On the morning of Wednesday, 13 September, in Room 3003, Jesse Maith sat silent in deep contemplation at his desk, staring out the window towards the sun-drenched garden, furrowing his chin while squinting his eyes. The tense meet with Greg Jacobson and the Remembrance Day speech still weighed on his mind, and he was not in the mood to tolerate another day of classes.
Mr. Bristol, after completing his greetings and demands for obedience, turned his awareness to an oblivious, attention-devoid Jesse.
“JESSE MAITH!” Bristol squealed, then adjusted his red tie near his brown sweater vest.
Jesse’s eyes remained indulged on the courtyard. Then, strangely, he began singing. “Oh, great celestial freedom, let your bright light shine…”
“MR. MAITH!” Bristol beseeched.
“Great God,” Jesse continued, voice decibels increasing, “give grace to all…to all the free divine!”
Bristol pounded his hand on Jesse’s desk.
Jesse, unfazed by the pulsating pop from Bristol’s fist, wailed: “God smiles upon our republic…God’s word we shall abide!” Jesse turned toward his classmates, winked, then stood up and screamed “AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH!”
“TESTIFY!” Matt bellowed.
“THAT’S MY QUARTERBACK!” Wes Montana shouted.
“MINE TOO!” Luis Gomez seconded.
Thunderous clapping and hollering from the students ensued.
“SHUT UP, YOU LOT!” Bristol strained.
Jesse, meanwhile, raised his arms to mock Joshua Evans. “GOD GRANTS ETERNAL LIFE…TO ALL THE FREE DIVINE!” Raucous applause resumed.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Matt announced, “you just heard the off-key moaning of our national anthem by Mr. Jesse Charleston Maith!”
Bristol shook his head in disgust, then covered his face with his hands. However, after the hollering died, Bristol smiled and started guffawing.
“Um, Mr. Bristol,” Gomez asked. “why are you laughing?”
Bristol caught his breath, then cracked a smile at Gomez. The looks of students of Room 3003 became mystified.
“Well, Mr. Gomez,” Bristol responded, “that depends. Jesse! I assume - and I will probably regret asking–that you completed your report?”
“Sir,” Jesse countered, “in case you haven’t noticed, you-know-who will declare the W-word soon, so what’s the point of completing any schoolwork?”
“Man,” Wes muttered toward Luis, “why didn’t we think of that?”
“Just think about Friday, homes!” Luis retorted.
“I figured as much,” Bristol said to Jesse, “so, it’s time to invoke Section 32!”
“Section 32?” a confounded Jesse asked. Suddenly, Jesse’s ankles and wrists froze in symmetric congruence with the floor and arm rests. Then, his upper torso thrusted backward as if a battering ram collided with his stomach. Despite his efforts, he couldn’t move.
“What the hell did you just do?!” Jesse beseeched as his classmates gasped in horror.
“Ah, I knew none of you would read the Everton charter, so, here’s a quick lesson! Section 32 states, and I’ll project this on the blackboard for you skeptics…” Bristol produced his ultraphone, and moments later, a series of white letters on a black background appeared behind him. Bristol facilely read the text aloud: “Twice per calendar month, an Everton Academy educational purveyor has the privilege and the right to use an invisible wavelength restraint against any student the purveyor deems insubordinate or threatening to their classroom or to the integrity and standards of Everton Academy.”
“You got to be kidding me!” Jesse hollered.
“It’s all right there, Mr. Maith,” Bristol gleefully retorted. “Legal, in fine print, and non-barbaric! It’s bloody brilliant!”
The students of 3003 felt bemused and petrified.
“YOU’RE SICK!” Jesse shouted.
“Would anyone like to be the second of this month?” Bristol glibly asked. Silence continued. “I didn’t think so! Oh, and Mr. Maith, a visitor is here to see you!”
Moments later, Pete Harrison entered 3003. He furrowed his black tie in front of his plaid sweater vest, adjusted his thin brass glasses, and approached Jesse. “Good morning, Mr. Maith!” he authoritatively shouted in impeccable pronunciation and inflection.
“That’s the principal?!” Luis whispered to Wes.
“Damn, son, he’s bald?” Wes asked. “I thought he had that old school American do; the afro, I think it’s called?”
“Have you come to arrest me, or something?” Jesse entreated.
“In a matter of speaking, yes!” Harrison exclaimed. “You’ll be spending the rest of the day in my office for, among many offenses, insubordination!”
“You ratted me out, didn’t you?!” Jesse angrily implored to Bristol.
“Oh, no, mate,” a smirking Bristol replied, “I never said a word to my superior. Mr. Harrison, would you like to do the honors?”
Harrison strategically positioned himself in front of the Divine Treatise of Freedom poster, then pointed to the O in the word “Freedomer,” in the script of the Third Indentation. “Notice anything there, Mr. Maith? Within that O is a hidden camera. We’ve been recording you. It’s perfectly legal within the charter, just like the restraints. I’ll be happy to show it to you.”
Jesse huffed resignedly.
“Come with me, Jesse,” Harrison demanded.
Bristol and Jesse’s classmates looked on with anticipation. Matt sat frozen, staring blankly. After an awkward silence, Harrison released the invisible restraint, and Jesse violently yanked his backpack up from the floor. “Let’s get this over with,” he yapped to Harrison as he crossly walked by him. Harrison thanked Bristol and escorted Jesse out of a stunned room 3003.