“You live in the same neighborhood and look at you,” I tell her. “Nice clothes, clearly fit, a smart and beautiful girl. I make it a point not to judge people by the things that they have no control over. Character is found in our choices, not our circumstances.”
“Hmm, I like that.” She gives me an approving nod.
I tap my fingers on the steering wheel while I wait for the light to turn green. We’ll be pulling up to her house in a matter of minutes, and I wonder if I should come up with an excuse to come inside. If I did, would she even buy it or would she find it creepy and avoid me for the rest of her senior year? Still contemplating my next move, I turn the corner and pull up to the yellow house. It’s neatly kept but badly in need of repair and fresh paint.
“Well, this is it. Thanks for the ride,” Rose says, and I search my brain for something that I can say to keep her in my presence for even just a moment longer.
“Is your mother home?” I ask.
She tilts her head and says, “No, why?”
“I just want to make sure that you’re safe, that’s all. Are you home alone often?”
“Just about every night since I was nine years old, but it’s too late for you to call the law on us. I’m an adult now.” She grins.
“Your mother works nights?”
“Yeah, sometimes I get home before she leaves, but most days, she’s gone when I get here. Did you want to talk to her or something?” she asks, clearly confused by my interest.
“No, again, just want to make sure it’s safe to leave you here alone,” I tell her as I scan the neighborhood.
“As I said, I’ve been doing this for close to ten years. I don’t need supervision now, but thank you for caring. It’s nice of you.” She opens the door and steps out onto the curb. “See you tomorrow, I guess.”
“Have a good evening, Rose,” I sit and wait for her to enter the house then drive away.
Having memorized Rose’s schedule, I know that she’ll be in the gym for her third period, so I wander in and pretend to inspect the lighting. I’ve already submitted a work order for replacements for the lights that are out, but nobody needs to know that. The boys are shooting hoops, and the girls have just begun filtering out of the locker room. They’re all just a blur until Rose. I examine her with a laser sharp focus. Her beautiful face, the tight, gray shirt that hugs her tits, the tiny black shorts that cover her firm, round ass. She looks over at me and catches my eye. I resist the urge to throw my hand up and wave as she nods and smiles in my direction.
The teacher instructs the girls to begin running laps around the basketball court, and I sit down on the bleachers and pretend to write on my clipboard. My heart leaps when Rose runs by. I look up to watch her round the corner just as one of the goat prank boys tosses a ball her way. The ball gets caught up between her feet and she stumbles but catches herself before she topples face first onto the hard gym floor. I burn with rage and grit my teeth. “I’m gonna expel this punk,” I mutter but before I can reach him, Rose picks up the ball, moves up behind him, and throws it hard, striking him in the back of the head.
The teacher blows his whistle as the two scream obscenities and wave fingers wildly in each other’s faces, but it has no effect on them so I rush between them and shout, “Both of you to the office right now!”
They walk silently behind me as I escort them to the outer office and tell Rose to sit. “You, Mr. Thomas, you come with me,” I tell him.
“But why am I in trouble?” Rose protests. “He started it.”
I turn back to her and say, “Stay here. We’ll discuss it in a moment.”
Once inside my office, I sit at my desk and look him over. He’s a foot taller than Rose and easily outweighs her by one hundred pounds. His size and athletic ability were what brought him here in the first place. We forgave his lackluster academic performance in order to beef up the first string on the football team. He pulled his weight in the beginning by doing just enough to skate by, but now, as the spring break of his second senior approaches, he’s on academic suspension from sports and in jeopardy of aging out of our program. We would have shipped him back to public school last year if it wasn’t for his father’s influence.
“Have a seat while I call your parents. I need to let them know that you’ll be spending the next three days at home.”
“You’re suspending me for losing control of the ball?”
His blatant lie disturbs me so I lean in close to him and stare into his eyes. “I’m not stupid, boy. I know what you did. Maybe you can fool your daddy. Maybe you can fool your teachers, but I know exactly what you are. Let me give you a little friendly advice, man to man. If you don’t stop acting like you think you’re better than everyone else, somebody is going to come along and knock you off that pedestal and on your ass. It might not be here at school, but out there, in the world, a real man will eat a shit like you for lunch.”
“You can’t talk to a student that way, Mr. Rogers,” he argues, stunned by my words.
“I just did,” I reply. “What are you gonna do? Cry to your daddy? This is one of those times when you need to make a choice. You can become a man or stay a little bitch. Take the next three days and mull that over, but one thing you’re not gonna do is ever speak to or look at that girl out there again. If you do, I will permanently expel you from this school, and if your daddy protests, I will convince her mother to sue him for the emotional torment that you’ve caused her child. Maybe the other three girls’ mothers will decide to sue him, too. I bet he’d be pretty mad at you if that happened, huh? Maybe, just maybe, you’d lose your golden ticket.”
His parents are notified that he’s on his way home, and he bursts out of my office, suspension slip in hand without saying another word. Rose watches him storm out and then turns to me, and I motion for her to enter. I can already feel the tension growing in my groin as she moves in my direction.
“I still don’t understand why I’m in trouble. I know you saw what happened,” she moans and plops down in the chair.