The Boy in the Bin

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For the next few weeks, Raphael plugged along at his new classes. Even though Mr. Whitlow remained his Science teacher, neither one ever mentioned anything about the gas incident.

He occasionally bumped into Mitch in the hallways, but never encountered Sammy again. He couldn’t be displeased with the missing bully because he didn’t like him. The only problem Raphael faced now, turned out to be when several students picked up on Sammy’s moniker for Raphael. They called him ‘Fatso’ whenever they would meet him.

“I’m not fat,” he contended. “I’m nhusky. There’s a difference.”

One day, one of the braver students made a statement like ‘here comes the husky hairlip’, while Raphael walked down the hall. Raphael’s wanted to punch him on first impulse. However, he thought better of the idea because he wanted no more trouble in school.

“You’re a real pussy,” Johnny told him at lunch. “If the same thing happened to me, he would get his ass kicked.”

“I don’t need any nmore trouble,” Raphael lamented. “My father told nme the next time I nget in trouble, nhe is going to ntell the Principal to separate us. We wouldn’t nbe in nclasses together.”

“Your Old Man is a pussy too,” Johnny sneered. “Sometimes, you got to step up to the plate for what’s right and defend yourself. You’ve never seen me taking any shit from anybody, do you?”

“I don’t think anybody ever gave nyou shit either.”

In the afternoon, Raphael went to his Humanities class. His current artistic project focused on drawing and coloring a futuristic car. The teacher, Mrs. Raymond, said any design would work for their project, but couldn’t be a copy of an existing model.

Raphael worked on his drawing since the school year began. He even took supplies home sometimes, simply to do work over the weekend. In his opinion, this would be a real work of art.

He sat at his little desk, detailing the lines of his work of art with many colored pencils provided. Every sometimes, one another student would come over to admire his work.

“Your car looks real nice Raphael,” Sally purred. “Did you pick out a name yet?”

“I haven’t nthought of one,” Raphael replied. “Perhaps nyou can nhelp me.”

“The car shows a long hood stretching out,” Sally remarked. “What if you called your model the ‘Rocketmobile’.”

Raphael liked her idea. With all little boys, there seemed to be an attraction for rockets. Raphael was no exception and as far as he knew, nobody made a car called the ‘Rocketmobile’.

He showed the drawing to Johnny at lunch one day. Johnny told him he should call the car the ‘Hernandez Bullet’, because the shaping reminded him of a bullet. The idea struck a chord with Raphael because having a car named after him would be cool.

So today, in deep concentration, he attended to putting the final touches on this Modern Marvel; this Masterpiece of his own creation. He held great pride in his heart as he lifted the paper up in front of him to review. He took the drawing up to the teacher to let her comment on the fruits of his efforts. Walking towards the front of the room, one of the other students called out to him.

“Hey Fatso,” he mocked. “What ya got in ya hand?”

“A ndrawing of a car,” Raphael answered. “A pretty nspecial car.”

“Bring your picture over here, Fatso and let me check it out.”

Raphael didn’t like being called ‘Fatso’, but pride in his work and wanting to show off his design, forced him to ignore the latest comment. This boy, Phillip Ahearn, who picked on him, acted like Sammy; being a bully. He walked over to Phillip’s desk to give him a glimpse of his creativity. Maybe Phillip would admire his efforts and friendliness and stop picking on him.

“Oh look,” Phillip motioned. “The car is not bad, but the sides are too narrow.”

“Too narrow?” Raphael sputtered, “Why do nyou nthink nthat?”

“Because,” Phillip pointed out, “you need wider doors.”

“The car is supposed to nlook nlike a rocket,” Raphael shot back. “To make the doors nwider, the car would nlook nlike a bubble.”

“Here,” Phillip responded, “let me show you what I mean.”

He grabbed Raphael’s drawing from his hand. Phillip also kept a collection of colored pencils in front of him on his desk. He picked one up and added large boxes to the left and right sides of the car.

“You need wider doors,” he repeated, “to be able to fit your fat ass inside.”

Raphael went ballistic. He picked up a pencil off Phillip’s desk and in one quick move, stabbed him in the neck. Blood spurted all over the desk and Raphael’s drawing. Phillip’s eyes rolled back in his head as he slumped over and fell out of his chair. The girl at the next desk screamed as Raphael stood, with a bloody pencil in his hand.

Mrs. Raymond went nuts too. She ran over and grabbed Raphael by a handful of hair, literally dragging him out of the room. They went down the hall to the nurse’s station. She yelled ‘Help’ as she walked in the office and told the nurse a boy in her class been stabbed.

“Please go and help him,” she ordered, “and I will call the ambulance.”

The nurse jumped up from her desk and ran down the hallway to the art class. Her shock came in seeing a 10-year-old boy lying prone on the floor, with a pool of blood flowing from his neck. She immediately put pressure on the wound, attempting to stop any liquid life from oozing out of Phillip’s neck. All the kids in the class cried at the same time and the nurse did her best to calm them down.

“Your teacher called an ambulance,” she confirmed. “Please form a single line and walk quietly to the cafeteria.”

Everyone in class did what she requested; some because of her authority and some because of the horror they had witnessed. In the distance, sirens screamed as they made their way to the school. Apparently, Mrs. Raymond alerted the Principal, who called the other teachers out of their classes and to assemble in the lunch room.

The Principal charged into the nurse’s station and recognized Raphael sitting in a chair with bloodstains on his pants. She told him to follow her to the office and they walked down the hallway. On the way, a group of firemen and paramedics came bursting through the front door. They pushed a gurney and the Principal directed them to the room where Phillip still remained.

“If you think getting paddled or smacked on the wrists made you cry,” she warned, “you don’t have a clue what trouble is all about. Lieutenant Sherman is meeting us in my office and you will jail.”

Raphael never thought of jail in his young life. To him, he only reacted to someone wrecking his masterpiece drawing. In his mind, he acted within his rights to defend his actions because his father and cousin Johnny told him to do so.

Why would they put a little kid in jail for defending his property?

They entered the Principal’s office and Raphael caught sight of a familiar face. At the Principal’s desk sat Lieutenant Sherman, whom he met the last time he got in trouble.

“Well Mr. Hernandez,” Lieutenant Sherman commented. “So we meet again. I guess you weren’t happy getting a lecture from me the last time. I guess you thought doing anything you wanted to do would be OK. Well I’m here to tell you Son; you’re in real trouble this time, unless I get a VERY good explanation.”

“Phillip nwrecked my picture,” Raphael argued. “I nworked on nmy picture a long ntime and he nwrecked everything by ndrawing all over nmy car design.”

“You sit here and be still,” he directed. “I will be right back. I will talk to your Principal and find out how she wants to handle this.”

Lieutenant Sherman and the Principal walked out of the room into the hallway and down to the teachers lounge. They each poured a cup of coffee and sat down to talk.

“How do you want to handle this,” he asked. “This is pretty serious.”

“I like Raphael as a person,” the Principal affirmed, “but he seems to always find trouble around him. I don’t want the reputation of the school put in jeopardy because of his actions. I don’t want him to attend classes here anymore.”

“This private school employs rules,” Sherman described. “You can’t simply throw him out on the street.”

“You are right Lieutenant,” the Principal agreed. “This is a PRIVATE school. We make a lot of money from parents who pay tuition here. Raphael Hernandez however, is becoming a real liability and we don’t need his kind of negative exposure. I will return part of the Hernandez’s tuition fees to them, but I want him out.”

“OK,” the Lieutenant , “I’ll go talk to the parents. Be aware I believe Raphael is not the entire problem here. The victim, this kid named Phillip Ahearn, shares responsibility for his part . What are you going to do with him?”

“I would like to throw him out of the school too,” the Principal confessed, “but his father is on the Board of Directors. He’s a real little punk, but he’s been lucky enough to not get caught doing anything until today. I don’t like his ‘rich kid’ attitude or the other little shits he hangs out with. Unfortunately, I’m in a box. Kicking him out would more than likely result in me being terminated myself.”

“Well, all I can say is this,” Sherman continued, “either you deal with him now, or I will most assuredly deal with him later. Kids like his kind always grow up to be delinquents if their punk attitude isn’t nipped in the bud.”

The Principal and Lieutenant Sherman came back in the room. Sherman told Raphael to stand and put his hands behind his back. Raphael heard the clink of handcuffs going on his wrists and he looked up at Sherman with a question in his eyes.

“You are under arrest for assault Raphael,” he explained. “I’ll be taking you down to the jail as soon as the Paramedic team determines the extent of Phillip’s injuries. Remember, if he dies, we will charge you with murder and you will spend the rest of your life in jail.”

Holy Shit, Raphael thought. This is definitely serious.

At the thought of living in a jail cell for the rest of his life, Raphael cried. His breathing accelerated to the point he gulped air and the tears wouldn’t stop flowing down his face. He had not even celebrated his 11th birthday yet and now he would go to jail. His mother and father will be pissed.

“You can stop crying Raphael,” the Lieutenant commanded, “Crying is not going to do you any good. Your actions in school are wrong and now it’s time to pay for your mistakes.”

“He nwrecked my picture,” he sobbed. “I nwas trying to do good and he nwrecked my picture by writing all over my car.”

“Oh, you’ll be OK,” Sherman laughed, “You will be provided plenty of time to draw pictures when you are behind bars.”

This set off another volley of sobs from Raphael. As he stood in the hall with the Lieutenant, a fireman came out of the room. He told Sherman they would transport the boy to County General Hospital for treatment.

“He’s got a severe laceration to the neck,” he reported, “and he’s lost some blood.”

Lieutenant Sherman walked Raphael out of the school and into a waiting squad car. He placed him in the back seat behind the security gate and went around to the driver’s side to get in and drive. They took off from the school with the red lights and siren running, snaking their way through the city traffic. Raphael stopped his sobbing long enough to ask the cop their destination.

“We are going to your house,” he told him, “to talk to your parents. First though, we are going to the jail house. I want you to understand where you will be living.”

This started a new round of sobbing from Raphael, continuing until they pulled into the Police Station. The two entered a building and Sherman spoke on an intercom to open the door for the cell blocks. Once they got inside the secured area, they walked down a hallway of small rooms, all fitted with bars from top to bottom.

Some cells contained a single individual and some contained five or six prisoners. The inmates all stood dressed in the same garb; an orange jumpsuit with flip-flops for shoes. As soon as they walked past the cells, the inmates would jump up and rush the bars.

“Hey bro,” one of the inmates nagged, “You bringin’ us some new meat?”

“Oh yeah baby boy, we gonna’ get some good fun wit chu.”

In one of the cells, Raphael witnessed two inmates holding down a teenage boy, while another one kicked him. They kept walking until they reached the end of the hallway. Sherman buzzed the intercom and the door opened up to the parking lot.

“Do you think you are going to enjoy living at the jail Raphael?” Sherman queried.

“I don’t nwant to nlive with nthose people,” Raphael stammered. “I nwant to go to nmy house.”

“You keep acting up in school,” the Lieutenant remarked, “and this WILL be your home. You will not be going back to the Village Community School. They don’t want you back and your parents must find you another place to go. All this is because of the things you did today?”

Raphael pondered this while they drove slowly through the congestion, until they got to the alley in front of his house. Sherman opened up the back door and took his prisoner from seat, walking up to the entrance of his apartment. Raul yanked open the door when the car pulled up. The real shocker came as he stood facing his son, standing in the doorway, with shackles on his wrists.

“I’m Lieutenant Paul Sherman from the NYPD,” he announced. “May we come in?”

They came into the kitchen and Sherman removed the cuffs from Raphael. Raul, Sylvia, Raphael and the Lieutenant sat down at the kitchen table for a discussion.

“Your son got involved in an assault on another student at school,” Sherman declared.

“Ordinarily, he would be under arrest and this matter would be turned over to Juvenile Court. The Principal of the school informed me they will not press charges if another school for Raphael to attend.”

“He’s getting thrown out of school?” Sylvia shrieked. “How can they do toss him out, Raul?”

“They can’t,” Raul chuckled, “Village Community is a private school and the tuition is paid.”

“I’m afraid you are wrong, Mr. Hernandez,” the Lieutenant countered. “Village Community is a private school, but you signed a contract which includes a behavior clause. The Principal will discuss returning some of your tuition money, but she clarified things; Raphael is not welcome back.”

Even though Raul was irritated by this statement, as a lawyer he didn’t need to be told about the behavior clause . If he thought about suing the school, Case Law wouldn’t back him up. The decision to send Raphael to private school belonged to him. A situation like this would never exist in a public school.

“So what do we do now?” Sylvia questioned. “We both work during the day. I can tell you, I sure as hell don’t want Raphael going to a public school.”

“The choice is entirely up to you, Mrs. Hernandez,” he informed. “The State will give you about a week to make other arrangements for his education. Afterward, Social Services will get involved. If they’re involved, they will take Raphael from you and he will be placed under their care. They will make all the decisions and you will be left out.”

“Fuck!” Raul shouted. “We don’t need this hassle.”

Raphael, Sylvia, and Lieutenant Sherman all glared at Raul when he made his ‘expletive’ statement. Raphael heard the word from the older kids at school, but never from his parents. Sylvia snapped her head in shock at Raul’s outburst; her surprise matched the surprise of her son. Honestly, speechless seemed to be the operative word.

“Is Raphael under arrest?” Raul pestered.

“I am placing him in your custody,” the Lieutenant verified. “You need to make viable arrangements and inform the Principal at Village Community School as to your decision. If she doesn’t hear from you, she will call Social Services.

So I suggest you take this matter seriously and don’t delay. I don’t want to return here and take him away. He’s already seen what life in jail is like ... Did you like the jail house Raphael?”

Raphael nodded ‘No’ but sat quietly. He felt optimistic he would not be going to jail . Even though his parents seemed upset, he may talk his way out of any punishment. The last thing he wanted to happen would be to lose his television privileges.

“How is the boy who got hurt?” Raul wondered. “Did he go to the hospital?”

“Yes,” Sherman related, “he went to the hospital. I will receive a call if he dies. No news came in yet, but if anything changes, I will be in contact with you.”

Raul let out a sigh of relief. When the school called him at his office, the Principal told him Raphael stabbed someone and they couldn’t stop the bleeding. Raphael’s assault did enough damage, but if the boy dies, things will be a lot worse.

Raul and Sylvia walked the Lieutenant to the door and thanked him for bringing their son home. He reassured them he would be in contact if any updates came in. He also reminded them to deal with the matters discussed earlier regarding a new school. He got in his car and drove away and the loving parents came back inside.

“What the hell went on today Raphael?” Raul demanded. “Didn’t we talk to you about violence? Didn’t you agree to ignore the other kid’s comments?”

“He nwrecked my picture,” Raphael spoke. “I nworked hard on the picture for my teacher and he nwrecked everything I ndid.”

“Raphael,” Sylvia snapped. “You got upset over a picture?” You don’t get upset over a picture.”

“IT WAS nMINE,” he yelled, “and he nwrecked nmy drawing.”

“I can’t tell if you are doing these things deliberately or by accident,” Raul scolded. “But this crap is going to stop immediately. I’ve got a good mind to take my belt off and beat you. Unfortunately, I might get carried away, which would cause my arrest. I assure you, young man, you will stop this aggression and get with people. Now you’ll be starting all over; with a new school and new teachers.”

“You aren’t going to be seeing your cousin anymore either,” added Sylvia. “I think he became a main influence in your bad behavior and even though he’s your cousin, I’m glad you two are separated.”

“Go to your room Raphael,” Raul boomed, “We are displeased with you.”

“Johnny didn’t ndo anything,” Raphael protested. “He nwasn’t even nthere.”

“Things like this don’t matter Raphael,” Sylvia retorted. “I still think he puts ideas into your head.”

Sadly, Raphael went up to his room and quietly closed the door. He thought about his actions of today. Even though he suffered through his troubles, he cracked a little smile. They called him ‘Fatso’ and other names; they mocked him out for his cleft palate; they acted mean and did whatever they wanted. From now on, he intended to make a fresh start.

He planned to put everybody on notice; he didn’t intend to take any more crap. Having to leave the school and all the friends he made, pissed him off. He would especially miss his cousin. He decided he needed to find another, safer way of making his mark in life.

He decided he would strike out.

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