A teacher and a tattered notebook would seem to have little in common, but both carry stories of loss and desperation. The teacher longs to reclaim his integrity. The notebook's writer yearns to rise from ruin. The events of one day will allow their paths to cross, and provide each a chance to give the other what he most desires.
A Hard Shell Word Factory Release
Dave Rosi (pseudonym) is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in New York City. He is on the faculty at a local medical school, and has a private practice. His novels, One Good Deed and For Love, Thats All have been Hard Shell Word Factory bestsellers.
AT FIRST I DIDN'T know what to do with it. It was just lying there, dusty, tattered, nothing but another bit of debris on the landscape. But I picked it up, maybe because it was blue, with a spiral binding, and suggested some schoolboy ownership. It was an orphan, I felt, that needed caring, and a home. I dusted off the gray soot across its cover. I opened it and flipped through the pages. There were many entries, numbered not dated, and written in a scrawl that with some effort could be deciphered. I continued to walk toward the subway and turn the pages, not reading as much as estimating the volume and flow of that scrawl. I went back to the first page, and saw a name written opposite it on the inside of the cover: John Terranova. That's all. No address, no phone number, no mention of a school or a grade. I did not recognize the name.
I put the notebook in my briefcase and descended into the subway. I took the No. 6 to Astor Place and walked to our home on University. Marcia was home when I arrived.
We kissed each other and hugged, a ritual progressively declining in meaning, and I flopped down on the couch and kicked off my shoes.
"Tired?" she asked.
I nodded, but felt annoyed by even such an ordinary question.
"They're a restless lot this year," I said, "and less equipped than I feared. I see remediation and rectification on the horizon, lots of heavy lifting in the rectification area."
She laughed softly, knowing this was part of my standard fall speech; the one where I bemoaned the students' lack of basic scholastic skills and, beyond that, their lack of (hackneyed as it sounds) vision. That was, a sense of the context in which they lived, the nature of their historical moment, and how it linked to the whole chain of historical moments past and present. This was what needed to be rectified. But it never really was.
" 'Don Quixote of the Lower Manhattan Community College,' is that your legacy Noah?"
"It appears so. Most times legacies are foisted upon one, not chosen."
"Your theory of history?"
"My theory of life."
"Things getting back to normal at school?"
"Sure, sure. There's a wonderful, robust obliviousness in this lot of young minds, you see. The promise of the steady accretion of material wealth, or at least its symbols, takes precedence over any conceivable turn of public events. It's really quite remarkable to behold it."
"And you never tire of beholding it?"
"Dinner's just about ready. Why don't you call Jenny?"
I went upstairs to her room, where I found her watching a Hollywood biography.
"Evening, kitten. Dinner's waiting for you."
"Hi Dad. I'll be down in a minute. Just want to catch the last of Suzanne Somers."
"What's so important about her?"
"The way she always takes care of herself, gets herself out of every yucky situation. She walked away from breast cancer, using her own medicines."
"You don't believe it, do you?"
"There's very little I believe, especially if I see it there, on that box."
"Go for it. I'll be there in a sec."
I walked out of her room and into my study. Eleven years old, and I can't talk to her anymore. She grew up so fast. I pulled the blue notebook out of my briefcase, and put it on the desk. After dinner, I would get some information on John Terranova.
* * *
WE HAD SALMON and salad and a fresh fruit bowl. No rice or pasta. Marcia said we were taking a break from starches this week. She also urged two big pitchers of spring water on us.
"Is there any beer in the house?" I asked.
"Out of the question. You can look forward to your glass of Pinot Grigio this Friday."
"It will brighten the whole week, just knowing that chalice awaits me at the end of my trail of toil."