Mr.Terry took a long drawn look at a paper with my name on it.
“You didn't do very good” He says blankly
“I know.” I reply.
“John, I don’t see a path for you to actually get anywhere with this class. I don’t think it's your fault either. However everything adds up from this point forward, failing that test shows me you aren’t gonna pass this class.” He hands over the paper. Mr.Terry gave me a saddened look, then took something from his desk. “I saw last years transcripts, you need to pass this class. So I'm gonna make you a deal.” he puts a book on his desk.
“What's the book.” he slipped it over. A softback book. It was a workbook titled “Addition is Fun” a part of me wanted to laugh, the other half felt a like a moron.
“This looks bad. It’s not. I think you should have mastery over the most basic math skills. Even addition. I'm gonna give you a stopwatch, and every day I want you to try getting through as many pages as you can within three minutes every day.” Mr.Terry looked at me with wide eyes. I understood he meant well. Still the insinuation was insulting.
“Mr. Terry, it looks bad because its bad. There's not a lot things on god's green earth that look bad and aren't. Maybe except for Mexican food and sex.” He looked shocked for a second. A dazzled look on an old man's weathered face. He ran his hand through his balding scalp.
“By god you are a quick one John, sex looks good John; oh, also I guess this is the exception to your..” He stumbled and then he kept on with an exasperated surprised look. I don’t think Mr. Terry was the type to get offended. Shocked yes. Offended no.
“Well sex is not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing looking thing.” I retorted. Mr.Terry smiled.
“You know, I know your a smart boy. Regardless of the grade. I'm a big believer in choices. I'm a big believer in hard places too. I've been in them and I know when a student is in them. You as a student have made a few choices. Good ones too, I see your notes, I see you asking only the most appropriate questions. However I know, that you know. That you are not gonna survive this class. You can see down this bridge john, nothing's gonna go right.” He breathes and picks up the workbook “take the damn workbook” I stared at it. Every part of my logical mind said take it. He was trying to save me, he wanted to let me pass this class. I put my hand on Mr.Terry’s wrist, and gently forced it down. Something screamed in my mind, loudly. Don’t take it. Don't take shortcuts. Don’t take the easy way out. Mr.Terry gave me puppy dog eyes. “Oh John” I knew what he meant.
“I'm not taking the easy way out, Mr.Terry. I would like to, but I need to do this stuff.” I say.
“Why do you think you need to do this stuff?” Mr.Terry asks with a small restraint in his throat.
“I am not taking the easy way out, that's final. If I fail I fail. Plain and simple” Mr.Terry looked at me shocked.
“Fine, you wanna put yourself-through the grind. I'm not letting you fail however. You will get a D no matter what you do, unless you succeeded me expectations. Which by god I hope you do” Mr.Terry looked at me. He had known me long before I was even a student. He used to be a cop. Like my father. A kid got shot about seven years back. They had no real reason why they shot the kid. A little black boy down where most the blacks lived in windom near the Old Dow Chemical plants. He was six, and it ended with six men that had too retire. Mr.Terry being one of the Six. He was a sergeant of the group. He was nowhere near the shooting. However They had him Resign anyway. He wanted to move out to Chicago he told me once. The shooting kept him back however. Not just because no force in the country would take him, I mean he obviously switched careers easily. But it was the fact that he always spent a good long time thinking about, it kept him up. He never said that to me. A lot goes unsaid between us.
I guess that was the nature of a lof things here in Windom, Everything could be known when nothing was said and nothing was known when everything was said. He didn’t need to debate me, he knew it was only gonna be another rabbit hole. He had enough of those in his life. The news did a lot of talking after the shooting, put him down a lot of of those holes. So he just left me with an ultimatum that had no ramifications.
“Ok, I understand Mr. Terry” I said too him.
“You’re too much like your mother.” He said flatly, He saw my fist clench, his eyes moved back to mine. “And too unlike your father.” He held his tongue, an audible break. He tried to stop it, he had failed.
There was a dead silence. He knew what he said. I could see it on his face. He could see it on mine. My heart pounded and I gave him a dark look. I walked towards the door of the classroom.
“John i'm sorry, I didn’t mean that...” He said, with his words being cut off by the second late bell. I walked down the hall. A lot goes unsaid, and sometimes the wrong things become said. I zoned out as I made my way into english class.