Boyle Makes Tacklers Blue
Pancras: The football miracle that is Blue Boyle appeared again last week as Southern Ohio Prep crushed visiting Skinner Junior High 56-3. Boyle, who lines up both at running back and middle linebacker, ran for more than 200 yards and made numerous key tackles as SOP ran over yet another opponent on their way to winning yet another conference title. …[i]
I had never been sent to the office before in my life. And as Gil and I hurried along on our way, I heard him mutter beside me, “I can’t believe this … I just can’t believe this.”
The secretary, Mrs. Inchbald, looked up when she saw us.[ii] “May I help you?” she asked, assuming, no doubt, that we were there on some sort of errand for a teacher. I had always liked Mrs. Inchbald. She was an old woman, forty or so, but she liked kids and always tried to help them when they came to the office for any reason. Or so I’d heard.
We had no time to answer, though, for Mr. Gisborne had come in right behind us. “I want to see Mr. Tooke,”[iii] he said, still very angry. “Right away.”
Mr. Tooke was the assistant principal, the one in charge of terrorizing kids who were in trouble.
“Mr. Tooke is with some other students at the moment,” said Mrs. Inchbald. “But he should be available in a few minutes.”
“Good,” said Mr. Gisborne. “I want him to deal with these two … right now!” He looked at his watch. “But I’d better get back to the library,” he declared. “It’s probably a zoo in there right now.” And then he was gone.
“What on earth?” asked Mrs. Inchbald softly. “What has upset that young man so much?”
“I don’t know,” said Gil. His voice was tight, and when I looked at him, I could tell he was about ready to cry—from anger or fear I couldn’t tell.
“Well, why don’t you two sit down over there,” she said, indicating a line of chairs just outside Mr. Tooke’s door. “He shouldn’t be too long.”
I felt strange, sitting in one of the chairs where I’d so often seen the so-called “bad” kids sit—kids who’d been fighting, or stealing, or swearing, or smoking, or skipping classes, or committing other misdemeanors or felonies in Middle School World. And now here I sat with Gil, a kid I barely knew, a kid I didn’t trust, a kid who’d somehow gotten Mr. Gisborne angry enough to kick us out of class.
“I’m sorry, Vickie,” whispered Gil. “I’m really sorry.”
“Well, so am I,” I said. “This is ridiculous … we didn’t do anything. If I’m going to get sent down here, I want to earn it, you know?” I looked at Gil; he wasn’t smiling. In fact, he was so pale he looked as if a vampire had sucked him dry. “Are you okay?” I asked.
“I just feel … a little … faint,” sighed Gil, as he fainted.
I sat there in amazement and watched him slip out of his chair like a wet strand of spaghetti off a fork. He formed an untidy little pile on the floor.
“Mrs. Inchbald!” I cried.
“Good heavens!” she exclaimed when she saw the pile of Gil. She hurried over and helped me stretch him out on the floor. “Mrs. Williams!”[iv] she called out. And Mrs. Williams, the school nurse, stepped out of her office, saw the situation, and moved quickly to us.
“What’s happened here?” she asked.
“I think he fainted,” I said.
She elevated his head a little and took his pulse. “You’re right,” she said. She took some smelling salts from her pocket, waved them under Gil’s nose, and his eyes opened wide. For the first time I noticed what a wonderful deep blue they were.
“Welcome back to the land of the living,” said Mrs. Williams.
“What happened?” Gil asked.
“You were just sitting there,” I said, “and your face was all white, and the next thing I knew, you were in a pile on the floor.”
“Dumb,” Gil said softly, “really dumb.”
“Gil,” said Mrs. Williams, “why don’t you come in my office for a minute? I need to talk to you.”
At that moment Mr. Tooke’s door flew open, and out came a crying kid with the assistant principal right behind him. “I don’t want to see you back here again,” he warned.
The kid said nothing, but his face was changing right in front of me, turning into something very, very angry.
“Who’s next?” asked Mr. Tooke.
“I believe she is,” said Mrs. Inchbald, indicating me. Gil was now in Mrs. Williams’ office and nowhere to be seen.
Mr. Tooke looked at me, and I could tell he had no idea who I was. “March right in there, young lady,” said severely. “And sit down.” I did.
[i] Mary Shelley’s parents were married at St. Pancras Church; her family lived for a while on Skinner Street. Neither Skinner nor Pancras is the name of any actual town in Ohio.
[ii] Elizabeth Inchbald, 1753–1821, was an actress and playwright. Off and on, she was a friend of William Godwin, Mary Shelley’s father.
[iii] Horne Tooke, 1736–1812, was also an acquaintance of William Godwin.
[iv] Edward and Jane Williams were good friends with Mary and Bysshe Shelley. Edward drowned in the same boating accident with Bysshe in 1822, and Mary and Jane remained friends for some time afterwards.