He sat in the back row, his legs sprawled out in bluejeans, tennis shoes.  Even though it was the back, he was easy to see because the class was held in the music room where there were good acoustics and the rows were in tiers. His name was Rory Macquire and he had one of those unforgettable faces. Freckles.  I picture him as a redhead, then wonder if that’s just my mind playing tricks on me, so I look up his obituary on the internet and it’s true. He was a redhead, although he had a buzz cut when he was in my Eng. 1 class. I remember him, not because he was a brilliant student–he wasn’t–but because of his attitude. There’s a part of me that’s always drawn to the students with attitude and Rory had a lot of it. It was a night class and early in the semester I brought in music–songs from all over the world–France, Cambodia, Brazil–and played them for my students asking them to try to feel the emotion without understanding the words. When I played a selection by Mongolian throat singers, Rory accused me of playing “devil music.”.

“Rory, it’s folk singers.” I thought he was joking. “This is the Mongolian equivalent of Kumbaya.”

“I’ve heard Kumbaya. That ain’t no Kumbaya.”

The one paper Rory wrote before he quit coming to class was a personal essay. I wish I had kept a copy of it.

He had a wild streak. You could see that in him, but he didn’t seem mean-hearted. Reckless, maybe. A little edgy.

Maybe that’s why it took a while for it to sink in that he had been killed. Shot during some kind of wild chase that sounds like something Rory might have made up for a freewrite in class. He and some friends. They were probably partying and decided to pull out some guy’s solar driveway lights. A stupid thing to do, and something that in a few years time Rory and his friends would probably have outgrown.

But a man gets in his pickup truck and goes after them.

I imagine the boys pumped up on the adrenaline of the chase, yelling and laughing as young men will on a hot night with the wind and a winding mountain road. I imagine them burning rubber around corners, going way too fast, the road turning liquid in front of them.

And somewhere it changes. They realize that someone is firing at them, shooting like crazy. Then it’s all over.


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