. She was the face of the institution, the first that parents would encounter. The real bosses were tucked away, in a strange labyrinth to her left, in a series of halls and offices that, no joke, were arranged as if in a maze, connected with hallways that squared around and radiated out into other offices.


She named names and had strong opinions, broad cast in a crystalline, authoritative voice. Isn’t it interesting, thought Ms. X, the way that a person’s job becomes their way of life. Some Teachers have a bossy sort of way of moving through the world. They like to use commands. They stand akimbo and use stern faces and strong words to get things done.


Most Subs watch intently, scoping out a crowd, making judgments about time and temperament. They learn to be stoic, and take abuse coldly. They observe the shamelessness, the chicanery, and the machinations of their culture, but they also witness the sweet-hearted souls. These always shine out in such a cesspool as public education.


Her thoughts traveled back to the way that the wife had treated Ms. X. It was the way that the Guru had treated the wife. A shocking discovery! The wife was the Guru’s chief worker bee and also the most closely watched. Her place as the touchy feely uneducated one was magnified by his intelligence and superior abilities for getting things his way, through divine intervention, of course. His masterful ability to use energy was unprecedented, said to be (by the wife at least) the best in the country!
And so, people who surrounded the wife became her tools for getting things done, but Ms. X was the special one, her right hand, her "wife".


Ms. X would sometimes stop subbing for a week or two just to drop out of the habits she saw forming in herself. She would spend the days weeding and tending her garden. She would cut herbs to dry and separate seeds from hulls. She would go into the woods looking for wild greens and mushrooms to gather, or native plum saplings to transplant near the cabin. She cleaned and mended things that had been crumbling, using the scores of spare parts from the landlord’s stash.












© 2017 Lea Atiq, all rights reserved