Jimmi approached his teacher while
the rest of his kindergarten class was making a collage.
"Look at the blood on my hands,
She wagged her finger at him. "Don't
make up stories, Jimmi, or I'll send you home."
"But I have a legal right to an
education," objected Jimmi.
"Is that so? Have you actually
learned anything in my class?"
"Yes. I've learned the valuable
skills of cutting, pasting and gluing, which, sadly, I will
never use in my chosen profession."
"And what career path will you
be entering, Jimmi?"
"I'm going to be a superhero."
* * *
Once home, Jimmi approached his mother.
"Mommy, I have blood on my hands."
She looked up from her cooking. "I
think you've been watching too much T.V."
"No, Mommy. I've actually been
busy trying to solve life-changing equations."
"You're in kindergarten, Jimmi."
"I know, and I object to that.
Pre-pubescence is frankly degrading."
"Well, pubic hair is no trade-off,
trust me." She returned to stirring the contents of her
pot. "Crap, I burned dinner."
"Maybe Daddy will see the blood
on my hands," muttered Jimmi.
She turned her full attention on him.
"Don't you dare, Jimmi. Your father has been queasy about
blood ever since Uncle Teddy was murdered."
"I thought Uncle Teddy lived in
a cabin in the woods."
"He did, until he was stabbed
to death on the New York City subway."
"How come you never told me?"
"Because you're only five!"
Jimmi pouted. "I'm going to put
in some time in on my equations now."
That night, Jimmi dreamed he was on
a subway car that rocketed through tunnels. Dappled light
played against the car's interior as an announcement erupted
"Attention all passengers: This is the Express. Those
unsure of their destination are advised to exit immediately
Just as Jimmi stood to leave, the train
came to an abrupt stop and he was thrown forward. By the time
he had scrambled to his feet, the doors had already closed.
The overhead announcement boomed:
"A destination will now be chosen
for you. Do not attempt to exit. It is too late. Repeat: Do
not attempt to exit."
Jimmi bolted upright in his bed. He
turned on his bedside lamp and began furiously working on
his equations. As he worked, he grew about an inch in size.
His head pounded and his muscles ached. He started to sweat,
but still, he worked.
* * *
At school, while the rest of the class
was cutting and pasting, Jimmi stared listlessly at the wall.
Miss Harriet called a meeting with his parents, Luke and Sarah.
"Your son has lost all interest
in school," she complained. "Is something wrong?"
"Jimmi's in his own world. You
shouldn't take it personally," said Luke.
Sarah nodded. "He's been preoccupied
with something very important."
"And what might that be?"
Miss Harriet raised her eyebrows.
"He's trying to solve some life-changing
"Jimmi is only five."
"I know, and that's been a sore
point with him."
"This makes no sense." Miss
Harriet rapped a wooden ruler on her desk.
"It's not about pubic hair, if
that's what you're thinking," said Sarah.
"Excuse me?!" Miss Harriet
"Let's go, Sarah." Luke grabbed
her arm, turning one last time to Miss Harriet. "My son
has a legal right to an education."
"The apple never falls far from
the tree," Miss Harriet muttered.
"I don't understand what's happening,
Luke," Sarah lamented to Luke as they walked home in
the descending darkness.
"Relax, Sarah. That teacher is
When they entered their apartment,
the babysitter was sobbing.
"I didn't do it, I swear!"
"What happened?" Luke yelled
as the sitter fell to her knees.
Sarah stood at Jimmi's bedroom door,
one hand over her heart.
Luke ran over and he, too, stood mesmerized.
This was not his son unless, that is, he had miraculously
aged by fifteen years. Jimmi sat staring at them, his adult
body dwarfing his child's bed.
"Mommy, Daddy, I solved the equations!"
"And is this how they changed
your life, Jimmi?" Sarah asked.
"Well, you can't possibly return
to kindergarten." She shook her head
"The mathematical aspect is only
the first in a series of steps to my becoming a superhero,"
"Does this have anything to do
with pubic hair?" she asked suspiciously.
"Oh, Sarah, don't corrupt the
child," Luke chided. "Are you really a superhero,
"Well, I don't actually have a
costume and I can't fly."
"I didn't do it!" The babysitter
crawled over, tears streaking her face.
"Go home." Luke threw some
bills at her. Stuffing the money into her pocket, she ran.
Luke turned back to Jimmi. "It's your bedtime. Have you
brushed your teeth?"
"I'll read you a story,"
Jimmi stood. He was wearing very tight,
white underwear (child's size 5). He towered over his parents
with rippling chest muscles and bulging biceps.
"Wow," said Sarah, "you
don't need a uniform."
"Jimmi," boomed his dad,
"I asked you once to brush your teeth and I will not
ask you twice."
Jimmi yawned. "You're firing blanks,
Daddy. Oh, I forgot, I have to go somewhere."
He removed a pair of trousers from
his dresser drawer. Luke cleared his throat.
"Oh yeah, right. I guess I'll
need to borrow your clothes, Dad."
Luke paced the floor as Jimmi dressed.
"Where are you off to so late,
"I can't discuss it right now,"
said Jimmi. He waved and was gone.
Sarah flung her purse down. "I
don't believe this."
"It must be all those vitamin-fortified
cereals he ate." Luke sat down heavily and stared at
the floral pattern of the wallpaper.
"You're right. Why else would
a five-year-old grow pubic hair?"
"Dammit, Sarah, this is not about
* * *
Jimmi descended the darkened stairs
of a deserted subway station just as a train pulled in. He
entered a car where a lone man sat in the corner with blood
all over his body. Jimmi could see himself reflected in the
glassy surface of the man's eyes as he sat opposite him.
"What's doing?" asked his
Jimmi shrugged. "I'm sorry now
that I solved those equations. I didn't realize that being
a man went hand-in-hand with murder, bitterness and regret."
"No kidding! Who'd you kill?"
"My kindergarten teacher."
"She was the first person who
ever really misunderstood me."
"That's gotta be tough! Why'd
you come here tonight?"
"I wanted to say goodbye to you,
and I thought perhaps you'd tell me who murdered you."
Uncle Teddy lowered his head. "It
was your father, the bastard. He was a brooding, jealous man
who was convinced that ending my life would improve his own."
"Ouch! I always kind of looked
up to Dad."
"Growing up ruins everything,
doesn't it?" Uncle Teddy chuckled. "I've been riding
this train every night, trying to get a sense of what went
wrong, but I guess it's too late."
"Yes." Jimmi held up his
hands. Beneath the blood, they were old and wrinkled.
"What you set in motion you are
powerless to stop," said his uncle.
As the train rocketed forward, dappled
light played across Uncle Teddy's bloodied face. The loudspeakers
"This is the Express to either
Heaven or Hell. Do not attempt to choose a destination. It
has been predetermined for you based on your previous actions."
Uncle Teddy looked up. "Where's
it coming from?"
"What the Hell!" said Jimmi,
which is exactly where he went.
* * *
These days, he fishes on the Lake of
Fire for the charred remains of his past. In hindsight, he
wishes he'd gained a better appreciation for kindergarten.