The weirdest high school reunion I’ve never been to: … So Ankita and I were grocery shopping at a place like the Berkeley Bowl, in a neighborhood someplace that felt like deep East Oakland but was out in the 140th Street area. I want to say I saw street signs to that effect, but I can’t be sure. It felt more like San Leandro, Calif., with a splash of D.C. Some confluence of the two that existed only in my head.
Anyway, I went to go get the car because I saw her pushing her cart toward a fairly short line. I figured I’d want to be in position when she was done so I could pick her up. I saw two guys from my high school clique, Justin Peniston and Nelson E. “Chip” Greene, tossing footballs around in a sunny field near the store parking lot. At some picnic tables, there were a few other people I knew from high school. Aaron Gordon was there, and apparently married to a girl he was sweet on back then (or was it a girl who was sweet on him?) Somehow I sensed it wouldn’t be cool, bad form in fact, to bring up what I did for a living, or what life had been like since high school. Were they cooking out? I can’t remember.
At some point, we were all watching a dance lesson. A lot of singletons were partnering up as the instructor ordered them to go through the steps, a little bit like the instruction scenes in “Shall We Dance?” It was like the initial steps for learning salsa, there were leaders and followers. We weren’t participating, though.
Then Ankita (who’d found her way over to things somehow) was hashing out something with me about leaving the party later, getting a lift home with some guy who would then go back to the party himself. I don’t know what happened to the groceries or our car. I only know I had to go ride with Aaron and his wife in their car. It seemed like a bad idea. We were going to go along Lakeshore Drive in their blue old-school convertible, a dubious prospect because Aaron was always the most Kennedyesque of us. And I didn’t feel like playing Gov. John Connally just then.
So we’re riding along the road, an A.C. Transit bus with its front face ripped off comes along in the opposite lane and somehow I have the idea that I’m supposed to get up from a sitting position, leap from the convertible’s back seat into the air, across the yellow line dividing the street into lanes and land on the bus in the center aisle. Which is what happens next.
But damned if I don’t leave my iBook back in the car! This royally pisses me off. It’ll have to be OK. I’ll catch up with him before the day ends, I tell myself, and remind him that I need it back. I’ll just ride this bus back to the picnic.
The bus has no driver. All that’s left of him is a smudge of blood and scraps of uniform fabric near the driver’s area. The bus is also full of pre-teen white children, and they’re all focused on manipulating these foot-long aluminum batons that twist and pivot in their hands. They’re divided into inch-long segments and the batons have a right-triangle like form factor, they bend at the segment divisions. I make out a brand name in red on the silver batons: “COMPAQ” “They play MP3s,” says one eager young lad when I ask about them. He hands me his; I fool around with it for a little.
Then the bus begins sideswiping cars beside the lake. Shouting and yelling ensues. Nobody is strapped down, or has any safety thing on. I decide to leap from the front of the bus and land on my feet near a busy intersection. It’s night now, and Aaron, a few other people who have come looking fo rme and some dude holding up a sign bearing the words “Hathor the Journalist” are standing about forty feet away from me. They can’t see me in the twilight or hear me in the roar of the cars passing us on the road.
I come up to them, the cloak of invisibility falls away and they welcome me. Aaron mock-scolds me about leaving the car the way I did, and we’re walking along a narrow street suddenly. Passing people’s half-eaten bodies in storefronts, ducking onto the sidewalk as an ambulance passes us on the left in the street. We head single-file into an ever-narrowing series of city blocks.
And then I woke up.