A Short Story: The School


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Episodes: One -Two -Three – Four – Five – Six  – Seven – Eight  See the Next One Soon!

The door suddenly flung open … and the children standing outside of it, stood glued to the floor, as a tall, dark-complexioned man holding the door knob, glared at them.  No one spoke.   Then … what seemed like a lifetime, he said, “Come in and take your seats!”  One by one, each child entered the classroom and settled into a well-known, assigned seat.  Slowly, the man made his way to the front of the room, leaned against the desk and said, “I am Mr. Blond, your new teacher.”  The name was totally the opposite of his appearance, for nothing about him was blond.  Standing above six feet one,  the figure named Mr Blond, stared down each of the thirty pairs of eyes looking back at him, with narrow, unfriendly eyes.  Wearing tan pants, a long-sleeved shirt with tan stripes running  vertically, intersected by pale blue strips running horizontally,  his ebony complexion accentuated his demeanor which spelled, “no nonsense.”

“As I call your name, please raise your hand.”  With that, Mr. Blond folded the six-foot frame in a chair behind the desk.

“Mary Jones.”  Mary quickly raised her hand.

“Timothy Plant.”

“Russell White.”

“Judy Grover.”  As each name was called in no particular order, thirty hands shot into the air.  Finally, roll call ended and Mr. Blond walked to the chalk board and wrote three phrases:

  • Respect yourself.
  • Respect others.
  • Make sure you know who your friends are.

With that . . . the new day began.

Episode Two

 Phrase by phrase, Mr. Blond explained the importance of recognizing how each of the three phrases can affect one’s viewpoint on life …how utilizing them daily, can impact an individual’s decision in choosing which direction he will follow—positive or negative.  “We will use these statements throughout the school year.”  remarked Mr. Blond.

“Please take out paper and pencils, copy each phrase from the chalkboard and explain what it means to you in two sentences or more.”

Obediently, the class began getting paper and pencils. Then … in the middle of the response to his request, a paper airplane sailed across the room.  Of course, everybody knew it came from the class clown Wilbur Martin.  There were four or five in the room, but Wilbur was the most active.  He simply could not allow the classroom to represent anything less than turmoil. Further, he needed the new teacher to know the room was his—he would always be in control.  The room, exploded in laughter.

As the plane landed on its “made-up runway,” Mr. Blond watched silently.  He was not sure who was the pilot but, was well aware of all of the class clowns.  Not getting an expected reaction, the laughter quickly dissipated.  Once again … the room was silent—everyone staring at Mr. Blond.  After what seemed like an eternality, he walked over, picked up the paper plane and spoke, “I like airplanes as much as you, but since I do not see anyone in the room getting ready to go on a trip, let’s get busy and get those sentences on paper.  However, when I do fly … I like to do it from the back of the room.”  With that, he walked calmly to the back of the room and stationed himself midway so his vision was equally distributed.

Wilbur was left trying to figure out why Mr. Blond was not reacting to his “sailing airplane.”

“Why didn’t he get angry and start demanding who threw the paper plane!”  He wondered.

This made him very uncomfortable!  Also… why was the rest of the class so quiet?  More importantly, why are they doing what that man asked them to do?  Slowly, he turned halfway around to see where Mr. Blond has positioned himself.  As he did so, his eyes met Mr. Blond’s and he quickly turned back around.  This, however, was just enough to confirm to the teacher that he threw the plane!  Dear Little Wilbur was the culprit!

The next step for Mr. Blond … come up with a solution to the “sailing airplane and Wilbur.

Episode Three

Slowly, he approached the aisle where the sailing airplane pilot was seated and stood quietly beside his desk.  Wilbur kept his eyes focused on his paper, but sensed the presence of Mr. Blond.  After standing there several seconds, his teacher leaned over and whispered in his ear, “You have nothing on your paper, please copy the phrases from the board and turn your paper in with the rest of the class when I ask for them.  It’s ok, if you do not write sentences about each one.  We can talk about that when you and I are alone.”  With that, he walked back to the back of the room and remained there until it was time to collect the papers.

Twenty minutes elapsed as the class worked in silence.  Suddenly, Mr. Blond spoke, “Wilbur, would you like to collect the papers for me, and you can choose someone to help you if you like.”

“Can Arthur hep me?”

“Sure, if you think he will be helpful to you.”

Arthur Winston was another one of the class clowns and seemed very surprised he would be given the opportunity to do something other than disrupt the class.  He popped out of his chair and said, “What’ll I do? “

“Wilbur would like you to assist him in collecting the papers … Wilbur, tell him how you would like him to do it.”

Wilbur spoke quickly, “You get all the papers in yo’ row and the one next to it, and I’ll get the rest.

“OK.”

After several minutes, Wilbur and Arthur handed Mr. Blond thirty papers, some face up, face down, wrinkled, but collected.

“Thank you, Mr. Martin and Mr. Winston,” stated Mr. Blond.  “I appreciate your help.”

Ring-n-n, ring-n-n-n, went the class change bell.  “Please remain seated,” said Mr. Blond.  “We will be dismissed by rows.  We will begin with Row Five, which coincidently, was the row Arthur Winston was in.

“Row One.”

“Row Three.”

This continued until each row had emptied the classroom.

 Episode Four

When the last kid cleared the door, Mr. Blond gathered papers and made his way to the principal’s office.  The upcoming period was his “preparation period,” the period he prepared lessons plans for the next week, but he needed to get clarity of school policy regarding how he could deal with Wilbur, Arthur and any of the five class clowns in the class.  Grabbing them by the collar and lifting them off of the floor was clearly not going to fly!  He could hear the parents reporting such behavior to the principal, “Do you know Mr. Blond used physical abuse with my child?  I am going to sue you, him and the entire school system!” 

“No, there has to be a better solution than that!” he thought to himself.

“Maybe … just maybe, what I have in mind will work.”

Walking into the main office area, he was greeted by Assistant Secretary Williams, “Hello Mr. Blond, may I help you?”

“Yes, is Assistant Principal Mackintosh available to talk with me?”

“Wait here, and I will check.”

Glancing around the room, he spotted Julie Pickens, one of the female class clowns.  “Miss Pickens, your next class is math, why are you here?”

“Uh-h-h, you see Mr. Blond, like I jes’ wuz walking down the hall…like … Minnie Jones …like… come up to me, and, and I wun’t doing nuthin’ and … like … she shoved me for nuthin’ … nuthin.  Befo’ I knew it, I had hol-off and slapped her!  I don’t know why she did that, and … and I jes’ cunn’t let her git away wit’ it!  And … Mis. Brown, she sent me here.”

“Miss Pickens, we need to talk.  I will inform you when that is going to happen.”

“Ok, Mr. Blond, but jes’ so you know, I didn’t do nuthin. I don’t know even why I’m here.”

“Of course, Miss Pickens, that will be one of the first things we will talk about.”  As he was about to say something else, Secretary Williams interrupted, “Assistant Principal Mackintosh will see you now, Mr. Blond.”

Walking into the office of Assistant Principal Williams was like walking into a room Mr. Blond’s mother had always wanted him to keep—orderly, neat, bright and colorful.  In spite of his mother’s efforts, orderliness and neatness were not his strong habits.

“What can I do for you Mr. Blond?”

“I’m here to talk with you about school policy relative to “behavioral consequences” for some of the students in my classes.  More specifically … to determine if the plan I have in mind will be contrary to school guidelines and policies.”

“What’s your plan?”

Episode Five

“Well, the first thing I would like to do is ‘build relationships’ with my class clowns.  Secondly, I want to make ‘classwork a non-issue.’  I understand why I am here—to help children gain knowledge and understanding but, if 10% of the class is not ready to do that and I spend most of the class period correcting behavior, the other 90% is not learning anyway.  I need to find a way to get everybody on board.”

“How are you going to do that?”

“I would like to use my lunch hour and the lunch hour of my class clowns—one clown at a time.  Starting today, I am going to begin thinking of each one as the most cooperative kid in the room.  I will need to have the chosen “lunch hour kid” get his lunch, eat it in my room and then began building a relationship with him or her.”

“If you think this will work, draw up a contact slip, give it to the student when he goes to lunch and have him/her hand it to the lunch worker in charge of giving him/her lunch, and we will see what happens.  You are not going to kill the kid once you are alone with him/her, are you?”

“No, as much as the voice in my head says, do it … I promise you … I won’t.”  Both Mr. Blond and Assistant Principal Mackintosh found that statement amusing and expressed it with laughter.

“Let’s get started tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Assistant Principal Mackintosh.”

“You are welcome … I hope this works out.”

“So, do I.”

The next day, as Wilbur sat in desk, Mr. Brown approached him and handed the contact slip to him.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a contact slip for you to give it to the lunch worker and she will give you lunch so that you can eat it in this room during lunch hour.”

“I don’t wanna do that!”

“You probably don’t… but … it has been approved by Assistant Principal Mackintosh.”

“I’m gonna tell I ain’t doing it!”

“Ok … but when you tell him…you will need this slip.”

Reluctantly, Wilbur grabbed the slip from his hand.  Mr. Brown pretended not to notice.  Wilbur pouted the rest of the period, but something told him, acting up at that moment may not be the best thing to do.  At the end of the period, instead of going to his next class, Wilbur went to the office.

“Hi Wilbur, how may I help you?” asked Assistant Secretary Williams.

“I wanna see Assistant Principal Mackintosh.”

“I’m sorry Wilbur, he’s out of the office.  Is there something I can help you with?”

“Naw … I gotta see him.  When he be back?”

“I’m not sure but, go on to class…try again after school or tomorrow.”

Wilbur was not pleased with that response at all but, reluctantly made his way to the next class.  Upon entering, he was met with a question by Miss Rutledge, the science teacher.  “Why are you late coming to class Wilbur?”

“I went to the office.”

“Who gave you permission to do that?  Where’s your office pass to get here?”

“I forgot to git one from the secretary!”

“Mr. Brown … he said I could go …”  He eyed the rest of the class, hoping no one would say that was not true.  No one said anything.

“Next time, get a permission slip from Mr. Brown.”

Wilbur slumped onto his desk without responding.  He was most upset … knowing his lunch hour would be spent with Mr. Brown.

 

Episode Six 

Ring-ring-ring!  Everyone perked up because everyone knew that bell meant it was “lunch time!” Visions of what they would say to a friend in the lunchroom entered thought and… playing a game on the playground would be so much fun!  Even though it was only an hour, a lot could be packed into that hour if plans were made in advance.

As the class made its way to the lunchroom, excitement lit up the faces of everyone but Wilbur.  He was not looking forward to his hour with Mr. Brown.  To make matters worse, all eyes would be on him as he carried his lunch from the lunchroom. Those who knew he was headed to Mr. Brown’s room for disciplinary action would be covertly smirking, and those who didn’t know, would be wondering what the heck he was doing?  Either way … he was “hit!”

Grabbing his lunch from the attendant’s hand was the first step, and as he did so, he could see the “you are getting what you deserve” look on her face.  Keeping his eyes focused on the wall of the lunchroom, Wilbur quickly made his way out of there.  Climbing the stairs to the first floor, gave him a chance to explore the idea percolating in his brain.  “What if he wasted lots of time getting to Mr. Brown’s room … like going to the bathroom, getting water from that fountain way down the hall … or dropping his lunch on the floor?”  All of that would take time and the lunch hour would be over.

“Hmm-m-m, I’m hungry so I need my lunch…and if I take too long Mr. Brown will be out looking for me and … if one of my friends is out in the hall for some reason and see Mr. Brown screaming at me … nah-a-a … I’d better jus’ go on in!”

“Hi Wilbur, I see you made it.”

“Hi.”  Wilbur thought to himself, “Sure, I made it, what did he think?  If he hadn’t been down there in Assistant Principal Macintosh’s office telling all them lies on me, I wouldn’t haf to make it.”

“Eat your food and then we will get started.  I pack my lunch each day so, I have already eaten.”

Those remarks from Mr. Brown got many wheels turning in Wilbur’s head, “He packs his lunch … he ain/t got no money to buy it!  I thought teachers were rich.  Maybe he’d better go down there and git food stamps like everybody else.  I seen a lotta people there…black, white, yellow, red or whatever color they wuz’… all getting them food stamps.  No one seemed to care…maybe be they don’t care what yo’ job is either.  One day, I’ll clue Mr. Brown in, but fer now, I gonna eat, cuz’ I’m hungry.”

After several minutes, the voice of Mr. Brown broke the silence, “I see you have finished eating …the first thing we are going to do is have you answer this question… Who are you?”

“Mr. Brown, you done forgot who I am… I’m Wilbur Martin!”

“Oh, I know who you are, the question is for you to discover who you are.”

“Wait a minute Mr. Brown, you think I don’t know who I am… that’s really funny!  I know I am Wilbur Martin!”

“That’s your name, but who are you besides your name?”

“I’m a boy!”

“That’s your gender.”

“That’s my what!”

“Your gender.  A gender tells whether you are a male (boy) or female (girl) and it has nothing to do with your parents.  You have told me your name and gender.  What else tells who you are?”

“Well … I live at 2537 Weathervane Street, Anytown, Any State, USA.”

“That tells us where you live, it does not tell us who you are.”

“My mama’s name is Jameda Martin.”

“That tells us your mother’s name, not who you are.”

“I…don’t know nuthin’ else!”

Mr. Brown lifted that tall frame from behind his desk, walked briskly to the chalkboard and said, “Maybe this will help.  I have listed three sentences on the board, which one says who you are?”

  1. I am dumb.
  2. I am ugly.
  3. I am smart.

 

Wilbur stared at the sentences before speaking.  After several minutes of mouthing the words to each one silently, he spoke emphatically, “I ain’t ugly and sure as heck ain’t dumb!”

“Then Wilbur, you must be smart,” said Mr. Brown.

“Yea, that’s it, I am smart”

“Super, give me three things that tell us… you are smart.”

“Well, I ain’t dumb, I ain’t stupid and I ain’t crazy.”

“That’s telling us who you are not…not who you are.”

“Are you trying to confuse me?”

“No!”

“I don’t know Mr. Brown … I don’t know.”

“That will be your assignment for tonight.  Think of three things that tell us you are smart, and when you come tomorrow, you can share them with me.”

“Tomor… I’m coming here agin on my lunch hour?”

“Of course.  Now, it’s time for you to get to your next class.  I look forward to seeing you tomorrow and have a great afternoon!”

“Huh!”

As Wilbur mounted the stairs to the second floor for his next class, he was angry about having to give up his lunch hour the next day.  Mr. Brown is out of his mind!  He has no right to take my lunch hour!  After school, I’m going in and talk to Assistant Principal Macintosh and get this thing straightened out.  Who does Mr. Brown think he is?

 

Episode Seven

Wilbur was quiet and sullen the rest of the afternoon.  He was still trying to figure out how he could get out of doing lunch with Mr. Brown the next day, but knew waiting in the office for the Assistant Principal after school was out of the question because his mother told him to walk home with friends, so … that meant he would have to see Assistant Principal Macintosh before class-time the next day.  He just may not be able to do that, and he couldn’t risk going to the office again during change of classes.  Somebody would surely tell the teachers no one gave him permission to do so.  This was uppermost in his mind as he made his way down the steps afterschool.

“Hi Wilbur, what happened during lunch hour with Mr. Brown, asked Arthur Winston?”

“Nuthin.”

“Come on … somethin’ happened.”

“I don’t wanna talk about it.”

“Okay, but I thought maybe I could do somethin’.”

“You can’t help.”

On the walk home, Arthur tried several times to get Wilbur out of the funky mood he was in, but to no avail.  Wilbur was deep in thought, trying to figure out how the next day would evolve.  It took hours, but finally a plan began to emerge.

After settling into his class before lunch, he would develop such a powerful “illness” that the teacher would have to send him to the office.  Arriving there, his mother would be called and…as always… she would say she could not leave her job to pick him up.  So…the office would be forced to let him get lunch to “see if he could eat it,” and keep him there until dismissal.  Of course, that would only work for one day, but in the interim, he would be able to talk with Assistant Principal Macintosh. 

“Hmm-m-m, a great plan, even if I did think of it myself,” mused Wilbur.  With such pleasant thoughts in his head, he drifted into a well-deserved sleep.

 

 Episode Eight

Looking at his class schedule the next day, Wilbur recalled for himself that he had art with Mr. Clark the first hour, math with Ms. Clem the second hour and science with Ms. Rutledge, third hour.   The thoughts in his head went something like this:

“Hmm-mm, what is the best time to fake my illness?  Let’s see… first hour is too early, somethin’ may happen to make me well … second hour … I’d kinda like to be there, I enjoy doing stuff with them test tubes … it’s gotta be third hour, even though Ms. Rutledge is tough on letting anyone out of her class.  Yea … third hour is better ‘cuz it’s just befo’ lunch.”

As Wilbur settled in his first hour class, his mind was racing ahead with plans to fake his illness.  Being so immersed in thought, he did not hear Mr. Clark speaking to him… “Wilbur …Wilbur … Wilbur, are you listening?   I asked you to read problem #6 and tell me how you would solve it.”

“What?”

“Read problem #6 and explain how you would solve it.”

“I don’t know Mr. Clark!”

“Read it again … think about it, and tell me what you are thinking.”

“Darn,” thought Wilbur, “I wish he’d just leave me alone!”

“Ah-ah, Mr. Clark, I think you would take the 10 apples and add them to the 12 bananas, and then … subtract the 3 oranges from them.  That would be 10+12=22-3… and you end up wit 19.”

“Correct Wilbur,” remarked Mr. Clark.  “Now, let’s move on to the next problem.”

“Wow!” mused Wilbur, I’d better pay attention, cuz Mr. Clark likes to pick on you when he thinks you ain’t.”

“Ring-ng-ng,” went the bell to end the first hour.  Wilbur was gleeful as he walked toward the science room, knowing the second hour would fly by because he would be doing what loved to do—mess around with the experiments.

Third hour:  Entering the science room, Wilbur walked slowly to his seat, sat gingerly at his desk, placed his hand on his head, and then suddenly… clutched his stomach!  Placing his head on his desk, he let out a soft whimper …  no one noticed him … another whimper, a bit louder…no one said anything …then…a moan.

“What’s wrong with you Wilbur?” said Arthur Winston, as he walked past Wilbur’s desk.

“Mmmmm,” moaned Wilbur.

“Hey Ms. Rutledge, somthin’s wrong with Wilbur!” screamed Arthur.

Walking over to his desk, Ms. Rutledge asked, “Wilbur, tell me what’s going on!”

“Mmmmmmm,” was Wilbur’s response.

“I can’t help you unless you give me information.”

“Mmmmm… my stomach…mmmmmmmmm… ohhhhh… mmmmm…my head.”  Now, a crowd of students gathered around Wilbur’s desk.  “Wow!” thought Wilbur, “I love all of this attention!  It’s almost as good as not going to Mr. Blond’s lunch duty crap!”

“Are you able to stand up Wilbur?” asked Ms. Rutledge.

“Mmmmmmm, ohhhhhhhh, mmmmmm, I-I don’t know.”

“Sit for a while … let me know if you think you can walk with Arthur to the office.”

“Walk to the office…” Those words were music to Wilbur’s ears, but he had to “play the game of pain” a little longer… so he allowed his moans and groans to continue, but gradually …taper-off a bit.  Everybody was still standing around with concern on their faces…even Ms. Rutledge.  Finally, with great effort, he spoke, “I-I think-ink I can wa-wa-walk now.”  Ms. Rutledge placed her arms gently around him and lifted him from the desk.  “Can you stand?” asked his teacher.

“Ye-ye- yes….  Holding his stomach and head, he stood. “Boy, I need one of those acting awards I see on TV for this show,” thought Wilbur.

Ms. Rutledge spoke forcefully, “Arthur, walk with Wilbur to the office!  If he falls or anything happens to him… you come back and get me!  Do you understand?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Slowly, the two boys made their way toward the office.  It was a long, slow, painful walk for Wilbur because he had to keep up the charade so Arthur could express his plight with fear and anxiety to the people in the office.  Being genuinely concerned, Arthur did not let him down.

“Hey Ms. Williams, somethin’s wrong with Wilbur.  He been making noises and holding his head and stomach! You got to call his mama!” shouted Arthur.

“Come over here and sit down, Wilbur” said Assistant Principal Williams. “I have to call your mother.”  Those words were music to Wilbur’s ears.  He could hear his Mom now, “I’m so sorry Ms. Williams, I can’t leave my job now.  Can you keep Wilbur there until I get off work?”  After what seemed like an eternity, Assistant Principal Williams returned.

“Wilbur, your mom can’t come and get you until she gets off from work, but I have a little good news for you … Mr. Blond has agreed to let you spend your lunch hour with him so you will be more comfortable.  He said you were planning to come to him anyway.   I have asked the lunch room assistant to take your lunch to his room.  You can go there now.  Isn’t that nice of Mr. Blond?”

“What?”  Wilbur shouted at her.