The Not-zi?
By Chris Martinez

Who is this guy? Buzz-cut skull, bull nose piercing, donning the punk uniform: black patches stitched on in that exact manner of vagabond perfection. I'm still combing underground record stores for the punk Abercrombie and Fitch catalog these guys order from.

The subject is Nazism and Fascism. He comes to the professor after lecture asking about the cartridge action of a German WWII sub-machine gun. I watch him sit there, in his own eager front row, vigorously nodding his head in punctuation to the professor's comment about Hitler's obstinance. I notice the subdued shake of his fist in response to historical accounts of right-wing vigilantism. I suddenly get a jerky MTV image in my head of him in a dark mosh pit, doing that boot-flinging "dance" like some drunken, erratic running-in-place workout.

Then I get an image of him in a family photo. Pastel little polo shirt, perfect skin, placid expression, "Mary" and "Bill" standing behind him, older sister to his left (she works for State Farm now). He sold the Ford Taurus "Bill" gave him for college. Now he lives off the money so he can complete his GG Allen collection while unemployed and destitute on the verdant Penn State campus.

But is this guy a... I banish the trite, easy thought.

He comes into my work. I don't see him until he's right in front of me. The video he's returning, all I remember of it is that it has nothing to do with Nazis or punks or whatever. It was a romantic comedy or something equally disquieting. We exchange throwaway classmate words, something about the class being so damn early. I see the adolescent behind his glass-hard eyes, a split-second struggle of child and man. Not so tough. He walks past, treading on my presumptions like the carpet beneath his chunky Dr. Martin's.

But still I wonder. Though I pick at its meager threads, my own brand of prejudice remains stitched to my mind like a dirty, black patch. Still searching for that catalog, I know it's out there somewhere...

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