We were escorted to the main office where the principal looked confused and his secretary couldn't understand why we were out milling in the halls.
“We've been in lockout since lunch.You didn’t hear the special bell? Where have you been?"
"We went to El Tepeyack."
"Just supervise the halls."
Ron, hadn't waited for the answers; I found him talking to the students who had been detained and were now huddled together, big boys, looking quite tame and contrite.It served them right, I thought. Now they can spend some time cooling their heels and stopping the madness. I still didn't know who was watching my class and Ron's.
"We just packed a dozen kids in an ambulance,superficial wounds, I think. It’s up to the police at this point. I’m surprised they let you back on campus.” Severian, one of the counselors at the end of the hall had come up to talk to me and to pull Ron away from the boys.
Ron began arguing with him.
“It was just a food fight. Everybody overreacted! These are kids, for Christ's sake. Kids."
I said nothing, wishing I had not gone out. Lunch fights occurred daily. Ron doesn’t understand these things, I thought. He’ll get himself in trouble and complicate things; police will interpret his concerns as interference.
For the next two hours we walked the halls, Severian and I. Ron had stormed out the front door to talk to the police and hadn't returned. I was probably going to suffer for having left campus without permission. But, I was not bothered by that; I was actually wishing it, somehow, strangely wanting to lose this job for good. Severian told me how the fight went; how many people got stabbed; how the neighborhood would be under surveillance for spill out of this incident. Yeah, I kept thinking, just what I thought; it's best to shut yourself out from all this.
By three, the police had cleared the halls and the principal got on the public address system to announce the all clear. I went back to my room to get my things and found Ron talking to kids.
“I told them to tell the mothers of the boys arrested that I can vouch for them.” He said.
“Do you speak Spanish?” I asked.
I drove home bothered by the day's events.
That evening, school was cancelled. There was news coverage on television, and it showed police outside the school, and Ron with them. He had been interviewed about the incident. I called him. He had been contacted by the district, he said. His assignment had been cancelled.
"Oh? I'm sorry. What are going to do?"
"I've plenty to do."
And he told me about his playing at LaVeLee.
"I thought you were a painter?"
"I earn my living through music. We're on the road most of the time. When I'm home I want to do regular stuff, like garden, paint, go to movies. The gig at LaVeLee is with old friends."
"I had pegged you for a rocker."
"I'm mainly a blues guitarist. Why don't you come and hear us play?"
"I'd love to. But the kids will be in bed by then."
"It won't kill them."
"I'm bushed. Aren't you even a bit tired from today?"
"No. I got an idea for a song, actually. Did I tell you some kids called me when they saw me on television?"
"Ron, we're not supposed to give them our number ?"
"Liability. You'll be dragged in the mire. The district has strict rules. Didn't they inservice you?"
"That's a bunch of crap they pass as inservice. First thing they insisted we don't speak Spanish. I can't see how it helps those kids if none of the teachers speak Spanish."
I told him I'd try to drop in and listen to his music.
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