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Friday, March 16, 2012

Lessons Learned

"So, watcha' learning in school?"

They sat on the curb by the auditorium, listening for the second bell to ring.  The man was 48 years old with brown and gray hair combed to the side.  He wore jeans, a jean jacket and white t-shirt with heavy construction boots.  The boy, Tommy, sat at his side with a WWF t-shirt, jeans and white tennis shoes.  His black backpack was lying next to him.  They stared across the street together.

"Algebra, literature, shop, Astral Lights, PE and chorus."

"You study stars in that astrology class?"

"It's astronomy, dad.  No, we're studying the beginning of time and how the solar system was formed."

"Yeah, yeah.  Whatever." his dad said absently.  "Well, you listen to your teacher.  None of that big bang stuff wouldn't be true unless those scientists could prove it all.  The teachers know it all.  You still having trouble with that Olson kid?"

Tommy looked away.  "Um...no...it's all right."

"Listen.  If you see him coming to cause trouble, you ht him first.  Just like I showed you.  First in the stomach, then aim for the eye."

"But you can get expelled."

"Doesn't matter.  You have to look out for yourself.  I've had to deck a few troublemakers every now and then, too.  We'll get some muscle on you in no time.  Bring you around the yard more often."  He looked over towards the media center.  "Who's that black kid with his dad over there?  You know him?"

"It's 'African-American', dad.  Yeah, that's Carl.  We hang out together at lunch."  Carl and his father had their heads down low, talking in quiet voices.  Carl's hair was in cornrows, and he wore a long grey sweatshirt with jeans.  His dad was in a button-down black dress shirt and tan slacks.  Children glanced at them as their walked to their classes.

"You pack your lunch this morning or you buying?"

"I packed the rest of my cinnomon roll and a rice crispy treat."

"Good.  Throw in an apple every now and then."  The dad stood up.  "Look, I'm going to be busy the rest of the week.  Got my poker game on Thursday night and a fence I'm building on Saturday."

"But my chorus has that recital on Thursday."

"I'll try to make it, but I only got so much time outside of work.  You can buy a tape and I'll be sure to catch it then.  I'll see you tonight before you go to bed.  Obey your mom, OK?"

Tommy got up. "Thanks for taking me to school, dad."

"Yeah.  Good to hang out together."  Tommy watched his dad walk across the parking lot, get in his car and drive away.

Carl was walking over towards him.  "Hey, Tom."  He dropped his backpack on the ground and they bumped fists.  "You ready for Thursday night?  I might be able to come."

Tommy's face lit up, and he said, "That'd be totally cool.  Naw, I forget some of the lines sometimes.  I'll just hide behind Jessica Silva."  They both laughed.  "Hey, what were you and your dad talking about?  You looked bumbed."

"Naw, we were just praying.  Dad wanted us to start doing it before class."

"Man, you're so weird!  Where does your dad work?"

"Down at the college.  He's a janitor, but he has a meeting to go to today.  You know, your family can come to church with us sometime if you want.  It's pretty fun."

Tommy raised his hands over his head, "Hallelujah!  Yeah, right.  Scientists know it all, anyways."

"I don't think so.  Scientists need love, too."

"Well, I'll ask mom.  I know dad won't go for it."  Tommy looked towards the track and field.  "What did you say to Olson the other day?  He looked like he was going to deck you."

"I told him to leave me alone.  I didn't want to get into a fight with him, but I'll defend myself if I need to.  He hangs out with the wrong crowd.  I think he just got on the wrong track at one point.  He needs Jesus, too." The bell rang.  They started walking to the hallways.  "Wanna hang out at the quad at lunch?"

"Yeah.  See you then."

"See you then.  Take it easy."  They both ran to their classes for another day of learning.

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