Friday, September 14, 2012

The Provider - Chapter 8

Chapter - 8

Jim and Daniel washed the dishes. Jim smoked away at his pipe and hummed a tune. He felt good. His son was looking at him sideways, but he felt too good to allow Daniel to peer pressure him into being dignified.
“I think I’ll look for some day work,” Jim said. He handed over a pot for Daniel to dry.
“Think you’ll find anything?” Daniel asked. His tone a dead match for the last hundred times they had this same conversation.
“You never know. Today could be my day,” Jim said “You and I could be driving matching red Corvettes and drinking Dom Perignon by the gallon in a month.”
“Yeah right. I have to get to school”.
“Are things going okay at school? You don’t talk about it much,” Jim said.
“Yeah. It’s okay.”
“I don’t know whether that means you’re making straight A’s or joining a suicide cult,” Jim said.
“It’s fine,” Daniel said. Jim knew this conversation was over and didn’t push is further.
“Okay,” Jim said. “Have a good day.” He watched his son go out the front door.
“I love you Dad,” Daniel called over his shoulder. The words hit Jim like a thunder clap.
“I love you too son,” Jim said. He turned to the sink and finished up the dishes.

Later that day Daniel was in his history class. The teacher was handing out their latest graded tests. The teacher had the interesting habit of laying their tests face down on their owner’s desks for confidentiality while at the same time, making loud public comments about their scores. When he approached Daniel’s desk and laid his test down the teacher looked at him and sighed.
“Another C. Mr. Average strikes again. Your predictability keeps me sane. Keep it up and I’m sure you’ll be a great used car salesman someday.” Daniel heard the snickers from the other students. He willed it not too, but Daniel could feel his face flushing at the attention. The teacher sensed his discomfort and moved on.
“Mr. George,” The teacher mockingly bowed to the boy sitting in the desk directly in front of his. “You seem to want to grace us with yet another year of your presence. You must love this class to want to take it two years in a row. Would you like me to save this desk for you?” The class laughed but none as loudly as Daniel heard coming from his own mouth. Stepping directly on the heels of his embarrassment, Daniel’s laughter tripped to a higher decibel level than his peers making his voice ring clear amongst his classmates. George turned around.
“What do you think is so funny?” George said.
“Oh, Shush,” The teacher said to George. “Your scores are laughable. If you don’t like being laughed at I suggest opening your book and study.” The teacher walked to the next desk. When he was done handing out the tests he walked to the front of the classroom and began the next chapter’s lesson.
“Hey laughing boy.” Daniel looked up to see George hissing words at him through clenched teeth. “I am going to kick the shit out of you after school.” He turned, looked at the clock and turned back around. “You have five hours until then. I’m going to knock your fucking teeth out.”

Daniel left school at a fast trot. He neither looked right nor left, just picked his legs up and put them down. The rest of his day at school was a half remembered dream. His anxiety rose with each passing hour. When the final bell rang, Daniel found himself almost running out the door. Sheer panic of the coming fight battled against the anvil like middle school peer pressure to look cool and not stand out. It was all for naught anyway as he almost ran right into George before he saw him. George had four of his friends with him making a veritable wall that pinned Daniel to his position. Daniel didn’t run. He felt his mind race at light speed while his frame stayed nailed in place. His body drawn, hands in pockets, under the sneers of George and his friends.
“Well. Look who’s trying to run home. Couldn’t back up your fucking mouth?” George’s friends laughed.
“I don’t want to fight,” Daniel said quietly.
“You don’t have a choice.” George pushed Daniel backwards. His hard and awkward fall was cushioned by his backpack. Daniel lay prone on the ground, frozen in fear.
“Get the fuck up you coward,” George yelled at him. Daniel’s submissive figure only seemed to enrage his attacker. George kicked him in the side. Daniel moaned and rolled on his stomach. George felt the excitement wane from his friends at Daniel’s lack of fighting spirit. He ripped open Daniels backpack and chucked his papers and books out into the street.
“You fucking asshole! Get up and fight me! Damn it!” George roughly turned Daniel over and saw he was crying.
“Please stop. Please don’t hit me again,” Daniel sobbed. George cupped his hand over Daniel’s nose and mouth. Daniel struggled and choked. George looked up at his friends who all looked really uncomfortable. He released Daniel, stood up and spit in his face.
“Pussy,” George said. He walked away with his friends.
Daniel slowly got up from the ground crying and coughing. He gathered up his papers and books from the street. Other children from the school walked past him. Not helping him. Not looking at him. Daniel felt the indignity of the assaulted. Fighting is accepted as a part of youth and the young get away with things adults would be imprisoned for. His broken spirit was accentuated by the uncomfortable wetness and stain widening on the front of his jeans. He held his backpack in front of him as he walked home. At some point during the fight, he had wet himself.

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