Wednesday, December 08, 2010

December 8, 1980

It was going to be a long night. Greg, recently emancipated from parochial school, had discovered both marijuana and the White Album. He'd been spending increasing amounts of time in his room and not in class, indulging in both.

We were in my room, cooking up the latest batch of popcorn when Hoover burst in. “Somebody shot John Lennon.” Later, “somebody” would acquire a name and his 15 minutes of fame, but all we knew then was that the world had changed and not for the better.

“Better check on Greg.” He wouldn't take this well. The vacant stare told us all we needed to know. “Helter Skelter” was playing on his stereo. We didn't have much time.

“Hey, Greg. Let's get out of here. Go outside. Get some air.”

Even though it was nearly midnight, we headed out into the snow. Needed to find some way to keep Greg occupied. Kurt recruited him for a snow sculpture, while the rest of us busied ourselves clearing ice off the sidewalk in front of the dorm. Students heading home from the library would stop and ask what was going on. Having heard they joined us, either at the sidewalk or across the street with Kurt and Greg.

I took a break from chipping ice to help with the sculpture. It was a hand, flashing a peace sign, with a headstone. Perfect. After a couple of hours, the sculpture was done, the sidewalk was clear, and Greg was at peace.

Later that morning, as I was getting ready for class, I looked out my window at the sculpture. One of the fingers was lying beside the hand, having either fallen off or been broken off deliberately. I hurried with my coat before heading down to fix it.

I looked out the window one last time and saw someone kneeling beside the sculpture. They read the inscription on the headstone, then gently picked up the finger and put it back in place.

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