Thud-Whizzz and then Bham
At the end of this corridor sits the man every student flocks around and each teacher listens to. They call him kind, handsome and sophisticated; everything I’m obviously not.
I still wish he was dead.
I come to a full stop in front of his office and raise my hand, but I don’t yet knock. For the length of a tired sigh I look at the name plate that reads Disciplinary Prefect - Damon Royal. Damon comes from the Greek daman and means to tame or subdue. Euphemistically it even means to kill. I wouldn’t be surprised he knew about that.
At the end of the sigh I bring down my hand and tap the door gently. If he doesn’t hear me, I can always say I knocked and when he didn’t reply I thought he wasn’t in.
‘Enter,’ a baritone and aristocratic voice says.
No such luck. With the look of a man about to be shot I push open the door and step inside the lion’s den. His crisp and clean office in no way mirrors the murky plans Royal has in store for me.
‘Montaque Glupie,’ he says.
He rises from behind his desk and offers me his hand, which I ignore. I don’t like to touch people and I most certainly don’t touch people who don’t use my chosen name Monty Hill. My real name is stupid and you can take that literally; glupi is Polish for stupid.
A soft chuckle escapes Royal’s throat while I focus on the open window on my right. A large tree partially shades it, its leaves fragmenting the sunlight.
‘As you wish,’ Royal says.
I haven’t wished for anything, but it’s useless to tell him so as he retracts his hand and pinches his own nose to give the movement at least some sense. He then takes a seat in a luxurious armchair and looks at me from behind his oversized laptop. It’s flanked by both a black telephone with more buttons than he probably knows how to use and a modern desk lamp in a tasteless red I try hard to ignore.
’Do you realize what you have done? Or can you even explain why you broke Mark’s arm?’
I don’t answer. Yes, I broke Mark’s arm. I didn’t plan doing that, but it happened. If I told him so he would claim arrogance on my part. So instead I concentrate on his immaculate and clean shaven left jaw.
‘I thought so. You never leave me much choice, young man,’ Royal sighs.
‘Let me recapitulate what Mark told me before they took him to the hospital. I also questioned some of your classmates.’
I can imagine what they told him.
‘Mark played with his football when you sat down next to him.’
I sat in a corner of the playground waiting for my only friend when Mark showed up.
‘Once you sat down, you demanded that he played somewhere else.’
Mark kicked his football with a nerve-wrecking thud-whizzz and aimed it at a nearby post so it made a painful bham.
‘But when he did, you followed.’
I asked Mark to stop more than once, but he ignored me. So I did the sensible thing and walked away. Mark followed me.
‘There you called him names and when he ignored you, you lashed out.’
When he kicked his football again in the same manner, I lost my patience. I called him names until Mark returned the favor and said Stupid Behind. The first part was a reference to my last name. So that’s when I poked him.
‘He slammed into a wall and broke his arm.’
I shift my gaze towards a bookcase behind Royal. It is filled with pristine books on education he clearly never bothered to open, let alone read.
’Mark’s an ääliö,’ I finally whisper.
Which is moron in Finnish and pronounced as aelia. Maybe I should have added he is a liar, too. He and his friends all are.
Royal’s eyebrows rise.
’A big ääliö,’ I stress for good measure.
At first I wanted to use the Malaysian term dungu, but I quickly decided against that. Royal would only hear dung and I didn’t want to compare Mark with that. Mark chose this path voluntarily. There is no way you can blame dung for its shitty situation.
‘So you first break people’s arms and then bully them by using… Foreign words?’ Royal asks.
He shakes his head in obvious despair before he opens a drawer and takes out a heavy map. On its cover I can read my official name in very red and big, capital letters.
I hate red and Royal knows that.
‘Is that why you search the internet for dictionaries in all possible languages?’
He knows I make a habit of visiting online dictionaries. The school implements a strong firewall that keeps track of every online move we make. For our safety, they claim. In reality they are scared we pirate movies and watch porn.
‘No,’ I whisper.
I would be stupid to do that. At least while they track me.
Royal grimaces and deliberately opens my map. He ignores the first page and continues to my list. The things I did. Wrong. He always stresses that last word.
‘I hope you realize I can expulse you and involve the police for assault and battery. Do you really want me to pursue that road?’
I once answered ‘no’ and he ballyragged me for it. All I know is how today will end. Royal calls Mom who will then call me and ground me. And it couldn’t happen on a worse day.
There is but one way to persuade Mom not to ground me, so I suck in my bottom lip. If I bite hard enough the filthy taste of salt blood will fill my mouth and make me vomit.
Vomit always makes Mom forget every bad thing I ever did.
Royal slaps his desktop. The abrupt noise takes me by surprise and I blow my lip with a soft plop from between my teeth. A red spat that should have sent me retching lands on his desk. With an irritated swipe he quickly removes it before he displays the cloth in between us; the red smear turned towards me.
It heave, but not even the slightest spit drivels down my chin. I really, really hate red, but without vomit there will still be punishment.
‘Why do you do this?’ Royal asks.
He knows why. The only correct answer is on the first page of my ‘case file’. It exists out of three letters: A, S and D. Put together they are short for Autism Spectrum Disorder.
‘And don’t tell me it’s because of your so-called impairment!’
It’s not so-called. According to Wikipedia ASD is a social impairment. ‘I’ lack the intuition about others that many take for granted. ‘I’ suck at communication, ‘I’ have restricted interests and last but not least, ‘I’ show repetitive behavior. In short,’ I’ am a total mess.
‘Karut,’ I mutter.
Or ‘nonsense’ in Malaysian; I’m not a total mess. Only partly.
‘What?’ Royal asks.
I look up shocked when I realize I said that out loud.
‘Uh, uh. Nothing,’ I splutter.
Royal shakes his head in utter distain.
‘You curse and that’s nothing?’
I didn’t curse. Nonsense is no curse word. Still, it is obvious Royal doesn’t agree with that and so I look down again.
‘At least explain me why you broke Mark’s arm! Right now everyone tells me you did it deliberately.’
That’s not true. I poked Mark when he called me Stupid Behind! He slipped, bumped into the wall and broke his arm. It’s not my fault he has bridle bones and chose the wrong footwear.
‘I pushed him because he made that horrible noise over and over again,’ I mumble.
‘Thud-whizz bham,’ I say.
Royal looks as if I’m an alien. I probably am.
‘Duh? That’s the sound when he kicks his football and it hits the goalpost,’ I flare.
I realize too late I made the mistake Royal waited for. Now he is ready for the final blow.
‘I don’t think you fully appreciate how close you are to being expelled. You can’t bloody well break someone’s arm because he’s no good at football,’ Royal says.
I never said that. Why does he make me say things I never did?
I feel empty, cold and dead tired. A few more nudges and I lose my patience. You don’t put a kettle on a fire and act surprised when steam sends the whistle in overdrive. We ASD-ers know that. Non-ASD-ers always seem genuinely surprised when that happens.
‘So what is it going to be, Montaque?’ Royal ask.
He pronounces it as Montaqu and I hate that for two reasons: French and Flemish. Both languages use the word qu or ‘q’ as a slang word for behind. While I realize Montaqu may be the correct French pronunciation, it still disgusts me. Montaque means Gomeric’s hill or hill of the power of man.
‘Will you finally admit you are wrong?’
The French pronunciation changes that meaning in Gomeric’s behind. Add glupi into that equation and you get the Stupid Behind-reference Mark loves to make because he knows it angers me.
‘No, obviously not,’ Royal sighs when I don’t respond.
The glupi part of it is I told Mark about it; he couldn’t even figure it out on his own.
‘Look: I’m not here to hurt you or punish you. I’m here to help you.’
I know that drill. It’s not good.
‘So why don’t we solve this amicably?’
Yes: ‘amicably’. Somehow I always get screwed in the end.
‘The choice is really easy. You stole something that belonged to me.’
I shake my head, certain I did not.
‘And I want it back,’ Royal continues.
I avert my eyes when he looks at me.
‘You stole my book and took it to the Slaughter House,’ Royal says cloyingly sweet.
Most people in our settlement call it the Slaughter House, but I call it the Mansion. It’s a run-down farm at the outskirts of town. According to town legends a newlywed couple got slaughtered there about twenty years ago. Their bodies were never found.
‘I never stole anything! And it wasn’t a book anyway,’ I protest.
I found a manuscript; loose leaves bound together in a map. That’s no book.
‘So finally you admit that you have it,’ Royal says.
My stomach churns.
‘And that means Mark was correct when he told me he saw you rummaging through it. You lied, back then when I asked you about it. Again,’ he says.
The ääliö followed me a couple of months ago. I caught him before he could see anything important, but apparently he did see the manuscript and told Royal about it. Another reason why I really hate that guy.
‘So unless you want me to call your mother and tell her she needs to find another school for you, you will hand that book over to me.’
Royal rises and walks around his desk. With a wide smile he positions himself in front of the door, effectively blocking my only exit.
‘You won’t be able to escape this time. So what will it be?’
I grimace when he takes his phone. I can’t hand him over that manuscript. Not yet. One more evening is all I need. Even Royal must applaud my efforts to find a way to become as everyone else.
‘Do you give me the book or do I have to call your mother?’ Royal asks.
After all this time he still doesn’t know what makes me tick. Behind that door he now blocks is a corridor filled to the brim with students and teachers on their way towards their classes. The staircase at its end is even worse, on all three floors! Even if I could, I wouldn’t escape that way.
I gaze sideways at the only alternative. Mom would say not to jump out of a three floor building, but that’s because she doesn’t know about the nearby tree.
Royal shouts when I rise and rush towards the open window, but he’s too late to stop me as I jump outside and aim for that nearby tree.