0 Jeff Salyards | Monthly Archive | May
Archive | May, 2014

Up, Up, and Away!

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It’s graduation season. Time to hand out Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and smell the fresh-cut grass and dream of bigger and better things in whatever comes next. Also a time to be a jackass.


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My wife dug up a photo from my high school graduation  I hadn’t seen or thought about in years. One look, and the entire episode came back in a glorious flash.


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Our high school class was full of characters and criminals (the quarterback got arrested for stealing a beer truck; I got arrested for, well, other things that I’m not going into right now), partiers and truants, burnouts and early pregnancies. We were so bad in fact, that leading up to graduation our superintendent,  principal, and anyone with an Administrator cap told us during an anti-pep rally that we were the worst class to go through the school in decades. And they weren’t kidding. So they warned us that they would not tolerate a single shenanigan during the graduation ceremony—we were to behave ourselves or else. Of course someone asked, “Or else what?” And they told us in no uncertain terms that if anyone so much as blew a bubble or put a funny sign on the top of their cap, they would not receive their diploma. They would be held back. Maybe everyone would be held back—I forget the specifics of the threat, only that they were trying to instill fear and trembling.


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Now, most of us were just glad to be getting out of there, and there were a few good citizens who hadn’t intended to act up, so everyone seemed content to toe the line. But I’m a Salyards, coming from a long line of Salyards who, upon considering a smart play and a dumb play, will routinely choose the dumb play. Genetics or learned behavior or a terrible mix of both, but it is our legacy, and who am I to disappoint my ancestors.


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The threats were repeated during rehearsal the day before, so that night, my friend Jason and I sat around brainstorming what idiotic thing I could do to thumb my nose at the fun-hating Man. We tossed around several ideas, but none really had the verve I was looking for. I had a couple of nicknames in high school—Lurch was the more popular, but Superman got some action, too. And when we thought about the ruby red color of the caps and gowns, it suddenly clicked. I’d draw an iconic emblem on my chest, pin it to a blue shirt, keep it under cover until I got to the podium, and then unzip and reveal my true identity at just the right time.  


We drove to the school and it was a lovely day—sunny, warm, but not too hot (which was good, as the only blue shirt I had on hand was a sweatshirt).  As we lined up, the Administrators (yes, capital “A”, fitting for supervillains), starting spot checking, asking folks to unzip, checking for paraphernalia of any kind. I held my breath as they got close, tried to look nonchalant. They hit someone just in front of me, and then some kid a couple behind and kept going down the line.


They must have thought they cowed us all into behaving, but really they ought to have frisked every single one of us and had tazers on hand.  Some other classmates knew what I planned, and most didn’t think I would go through with it. I should have reminded them of the Salyards legacy, but I just smiled and bided my time.


The ceremony was outside, and it felt like an eternity as I waited. When my name was finally called, with the sun inching towards the horizon, I slowly walked up the stairs, savoring the moment, wondering just how stupid I was truly being, but knowing it was too late to turn back.  


I walked across the platform, knowing the photographer was in position, and then I paused, unzipped the gown in a flourish just as a wonderful cinematic breeze tugged it a little, setting it rustling better than I could have scripted, and then approached the superintendent.


He didn’t even force a fake smile—the super was well and truly pissed and didn’t bother to hide the fact. And while  he couldn’t get out of shaking my hand, he did his best to try to break it. I squeezed back just as hard, mostly to protect myself, and gave him my best smirk right when the photo was taken.  


As I walked down the other side of the platform and headed back to my assigned spot, the principal ran up to me and said, “You cover that up this instant, or you will not graduate!”


I don’t know about you, but I often think of the perfect response after the fact, when the opportunity is long gone, usually lying in bed and cursing myself for not being quicker. But this time, I actually acquitted myself pretty well. I stopped, turned to her, turned the smirk back on, and replied, “I don’t think so. You do NOT want me back here next year. I guarantee it.”


Most moments don’t work out exactly as you imagined them, but this was one of those rare exceptions.




Veil of the Deserters: Free At Last!

It’s been a long time coming, but the ebook for Veil of the Deserters is out everywhere. The official release date for the hardcover is June 3, but Amazon, being Amazon, said, “Hey, we have these books in the warehouse ahead of schedule. That’s terrible. Johnson–sell those immediately, or you will be incinerated.”

And no one wants an incinerated Johnson, so you can pick up the hardcover at Amazon right now.

Thanks to everyone who waited patiently (and impatiently) for this book. I worked really hard to try and make this one better than the last, and feel like I accomplished that. I hope you do, too. If you read Scourge of the Betrayer or Veil of the Deserters, please consider posting a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your favorite reader haunt.







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