Samantha drove into the parking lot of Maple View Middle School. It reminded her of a sanitarium for insane students. There was a great big man, standing in front, with a Big Bird grin on his face.
“You will be tardy, miss,” he said. “Do I need to write you up?”
“Where’s room 404?” Samantha asked.
“Good morning to you, too,” the man said. He wore an athletic jersey with dressy pants. Obviously, he had some administrative authority, but he was not formal enough to be the principal, and too dressy to be a PE teacher.
“It’s the west building.”
“Which way is west?”
“The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.”
“But it’s cloudy.”
Samantha didn’t give him anymore time. The bell rang, right when she walked into her classroom. She checked her chair for tacks, and sat down.
“Who are you?” A boy asked.
“Oh—that’s right. I’m supposed to write my name on the board. It’s Ms. Watkins.” She wrote in her best cursive handwriting.
“What kind of language is that?”
“A dead language—my teachers told me it would never die. Let that be a lesson to you. You can’t trust anything your teachers say.”
“How can we trust what you just said?”
“Because I’m a substitute, and not a real teacher. My job it to make sure that you are busy, and that you don’t harm each other.”
“What do we do?”
The students were like popcorn. Samantha didn’t like popcorn.
“Do the next lesson,” she said. After 1st period, Samantha ran to the teacher’s lounge for a cup of coffee.
There was a young teacher, there— filling his cup. The coffee machine reminded her of an 80-year-old man with prostate cancer. It spurted a little, and then stopped. Samantha peed many men, when working in the hospital. None of them got excited, but one of them did say, “Miss—can you help me out?”
“Let me guess—you’re substituting in room 404?” The young man said.
“That’s right—how did you know?”
“You ran here—all the substitutes run. They do that on their first day, and maybe their second, but after that—they don’t run.” He walked out the side door, and lit up—big, puffy, clouds of blue smoke.
She like him, immediately. True—she was older than he was, but it was his attitude. Even if the every-man lived thousands of years, in past lives, they wouldn’t be able to develop that self-confidence—it was art. She had good taste in men, or so she thought.
“Oh—you’re still here,” the young teacher said. He seemed surprised, even though he gave-off an air that nothing ever surprised him.
“My name’s Samantha.”
“Nice to meet you.”
Samantha shook his hand, and felt his electricity—he was different—she knew it.
The bell rang.
“That’s the five-minute bell,” Andy said. “Don’t be late.”