Part 6- https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/26/the-football-match-part-6/
“Where the hell is Barry?” William asked, looking at Lester. Lester shrugged.
“Don’t know. He’s supposed to be coming right after he finishes taking care of mum. I don’t know what’s holding him.”
“Hmm. Anyway, you were saying?” William asked, looking at Hugh.
“Right. I can’t figure out what to do about George,” Hugh said, shaking his head. “I know I need to punish him, but how?”
“Remind us what he did again. Because I’m really not seeing the problem,” William said.
“There’s this kid at his school who has really bad hygiene. As in, he’s known for not showering,” Hugh said. “Anyway, apparently, as a result, George and some of his friends have been picking on him.”
“Kind of sounds like the kid deserved it,” Lester said.
“That’s not the point,” Hugh said. “You can’t single somebody out like that. It’s bullying.”
“And what about the kid not showering?” William asked. “It sounds less like they were bullying him and more like they were teaching him not to be a disgusting dumb fuck. Really, they were helping the kid out, when you think about it.”
“Regardless, things came to a head this past week. A couple of kids, led by George, apparently, cornered this kid before school and threw a bucket of water on him. Soapy water, if I understand it correctly.”
There were a few seconds of silence. William burst out laughing. “That’s hilarious,” he said.
“It’s not funny, William.”
“Yes, it is,” William continued. Lester nodded. “It is.”
“Anyway, he and his buddies had to stay after school the rest of last week, but that sounds like that’s it from the school. Since he’s never really been in trouble before, they’ve pretty much left it up to us to figure out how to deal with him from here.”
William looked at Lester, then back to Hugh. “Buy him a candy?”
“Damn it, William, don’t be daft,” Lester scolded. “Kids these days aren’t into candy. You’d have to buy him at least a video game if you really wanted to reward him.”
“I don’t want to reward him, you guys. I want to punish him.”
There was another pause as Lester and William looked at each other. “Why?”
“Because, the school takes bullying very seriously. I need to send the message that this isn’t appropriate.”
“I don’t know that this falls into the category of bullying,” Lester said. “It strikes me more as throwing water on some stinkpot. Besides, it sounds like the kid’s showing some pretty great leadership. He saw a problem in his school, and he took steps to fix it.”
“Call it what you will. The school calls it bullying and they take it seriously.” Hugh looked at the ground and shook his head. “I don’t know what it is with kids today. This never would have happened back when we were in school.”
William shrugged and shook his head slowly. “Nah. Never would have happened in the past. I mean, we might have held him down and used the soap to beat him, but we never would have done something so lame as tossing water on the lad.”
“No, William’s right. Kids today are pussies,” Lester agreed. “Besides, where was school administration in all this?”
“What do you mean?” Hugh asked. “They were inside the building. George and his mates caught the lad when no one was around.”
“No, I mean before this. The kid didn’t start stinking overnight. Shouldn’t they have done something about the kid’s hygiene?”
“Yeah, apparently they did,” Hugh said, leaning over in an attempt to touch his toes. “But the parents said they didn’t want to repress his expression of his individuality, or some other nonsense. And once the parents are involved in dealing with the kid, the school really can’t do anything about it.”
“No. They can, they just choose not to because they don’t want to deal with that shit. You have parents who are letting their kid walk around like a walking biohazard to promote ‘self-actualization’ for Christ’s sake. Would you want to deal with that?” Hugh asked. “Which I understand, from the school’s perspective, being in school administration myself.”
“Alright, first off, you’re a janitor. I wouldn’t go around calling that school administration, unless there is some puke that requires oversight,” William said, wagging his finger at Hugh before turning to Lester. “And second, where the fuck is Barry? He was supposed to be here almost twenty minutes ago.”
“You want me to call him?” Lester asked.
“Yes, call him,” William said, waving Lester over in the direction of his phone. William continued to stretch and turned back to Hugh. “So much for kids being our most important investment, huh?”
“Yeah, I always thought that was a bad strategy. The return just isn’t good enough, and the risk is too high.”
“So what are you going to do about George?”
“I don’t know. Just because this kid’s parents are inattentive wankers doesn’t mean I can be. George need to learn that two wrongs don’t make a right. It’ll keep him out of trouble later in life.”
“Absolutely. You have to punish your children,” William said. “Personally, I recommend hitting. Hitting and withholding affection.”
“Preferably without telling them why. Let them figure it out on their own. That’s the way my daddy raised me.”
“That explains a lot. Um, just, you know, stay away from my kids, William,” Hugh said, looking up at Lester, who was now off the phone and staring at the ground. “So, what’s up, Lester? Is he coming?”
“No. Um, no,” he said, turning to William and Hugh. “Um, guys, it’s mum. She’s dead.”
“Come in,” the voice called from inside Headmaster Davis’ office in response to Hugh’s knock. Hugh opened the door, slipped in, and quietly shut the door behind him. Headmaster Davis looked up.
“Ah, Amos, have a seat. Did you punish that little ratfuck son of yours yet?”
“Uh, no, sir, and his name is George.”
“I don’t care what its name is,” Headmaster Davis said, waving his hand dismissively. “I hate children. You know that, Amos. They’re like little people, and I hate people. Therefore, I hate children. See the logic in that, Amos?”
“I suppose, sir.”
“Just a bunch of little pains in the ass. And the parents are worse. All thinking their little fuck shits sunshine and farts rainbows. Cunts, all of them.”
“And they’re always screaming, and snotting, and dirty. Always bawling their fucking brains out, like they’re the only one for whom life sucks. I remember when my oldest, Beth, or is it Becca, or Betha? Anyway, when she was a kid, she used to bawl all the fucking night long. Kept my wife up all night, which of course turned her into a bitch. A bitch who didn’t want none. That’s why she’s my ex-wife now.”
“Can’t imagine that’s the only reason,” Hugh said quietly.
“Yeah, it got real bad, until I figured out how to keep her down for the night. Little something extra on the tip of the bottle. You know what I’m talking about, eh, Amos?” Headmaster Davis said with a laugh.
“I do, sir. Little scotch in the bottle, help the kid sleep,” Hugh said with a smirk.
“Scotch? No. Fuck that shit,” Headmaster Davis said. “Like I’m going to waste my good scotch on some little cunt who can’t tell the difference. No. You ever hear of Rohypnol?”
“You roofied your baby, sir?”
“Sure as hell did, and let me tell you. It worked like a goddamn charm. Little fucker slept for eighteen hours straight on that shit.” Headmaster Davis paused for a second, then slammed the desk. “Bill. That was its name. Could have sworn it was a girl, though. Anyway, you know who had the right idea, Amos?”
“Please don’t say Hitler,” Hugh said under his breath.
“My father. Never gave a rat’s ass about me or my brothers. I could cry and cry, and no response whatsoever from him. Taught me to be a man. Also, gave me this limp, since I had to walk myself to the hospital after I broke my leg. Still, great man. Anyway, you know what the point of this story is, Amos?”
“That your father is in hell?”
“No. Well, yeah, probably, but that isn’t the point.”
“Then what is it, sir?”
“I honestly have no idea, but I’ve already had like five scotches, so I was hoping you’d be able to tie it to something relevant. Make it look like I know what I’m doing, instead of just pulling things out of my ass all the time.” Headmaster Davis looked across the desk at Hugh and leaned back. “So, what did you want to talk to me about, Amos?”
“Well, sir, I was hoping I could get the end of the week off,” Hugh said hestitantly.
“Sure. I’ll just make the kids mop up their own puke this week.”
Headmaster Davis began laughing deeply and shaking his head. “Jesus Christ. No, Amos, of course not. If I could do that, don’t you think I’d be doing it already? But these child labor shitheads won’t let us do that, or whip them, or force them to work in coal mines, or anyplace else for that matter. I’m telling you, Amos, these kids are completely worthless. I don’t even know why they bother to come to school. Anyway, what do you need the time off for?”
“To attend a funeral.”
Headmaster Davis’ face grew serious, and he leaned forward onto his desk. He looked across the desk at Hugh. “Is it a relative of yours?”
“Well, no, sir.”
“Someone particularly close to you? Like a friend or something?”
“No, sir. It’s the mother of two of my closest friends.”
“Oh, thank God,” Headmaster Davis said, letting out a huge sigh of relief before he began laughing again. “For a second there, I thought this was going to be serious.”
“You were all ‘I need to go to a funeral’. And I was all like ‘shit, somebody died. Now I have to act all sensitive and caring about this putz’s stupid emotions.’ I’m not very good at the whole emotional thing, you understand, Amos? Even when we were getting divorced, my own lawyer said I was a prick. But what was I supposed to do? She kept plopping out kids I didn’t want.”
“Back to my request, sir.”
“We even had one die, I think. Actually, that was when things started to go sour. We were at the funeral, and she was all crying, and I’d had one too many, perhaps. Anyway, I was like ‘What are you going on about, woman? You can always poop out another, since you seem so good at it.’ She, uh, didn’t appreciate that, I guess. Anyway, things were already going downhill, on account of the kids she wouldn’t stop having, you see?”
“So, about my request?”
“Ah, yes. Of course you can have the time off, Amos. You know, I always like it when I hear that other people died. It makes me feel better about myself. Like, I might be a loser, but at least I’m winning at staying alive.”
William walked in past the receptionist with a takeaway basket of fish and chips, approached his cubicle, and dropped the basket on the table. He picked up a few chips and started to eat, when he was approached by Michelle, the receptionist.
“Why do you look so miserable today?”
“I don’t,” William responded. “This is just my face.”
“Little different from your usual fare, isn’t it?” she asked, nodding toward William’s lunch.
“How do you mean?”
“It seems you usually just have a piece of fruit or something like that.”
“Yeah, well, piss off,” William said. “I’m having a bad day.”
Michelle sat down across from him. “Do you want to talk about it?” she asked in her French accent.
“No. I want to sit here and eat too much unhealthy food,” William said, putting another chip into his mouth.
“I’m not sure that’s going to make you feel any better,” Michelle said.
“That’s where you’re wrong. It will make me feel better in the short term, while I’m still eating. Sure, after that I’ll feel like crap, but until then, I have my good friend food to comfort me,” William said, smiling as he stuck another chip in his mouth. “Since, you know, we aren’t allowed to drink at work.”
“But, at the end of the day, you still end up feeling worse.”
“Right, but by then I’ll be able to drink, or find some other short term pick me up, like eating more junk. You see, that’s the way normal people function. We do something that makes us feel good in the short term, but feel worse long term. Then, because we’re feeling worse for it, we find something else that will make us feel good immediately despite the negative long term consequences, and the cycle repeats. And repeats, and so on.”
Michelle leaned forward and rested her chin on her fist. “That sounds like a miserable way to go through life.”
“Yeah, well, living is a miserable way to go through life,” William said, picking up his fork and breaking off the first piece of his fish. “Besides, I’ll break the cycle eventually.”
“Really? And when and how do you plan to do that?”
William shrugged. “I don’t know. By dying?” He put the fish in his mouth, chewed and swallowed. “Did you want something, or did you just come over here to hassle me about my eating habits?”
“Oh, right. I almost forgot,” Michelle said, sitting up in her chair. “The board is coming in today.”
“So? How’s that affect me? I’ll just keep my head down more than usual.”
“Which would normally work, except they want to hear from a salesman, and Norman wants you to do it.” Michelle looked across the desk and winced at William. “Sorry.”
“NO! No, no, no, no. Oh, fuck me,” William said, throwing his fork down, leaning back in his chair and hiding his face in his hands. “I hate the fucking board. They’re a bunch of sanctimonious cunts who sit around arguing about semantics and technicalities because in their warped minds being smart excuses the fact that they never actually accomplish anything.”
“True,” Michelle said, nodding sympathetically. “Though in their defense, what you just said basically describes the entire internet as well.”
“Not YouTube,” William said with a scowl on his face. “YouTube’s all about making racial slurs on videos of cats.”
“Well, like it or not, this afternoon you’re speaking to the board. Unless you’d like me to get you more fried food so you can try to eat yourself to death before then.”
“No,” Michelle said bluntly as she stood up from her seat. She started to walk past William’s desk, but paused. “You know, when I’m having a difficult day, I meditate. You should try it sometime. It really helps.”
“Thanks. Maybe I will.”
“Like try it now. Because I don’t think your day is about to get any better.”
“What do you mean…oh, fuck,” William said as he swiveled in his chair to face Michelle and saw Norman standing over him. He put on his biggest, phoniest smile. “Hi, Norman. And what can I do for you, today?”
Norman took a deep breath as he walked across William’s desk and sat down across from him. “Michelle told you about the board?”
“She did,” William said unnaturally joyfully, still with his fake smile and with a phony nod to boot.
“You can cut the crap, William. I know you don’t want to do it.”
“Then why are you making me? Is it because you hate me?”
“Partially,” Norman said, smiling with a nod. “No, of course not. And I hate to put you in this position, but you’ve been doing a good job lately, and have been here for a long while.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“So you’re one of my veteran guys, and an example of how this office is moving in the right direction. I need to make a good impression, and you seem like the best guy to put front and center for that,” Norman said. “Besides, it’s not something to worry about. They’ll just ask you some questions, and answer them the best you can. In a way that makes you and I look good, of course.”
Norman took a deep breath. “Normally I’d say yes, but things have been going well lately. I never thought I’d say this, but I think you can just go ahead and answer honestly.”
“Will do, bossman.”
“Good. See you in about an hour,” Norman said.
William looked across the desk and stared at Norman as he continued to sit there. He smiled and nodded, but Norman didn’t budge. “What is going on here?” William asked. “You’ve finished speaking, but you’re still sitting there. It’s customary to leave when you’re done our conversation. Have you forgotten how to leave?”
“I heard about Mrs. Stinger,” Norman said solemnly.
“Oh, fuck me,” William said.
“I just wanted to express my condolences, and let you know if there’s anything you need, just let me know.”
“Jesus Christ, she’s not my fucking mother,” William said, shaking his head. “Though, if I could take Friday off for the funeral, that would be great.”
Norman nodded slowly as he stood up. “Of course. Anything you need. If there’s nothing else, I’ll call you in when we’re ready for you.”