Harrison's War

The year was 1996 and it was my second year of college. There were not a lot of options for English majors there and I took a paper called 'Art Of The Film' to make up the numbers. This was a bad time to take such a course. For some reason being a film buff was of major importance to many people at the time, many of whom took the same classes I did. So on the first day I saw the same sad faces that frequented other courses of mine like Drama and Romantic Literature.

The lecturer was an English ponce called Harrison. Now Harrison knew it all about movies. Only the same ones he watched every year though. After the first lecture I walked up to Harrison and asked him if he had ever seen Deadly Prey. 'I've never heard of it'' he replied. So he knew nothing. The actual paper was a joke. For five hundred dollars you got to watch a selection of films that included 'classics' like Don't Look Back, Came A Hot Friday, Citizen Kane and Death In Venice.

I never attended one more lecture. I did the assignments. The first was to review a film. I chose Death Wish 3. Harrison picked holes throughout the piece and awarded me a C+. Big man on campus was Harrison.

As I delved deeper into mental illness from college life I decided to make a mockery of the man. The second essay was voluntary. You could do it but not be graded for it. Disregarding the topics, I decided to copy the lyrics down from a CD I had obtained called 'Scream Of Death' by a G-grade thrash band called Dragon. 'Fog, sign of the fall, a face, a mutant, nuclear wasteland, cannibal roam the plains, a face without form...' this went on for a thousand words.

Several weeks later I received the essay back. Harrison wrote ''I think you need to see me, we have some problems here.'' But the problems grew deeper. Now it was the film buffs that made me sick. One day I was sitting in the library catching up with Biohazard when I saw some nerd from (F)Art Of The Film take a seat near the bible of film magazines, Sight And Sound. I hated the rag. Any day you could see some Scorsese scholar deciphering them, absorbing all the minute details they could to impress Harrison with. Well no more. I grabbed a sizable stack of the magazines as soon as the geek left. I walked into the bathroom, placed them at the bottom of the toilet and flushed over and over until the water overflowed and the magazines were unsalvageable. I told my brother. He laughed (he was taking the paper as well) and went to destroy the remainder. As I left the library, I looked up to see him throwing ripped up copies out the window, falling like confetti below. Now no one would enjoy them.

I forgot about the paper after that. With a couple of weeks left of the academic year, I made sure I watched a few movies to write about in the exam. I watched Citizen Kane and The Scarecrow, deciding that was good enough. I did the exam, satisfied I had done enough. Ha ha I thought, all these turkeys have gone to every class, taken all these notes, watched all these films and I'll pass by doing nothing. A few weeks later we got our results. I had passed all my papers. Except one. I saw an E. The worst result of all. And of course it was 'Film'. Disgusted I went to the college, even though the year was over, to confront Harrison. I knocked on his door. I went over my grievance about the E. He pulled out my exam and noted I had not answered the questions properly. I explained that I had paid good money (well the Government had) and should be passed. He laughed and said I was another kid who thought I could have it all by doing nothing. I laughed at him and said his choices of films were outmoded. ''Well what do you suggest?'' he asked. ''How about some Rambo II'' I gave back. He was dumbfounded. He then asked if I was the student who wrote the bizzare essay. I confirmed this. He had thought I was insane. If I had not written that, he might have passed me, he explained. I talked at length to him for hours. He mentioned how he had been asked to write the screenplay for a sequel to the New Zealand masterpiece The Quiet Earth. He had declined. I then outlined my plans to take his third year paper 'Screenplay 3:23'. ''Ahh I would advise against this'' he droned, ''it's serious stuff and I don't need people not taking it seriously. Plus you would be out of your depth.'' I looked at him and concluded ''You're out of mine pal'' and left. I was proud of that E. I still am. That's all the paper was worth.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website April 24, 2002

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