This school sucks.
Just took me one day to figure that out. Less than a day, really. And I know that nothing is going the happen for the rest of the year that will change my mind.
After I finished writing that stupid paper the school made me write this morning, first period was over. By the way, that kid finally quit puking, but the other kid, the one in the other room, was still snoring. It was starting to get on my nerves, too, so it’s a good thing they came and got me or I might’ve gone back there and done something about it.
Some ugly girl who works in the office walked me to the guidance counselor’s office where I was supposed to pick up my schedule. She said, “Here’s the office.” As if I couldn’t tell. And then added, smiling: “My name’s Mercury Swift.” As if I cared. And then she headed back to her exciting job.
Wouldn’t you know it, I had to wait outside. Through the closed door I could hear some loud crying. Girls, probably, but you never know. There are some guys whose voices haven’t changed yet, and when they cry, they sound like girls, too. But I was betting girls.
I sat down and waited while the ugly girl went back to the main office. Waiting with me, sitting on opposite sides of the hallway, were two guys who had just been in a fight. How could I tell? Oh, it wasn’t too hard. One kid had blood on his shirt. But at least he had a shirt. The other kid’s was half ripped off. And one of his eyes was closed from where he got punched pretty good. I could tell who won, too. The kid who won was staring right at the kid who lost, and the kid who lost was staring at the floor, probably wondering how he was going to get through the rest of the day knowing that everyone in the entire school had heard by now that the other kid had kicked his ass.
I decided to have some fun with these two idiots, so I turned to the one next to me, the one who lost, and said, “Looks like you got your ass kicked pretty good.” He mumbled something I couldn’t quite hear. So I said, “The kid you fought, the one who kicked your butt, she must have been pretty tough.” I emphasized the she part, just to see. The loser just sat there and shook his head. But the kid across from me, the winner, he didn’t like that girl part.
So he said, “It was no girl kicked his ass. It was me.” I looked over at him, no expression on my face. While I stared right at him, he tried to come up with something that would sound tough: “And you’d better keep your mouth shut,” he warned. “You could get some of the same.” I stared at him a little longer, then said calmly, “You sure you’re not a girl? Have you checked lately?”
He jumped up out of his seat and came over to me, standing over me with his chest stuck out, to make himself look big. “Let’s go!” he barked. I smiled calmly at him, then gave him a short, quick punch, right in the target closest to me, right in that spot you don’t ever want to get hit.
He doubled over on the floor and started groaning real loud. The other kid, the loser, looked at me like he’d just seen a miracle.
Just then the counselor’s door opened, out came a couple of red-faced girls (I was right! Girls!). “You can go wash up,” the counselor said, “before you go back to class.” She handed them a couple of written passes. They glanced at me, then stared at the kid who was still groaning on the floor.
The counselor said, “Oh, Davey, are you all right?” She looked over at the loser kid. “Trevor, you didn’t do this, did you?” she cried. Loser Trevor looked at me, and I stared right at him. “No, uh,” stuttered Loser Trevor, “he, uh, got a cramp or something, just a minute ago.”
The counselor looked at me. “You’re the new student . . . Brian?” “Yeah.” “What happened here?” she asked. “I dunno,” I said. “I just got here and this kid was rolling around on the floor.” Meanwhile, the kid Davey quit groaning so much—he probably noticed the girls and didn’t want to look stupid—and struggled to his feet. “Davey?” the counselor asked again. “Like he said,” Davey croaked, “I got a cramp.”
The counselor motioned me into her office. Davey got out of my way in a big hurry, too. Inside, she’s like, “We hope you like it here at Spoon River. It’s a wonderful school with some wonderful students and really wonderful teachers.” I looked at her. She was fat. Wore lots of make-up. And her glasses looked greasy. “That’s wonderful,” I said. She looked closely at me … was I insulting her? I decided to make it more obvious: “I feel just fat with good luck,” I said.
The counselor picked up a phone and calls the main office. “Please send Mercury down here,” she said. Oh great. Another guided tour through the halls with Mercury Swift, Ohio’s entry this year in the Miss Ugliest Kid contest. In a minute, she was there—but it isn’t Miss Ugly. It’s Miss Uglier. Somehow they found someone even worse—maybe they’re sisters. Oh well. At least they’re keeping it in the family. So she takes me to a class, where, of course, we have to walk in the room in the middle of things, and everybody stares at me like they’ve never seen another kid before. I ignored them all, teacher included, and sat down where I was told. It was one of those rooms with tables instead of desks. The kid next to me—some little girl with a big stack of books beside her—was too close, so while the teacher wasn’t looking, I shoved some of her books on the floor. She didn’t say anything, just picked them up and put them on her half of the table. That was better.
The classes here were just like classes anywhere else—just as boring, just as stupid. And the teachers were just like any other. Some of them thought they were tough, some were so easy you could probably have a party in the room and they wouldn’t even notice—or even care if they did notice.
Lunch sucked, of course. A big long line—I cut in toward the front when the teacher wasn’t looking, right between a couple of stupid little kids. One of them goes, “Hey—” but that’s as far as he got because I grabbed his scrawny neck and leaned down and said something in his ear that made him change his mind about complaining. And about life, too, probably.
The food they serve here is like food you get in the DH. The cold food is warm, the hot food is cold, and most of it a starving dog would take a leak on instead of eat.
Afternoon classes were just more of the same, except kids got away with even more because the teachers were already tired of saying “Shut up” and just ignored a lot of stuff.
On the bus ride home, some kid in a cowboy hat start to sit by me, but I stared at him, and he moved on. All the way home I rode alone. Just the way I like it.