Chapter 2: It gets worse
Bradley was getting meaner every day. What was even worse was that Bradley was in Mike’s class! While Ms. Rond was writing on the blackboard about etiquette, Bradley moved out of his chair and sat in the seat at the empty desk closest to Cindy. Though Cindy sat in the chair beside Mike, he had never made intimate conversation with her. As much as he tried to ignore the words hitting his ears, he heard Bradley’s entire conversation with the girl he liked.
“Hey,” was the introduction Bradley gave.
“Hey,” Cindy replied as she kept writing down the definition on etiquette.
Bradley looked up at the board and then back to Cindy. “Do you know much about etiquette?”
“Not really. I know about the knife and fork though; I mean, where you place it.”
“Oh yeah, setting the table, true.”
Mike wondered if Cindy was at all curious as to why Bradley had chosen to sit beside her. Maybe she knows, Mike thought. Maybe she’s used to it.
“My dad has a whole book on the word,” Bradley said.
“Yeah, he’s trying to teach me a few things.”
“Yeah, of course.”
“It’s a pretty big book though.”
“Yeah, well I never knew much about etiquette.”
“Hopefully you’ll learn something today.”
“If you want, I could lend you that book some time.”
“That’d be great.”
“But you could probably only hold on to it for a week ’cause my dad wouldn’t want to part from it for too long.”
“Yeah, well everyone has a hobby.”
“Yeah, I think that book is his hobby.”
“He probably could teach the class.”
“Probably,” Bradley shrugged. “I think he could start with the knife and fork. Never did have good table manners.”
“Well at least you know what the word means.”
They both laughed at that. Mike rolled his eyes until Bradley looked in his direction and winked at him. He wanted to punch the bully straight in the nose; a nose that looked as if it had already been damaged — run over by a truck perhaps. It was more spread on his face than sticking out.
“Mister Brock,” said Ms. Rond. She was now sitting back at her desk patiently waiting for Bradley’s verbal fondling to end. “May I start with the lesson or shall I wait for you to finish?”
“Uh, sorry Miss,” said Bradley a bit embarrassed now that the whole class was looking at him. He headed back to his seat.
Before Ms. Rond had become an English teacher, she had been a Drill Sargent for the Canadian Military. After leaving the army she had decided that after teaching young adults, she wanted to teach school students the real meaning of discipline. She knew that teachers seemed to be very weak with their methods these days and she wanted to improve the teacher image. She chose the subject English, because she knew it was a language many students struggled with and she wanted to direct the strugglers towards a successful future.
“I apologise class for the disruption and I will deal with the issue right away,” said Ms. Rond standing up from her desk. She bent down, drew out the bottom drawer, and removed two very thick textbooks. “Bradley, may I have a word with you?”
Bradley stared at the textbooks that were now lying on the teacher’s desk and was curious as to what Ms. Rond wanted him to do with them. But in order to not show any discomfort, he proudly walked up to Ms. Rond’s desk making sure he flashed a smile at Mike as he went. Mike ignored it and just waited. He too wasn’t sure about the textbooks. All eyes were on Bradley as the teacher spoke. “Now Bradley, I want you to stretch your arms out for me as if they were touching opposite sides of the walls. Stretch them as far as you can, making your fingertips straight as well.”
Bradley did as instructed. Some students watched, curious as to what would happen next.
“Now, turn your arms inward so your palms are facing the ceiling.” Bradley obeyed. Then Ms. Rond placed each textbook on top of each of Bradley’s hands so that each palm was balancing a textbook. Standing there, Bradley looked like a human balance scale. “Now,” said Ms... Rond, “you will remain standing there until the end of class.”
Bradley looked horrified at this. “But, Miss, can I drop my arms?”
Ms... Rond shook her head. “Not until the end of class.”
Some students in the front row giggled at this. “Silence!” exclaimed Ms. Rond. “There will be no laughter in this classroom. This is a serious matter and Bradley needs to learn that I will not tolerate improper behaviour.”
Mike chuckled as he watched Bradley wince. “Miss, this is painful.”
Mike couldn’t believe that Bradley was getting tired already.
“You’re a big strong boy, Bradley. You can handle it.”
Mike knew that Bradley could easily become a football player the way he was built: wide but strong. “Miss, it hurts.”
Ms. Rond just glared at him, pulling her glasses farther down her nose. “Would you like me to have two students hold your arms for you?” Bradley shook his head; he didn’t need any more embarrassment that day.
“Then I suggest you quit whining and just stand straight.”
Bradley didn’t say another word that class.
Ms. Rond had a very different style of teaching students. Some parents had complained to the principal, but the principal had never decided to remove the teacher in question and this was because the complaints from the parents didn’t seem like pressing issues. The parents would complain about how their child had to hold textbooks for the rest of the class, jump up and down saying something along the lines of “I will pay attention” fifty times, do twenty push ups, or other bizarre punishments. But the principal always shrugged off the complaints noticing that every time she visited Ms. Rond’s class, the students seemed very attentive and focused. Since Ms. Rond wasn’t exactly breaking any rules when it came to school policy, the principal had no reasonable grounds to deprive her of her teaching in Barkley Middle School. So the parents took charge of the problem and removed their children from the inflicting classes. This the principal accepted, but she still believed that the students in Ms... Rond’s class were engaged and learning. All the opposed parents, however, still believed she was getting away with “murder”.
“Mister Brock, you may now take your seat,” Ms. Rond said after fifteen minutes had passed. As soon as the line was uttered, the textbooks came crashing to the floor; startling many students from the obnoxiously loud noise. Bradley sighed once he heard the crash; relieved that the weight had been lifted literally and figuratively. Ms. Rond, however, was not relieved at all. “Mister Brock, pick those up. Next time, I might have you deal with something heavier than a textbook.” But Bradley wasn’t listening to what Ms. Rond was telling him as he headed back to his seat. “MISTER BROCK!” Bradley turned around before sitting down. Ms. Rond didn’t say a word; just pointed her long index finger at the floor and went back to her desk. Bradley, embarrassed, walked back to where he had been standing, picked up the textbooks, and placed them on Ms. Rond’s desk. Now it was Mike who was smiling.
Once Bradley was back in his seat, Ms. Rond told the class, “Now I hope that is a lesson to all of you. You are in a classroom and I expect classroom behaviour. When you are out in the city you can parade yourselves to anyone you like, but it is not acceptable in my class. Now, I expect silence for the entirety of this period.”
She sat back down at her desk and began marking tests from her last English class. The first student, she noticed by looking at the essay, had failed miserably. She just drew a huge red line over the page and wrote
in the margin before moving on.
“Crap,” Cindy muttered as Ms. Rond marked away. She had just noticed her pen was out of ink, but she kept scratching it against the page just in case but no visible lines appeared. She turned to Mike. “Hey Mike, I was wondering if you had an extra pen.”
“Yeah, I do.” He opened up his pencil case and handed her a blue pen. “Thanks. Sorry, I should have brought a backup.”
Mike knew this was his chance. “It’s alright. I sometimes forget my pens too.”
“I wouldn’t believe that. You always seem to be prepared with everything.”
Mike’s cheeks turned a bright crimson red. A girl had never complemented him before.
“Thanks,” was all he let out. Cindy just smiled. “Do you know much about etiquette?”
Cindy chuckled, remembering her conversation with Bradley. “Not really.”
“Yeah, that must have been embarrassing. It’s Bradley’s fault though.”
“I wouldn’t say it was his fault. I was also talking.”
“Yeah. But if he hadn’t sat beside you, you wouldn’t have gotten in trouble.”
“Bradley wasn’t a nuisance.”
“I know why he came over here and why you’re talking to me now. I also know that it’s the same reason that’s causing Ms. Rond to speak to another student today.” Mike slowly turned his head away from Cindy to find Ms. Rond leaning over his desk.
She sighed, sounding very annoyed. “Nothing learned, nothing gained.” She grabbed Mike by his right ear and pulled him all the way to the open door. Soon there was a ricochet of noise that echoed off the walls as Mike’s school equipment fell to the floor beside him. The slamming of the door soon followed.
“Everyone hates me,” he muttered to the empty hall.
Every other class that day was very similar to the events that had occurred in Mike’s English class: he embarrassed himself in front of Cindy. He was thrown out of class, yelled at, given a little talking to from his teacher, and sometimes he even tripped over Bradley’s big foot.
After school Bradley bullied Mike as usual, but the treatment was a bit different. Instead of the mocking tone Mike was used to, he could sense some jealousy creeping in the big Brock. Bradley grabbed Mike by the shirt collar and brought him up to eye level. His beady eyes drilled themselves into Mike’s eyeballs. “What the hell is your problem flirting with my girl?”
He threw Mike onto the grass and stared down at him. His peevish eyes only drilled hatred into Mike’s diluted ones. “While you’re lying there, maybe this will knock some sense into you. Flirt with my girl or even make eye contact with her and you’ll be clobbered. And when I’m done with you, you won’t be coming back to school for a long time. And I’m not kidding; you will be clobbered.” Then he spat, spraying Mike’s face with saliva, and left. Mike wiped the phlegm off his face and headed home.