Originally from http://zegarkus.com/2006/09/24/one-mad-minute/, this is a short story that I wrote in 2004.
150 hundred listless souls sat in a semi circular arrangement in C.P Lo’s Human Geography class. I was one of the souls sitting in the back trying to understand Lo’s thick Chinese accent. I immediately detected her on the second day of class. She sat down in the in the third row from the front, the seat on the aisle. She sat in a left-handed desk.
She was a vision I will never forget.
She was slender. She had long, wavy brown hair with a few gold strands that flared occasionally in the fluorescent lighting. Her green eyes were owl-like. Her skin seemed to glow a natural olive color. C.P. Lo’s Human geography class just became interesting
She intoxicated me. I saw the surroundings in black and white but her, I saw her in color. The rest of the class was frozen in time and only she moved. She would take notes. The movements of her pencil broke the stillness of the room. She seemed unreal.
Her name was Aimee Douglas. How I did know this? I could never bring myself to talk to her. When the attendance sheet was passed around I simply counted the signatures from where she sat to where I sat. I liked her signature. It seemed well balanced, unlike me.
I was too frightened and insecure to talk to her. If she ever did look behind her desk, I would quickly jerk my head down and start taking meaningless notes. I was a reticent, lonely spirit amidst over 30,000 students on the University of Georgia campus. Albeit from a distance of a few rows of desks, she seemed to make me feel less isolated.
A semester had passed; I was now in History 251, a class of over 300 students. This is where I saw her again. She sat far down in the front, in the left-handed desks. I always tried to make it early so I could have a seat next to her. But I nearest I could get was 3 rows back; I could never seem to get there early enough.
The history professor had a little game that he would play called “mad minutes”. During the middle of his Friday lecture, he would pause and ask a random, difficult question about American history. The class would have one minute to respond with the answer. The first person to get it right would have 5 points added to their next exam.
Students would raise their hands and spew out answers, but know one would ever get them right. About three weeks into the course, he raised a particularly difficult “mad minute” question. No one answered. No one even shouted a smart-ass remark. I meekly raised my hand in the far reaches of the auditorium.
“Yes, you there in the blue shirt with dark hair” he said pointing in my direction.
All eyes were upon me.
“Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze” I said. I was barely audible.
“I didn’t hear the answer, you are going to have shout it from that corner!”
“Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze!”
“Give the man his five points!”
The class clapped, a few even cheered.
My adrenal glands kicked in, I was euphoric. I remember the girl who sat next to me. She was smiling at me. The teaching assistant who was standing in the aisle also nodded in approval. I felt like a minor god in the great pantheon of existence.
I decided then that I would try to talk to Aimee.
When the class was over. I rushed down to follow her out. She was walking to the Tate student center.
“Hey aren’t in the American History pre-1865 class?”
“Yeah and you’re the guy who just got the mad minute question!”
She smiled. I can’t honestly remember what we talked about. But I felt lighter than air. If I didn’t have such a heavy book bag I am sure I would have floated away. I didn’t even ask for her number, but all that mattered was that we talked and she wasn’t repulsed by me. I was small but great triumph of my shorts twenty-one year lifespan. I said goodbye to her and caught the bus to my next class. My world changed in one mad minute.
That evening some mates and me where hanging around the campus coffee house. I was still feeling a bit high from the day’s events. We stayed up talking until late. I told them about Aimee and they teased me about it, but I didn’t care. My friend Chad suggested we go catch the midnight screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. So we walked down the student movie house to buy tickets.
There was a rough looking fellow wearing fatigues outside the theatre. The movie would start in about 10 minutes. We dug our pockets to get the money out. The rough fellow started talking to us. He had a deep southern accent. I was feeling quite chipper so I struck up a conversation with him, just to pass the time. My friends went in to get their seats; I said I would join them in a couple of minutes.
His name was Robert. He lived nearby and liked to visit the campus on his days off. I told him that it was nice talking him but I had better go in before the movie started.
He looked me straight in the eye and said, “If you were to die today, do you know if you would go heaven or hell?”
I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. “I don’t know, I never really thought about it”
“ I think we met tonight for a reason. A divine reason. God wants me to tell you about the blood of Jesus Christ which will save you and give you admission into Heaven.”
I shuffled my feet. “Umm, I-I really need to get going, Robert. I don’t want to the miss the movie…”
“I think your salvation is more important than a movie. Let me just pray for you here. After that you can be free to do what ever you wish”
I glanced around to see if anyone was looking. I thought to myself, what the hell, if he wants quick prayer, might as well let him to get him off my back.
“Listen, if you want to pray for me, hurry up because I want to catch my movie”
Robert glared at me. Then a vacant look set in his dark eyes. He then commenced. I felt a cold chill go through my body.
“In the name of Jesus, I release any evil spirits that reside in this lost soul. Please, Lord, help him see the light of your ways that he may find salvation through your blood. He is a lost sheep, please lord send your holy spirit down to live in his heart.”
He was tremendously loud. I was thankful that it was midnight and no one else was around. I closed eyes, then immediately opened them after I felt his hand on my forehead. I jerked back.
“Enter Holy Spirit, enter!”
I stepped back.
“Shandalay Kai Oshenta Fian Shandai Pori Kensai Morai “
He was now speaking in tongues.
“Esheti Moneto Keremte Amo Ferio Yuloli Handiola Fendi.
Shandalay Kai Shento Fenali Osorbus Ipsalay.
Shandu Wenayo Fortimois Finous Sho. Fani Vespi Ortel Ontani”
I wanted to leave, but I felt as if I were a deer entranced be the headlights of an oncoming semi truck. Somehow, I could not force myself to move. I was stunned.
“Fensharo Mo Hetikamo. Fenaris Urbi Koina”
I heard a clicking sound, it sounded like someone had hung up a phone. Robert had his eyes closed and his armed stretched out in my direction.
“Oh Jesus, Eshara Moken Halilli Ai Fendon”
I turned directly behind me to where the clicking sound originated. There stood a phone booth, only I did not notice there was anyone in it. From inside two green eyes where staring at me in disbelief. The streetlight reflected the strands of gold in her hair. Her mouth was slightly open. She recognized me. She looked frightened. Aimee looked very frightened.
“Holy Spirit Holy Spirit Shandayla Nepso Whaterosi Creso”
I felt blood rushing into my face; it was a bright red neon sign advertising my foolishness. I had to leave. Robert still held the same pose, eyes closed and right arm stretched out toward me.
“Lord, God Holy Spirit, Shodalo Hebris Motoa Antoari”
So I ran. I ran out the movie courtyard, past the lecture halls to end of the campus and nearly collapsed from exhaustion on the edge of lawn. I stumbled through the darkness and leaned against a large oak tree. I inhaled deeply.
In hindsight, I really do not think I was running away from Robert, I was running from Aimee. I’ll never forget the way she looked at me, so terrified. Perhaps it wasn’t even Aimee, maybe I was running from myself. It seemed as if I had been standing outside that theatre for hours. I looked at my watch. It was 12:03 AM. Only a few minutes had elapsed. A few mad minutes.