This is part 2 in a multi-part series. Click here to read the beginning of the story.
Note: While I have kept as many details as possible completely honest, I have changed all of the names of the people in these stories. I didn’t think it would be fair to write about them in the way that I have if I hadn’t protected the real people a bit. In the case of one particular person, I don’t remember his real name anyway. Also, please don’t take anything I say in this story to be tacit approval for the way I or anyone else acted. I was in High School, and sometimes acted like quite a punk.
Mr. Grady fixated at the back wall each day apparently in order to spare him from staring at faces who would mostly be populating our city’s jails in the near future. We did not have to guess at this fact. He told us this once toward the beginning of the semester.
This did have a benefit for some of these very students he was trying to avoid. About mid-point in the summer, one of the students, Shane, discovered that he could belly-crawl out of class below Mr. Grady’s field of vision shortly after he took roll in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day doing whatever he wished. Shane was getting valuable experience, in something that would soon be of greater help to him in prison than his knowledge of supply and demand.
Shane and his friend Eduardo were my second source of entertainment during the summer. Eduardo was the older brother of a classmate of mine since the sixth grade. Truthfully, I had never liked either of them. They were never nice to me. In fact, his little brother Paco was probably one of the worst bullies I had ever encountered. I didn’t have to put up with Paco for too many years, as he disappeared from school early in our Freshman year, which probably meant he got expelled.
Eduardo remained in school though. He played trumpet in band, and made rude comments at me whenever I was near. I mostly ignored him, not out of fear, but because I felt him to be somewhat insignificant. I had enough friends who wouldn’t let him bother me seriously, anyway.
Eduardo showed up to band camp the summer before his Senior Year* with his shirt off sporting an entire chest tattoo of a bull’s head. To complete the look, his nipple was in the middle of the bull’s nose, and he had pierced it, giving the bull a sort of 3-D look. It was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.
So, Eduardo had failed Economics the first time through, and was in class with me that particular summer as his last chance to graduate High School without having to get a GED. Fortunately for him, this Econ class was a guarantee. I got over 100% without ever doing any homework or studying, not because I didn’t care, but because I could do it all in class each day. People passed simply by proximity to the classroom.
One day before class Shane and Eduardo were in the back talking about some caper that they were about to embark on, when Shane got up to go to the bathroom. Shane always kept a bottle of water on his desk, the kind with a big plastic bendy-straw in a neon color than stuck through the lid. I always had assumed that he just had a high value for hydration.
Eduardo reached across to Shane’s desk, deciding that he would sneak a sip of Shane’s water before he returned. I saw the liquid move up the straw, into his mouth, and then seconds later comes spewing out, like he was some surfacing whale. Eduardo started gasping and choking, and ran out the door. Whatever was in that bottle was not water, for sure. No one ever touched Shane’s bottle again.
Epilogue: Shortly after these events, Eduardo missed his third day of class. In Summer School that means that you are given an automatic F in the class. Since I knew that this was his last chance to actually graduate High School, I was able to argue and plead with Mr. Grady to not count him as absent. Mr. Grady finally reluctantly agreed to do that. That afternoon I was able to track down Eduardo’s phone number and tell him that he wasn’t counted as absent, and would be able to finish and graduate. He said “OK,” nonchalantly, and never came back to class. -Ryan
Stay posted for further episodes.