May 28, 2009


The phone in the corner of Mr. Bates’ math room rang.

CJ cringed. It was second hour and he was already getting called down to the office.

Mr. Bates was tall and skinny – the IB kids said he looked like a character from the black-and-white movie, “Psycho”. CJ pretty much agreed with them. “The Other Mr. B” was creepy – in a super smart sort of way. He crossed the room in four steps and answered the phone, listened then looked right at CJ.

“Christopher,” he said, hanging up, “Ms. Hester wants to see you in her office.”

Grabbing his notebook and textbook, he headed out the door, very much aware of the eyes boring holes in his back.

Mr. Bates snapped, “Back to work, class! You have a test tomorrow – and most of you have yet to get the quadratic formula down well enough to use it naturally.” The door closed and CJ headed for the office.

He passed through the sixth grade square of rooms, staring at his feet. “Boo!” someone shouted as they jumped out from behind the pillar in front of the girl’s bathroom. He dropped his books and staggered backward.

Job lunged forward and steadied him. “Hey man, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to really scare you.” He was an office aide during second period and spent time running all around the building.

CJ yanked his arm away. “You didn’t scare me.” He picked up his books and hurried down the hall. The worst thing about being a blond-haired, blue-eyed Minnesotan was that everyone knew when you were embarrassed. CJ could feel his ears and face burning. Job jogged up beside him.

“Where’re you going?”

CJ opened the office door and said, “Guess.”

Job sighed. “What happened this time?”

CJ sighed. It was impossible to stay mad at Job for long. He said, “I slugged Curt Jenjiss last Friday after school.”

“You slugged Jenjiss!” Job exclaimed. Everyone in the office looked up at them. “He’s the superintendent’s son!”

CJ hissed, “He’s still a jerk.”

“Yeah, but most people figure if they leave him alone, he’ll self destruct when he reaches puberty.”

CJ laughed as he sat down. Job stopped, waiting. CJ grinned and said, “Wish me luck.”

Job didn’t smile. “I’m gonna wish your mom ignores you getting suspended.”

CJ’s smiled vanished as well. He hung his head. “There’d have to be an earthquake in downtown Minneapolis for her to ignore this."

“That’s for sure,” Job said then hurried to one of the principal’s assistant’s desks.

Ms Hester leaned out her office door, caught his eye then hooked her finger slowly at him. He sighed. At least he wouldn’t have to deal with Mr. B. Ms. Hester was the best principal he’d ever had. She actually liked him. He trudged in and sat down.

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