ec class. My favorite teacher was Mr. Botte, who taught biology and liked to
animate the frogs and crawfish we had to dissect by making them dance in their
I wasn't killed by Mr. Botte, by the way.
Don't think every person you're going to meet in here is
suspect. That's the problem.
You never know. Mr. Botte came to my memorial (as, may I add, did almost the
entire junior high school-I was never so popular) and cried quite a bit. He had
a sick kid. We all knew this, so when he laughed at his own jokes, which were
rusty way before I had him, we laughed too, forcing it sometimes just to make
him happy. His daughter died a year and a half after I did. She had
but I never saw her in my heaven.
My murderer was a man from our neighborhood.
My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about
fertilizer. My murderer
believed in old-fashioned things like eggshells and coffee grounds, which he
said his own mother had used. My father came home smiling, making jokes about
how the man's garden might be beautiful but it would stink to high heaven once a
heat wave hit.
But on December 6, 1973, it was snowing, and I took a shortcut through the
cornfield back from the junior high. It was dark out because the days were
shorter in winter,
and I remember how the broken cornstalks made my walk more difficult. The snow was falling lightly, like a flurry of
small hands, and I was breathing through my nose until it was running so much
that I had to open my mouth. Six feet from where Mr. Harvey stood, I stuck my
tongue out to taste a snowflake.
"Don't let me startle you," Mr. Harvey said.
Of course, in a cornfield, in the dark, I was startled.
After I was dead I thought about