There is trouble in debate, when Jian argues with Brian. He gets so angry, he takes a swing at Brian, who catches Jian’s arm, defending himself. The school security officer, and the principal, are called.
“He assaulted me,” Jian said, pointing at Brian.
“He took a swing first. Brian just defended himself,” Rhonda said.
The other students backed up Brian. Mr. Wymore was conflicted. By the rules, he had to see to it both boys were suspended for fighting, but it was clear that Jian had initiated it. Rather than throwing a punch, Brian had protected himself.
“Everyone, I’m sorry, but we’re done for today. Brian and Jian will be heading to the office with Mr. Ferris and Officer Wilke.”
“Witness statements will be taken immediately,” Mr. Ferris announced. “Whoever saw it, come to the office.”
They gathered their things and followed them down. Jian refused to let anyone touch him. Brian walked calmly to the office and went to sit by the receptionist’s desk while Jian was taken into the vice-principal’s office.
“What did you do?” the receptionist, Millie Sayer asked him.
“Defended myself.” He wouldn’t explain or say anything more.
“Want me to call your mother?”
“She can’t drive. Call my dad, please.” He gave her the number.
After trying the number twice, Mrs. Sayer shook her head and hung up. “He can’t be reached, sugar. Anyone else”
“Yeah. Mrs. Finley is a friend of the family.”
“I’ll call her. You sit tight.”
Dora arrived a few minutes later, eyes wide with concern. “What happened?”
“Can we talk in private?”
“Sure. We’ll be in my office, Millie.”
“No problem. They’ll be with the others for a time. You go ahead.”
They went in her office, closing the door. Brian told her what had happened with Jian.
“We told you not to provoke him.”
“My breathing provokes him. He swung at me, and when I had hold of him, I got a glimmer of something. He’s not who he says, maybe not even what he says.”
“Meaning, we were looking for trouble to arrive. I think it has. And I think he intends to do something quite awful. I don’t know what and I have no idea how, or why or anything else, but he’s dangerous. More dangerous than Mr. D. or Opal.”
“You’re scaring me, Brian.”
“You should be, Dora. Flat out terrified. That boy is evil. I can’t prove it, but I know it. Do you have any blessed salt or holy water?”
“May I have some?”
“Sure. But why?”
She got a small bottle and a salt shaker from her desk drawer. Handing them to him, she watched as he wet his hands and shook a little salt on them, rubbing it around until it dried.
“An experiment. Do you have a charm with you?”
Another drawer provided this. He tucked it in his pocket and got up. Walking into the vice-principal’s office univited, he advanced on Jian, clapping him on the shoulder as he hauled him to his feet. Taking Jian’s hand, he squeezed, rubbing the salt on the other boy’s hand.
“I’m sorry. We obviously got off on the wrong foot. Perhaps it’s a cultural misunderstanding. Mr. Ferris, could we just forget the whole thing? If Jian would simply apologize for coming at me, I’m willing to let it slide.”
Mr. Ferris stared, agap. “I really can’t do that, Brian. I can mitigate his punishment, but he still has to be reprimanded.”
“I understand. Well, I tried.” He turned to Jian, shrugging. Shaking his hand again, he grasped the elbow of the same arm, rubbing the salt on the other boy’s skin. Muttering a counter curse in Old Galic, he released the boy’s arm.
“What does that mean?” Jian demanded.
“It’s a blessing. Something I picked up somewhere. I was really hoping we could put this behind us and move on.”
Brian shrugged. “That’s just the kind of guy I am.”
“I’ll take this into consideration,” Mr. Ferris said.
“Thank you, sir,” Brian said, shaking his hand. He also clapped Officer Wilke on his shoulder before walking out. He shut the door behind him, smiling at Dora Finley.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes