HiLobrow is proud to present the twenty-ninth installment of Robert Waldron’s novel The School on the Fens. New installments will appear each Saturday for thirty-eight weeks. CLICK HERE to read all installments published thus far.
Iris and I were having dinner when I told her about Ed’s confrontation with Farrell.
“Honey, I admire Ed’s pluck, but he’s — he’s so alone.”
“He’s not alone. Maria, Jim and I are behind him, and of course he has Ronny.”
“But you three have tenure, and Ed is so young and vulnerable.”
“If Farrell tries to fire Ed, he still has to go through the school committee, which he won’t risk. He’s got too much to hide, and a mere hint about what he did with Tim would end his career.”
“Would Tim back you up?”
“Why wouldn’t he?”
“He’s ashamed of being gay.”
Iris piled my plate with more pasta and refilled our wineglasses.
“It’s too bad Ed had to begin his teaching career in that cesspool.”
“I work in a cesspool?”
“Honey, let’s not argue.”
We ate silently, but I was curious.
“How come you like Ed so much?”
“Because he’s still pure.”
“And the rest of us aren’t?”
“I don’t mean that,” she said, pausing to find the right words. “Ed hasn’t yet been sullied.”
“I was like Ed once,” I said nostalgically.
“Honey we all were, but life takes over, and we lose our innocence.”
She sipped her wine.
“When we meet someone like Ed,” her voice softening, “we gravitate toward him because he reminds us of what we lost.”
“Either you’re getting a lot wiser or you’re drunk,”
“Oh, shut up and give me a kiss.”
“Will Farrell give in to Ed’s demands?” Iris asked.
“I think he will. If Tim’s story gets into the Globe, he’d look like a fool.”
“That Farrell’s a bastard.”
“Honey, I’ve been telling you that for years, and now because of Ed, you finally believe me.”
She gulped the last of her wine, “I admit I’ve often thought you were exaggerating. How the hell did Farrell dupe everyone, becoming the head of the country’s best public school.”
“Duping people is part of the human condition, happens all the time,” I said.
“And when did you become so wise?”
“Listening to you.”
“Go to hell,” she said, laughing, and began to clear the table.
Later I couldn’t sleep, wondering if things would go our way tomorrow.
ORIGINAL FICTION from HILOBROW: James Parker’s swearing-animal fable The Ballad of Cocky The Fox, later published in limited-edition paperback by HiLoBooks; plus: a newsletter, The Sniffer, by Patrick Cates, and further stories: “The Cockarillion”) | Karinne Keithley Syers’s hollow-earth adventure Linda, later published in limited-edition paperback; plus: ukulele music, and a “Floating Appendix”) | Matthew Battles’s stories “Gita Nova“, “Makes the Man,” “Imago,” “Camera Lucida,” “A Simple Message”, “Children of the Volcano”, “The Gnomon”, “Billable Memories”, “For Provisional Description of Superficial Features”, “The Dogs in the Trees”, “The Sovereignties of Invention”, and “Survivor: The Island of Dr. Moreau”; several of these later appeared in the collection The Sovereignties of Invention, published by Red Lemonade | Robert Waldron’s high-school campus roman à clef The School on the Fens | Peggy Nelson’s “Mood Indigo“, “Top Kill Fail“, and “Mercerism” | Annalee Newitz’s “The Great Oxygen Race” | Joshua Glenn’s “The Lawless One”, and the mashup story “Zarathustra vs. Swamp Thing” | Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri’s Idoru Jones comics | John Holbo’s “Sugarplum Squeampunk” | “Another Corporate Death” (1) and “Another Corporate Death” (2) by Mike Fleisch | Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Frank Fiorentino’s graphic novel “The Song of Otto” (excerpt) | “Manoj” and “Josh” by Vijay Balakrishnan | “Verge” by Chris Rossi, and his audio novel Low Priority Hero | EPIC WINS: THE ILIAD (1.408-415) by Flourish Klink | EPIC WINS: THE KALEVALA (3.1-278) by James Parker | EPIC WINS: THE ARGONAUTICA (2.815-834) by Joshua Glenn | EPIC WINS: THE ILIAD by Stephen Burt | EPIC WINS: THE MYTH OF THE ELK by Matthew Battles | EPIC WINS: GOTHAMIAD by Chad Parmenter | TROUBLED SUPERHUMAN CONTEST: Charles Pappas, “The Law” | CATASTROPHE CONTEST: Timothy Raymond, “Hem and the Flood” | TELEPATHY CONTEST: Rachel Ellis Adams, “Fatima, Can You Hear Me?” | OIL SPILL CONTEST: A.E. Smith, “Sound Thinking | LITTLE NEMO CAPTION CONTEST: Joe Lyons, “Necronomicon” | SPOOKY-KOOKY CONTEST: Tucker Cummings, “Well Marbled” | INVENT-A-HERO CONTEST: TG Gibbon, “The Firefly” | FANFICTION CONTEST: Lyette Mercier’s “Sex and the Single Superhero”