Lou Dischler writing excerpts—


  My Only Sunshine

  Plantation of Bones

  Mona’s Odyssey

  Rennie: The Girl Who Knew Too Much

  The Boy from La Pazza

  On The Naming of Big Dogs




  Age reversal

  Mitochondria dysfunction

  Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment




Articles at Linkedin—


  A Backdoor to Immortality

  Restoring Mitochondria



Plantation of Bones


Lou Dischler








You must practice lying about yourself to lie convincingly about others. —Emma LeBlanc

Jerry Petrel is the high school counselor who’d predicted my future as a telephone operator or seamstress. He’s called me out of first period English Lit and I’m now in his office with the door closed, sitting across from him on the sofa he uses to put students at ease. And maybe too much at ease, from what I’ve heard. I wonder if I’m sitting on the still-squirming issue of his man-worm, a thought that makes me want to throw up. This isn’t good as he’s heard I threw up in history the day before and went home sick.


“It’s nothing bad,” he hopes.


“No, Mr. Petrel, nothing bad. Just a bug.”


“Call me Jerry.”


“Okay. Jerry.”


He’s wearing gold rim John Lennon glasses, and a tan suit jacket a bit too large. Blue jeans and cowboy boots. Dirty blond hair that hangs over the collar and sideburns longer than any other teacher. This is the look counselors use for communicating with students. Though it’s only girls Jerry is interested in communicating with. Good looking girls like me, with a recent rep for sluttiness.


He spins a yarn about a cheerleader at his own high school in Mississippi. She started having sex, got pregnant and dropped out of school, thus ruining the lives of two people. Four if you counted the twins with Downs syndrome.


“Oh that’s terrible,” I say. “You can get Down syndrome from sex before marriage?”


No, he says, that wasn’t his point. His point was — he twists his neck as if he has a crick in it — his point was how the sexual needs of students can be overpowering. And there’s nothing wrong with it, as sexual needs are natural. He goes on this way with a practiced look that indicates he’s there for me. That he’s willing to satisfy my perfectly natural needs.


I return his look as I imagine him naked. Naked on a marble slab with a knife in his chest. A long carving knife with a rice and cotton motif on its handle, like the one I traded to the vicar of the Zion Church some weeks before.


He talks about the sexual revolution, but I feign ignorance. So he tries another tack, this one about gossip. I say I know how corrosive gossip can be, like sulfuric acid thrown in your face. And before he can proceed with an example of slander featuring one Deli LeBlanc, I proceed with my own example, about a coach at the Catholic high school that was run off for getting a girl pregnant.


He was lucky just to get fired, I say, and not arrested for rape.


Jerry licks his lips and asks how I know this.


“It’s like you said about gossip, Jerry. You never know when some girl will get a bee up her bonnet and start making stuff up that flies around the school.”


I bat my eyes and swing my legs up on the couch so that my skirt rides up. Jerry’s mouth opens but nothing comes out.


“I hate snakes,” I say.


The change of subject throws him.


“You, uh, what? You hate snakes?”


“I see a snake, I freak out. I saw one yesterday in the yard and I screamed and screamed. And it was just a tiny one, a garter snake, but I screamed really loud. Paige came running, all out of breath. The way I was screaming, she thought I was being raped. She was surprised somebody didn’t call the cops.”


I raise my right knee up so that my skirt falls back even more, and now Jerry’s brow is shiny with sweat. I expect the tiny part of his brain that has any sense is going, abort, abort!


“That’s understandable,” he says.


He gets up, takes a handkerchief from his pocket and wipes his face as he goes to his desk. He fiddles with the window AC that makes groaning noises when he turns it up, then sits and opens my file, flipping through it, looking for something to justify pulling me from lit class other than gossip about pregnancy. Finally he asks if I smoke, and I realize I’m dying for a cigarette.


“No,” I tell him.


“How about pot?”


“Of course not.”


“It’s a growing problem in Chinaberry,” he says. “Many of your classmates have tried it.”


“I’m not one of them,” I say, and I quote the Bible verse that Del Ray is so fond of — Be sober-minded. The devil like a snake slithers, seeking the drunken damsel.


The words are wrong but he doesn’t realize it. He says he didn’t realize I was so religious.


“I am. Mary is my role model.




“Mary the mother of Jesus.”


“Well now, that’s ... commendable.”


He flips papers in my file. Even if he thinks I’m putting him on, there’s not a damn thing he can do about it.


“It’s good we had this chat,” he says finally, getting up and coming around his desk toward the door. He says he likes to chat with students on a regular basis to catch any problems early so they can be nipped in the bud.


I stand and again feel the cramping nausea, but I do a good job hiding it.


“Thank you,” I say. “That’s thoughtful of you.”


“Good,” he says, opening the door for me. “Good visit.”


© 2023 Lou Dischler