Friday, June 16, 2006

Semesters of Our Lives Chapter 8


Ms. Goodrich was adamant. “You’ve only returned 23 copies of Ethan Frome, so I’m only giving you 23 copies of Flowers for Algernon.

“I can’t help it,” Richard protested. “Ms. Rong didn’t leave any book receipts, and the other kids say they never got the book.”

“It isn’t my fault if you can’t find the book receipts. Have you checked the closets?”

In fact he had. And if that weren’t enough, some freak had actually tampered with his lunch. Rather than simply stealing it, someone had reached in, taken a piece of cheese out, and left knuckle-prints all over the bread. It was gross. He was sorely tempted to eat the school lunch.

“It’s the lunch bandit,” said a nearby colleague, looking at the remains of Richard’s sandwich.

“He got me last week,” commented the woman sitting next to him. “Stuck his whole hand in my salad, and stole the top to make sure I knew.”

“I think it’s that sub who talks too much” said another.

“Larry?” asked the woman.

“I’ve never trusted that guy. On the other hand, he isn’t always here.”

Richard couldn’t believe such things went on. Lunch could wait, he decided.

As for class, he decided to distribute the 23 books he had, and have the students read them in class, in pairs. At the last department meeting Ms. Goodrich had extolled, at some length, the virtues of pair work. Here was a chance to put those great ideas into action.

Still, it seemed to Richard an enormous waste of time to have the kids sitting around reading in class when they could do so at home.

Later, an unexpected solution presented itself. Frankie, an outgoing but underachieving student, stopped Richard in the hall. “Pssst, Mr. C.”

“Hey Frankie, what’s up?”

“I hear you’re having problems getting the books you need.”

“Yeah, said Richard. “That’s true. Didn’t I just get through telling your class I could only get 23 copies of the new book?”

“Never mind that,” said Frankie. “How many more copies you want?”

“Where are you gonna get copies, Frankie?”

“Don’t ask too many questions, Mr. C. I can get into the bookroom whenever I want.” Frankie flashed Richard an “OK” signal.

“Really?” Could he pull this off? Frankie looked absolutely confident.

“Really, Mr. C. It’s no problem at all. Nobody needs to know nothin’, and we never talked about this. But what’s in it for me?”

“For you? What do you want?”

“Well, I could use some extra credit. My dad wants me to get an eighty average this semester.”

“So if I give you extra credit, you can get me 15 more books?”

“No prob, Mr. C.”

They sealed the deal with a handshake, and the next morning Richard unlocked the classroom door to find 15 brand new copies of Flowers for Algernon on the desk.
Next: The Principal Strikes Back.
blog comments powered by Disqus