Gym Hallway II

Jio and his scar are staring at me
like I’m blocking a door.

Alice is angled
a little toward the cafeteria
and not moving.

What’s happening?

What the hell do you mean,
What’s happening?? she snaps.
I just got here.

I look over Alice’s shoulder.
I look at the floor: a brown-
skinned kid is covering
his face. There’s blood
between his fingers
and streaks on my shoe.

I…

Oh, right.
She sucks in a breath. Sorry.
She gestures at the guy
on the floor.
Wrong corner, wrong day.

I sneak behind a door-window.

The inside of the kid’s purple shirt
is brown with footprints.
The smaller kid, Jio’s friend,
stomps his kidneys
twice. The kid kicks
everywhere, starts to right
his chest when
Mr. Corcoran comes
around the corner

and instantly claps Jio’s friend
on the ear with an oversize Teacher’s Edition.

Keep your nigger-war
out of my God-damned hallway!

He points at the opposite wall.
Jio and friend line up
slowly. I’ve never seen him look
so big.

Names?

The two smaller guy looks at Jio.

Jiovanni Jones. Jio pauses, then nods
to his right. Marcus Williams.
He stares straight ahead,
like if Mr. Corcoran catches his eye
it’s only coincidence.

You are aware fighting
is not tolerated in the Wellesley
Public School system, Mr. Williams?

Yes, sir. He knows.

I don’t believe I asked you.

He knows, sir.

He doesn’t speak
English? Do you interpret
for him?

I apologize, sir, Marcus says
stiffly. This piece of shit
disparaged my mother
on the bus yesterday.

Does that merit breaking his ribs?
He raises his eyebrows like he’s speaking
to a five-year-old.

I believe it does, sir.
He has never met my mother
and had no grounds to speak
about her that way.

Mr. Corcoran mutters something
I can’t hear and pulls out a pad
of detention slips.

At the same moment we all notice
Alice hasn’t budged
from the middle
of the hallway.
Mr. Corcoran turns.

Miss Gavelston?
What exactly
are you doing here?

Added: January 16, 2013 | Last changed: May 12, 2016