Casey Barnes Eponymous - By E.A. Rigg


Ten minutes before he came in and everything started again, Casey was not, for the first time in weeks, thinking about him.

She was focusing on that day’s target.

The target was a girl, a fellow sophomore, on the other side of the library. She was skinny, blonde, and in a sweater from a mall store. At first the girl ignored what Casey slipped her. Most kids did. A piece of paper in a library book was generally assumed to be a leftover from a prior reader. Some kids shoved it back in the book without looking. Others crumpled and aimed it at the nearest trashcan.

In those moments she dashed over and announced they were supposed to read the information on that paper. That it was a song list. After her proclamation, there was a look with a string of questions behind it. A what? Why? And who are you?

At that point in high school Casey was known to her friend Leigh, teachers from freshman year who could not forget her choice comebacks, and kids from those classes who remembered her for the same reason. But sophomore year had only been going on for a few weeks. She had yet to lay down real tire marks. Except for Leigh, those teachers, kids, and him, most people did not know who she was.

“Just read it,” she would respond.

Then they would. The skinny blonde glanced at the paper. The title caught her eyes. Song list for 9.20.10. It was that day’s date. The girl looked more closely.

1. A pop song…For when the blonde girl accessorized other sweaters from that dumb store. For the morning, when mom was making toast and the promise of a new day was as fresh as the coffee percolating beside it. Like marshmallow fluff, a pop song would smooth over negative residue from the day before. Party invites not issued, looks not returned from boys. The sweater said a lot. A pop song would make her think that day would be different. Because that was what pop songs did: stuck you in a daydream and kept the cotton candy stick swirling until it yielded a mass of sticky sugar. Until it felt like even your toes had sugar between them and the high was so great there was no way your day would not be better than the one before.

Sometimes, that was all it took.

It would have to be an interesting pop song though. A subtle push in the direction of hip. Give a girl a fish and you feed her for a day. Teach a girl to fish and you feed her for a lifetime.

This was, after all, why Casey made the lists. The path to more free candy, happiness, and overall cool for the participants in the current and outstanding hell that was high school would not be created by popular kids. No, that road would be plowed by music. And not the crapola on pop radio in between commercials for tanning salons either. Rather, the kind of music you had to be in the know to know about. She flunked the test on the American Revolution and cheated on the one about the French. But on revolution through music she would get an A.

1. A pop song - “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. California retro-hip with a hint of irony. Just what the doctor ordered. The target looked around the library. Casey would bet a vinyl copy of Sgt Pepper’s that the target had never heard of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. As the girl’s eyes reached her, she grabbed the book she was supposed to be scanning and opened it.

From his perch a few feet away the librarian Mr. Cole glared at her. She responded with a hang ten sign. Mr. Cole’s glares and Casey’s hang ten signs constituted over half of their communication. They had since the fifth day of school. That was when Mr. Cole, a Libertarian with a short fuse that caused his facial veins to turn purple when kids in the library spoke too loudly, asked her to remove the N.W.A. sticker from her notebook.

“‘Fuck Tha’ Police’ should have got ‘em sent to Gitmo ages ago.”

“But Mr. Cole they weren’t sending bad guys to Guantanamo when that song came out.”

Mr. Cole looked from the sticker to a pair of scissors lying a few inches away. If the conversation went the wrong way the scissors would make waste of that sticker in seconds.

“Anyway,” she forged on, “I assume that as