Listen to an audio file of Joe reading an excerpt from “Roaring Girl”:
Not A Word
(from “Roaring Girl”)
She has these eyes, sometimes they take me so far away I think maybe I won’t be coming back.
I sing a dipshit Bobby Sherman song to her in Mr. Reese’s third period Seniors History class: “Julie, Julie, Julie, do you love me….?” Sing it to her from across the aisle when Mr. Reese has his back turned, to bust her ass, so she’ll pay attention to me. Sometimes she scowls.
Today her face goes funny when I do it. Mr. Reese is making a list on the blackboard, all the different ways the Gestapo tortured prisoners during the war. He’s really getting into it, he’s got like seven or eight things chalked up there. I’m singing to her low, looking sidewise to my left, she gives me this look, picks up her books, walks out of the room.
Mr. Reese whips around, jabbing his finger at her as she passes through the doorway.
“Miss Nader! Miss Nader! Get back in here!”
But she’s gone.
He drops the chalk, bends over to retrieve it, I think: what the hell? Get up and follow her. Hear Mr. Reese yelling as I hit the hallway. Julie’s just disappearing around the corner.
I catch up with her on the third-floor landing, then we’re out on the fire escape sitting facing each other, her with her back to the red brick wall, me up against the wrought iron railing. I’m in a shitload of trouble anyways so I light up. She reaches over, slips the cigarette through my fingers, takes a deep drag. I light another, draw in the smoke. Tastes so good sitting out here in the cold clear air, autumn and the wind’s picking up….