The principal was fat-necked, his throat expanded outward from the closed collar, necktie like a decorative noose. He was red-faced, moustache for effect. His glasses were transitional, and transitionally slow, so he always looked like he was wearing sunglasses indoors.
“Hmmm, a bully, huh?” He crossed his arms, the cuffs of his sleeves ballooning at the closure. He looked like an ex-football player supped on sausage and glory days, stuffed into a caulskin suit.
The principal pondered. There was a degree on the wall. He was good at scooping ice-cream for the Citizens of the Month, had a voice you’d want left on your answering machine.
“It’s becoming unbearable.”
The principal twisted a ring on his finger. When too much time passed, and the tardy bell went off like a klaxon, he said: “Maybe hit ‘em and run?” The degree on the wall was crooked.
Mr. Oakhurst said: “Why, Tammey? That bandage on your wrist.”
“I tried to kill myself last night.”
“I need to call your mother.”
“Don’t do that.”
“I’m sorry, it’s the law.”
<…> Mr. Oakhurst hangs up the phone on its cradle. Saying:
“She said it was because you’re fat. We won’t make that phone call again, ok?”
“You’ll be ok.”
“Let’s go out to the playground.”
And Mr. Oakhurst plays with the boys and girls, tossing a ball around, one by one making the girls sit out with their skirts bundled, plays catch with the men in the making, football spiraling into the sun.
“Not now, Tammey.”
Mr. Oakhurst died in the catacombs of Paris, convinced he was the Second Coming of Christ.
“I’ll be back,” he said ingloriously, holding a pistol to his head.
His desk has since been emptied out.
“You look like you swallowed a basketball,” Mr. Marks said. Mike’s cheeks went red.
The blacktop lineup laughed, now having an adult ally.
“Fatso! Chubby hubby!”
“Not a basketball? Maybe a watermelon?” Mr. Marks mused.
A tear formed at the bottom of Mike’s eye.