In 2016 Maxwell’s teachers were concerned that the child had acquired sphinxian appetites and should be held accountable, particularly for falling right into a developmentally inefficacious chasm, thrashing against the hurdles of the mind, instead of clearing them sequentially. Was the child prodigy despairing over a line vanishing into the distance? Or did he think he was above looking at what was directly in front of him?
These were among the topics of the after-school meetings. The purpose of an education was to set the correct tone for the rest of the child’s life; the tone of achievable knowledge. This was especially true of a preparatory school for gifted children, and, they agreed, Maxwell was among the most gifted. It wouldn’t be appropriate to have Maxwell return to a public school education, but the more wholesome values of a public school could be grafted when necessary. The gym teacher suggested that the boy should start with the knowledge all other boys had come equipped with and were anxious to develop, the knowledge that not only separated boys from girls, but along the ultimate trajectory, boys from men – the art of attack and defense, from which Maxwell Ray was curiously sequestered. It was a shock and a disgrace that Maxwell had not been the recipient of a smidgen of full-frontal or full-dorsal violence by now, not a single tooth was sent into orbit, not an arm twisted behind his back to breaking point, not a section of the spine treated like a trampoline by his fellow young enthusiasts of testosterone. The boy was coddled, separated from the rest, and exhibited the most improbable behavior. Vagaries! Shenanigans! The rapture of the gym teacher was such an impressively primitive song of ribald self-contradiction that there was applause from the meekest and morally progressive of female teachers; all were persuaded that the child would benefit from having his expressionless face pushed into the lion-colored sand. Even Maxwell’s mother agreed, in a subsequent private meeting with the teachers – white-collar resentment leaking from the corners of the room, Venusian mascara running freely, a single bug dragging itself across the organic lightbulb – that the boy was chafed by too many unresolved questions and unable to finish his sandwich, self-conditioned to living levels removed from life, and is this how life would continue, at further and further levels of removal, the act of knowledge spinning itself out of control, taking her little boy with it?