By: Adam Sutton
“Can you turn it off at night?” he asked.
“Turn off what, Mr. Parker?” I replied.
“The device. You guys give them to the kids. I assume you can control them. Like 9:00 in the evening. If you could just program it to shut off, that would be great. Can you do that?”
“What? Even if we could do that, why would we? Aren’t you all in the same house at night? Just take it away from him, Mr. Parker.”
“Mr. Anderson, you don’t understand his Dad and I, we can’t. Arthur is a tough cookie, and he doesn’t listen. We ask, but he stays on the computer until all hours of the night. We just need you to program it to turn off. Please help!”
“Arthur, why did you steal Marcus’ lunch?” I ask.
“I didn’t steal anything,” Arthur grins proudly.
“Whose lunchbox is in your hand?”
“Oh. This. This is definitely Marcus’ lunchbox!” Arthur exclaims.
“I’ll try again. Why did you steal Marcus’ lunchbox?”
“Well, he didn’t say I couldn’t, so it’s not stealing.” There is a long pause while I try to comprehend this statement. Eventually Arthur continues, “It would have been stealing if Marcus would have said something, but I just took it. He never said anything, so I figure it’s more like he gave it to me.”
Big tears, the size of chickpeas, are running down his face. His sobs are as loud as a train horn. He is so upset that his body is convulsing. His face is red. In between breaths, he is saying something that sounds like “no,” but it might be “go.”
“Arthur, just explain to Mr. Anderson how you broke your device and lost your entire essay that you’ve been working on every night for the last 2 weeks,” his Dad pleads.
The sobbing only grows more intense. It turns from sobbing to shrieking, and it looks like foot kicking will commence soon.
“Please Mr. Anderson! Help him!” his Dad cries.
I stare blankly at these 2 before me. Arthur’s device is off to the side dangling out of its bag, resting on a desk in the center of the room. The device appears to be glistening.
“We asked months ago for you to program the device to turn off! We begged! It’s your fault! Do something!” Mr. Parker barked. “He didn’t know the Vaseline would melt and seep into his device! He didn’t know it could cause a problem! He’s a kid it’s a mistake! He didn’t know any better! You’ve got to understand!”
“He can’t get a zero. You have to help him!”
“I am. He gets a zero.”