By: Adam Sutton
“Payton is such a loser! Isn’t she?” Gerard yells to his buddies across the room.
“Gerard, you’re a dick,” Payton responds but not nearly as loudly as Gerard’s exclamation.
“Gerard, stop. Both of you stop,” Mr. Hanks chastises them.
“Mr. Hanks, you can’t tell me to stop being honest. It’s the Constitution. Free speech,” Gerard explains.
Gerard interrupts, “It’s your fault. You should blame yourself. Not me.”
“As I was saying class, today we are—”
“Anybody else think yellow shoes are for clowns? I do!” Payton and her yellow shoes erupt as Mr. Hanks directs Gerard to the cool down desk in the hall.
“Yea, so you gotta make sure you use the notecard, yo. Cause the notecard, it’s got all the stuff you need for the introduction,” Gerard explains to his classmate Ruth.
“So, like, I just write down all this stuff in sentences and that’s my introduction?” Ruth uncertainly asks.
Listening in, Mr. Hanks reassures her, “He’s right. You should listen to him.” As Ruth scurries off, Mr. Hanks sits down next to Gerard. “I’ve been looking at all your analysis forms, listening to you in our debates, and reading your rough drafts. It looks and sounds like your essay is going to be one of the best in all my classes. What do you think about that?” Mr. Hanks asks.
“It’s cool. I just do what you tell me, so it works out. You know?”
“Yes, yes, you just do what I tell you to,” Mr. Hanks mutters under his breath. As he looks away from Gerard, he notices Payton’s face scrunching up as she looks at her outline form. He takes a deep breath, then proposes an idea, “Why don’t you go help Payton? She looks to be having trouble with her outline form. Yours is almost done, so you know how to do it.”
“Sure. No problem. I’m on it!” and off scampers Gerard.
Greeting students at the classroom door, Mr. Hanks pulls Gerard aside for a moment, “Stand over here for a second.”
“I didn’t even get in class yet. I didn’t do anything! I can’t be in trouble already!” Gerard is indignant about this.
“You aren’t in trouble. But, as defensive as you are, I should be suspicious.”
“That’s not fair!”
“Relax. I just have a question. Have a seat for a second,” Mr. Hanks points to the chair at the cool down desk. After greeting the remainder of the students in the class, Mr. Hanks turns to Gerard, “2 weeks ago, you were all over the place. I couldn’t get you to listen for 3 seconds; you were constantly picking on Payton. Last week, you came in every day and worked super hard. You not only got caught up on your Civil War essay, you finished it early. And, you were helping people left and right, including Payton. What happened?”
Gerard’s eyes fall to the floor as he coyly smirks and shrinks into his chair. “Well. Yea.” They sit in silence for a few moments.
“Well. Yea?” Mr. Hanks imitates.
“I mean my buddy, Max, he was sort of dating Payton. He let her sit next to him at lunch. I lost my spot. They broke up. I got my spot back, so I’m chill.”