The following is an excerpt from Chapter 19: Three and Four Nights (Part One). Click here to read the chapter in its entirety for just $0.99
Chapter 19: Three Days and Four Nights (Part One)
The same Tuesday afternoon, Judy Templeton returned home from a short trip of errands. She was yet to engage her email, Facebook and other online friends, and hoped to do so before her kids returned home from school. The first piece in her inbox made it evident that her friends would continue unengaged. It was a message from St. Bart’s Principal Dotter, and it was titled “Emergency Meeting for St. Bart’s Parents”.
Shortly after its discovery Judy heard the garage door open followed by Ruth and Beth’s entry into the kitchen. “What on earth happened at school today?” she asked the girls. Before they could answer their emotional state belied any effort toward bravery or bravado. Ruth looked to have been crying and the ordinarily stalwart Beth was waging an intense battle against tears. “Oh my, what happened? Were they fighting again?”
“No. They quit fighting yesterday,” Ruth started sniffling, “Now it’s like…war, or something.”
“What do you mean?” Judy asked while putting an arm around Ruth.
“I mean these idiots are springing from around corners in bathrooms, asking for phony peace summits. They’ve fought with CC four times in the last two days.”
“Well, didn’t they suspend these kids, or something?” Judy asked.
“No,” Beth answered, “They made an announcement and said that since they didn’t know who started all of yesterday’s fights, then they can’t suspend anyone. Funny thing is they never came to ask me what I saw, and it all happened in front of our homeroom! It’s a joke! And I’m not going back. Not after today!” Beth was crying.
Judy looked at the two girls and back at her email. “I guess I better change my shoes,” she said, “’Cuz I guess I got a meeting to see about.”
It marked a stark change in Judy’s response to her daughter’s concerns about what was going on in her school. Sadly for Ruth’s and Beth’s sakes, it was a change that needed addressing long before the reception of this email.
Unbeknownst to Judy hers was the second meeting. She arrived at the school auditorium at the specified time of 6 pm found the parking lot sparsely populated. But upon her entrance into the building she found that what the attendees lacked in numbers they made up for in staunch vehemence to convictions. Though large swaths of seats remained empty between the different audience members, frequent glances between the participants were met with vigorous head shaking in agreement and intense hand waiving while whispering to those around them. Most of the agreement was being pounded at the pulpit by a well-dressed and dark-haired middle-aged woman.
“If you want to fix problems, then you need to get the school back to the way it was before they moved in here!” she shouted to applause.
“That has been suggested, repeatedly, Ms. Franklin, but there’s not really anything that anyone can do about that,” Dotter replied.
“At this time, don’t you mean?” Franklin responded.
“I guess I don’t follow,” Dotter answered while wiping his glistening forehead with a handkerchief.
“The City Council is prepared to…make it difficult to have this…element…clutter up things and make for all this trouble,” Franklin slapped at the podium and continued when she belted out ‘trouble’, “I guess what I’m sayin’ is if you’ns ain’t capable of cleaning things up in your school, the City Council can make it so you won’t have to make it so hard.”
“That’s your prerogative. I’ve been more than accommodating to the students that you’ve had the greatest interest in. Some might say that I’ve alienated others in so doing. Regardless, we, the St. Bart’s Administration, feel as if fairness has been hotly pursued, if not met, and any further actions toward equity will have to be taken by the City Council. I guess. In any event, the second meeting is due to start, and I have to ask you to leave,” Dotter completed his remarks while closing one black folder while removing the contents from a red one.
“Go ahead and start the meeting,” Franklin snarled, “The City Council is going to be represented at each.”
“That’s not…uh… That’s not what was discussed,” Dotter said nervously.
“Go ahead and start…your…meeting,” Franklin was threatening.
“Very well,” Dotter said while scanning the room for new faces, “Thank you for coming after reading the email. I want to first assure you that everything in the school is under control. We’ve had a couple of rough days, but everything is being taken care of and I guess I first wanted to answer any questions before I highlight the reasons I asked you here.”
No hands were raised and silence prevailed until Franklin again filled the room with a booming, “If these parents are supposed to be soooo worried about their precious kids, how come none of them showed up?”
“I showed up,” Judy Templeton exclaimed with such a quickness that even surprised her, “And I…um… I guess I’ll ask a question of exactly what is going on at school these days?”
“Well, what do you mean?” Dotter asked while looking nervously at Franklin.
“My daughter came home very upset. It wasn’t the first time that she had been this emotional after coming home from school. Her friend was with her and she was very upset. They’re referring to what they feel is akin to a war and accusing some students of acting like animals. They don’t feel safe. And they don’t feel as if the school is doing anything to support or protect them. What message can I take home to soothe or reassure two kids that have never caused any sort of problems that I’ve been made aware of?”
“Well, ma’am,” Franklin began abruptly before Dotter could try and respond, “I assure you that some students are acting like animals. ‘Cuz it’s the animals that swoop in and start gobblin’ up priv’leges and positions without having been around to earn them,” Dotter tried to interrupt, but Franklin continued, “Now, how would you and your daughter and her friend respond if they had been working hard to get something and then some new kids with probably rich mommies and daddies moved in and took everything that they had been promised? Hmm? How would you react?” Ms. Franklin from the city council stood at the podium that she had never relinquished since her meeting-ending rant.
“I don’t know what’s going on, and who you are, for that matter. Mr. Dotter, what’s all this about?” Judy asked while keeping a skeptical look at the stranger who glared at her with a hand placed firmly on a cocked hip.
“What’s important is that you realize,” Dotter stopped to take a drink of water, “What’s important is that…your children and friends realize that everything will be safe and that they should continue to come to school. It is their…it is their civic duty to come and…help others…benefit from their…presence. They need to be here, and they will be safe.”
“Ohhhh-Kay,” Judy answered, “I don’t know what that is a reference to. Of course my kids will continue going to school. Under no circumstances would they not go to school. That’s just…it’s just… I don’t know what it is. But my greater concern is…um… So these kids that started the fights, they’ve been removed from school?”
“Like I just tried to say,” Franklin interjected, “The kids that started the fights were the ones that moved in, took control of the school and…and…antagonized everyone. You want them out of school? You want your daughter out of school?”
“My daughter isn’t part of a club, team, or anything. She’s not part of whatever crusade you’re waging. And, Mr. Dotter, I’m hearing versions of these recent events that are much different than anything that is being said here. I’m willing to grant leeway that my daughter and her friends seem to be the victim, but have had some role in the problems that the school is going through. But what is going on to try and fix the problem? The problem with the fighting? Is anyone else trying to get to the bottom with similar concessions?”
Nobody responded. Dotter tried to avoid Franklin’s glare as she turned her efforts of intimidation toward the principal. “Mrs. Templeton, I assure you…it is safe. It’s their duty…to the community. Let’s not draw attention to a bad, but passing situation and do something as rash as…deprive St. Bart’s of any kids’ presence and contributions.”
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