- The God of Stupidity
I’m on the roof of Buzzy’s car, spread-eagled for grip, fingers dug into the rubber seal around the windshield, eyes tearing from the cold, rain-specked wind coming at me.
Buzzy turns on the wipers—I had dared him to knock me off. But I’ve learned not to flinch. The lake is somewhere off to the north. We’ve just left the Rongovian Embassy, perhaps forcibly,
after a marriage ceremony improvised with tequila, a jukebox of country songs, and a smattering of invented Rongovian with a girl I’d met that night—Linda, I think. She had white, white teeth
and laughed at everything I said. She seemed the perfect mate for this new world I’d been born into that night after hitching down from Syracuse. Ahead somewhere is the rocky driveway
down to Buzzy’s college rental on the lake. Turns are the hardest times to stay on a roof: one side of the body loses its grip; the other wants to keep hurtling forward. But I’ve studied this before
at slower speeds in warmer weather with less tequila. I squint as the engine slows, dig in my nails, wrap my left foot around the roof’s edge, press down and ride the turn into the woods, reeling in my right side
and clamping it to the roof as we straighten. To cheers below, I smile into the blackness split by the white beams of Buzzy’s headlights. I forget about the second turn, and this time my left foot loses hold.
I hang for a moment like a flag, my legs spread wide grasping the air, my right hand flailing at the night. A month from graduation, life stretches ahead in incremental bits. I want to both freeze it [End Page 134]
and skip ahead to the good parts. As my fingernails scrape across the roof and I finally launch into the night, my only thought is, Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit.
I fly between the pines lining the hill down to Cayuga Lake, snapping off their brittle branches. Above the high-pitched whine of wind, brakes screech and stones skitter in the driveway.
When I strike the ground, I roll twice and land with an oomph against a smooth pine. Buzzy and the others scramble through the trees, swearing as they’re poked
and prodded by the branches, hollering, “Jack! Jack? Jack!?” “I just lost my glasses,” I say. The moon slid out from behind a cloud— or maybe it was there the whole time. “Thank you,” I whisper to the dark heavens.
I stand, check again for wounds, dust off the pine needles, and stumble up the hill. The wind roars behind me off the long finger of a glacial lake formed two million years ago and named for an Iroquois tribe
now long gone to Canada. And I realize if there is a god of stupidity he’s not a vengeful god. He is trying to save us, but there is just too much stupidity in the world to save every one, every time. [End Page 135]
jack powers teaches special education and English at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut. His work has appeared in Rattle, Poet Lore, and Cortland Review.