The Boy in the Bin

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21) EVEN STEVEN

Lunch break came as the teacher initiated her lesson, in the difference between active and passive voices in grammar. To an outside observer, one would think a fire alarm went off. Everyone stood and made a mad dash to the door.

Raphael’s head started to swim because of attending three new classes so far this morning; Social Studies, Science, and English. He liked Mrs. Rondall in Social Studies the best. The other two teaches, Mr. Lilly in Science and Miss Whisk in English seemed OK too.

“I want everybody to study Chapter 15 in your books tonight,” Ms. Whisk said. “You will be having a test at the end of the week.”

Raphael followed the crowd down the hall to the cafeteria. At the far end of the room stood a serving line of neatly dressed ladies in head bonnets and gloves, waiting to serve the hungry students. Raphael worried because he brought no money to school with him and he wanted to eat. Coming up to the first server, he told her about his situation.

“Oh Honey, you don’t need any money,” she chuckled. “This is all included with your tuition.”

“You nmean I can eat anything?” Raphael queried.

“Anything and as much as you would like,” the lady continued, “except desserts. You can only take one of those.”

Raphael took full advantage of this and asked for a Hamburger patty, some Mac and Cheese, some Carrots, and a Strawberry Tart. He sat down at the first available table and began to chow down his treasure of a meal.

A young girl approached the table and asked Raphael if she might sit with him. Her beautiful brown eyes perfectly offset her blond hair. She stood roughly the same height as Raphael and wore a frilly cotton dress. Raphael thought she might be a teenager because he couldn’t miss her small, but pert boobies pushing through the dress; crying to be seen. He nodded ‘Yes’ to her and she took the seat across the table from him.

“My name is Eve Daniels,” she offered. “You are the new kid who recently transferred here, right?”

“My name is Raphael Hernandez,” he beamed. “I used to go to nVillage Community nSchool, but now I ncome here.”

The two sat eating their lunches and talking. Eventually, a third student joined the table. He called himself Steven and he apparently associated himself with Eve . She introduced him to Raphael and told him Raphael transferred here from a school on the West Side of the city.

“Did you get into any trouble with those west side punks,” Steven inquired.

“I ngot along with nmost of the kids,” Raphael replied. “I liked the nschool because my cousin went to nsome of nmy same classes.”

“Is something wrong with your speech?” Steven probed. “Do you suffer from an impediment?”

“I nwas born this nway,” Raphael explained. “My mom and dad say I nmay need to get surgery to nfix my nmouth, but I’m not old enough nyet.”

While talking, Raphael informed them he was in the 5th grade, but he hoped his grades would be high enough to skip a grade next year. Eve said both she and Steven now attended the 6th grade but classes seemed more difficult than the last year. They warned Raphael against skipping ahead too far.

“You must be pretty smart,” Eve commented. “Skipping a grade is difficult here. I skipped 5th grade, and now I wish I didn’t.”

“I nstudy hard,” Raphael told them. “I don’t think I can nskip but I’m nhoping to be able to.”

“Eve is a genius,” Steven mentioned. “She learns super fast. I studied hard getting to the 6th grade and I’m still having trouble.”

“I’m not a genius Steven,” Eve responded. “I’ve got older brothers in my family and I learned a lot from them.”

Raphael considered Eve’s statement. Eve and Steven must be good friends and took classes together for a long time. They both seemed energetic and friendly. Raphael thought maybe they went together as boyfriend/girlfriend. In his mind, he called the pair ‘Eve and Steven ... EveN Steven’. He liked the way Eve looked. Even though he wasn’t a teenager yet, he would like to someday get a girlfriend like her.

“Is some kid named Sammy in your class?” Steven questioned. “He transferred here from the west side too. He’s a real jerk and he likes to pick on the other kids.”

Raphael remembered a boy named Sammy from his old school. He hoped this Sammy didn’t turn out to be the same one. He thought back on the troubles with him and he wanted no more problems at this school. Raphael recognized no one fitting Sammy’s description, but with more classes on his schedule, he might be in one of those.

“I remember a Sammy from the west side,” Raphael disclosed, “but I nthink he ngot expelled nfrom nschool. One day he left and never ncame back to class. He nwas a dummy anyway because he flunked twice.”

“He would need smarts,” Eve argued, “or he wouldn’t be here. They are strict about who gets to study here. You either need brains or a whole lot of money.”

They finished their lunch as the bell rang for the next class. Everyone in the cafeteria got up and scurried off to whatever class was on their schedules. Eve and Steven went one way and Raphael made his way to his afternoon Math class.

The teacher, Mr. Borden, dressed sharply for the class. Raphael estimated him to be a young guy of about thirty years old. He seemed to display a perpetual smile on his face as he greeted all the class members when they sat down at their desks.

“Good Afternoon kids,” he announced. “Welcome to the world of numbers. Today we will start exploring the magic of math. I ’m not joking when I do say magic.”

Raphael instantly liked Mr. Borden. He seemed funny, fresh and enthusiastic about helping his students get the absolute best education possible. He promised the class wouldn’t be studying from a book all the time. He intended to give practical examples of how Math worked in everyone’s lives.

“Let’s start out with a puzzle,” he decided. “The first person to get the answer right gets a gold star next to their name on my ledger sheet. After you accumulate ten gold stars, I will give you a shiny, new $.50 cent piece. Who wants to give the puzzle a try?”

Everybody in class raised their hands; including Raphael. He had never heard of a teacher paying people to learn. He liked the idea because this might be a way of making money. Raul and Sylvia only gave him money when he brought home a good report card.

“OK, here we go,” Mr. Borden started.

“Mrs. Mason wants to buy a set of garden furniture. The cost for the set is $ 70 dollars. She gave the cashier what she thought to be two $ 50 bills; but in actuality, they were $ 100 bills. The attendant failed to pay attention and overlooked receiving the $ 200 payment. He gave Mrs. Mason three $ 50 bills as change. Tell me who ended up better off than supposed to, and explain why. Write your answers down and turn in the papers when you leave class.”

Raphael thought about the problem for a moment. He could do the math in his head because she paid $ 200 and got back $ 150 in change. So her cost was $ 50 for a $ 70 set of items. She made $ 20 in value on the deal; Simple. He did not understand how much the store made, though. If the store only paid $ 30 for the furniture and they made a $ 20 profit, both parties came out even.

“How nmuch did the nstore pay for the nfurniture?” he requested.

“Cost doesn’t matter, Raphael,” Mr. Borden answered, “but let’s say they paid $ 40 dollars.”

Based on those figures, the store only made $ 10 profit on Mrs. Mason’s purchase. But what if the clerk realized the over-payment and kept the extra $ 100 tendered? The clerk would make out the best with his $ 100 gain. He wrote his answer down in an essay form for the teacher.

Two possible answers existed, based on the honesty of the clerk. If he acted honestly, the store received $ 200 from Mrs. Mason for items costing only $ 40 for the set. They returned $ 150 in change and their profit would be $ 10 dollars. Mrs. Mason paid $ 50 for the furniture ($ 200 minus $ 150 change). So , Mrs. Mason got the better deal. She received a $ 70 set of furniture for only $ 50 dollars and the store lost $ 20 in potential profit.

If the clerk acted dishonestly, the store received $ 200 from Mrs. Mason for items costing $ 40 for the set. The clerk returned $ 150 to her which meant her real cost totaled only $ 50 for the furniture. Since the cost of goods totaled $ 40, the store made a $ 10 profit. But the clerk knew he cheated Mrs. Mason and he kept the extra $ 100 in the till. He would be the one who received the greatest gain while the store still loses potential profit.

He finished his paper with the words ‘the store always loses and the woman always gains’. The assignment was turned in when the class bell rang. He hoped he answered correctly enough for him to get a gold star.

The schedule showed Raphael’s next class to be Physical Education. Everybody got changed in the locker room and met in the gymnasium with the teacher, Mr. Hocker. Hocker was a recent college graduate and today turned out to be his first day teaching also.

For his first official task, he directed everybody to sit down on the bleachers while he outlined his goals for gym class. He explained how he would try to offer class twice a week outdoors where they would run track, play golf and perhaps get into a basketball match.

On the other days, they would be inside where they would swim, climb ropes, play on the parallel bars and weight training. The class seemed quite a varied curriculum of gymnastic events; much more so than his old school.

In the middle of the lecture by Mr. Hocker, the door opened and a familiar face walked in. It was Sammy ... the same Sammy from Village Community School. Raphael felt the blood drain from his face as he gazed at his old enemy slowly walk into class.

“You’re late Mr. Lovelace,” Mr. Hocker said. “I don’t tolerate lateness in my class. Give me fifty push-ups on the floor.”

“Big deal,” Sammy snorted, “we’re talking about a stupid gym class.”

Mr. Hocker walked over to Sammy and confronted him. Hocker’s short and stocky frame only stood about 5′5" tall; while Sammy towered at least four inches above him. He glared casually, with a smirk on his face, waiting to see what the teacher would do.

“So you think you’re a tough guy, Sammy?” Mr. Hocker asked.

“I do alright,” Sammy smirked. “Nobody’s kicked my ass yet.”

“I said to give me fifty push-ups,” Hocker commanded. “Either do them now or, if you think you are tough enough, take a swing at me.”

To Sammy’s way of thinking, this threat took no brains . He pulled back and launched a powerful left hook at Mr. Hocker’s diminutive frame. In a heartbeat, Hocker responded by grabbing his left hand and twisting in a clockwise position, while pulling him forward. Sammy’s feet left the ground and he flew head over heels; landing twelve feet away.

He jumped up, turned around and charged at the waiting teacher. He held both of his arms outstretched, as if he intended to strangle his victim. He never got the chance. Mr. Hocker planted his left leg squarely on the ground. As Sammy approached, he kicked straight out with his right foot, catching Sammy under the jaw. Sammy snapped backward, landing once again on his back. He shook his head once and bolted to his feet.

“I’m going to kick your puny ass,” Sammy shouted as he charged.

Again, Mr. Hocker grabbed his wrist and twisted. This time he placed his hand under Sammy’s armpit and lifted him as he flipped. He slammed Sammy to the ground with such a force, the bleachers where everybody sat rattled with the crash.

The rest of the students in gym class stared with rapt attention as the class bully got taken down by a short, fairly diminutive teacher. More than a few students boasted slight smiles on their faces; Sammy’s once and future victims of abuse.

“I’ve read the Administrator’s report on you Mr. Lovelace,” Mr. Hocker said. You’ve been a royal pain since you transferred here from what I’m hearing. The stories about you from the teachers and other students convince me you need to be corrected. So I am correcting you. I showed you the first lesson in what will be many more. If I keep hearing tales of your bullying tactics, you will keep getting these lessons.”

Mr. Hocker released his hold on Sammy and lifted him to his feet. Stupid Sammy hadn’t lived through enough rousting. He reached out grabbing Mr. Hocker’s shirt and yelling, “You don’t fucking scare me, Teach.”

Hocker responded by reaching up to Sammy’s snarling mouth and grabbing the lower lip tightly between his thumb and index finger. As he pulled downward, twisting the curling lip, Sammy lost all control and forcefully dropped to his knees. Immediately, Hocker put his own knee in Sammy’s back and pushed him all the way down. He lay helplessly on the ground in a prone position.

“I’m sure I don’t scare you,” he laughed. “I’m not trying to scare you. I am teaching you respect. You probably never put the word into practice, so I want to give you practical examples of how respect works. You don’t swear in this class, you do what I say and you act in a responsible manner. And if these lessons come hard to you, I hope your parents gave you a good medical plan because you will need one for when you go to the ER.”

Mr. Hocker let go of Sammy’s lip but kept his knee centered in his back, pushing him down. He told Sammy when he tired of the pain, saying ‘UNCLE’ to the teacher would put an end to his misery. Sammy held out for about 6 seconds before he cried out.

“OK,” he complied, “UNCLE.” The teacher lifted his knee off Sammy’s back and jerked him upright.

“Now, in case you need reminding, I want fifty push-ups,” he repeated, “and don’t worry. I will not call your rich parents and report you. I will deal with you myself and I don’t want to ever hear of any more of your antics. You WILL respect these other students coming here to learn; you WILL be intimidating no one again; You WILL take me seriously, or the next time ... I WILL hurt you.”

For the first time in his young life, Sammy showed fear in his eyes. He always got away with using his brawn and size to get what he wanted. Getting his ass kicked by someone four inches shorter than him took its toll, both as blow to his ego and a blow to his credibility. Even though he didn’t qualify as a mental giant, he realized if he didn’t change, at least in this class, he may get hurt.

Everyone spent the rest of the class time doing calisthenics and climbing on the ropes. Raphael fought hard to work his way up to the ceiling; because of a lack of exercise in a while, plus being overweight. But he pushed himself and much to his joy, got to the top without falling. A lot of his extra energy came from the fact of Sammy being taken down a notch.

The comment Mr. Hocker made about Sammy’s rich parents explained how Sammy was able to attend this school. Gym class broke up and everybody hit the showers. Raphael checked his schedule and saw one more class to go to; called Artistic Design. He assumed he would enjoy attending this class.

Raphael went into his Art class, taught by another good looking lady named Miss Cash. When he entered the room, she busied herself by working on a watercolor painting of a landscape with a mountain stream. The scene showed a farmhouse, a large barn and several horses in a corral. Everything seemed placid and peaceful.

“You must be Raphael,” she cooed. “My name is Miss Cash. I understand you are quite the artist.”

“I nlike to draw and ncolor,” he affirmed. “I drew a nice nrocket car at nmy nlast nschool, but another kid nwrecked nmy picture.”

“Well, perhaps you can redraw the car here?”

“I’d like nthat,” Raphael concluded with a smile. “Is nthat where nyou live?”

“Oh no, Raphael,” Miss Cash bubbled, “this is a cabin in the woods where I like to go to every year on vacation. The cabin is owned by a friend of mine in upstate New York.”

“Where is upstate New York?” Raphael wondered, “Is nthat area nclose to Long Island?”

“No,” she corrected. “Upstate New York is north of here about six hours away. It’s near a little town called Lake Placid; quite close to the Canadian border.”

Raphael liked Miss Cash too. Not only did she appear pretty, but she explained things to him . She was happy to help set up his supplies, which allowed him to draw his picture of the ‘Rocketmobile’ again. He liked having Art class as the last segment of the day. It allowed him to relax and reflect on the day’s events.

Mostly, his first day at ‘The Dalton School’ turned out to been a success. He made a few friends and liked his new teachers. Even seeing Sammy in the same school didn’t bother him as much as he originally thought.

He hoped things would stay this way.

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