The assignment was to place Huckleberry Finn in modern day New York and write a short story. I was a high school kid in the 80s and only spent a few field trips in New York. Of course, I watched many TV shows and I did have my imagination.
Mr. V didn’t cotton to me. I was a dirty, wrong side of the tracks kid and he was a GQ preppie. I figured I would just go balls to the wall on my yarn. I set the tale in Harlem and had Huck running into prostitutes and drag queens and trying two kinds of Mary Jane (One a plant and one a Ho for the naïve among us.)
I turned in a completely uncensored tale fully expecting to be failed and possibly sent to the principal’s office. I skipped school for fear of repercussion. Then I learned that Mr. V loved my story and read it out loud for the entire class. He had to censor spots due to complaints of two classmates.
I returned to class greeted with a smile from the first fan of my literary stylings. The class discussed my story. Mr. V managed to use the word beastly twice in a 45 minute period. I did take it as a badge of honor—as he was talking about my poetry and fiction. Ït’s beastly but beautiful.” They say don’t judge a book by its cover and I think 2 people learned a lesson that week.