The following is an excerpt from Chapter 21: Three Days and Four Nights (Part Three). Click here to read the chapter in its entirety for just $0.99
Chapter 21: Three Days and Four Nights (Part Three)
“Hello,” Judy Templeton answered her phone.
“Mrs. Templeton, hi, this is Mr. Dotter at St. Bart’s High School. How are you?”
“I hope that you really don’t need to ask that,” Judy burst through nervous laughter, “So I guess you’re foregoing the email and calling to let me know about the meeting this time?”
“Um…no, I’m sorry, ma’am…no. There’s no meeting, I was just made aware that Ruth hadn’t gone to her third hour and I was calling because the absence was not excused.” Judy froze as she struggled to determine in what form she should express her outrage. Dotter continued before she had a chance for one exclamation and said, “I know that this seems really unusual, but with everything that is going on we have to make sure that we maintain as much discipline as possible.”
After an extended pause Judy said through a cracking voice, “Why don’t you get to the real reason you are calling. I’m not sure how long I can pretend that everything you are saying isn’t patently offensive.”
“Ohhhh-Kay,” Dotter said, “Look, I understand how hard it probably is for your daughter and her friends to keep finding cheeks to turn. But they…we all need to keep track of the big picture. All right?”
“What big picture might that be?” Judy hoarsely snarled.
“Well, without all of us many of these kids aren’t going to have any similar circumstances to go to school. We’re making it possible for them to have as good an experience as they’re having. Is it really your place, or anyone’s place, to take that away from them?”
Judy was stunned. She wanted to consider the entire school year. But all she could consider was the last week. “But isn’t that enough?” she thought, “Am I being overly-sensitive or have the last two days been that bad?”
“What, exactly are you asking of me?” Judy snapped.
“Well, I really need Ruth and her friends to keep coming to school-,” Dotter began.
“So, you really need my kid and her friends to keep going to that place where they are threatened, pushed, victimized, jumped and beaten and now…apparently…disappeared?” she paused, “I just want to make sure that we understand each other. Is that what you are asking me to do?”
“We…uh,” Dotter paused, “Look, I have a series of kids who could have a pretty interesting take on everything that has gone on too. Let’s just…let’s just try and put this behind us, come back to school, and have one and all commit to…nonviolence. And, I’m sure that your daughter and her friends are about and completely…fine”
The thought had occurred to Judy that perhaps another side of the story existed. She had always known Ruth to be honest in everything, so it was a very small inkling, but an inkling nonetheless. And it was enough to draw a tepid commitment from her. “We’ll talk about it,” she snapped.
“Oh, thank you-,” Dotter began before he heard Judy’s phone snap shut.
“It’s our responsibility?” Mr. Costa said in amazement.
“Well…that’s what he said,” Judy concurred as she addressed Beth, Hugh and CC’s parents in their living room. “Now, I know that everything, and I mean everything at that school right now is gone nuts, but I don’t know of any other way to get these high school diplomas. I mean, they have to have them. And since the seniors are almost done, then I think we should think of the best way to make it happen. If Ruth was a junior than I would say she should transfer, but since she’s almost done, I think that she should, you know…get tougher. You boys should do what’s best for you. And besides, you’re not really giving us a strong point to begin negotiations when you are doing things like cutting school while all of this is going on…”
Parents exchanged glances. Kids stared at the floor. CC spoke first, “I don’t know about Hugh, but I know I don’t want to leave them alone with this. Plus I’ve been dating a girl all year that is probably going to be stuck in the middle of anything that goes down. If they have to stay, then I will too. Besides, they probably won’t keep cancelling the baseball games. Right?”
Gondola looked over at Ruth and Beth. They continued to stare downward. He shook his head in agreement with CC and said, “I guess all that stuff you said about degrees, but right now the biggest reason for me to do anything at the place are all of those baseball games that I’m betting they won’t be cancelling. So, sure, I’m in.”
“All right,” Judy began, “Just remember, that if you’re going back they asked to make sure that there’s no more violence.”
“Well, I’m sorry Mrs. Templeton, but if they want to ask that they better make sure it doesn’t happen. Otherwise tell them to call a cop. Ma’am,” Costa said while adding the last part after catching a look from his mother.
“CC, I get it, but you have to remember, this is school, these are teachers. You have to do your best to do what they tell you. It’s just the way it is.”
“All right, then you call a cop. Dad, we need to get ready for tomorrow.”
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