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With the Passion Goes the Man, Installment I

Larry Rankin, an experiened writer, enjoys creative writing in all forms, from literary to mainstream.


Meet Andre, Our Narrator:

I'm a big baby. For a person like me it is not good enough that life is so often miserable, that there is a difference between those problems which are real and those which are not. It is a necessity for me that I feel depressed, that I have problems, and where in my life a problem can’t be found, one must be manufactured.

You see, I like to write. Anyway, my writings are a reflection of me—a self-indulgent, self-pitying creature. When I end up writing, I write about things I could never possibly care about, that is if they didn't pertain to me, but they all do in some way reflect on some pain in my life I‘ve been able to brood over and blow all out of proportion.

I’ve been alive a little over twenty years. Not much, but enough. Enough to learn firsthand what it means to really have things to be upset about, yet I still carry a "If my tire goes flat God hates me, and I wish I were dead" mentality. If anything, I am more happy and satisfied with that outlook on life than I have ever been, because a while back a thing happened that helped me learn something about who I am, about the obligation of following one’s passions and being true to them.


Enter Stage Right, Mr. Wade:

I remember my first day in that old fart's class. I saw him walk in with his full beard and mustache carrying his head up high like he was f***ing king, and we were all a bunch of g***amn court jesters, and I thought to myself, “I ain't gonna like this guy.” For starters, what kind of a man wears a full beard and mustache in this day and age? All he needed was a pipe, an ascot, and a sports jacket baring a family crest, and he could be president of a yacht club or some such foolishness.

Then there was the smile. Really! Why? Why do you throw your “Life is wonderful” expression at everyone like that? Why do you make a point of telling everyone you meet, “I'm fine and you,” with the look on your face?

With this Mr. Wade, even on first meeting him, I could feel a presence, a style. There was a methodical quality to his every action and word not unlike that of the seasoned speaker, but not just any speaker. No. This Mr. Wade carried the air of a man of God, which at first sight made this serpent’s tail rattle.

He started this day in the same fashion he would start all others, by saying, “Good afternoon scholars.” Then he would stand behind a black podium in front of the room, plant each arm heavily on either side and begin his sermon, and I stress the word “sermon.” All of a sudden we were in Sunday school and not an essay writing class. And those arms braced on the podium, you’d better believe if those arms came off it was a really important thing that was being said.

He was a real zealot, the kind where church was a way of life and not just some place you kill a couple of hours every Sunday. I half expected a donation plate to be passed around the room.

The Art of Self-Deprecation, Part I:

To further my new found contempt, Mr. Wade kept the class the full fifty minutes the first day, instead of the traditional "Well, it's the first day, and we'll let you out early” approach that most teachers take. When I got back to my apartment, I was p***ed off about having wasted a so important piece of my life and quickly began to make up for lost time by doing what I always do in the evenings.

Like I said, I go on forever with feeling sorry for myself. That evening I was looking in the bathroom mirror and asking myself why a good looking guy like me couldn't ever seem to scare up any tail. Man, I bet from a fly on the wall's perspective it is a hilarious sight—that is if a fly had a sense of humor. Me standing there whining, “I'm so good lookin, why don't any girls want to f*** me?” Or whatever it is I do say. It is all super pitiful.


Mr. Wade Talks all about God, Children, and Kidney Transplants:

When I came to class the next time the teacher wasn't there yet. When he came in, he had the same emetic smile on his face as the day before and the same “Good afternoon scholars,” like there was something good about it.

Immediately I began to contemplate why I even bothered showing up to class, and I really began to curse my decision when Mr. Wade starts telling this never ending story about how righteous his son is. Jonathan can do this; Jonathan can do that; he is so much smarter than the other children his age. I swear, millions of people screw and make babies every year. What is it that gives them all the gall to think that they’re the ones perfected the process?

So on it went and on it went, and Mr. Wade was about to again announce what it was Jonathan did that he deemed special enough to share with everyone, and for some reason I'm half paying attention to him. In the middle of his anecdote, Mr. Wade slips in the fact that he (Mr. Wade, not Jonathan) had a kidney transplant a while back. He just slips it in like it were an everyday occurrence or something I was supposed to be otherwise aware of.

I didn't think too much about it at the time. Hell, he looked fine now, healthy as a horse. The transplant had obviously took; with that damn grin on his face, he'd probably live to be a hundred.

The Art of Self-Deprecation, Part II

So afterward it is back to my residence, back to my beautiful and thorough self-loathing process. I'm in super dark mode on this particular night, all thinking about what I could do in the way of suicide to make the most potent impression on everyone.

I could slit my wrists; no, that's been done to death. I could douse myself with gasoline and light a match; no, too painful. I could take a fist full of sleeping pills; again, not very original. I fail asleep that night very secure, very happy, with no teeth in my ideas, and a beautiful false sense of control over my life.



Author's Note:

To Installment II

To Installlment III

This is the first part of a short story I’m breaking into 3 parts. If our main character seems to encompass the angst of youth, it is because this story was originally written in the angst of mine. Like most all the stories from my early years, this one has been held onto and I have tried my best to improve upon it over time.

I am especially partial to this work because it is a tribute to a teacher of mine at Southwestern Oklahoma State University named Keith Long. He inspired me and is the only person to have ever succeeded at making me feel like a real writer.

Mr. Long, thank you for having given me that little bit of hope that has fueled this life of misery and disappointment. I truly wouldn’t have wanted to live it any other way.


Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on February 09, 2017:

Gilbert: I appreciate you dropping by.

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on February 08, 2017:

Nice character build of the teacher, Larry. It increases the inner-tension of your main character.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 24, 2016:

Larry, I'm sharing this on my facebook page for freelance writers. https://www.facebook.com/cam8510/

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on November 22, 2016:

Andre is happiest being pathetic, I think.

Thanks for dropping by.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on November 22, 2016:

Andre really is a pathetic character isn't he? You had him pretty well developed in the first paragraph. You end with a believable failed attempt to attempt to attempt suicide. Well, I'm hoping the "Old Fart" can stir something positive in the soul of this hopeless sap. There should at least be a girl in the mix someplace. I mean, it doesn't have to last or anything, but at least give him a shot.' Oh well, part two is already written. It won't do any good to beg.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on August 03, 2016:

Bravewarrior: I'm glad you stopped by. I don't want to give anything away, but I don't think you'll be disappointed if you finish.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 03, 2016:

I'm curious to see how this goes. I've never stayed in the company of someone with such a negative attitude long enough to figure out what makes them tick. I'm hoping this story will explain why some people are just hell-bent on being miserable. I'm hoping Mr. Wade will be the inspiration to him that Mr. Long was for you. I'd love to see the silver lining at the end of the tunnel.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 30, 2016:

Deb: always so glad to hear from you.

I think most of us have had a teacher to impact our lives positively at some point.

Deb Hirt on July 30, 2016:

I had a couple of teachers that impacted my life. Your story reminded me of that.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 30, 2016:

Lawrence: that's a lot of people. I think that's a big appeal of the story.

Personally I'm really in between the two characters on the spectrum these days.

Thanks so much for reading.

Lawrence Hebb on July 29, 2016:


I can identify with the main character as I think I was like that as a teenager, then I somehow morphed to be more like Me Wade as I grew older.

Today I would say I'm a Mr Wade type, and I'm loving being that way

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 18, 2016:

Teaches: thanks for the thoughtful comments.

Dianna Mendez on July 17, 2016:

I see a bit of light coming from the dark beginning of this series. I think our journey through life is filled with shadows we must defuse with light. Such is the way to growth and balance. God bless you.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 14, 2016:

Miz Bejabbers: thanks so much for the feedback.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 14, 2016:

Your story is very interesting and well written. I like the honesty of the 1st person narrative. I missed this one and had to go back to read it before I begin part 2, so now I can't wait to see how it goes.

Larry, your little quiz was interesting. I always said that my first husband wasn't happy unless he had something to be unhappy about. BTW, I divorced him because of his alcoholism and drug use.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 14, 2016:

JG: thanks for reading.

jgshorebird on July 14, 2016:

Good stuff...on to part 2!

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 12, 2016:

Alicia: I appreciate your support. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 11, 2016:

I'm definitely going to be following this story to see how it develops. You've captured my interest, especially with respect to the teacher. I like the tribute to your own teacher. "Something Wonderful" is certainly dark, but if you ever feel able to continue it I'll definitely be following that story, too!

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 10, 2016:

TLCS: I appreciate your viewership.

Trudy Cooper from Hampshire, UK on July 10, 2016:

Mmm, think this may be worth following. Kept me interested which is quite hard to do I can tell you. The picture did actually get my attention. Good luck.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 10, 2016:

Mel: thanks for the positive sentiments.

I won't leave you hanging on this one unless something unforeseen happens. It's already finished and I'm just opting to spread it out.

Funny you should bring up "Something Wonderful." I'd like to get back on it, but it's so dang dark! It reminds me of some of Chuck Palahniuk's more heinous stuff.

Anyway, I'm about out of old material on that one and I don't know if I'm still the person who could get back to that place. That's why I just kind of gave up on it, but though that story is something remarkably dark, it still draws me. We'll see.

As to this story, not nearly so dark or off putting as we move on.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 10, 2016:

FlourishAnyway: this is a story very much about contrast. We have the professor, Andre, and later on Bill, all different people with an eventual commonality.

We do develop some insight into the narrator as the story moves on, but as to the why of who he is, I don't want you to disappoint yourself when that never comes clear.

Thanks so much for the kind words.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 10, 2016:

Bill: without giving away too much, I think it's a story worth following.

I appreciate your support.

Larry Rankin (author) from Oklahoma on July 10, 2016:

Jo Lim: thanks for the feedback.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 10, 2016:

You're off on another good one. You left us hanging with "Something Wonderful," so I'm looking forward to seeing the end of this one. I like your style, you have a way of introducing captivating story elements even in something as mundane as a boring college lecture. That's a mark of real skill.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 10, 2016:

The narrator must have some big reasons for his constant someone peed in my cereal attitude. The teacher is a good balance. I like that you are honoring a former professor with your work. Keep going. 5 stars!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 10, 2016:

Beautiful, Larry! I'll tell you a secret: I'm a closet cynic. I can see the dark lining in any rainbow.....my wife is the reason I'm not locked up permanently. LOL So I understand and appreciate this story...looking forward to the next installment.

Jo Lim on July 10, 2016:

Larry, Its very nice story written depicting many of us in real life. We question why bad things happen to us but seldom appreciate when great things do happen.

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