Towers of tiny plastic cartons of crisp nuggets separated the table. No-man’s-land was occupied by paper cartons of milk that sweated a moat of condensation next to the salt shakers. In front of me, tiny tankers of rice crackled and sank, polluting the white sea into a brown sludgy morass. I threw back the sugary dregs, and opened my second container. Bright neon unnaturalness radiated out and highlighted the text of the front page of the newspaper. I squinted at the loops angrily. I was only able to handle the glare because of the undercoat of coco puffs in my hung-over stomach. I avoided the multicolored shine by spooning the hoops abstractly while focusing my discontent gaze on the headlines.
Sometimes, my plastic spoon banged against the table errantly. I would then pause, mid-mastication, mid-line, mid-headache, and devote my full attention to darting cereal into my mouth like a blue heron. Despite our earlier pleasantries, during brunch Secret and I would not attempt further conversation. Eventually, the fortified minerals that enriched the tiny multicolored grains separated, and enough sugar to power an army of hummingbirds surged through our veins, providing us with enough energy for at least four hours.
“You’re a jackass!” He said truculently.
”Moron!” I said snidely back. We laughed, and slowly put down the paper. “Ready to break the law?” He nodded, and we began the complex slow trudge back to the dorm, treading delicately as to not disrupt the complex balance between digestion and regurgitation.
The combination of double my daily value of vitamins, lack of sleep, and sugar powered the rusty sectors of my memory into alertness. I remembered everything, even all of those things that I desperately wanted to forget. Ruthlessly, I stomped through the underbrush of regrets and embarrassments. Abruptly, the memory I desired appeared, buried along with everything I knew about Geometry. It was clear that I would be able to assist Secret effectively, because everything I needed to know, I learned in school.
Geometry was an educational experience for me. I learned that a blackboard wouldn’t necessarily crack when a fifth year senior threw the teacher against it because he was out of his gourd on crack. I also learned how to identify the ugly withdrawal effects of meth, and how to differentiate the bloodshot eyes of an alcoholic from the pink eyes of a pot addict. I also learned some math, but on my own time. In class, I had to keep one eye on my wallet, and the other eye on my personal security.
Since the dregs of the school were working every angle during class, I made some odd acquaintances. The only one that I didn’t have to covertly worry about sat next to me for about a month. He had the baggiest pants, and an impressive wad of bills. Best of all, no one bothered him. So, as long as he talked to me, no one bothered me, which I liked, since I was a lightweight in the heavy-weight ring. My immediate assumption was that he was a dealer. But I was wrong.
Cash, as I called him, wasn’t dealing anything. He was in sales. And he was an entrepreneur. He had a top of the line computer, printer, scanner, and software. As twice failed addicts tried to formulate the proper x’s and y’s for their proofs, he would regale me with the details of his business, and relate the particulars and exactness which he tried to imprint on his finished products. He liked to view himself as an artist. He was always altering and perfecting his craft. His handiwork was simple and good. Each period, I would see his face, with a different name, a different age, and a different state. His business, aside from being illegal, had one flaw. Cash was always sailing close to the sun – he wanted perfection.
Mathematical certainty is a good thing. The same precision in an illegal activity is a bad idea. Cash got burned and busted while attempting to buy the holographic tape to seal his fake licenses in order to make them exactly similar. His conviction and trip to the big house was as accurate as the Pythagorean theorem. But by that time, he had passed along enough of his lore to me. The useless knowledge had percolated in my head for years. But with the dorm door shut, my flawed education was beneficial, as all of the details flowed forth in a surreptitious manner.