- everybody diesby jim vecchio
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everybody cries...
everybody dies by jim vecchio
The Perfect 6 contest entry

Alan Arnoley. That’s my name.

I had a sweet teaching position at Halloman High. Seventh and Eighth Graders.

I always wondered what happened to them when they went on to bigger things. I wanted more involvement in their lives.

Then I got the crazy notion I could help change society. I took a few special ed courses and accepted a job at a fraction of my pay in the worst section of our city.

My task was to establish a Learning Center for those students who were, let’s politely say, intellectually challenged.

Some joke on me! What they did was take out the worst of the worst of the most undiscipline students and throw them into my classroom.

And there were distinctions even within this motley group.

The Puerto Ricans sat with the Puerto Ricans, the Blacks with the Blacks, the White boys with the Whites, and the same with the girls.

Then, there was that special section for girls like Sabrina, too stout, let’s say, suffering in complexion, and so undesirable for the girls’ clique.

Prior to entering the room, the class broke out in a scene of anarchy; boys punching on boys, girls smearing on their lipstick and makeup and comparing their legs, and paper missiles being hurled all about.

As I stepped through the door, a particularly sturdy paper airplane shot past my neck.

I calmly walked over to the blackboard.

“Class,” I calmly said, “This behavior is to stop!”

I glanced at the seating chart. No one was in their correct seat. I left that battle for another time.

I pointed to a bushy haired Hispanic and said, “You!...”

“Name’s Julio!” he said back to me.

“Alright then, Julio. Get the broom and dustpan and…”

“I ain’t nobody’s janitor!” he scowled.

“Then go and report to the principal!”

“Oh, no, teach! Not the principal!” he laughed, as he went out the door.

Roberto, who had been seated next to Julio said, “That’s your first mistake, teach! His father was a janitor. They found his body in the boiler room.”

I let out a nervous cough.

“I want you to know I expect some manners in this room. I expect communication…”

One of the girls shouted, “Hey, hunk! What’s your name, anyhow?”

I wrote it on the board.

“Arnoley. Mr. Arnoley.”

I was to regret that moment. From then on, the Puerto Ricans referred to me as “Mister Anoles”. Anoles, in Puerto Rico, are small lizards. That, of course, gave way at times to a cruder name.

Amidst their laughter and joking, I attempted a lesson in English.

I gave them a sentence.

“The boy went to the library.”

I glanced at the list of names.

“It’ll take me awhile to learn all your names. Miss Sandra, what is the subject?”

“English, Mis-ter An-oles!”

“That’s Arnoley. And I’m well aware this is English! What is the subject of the sentence?”

“If you don’t know, Mis-Ter A, how should I?”

Everyone laughed.

The day went by in similar fashion.

I was to supervise the group at all times, even during lunch period.

As the classmates segregated themselves round their lunch area, I sat at a separate, smaller table, overlooking them.

I silently said Grace.

Some of them saw me and mocked.

Sabrina was seated, by herself, in the back, but she appeared to be wiping her eyes.

Somehow, I got through the rest of the school day. When the bell finally rang, the students tore out of their seat, banging into one another as they ran out the door.

All except Sabrina.

She slowly walked to my desk.

“Yes, Miss Sabrina.” I said.

She hesitated and stuttered a bit. “M-m-Mr. Arnoley…”

“At least you got that name right! Can I help you?”

“I-I-I wanted to t-thank you. And s-say I’m…I’m sorry…for the class behavior.”

I smiled. “I appreciate that, Sabrina. I’ve got to get some materials to my car. Would you like to walk with me?”

“S-sure, Mr. Arnoley!”

On the way to the lot, Sabrina shyly asked, “May I ask you a personal question, Mr. Arnoly?”


“Today at lunch, I saw you bow your head, and talk to yourself…”

“Not to myself, Sabrina. To God. I always thank Him for my food.”

“The others were laughing, Mr. Arnoley…”

“Sure, I know. That’s because they do not know God personally.”

“Can I know God? Does He…Does He care for me?”

“The Lord cares about everyone, Sabrina. Even when they fail Him, though it hurts Him greatly,”

When we reached the car, Sabrina asked, “How can I get to know Him, Mr. Arnoly?”

“It’s as simple as a prayer, Sabrina. Just be aware of your shortcomings and give them over to Him!”

“Would you pray for me, Mr. Arnoly?”

“It would be a privilege! Let’s bow our heads, and you say what you want to say to Him, and I’ll guide you the rest of the way!”

As the two of us huddled in close contact, we did not see Julio, Roberto and their pack eyeing us from the distance.

The following morning I walked into the classroom to a caricature in chalk of myself, hugging a fat and pimply female.

“I want to know who’s responsible for this!” I yelled.

“Why, Mis-Ter Anol-les,” Roberto responded, “None of us did it!”

“Yeah!” cried Julio, “It sorta just miraculously appeared!”

“Yeah,” they responded in a cacophony of voices, “A Miracle! It was a Miracle, Mis-Ter Anol-ley!”

Then. Melissa, blue -eyed blonde, unofficial head of the girls’ clique, stood and said, “Mister Arnoley, you’re not a predator, are you?”

“Are you, Mr. Arnoley?” asked petite auburn- haired Brenda, “Cause then we’d have to report you to the Principal!”

They all laughed.

Sabrina burst into tears. She ran out of the classroom.

I wrestled with myself as to what to do next. I couldn’t leave a classroom full of students, yet everything in me said to go after Sabrina.

“Brenda!” I screamed, “Go after her and bring her back!”

“Not me!” replied Brenda. “I don’t want her zits to rub off on me! Besides, I’m just a lowly student who doesn’t know what to do!”

The class again erupted in laughter.

I was about to take off when the Principal walked in, Sabrina close behind him.

He directed Sabrina to her chair.

Then he sternly said, “Arnoley, following class, I want you to come to my office!”

I don’t know how I got through the rest of that day. I guess it was God’s own strength that did it.

Sabrina spent the rest of the day with her head buried in her hands, sobbing.

One by one the students rang out with jokes and insinuations.

They had a rude comeback for anything I tried to say. At one point I shouted, “Don’t any one of you have a mind of your own? What if Roberto walked out and jumped off a cliff? Would all of you follow?”

Julio yelled his response, “No, Mis-ter Anol-ley!”

“Then, tell me, Julio. What would you do?”

“Well,” Julio responded, “First thing I’d do is grab his lunchbox! His mom makes some spicy burritos! Mmm-boy!”

The class again burst into laughter.

It was pure relief when that bell finally sounded.

Sabrina waited till they all left, then slowly rose, walked out the door and avoided looking at me.

I wanted to say something, anything, but the Principal walked in, reminding me of our appointment.

I slowly stepped into his office.

He gave it to me good.

When I tried to explain the situation to him, he lectured me sternly.

“You are never, never to proselytize in this building or on its grounds. We do not support any religion or its God.”

Just when I thought he was through, he added, “You are fortunate in one respect. You are new to this hall of learning and this is your first offence. Do not repeat it!”

Just for good measure, he added, “And stay away from that girl! I don’t need to tell you what will happen if you are seen alone with her again!”

It was only God’s good grace that got me through that sleepless night.

When I entered the classroom, I saw Sabrina’s seat was vacant.

Someone, I know not who, whispered from the back, “Anol-ley musta kept her out too late last night!”

The rest of the day went the same. Sabrina’s absence seemed to only aggravate the situation.

Shortly before lunch, the Principal came knocking and called me to his office.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“The usual usual.”

“Sit down,” he said, “I have something to tell you.”

I was puzzled.

He continued, “We’ve been in contact with Sabrina’s parents. When she didn’t come out for breakfast…well…her wrists were slit.”

Stiffly, I walked out of his office.

“Arnoley! Wait! I’m not finished!”

“Yes, you are!” I screamed.

I punched the door as I returned to the classroom. I swiped the papers and books from my desk.

I hid my face and wept.

“Oh, look!” shouted Julio, “Mis-ter Anol-ley’s crying! Just like a baby!”

I stormed to his seat, grabbed him by the top of his tee shirt and began to shake him around. I was about to land a haymaker on him, when I caught myself in mid-motion and set him back in his seat.

I walked calmly to the front of my desk and faced the class.

“One of us is going to go!” I shouted, “It’s either me or all of you! You decide!”

As an afterthought, I walked once more to Julio’s desk, pounding it with my fist as hard as I could.

“And, remember! The name’s ARNOLEY!”


Author Notes


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