Grade 7, Royal Vale School, Montreal. The bell rings, we’re at our desks, I’m looking out the window, studying canine romance in the schoolyard. A strange man enters. Where’s Miss Pukey?
Miss Pukey’s sick. I’m the substitute. My name’s John King. I don’t know what I’m supposed to teach you so do whatever you like.
He’s got Wellingtons on! His hair’s wavy and a bit on the longish side. He’s got a James Dean face. And he says we can do what we want! I get my scribbler and pencil out and start drawing. John King notices I keep looking up at him and asks if I’m drawing him. I say nothing. The bell rings for lunch.
Bring your favorite records back after lunch and we’ll listen records all afternoon.
Every kid that brought a record, maybe a dozen altogether, brought Elvis.
John King smiles. Okay, but you know there’s all kinds of music besides rock and roll. Before we play Elvis listen to this. This is a kind of music called Jazz.
Turk Murphy. My colleagues erupt in a chorus of groaning, complaining, and sniveling. Not me. I was electrified.
My birthday was coming up. I asked for a record player. The die was cast.
John King, where are you? God, if you only knew!