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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Favoritism (02/28/05)

TITLE: The Principal: A Parable
By Dave Wagner


“I couldn’t help it! I had to do it.”

Reilly sat, shoulders slumped, in the small plastic chair in front of the principal’s massive desk. He was in this chair so often that some kids had taken to calling it ‘Reilly’s Seat.’

“You ‘had to do it,’ eh?” Principal Evans adjusted his glasses, and looked down at the offending 6th grade boy.

“We were playing dodgeball. When you play dodgeball, sometimes you get hit in the head.” Reilly tapped right foot against the chair leg subconsciously.

“Jason says you were trying to hit him in the head.”

“He’s just mad cuz he got beaned,” Reilly said, crossing his arms and looking down at his feet.

“Sixteen times, Reilly. You beaned him in the head sixteen times.”

A smile moved across Reilly’s face, as he recalled that wonderfully amusing sound that the dodgeball made every time it bounced off that momma’s boy Jason’s head.

“You find this amusing?” Principal Evans stood, palms remaining on the desk top.

“Well…no, I guess not.” He glanced up, then quickly back down again, doing his best to act innocent.

“It isn’t funny. Getting hit in the head can be serious, Reilly. Someone could really get hurt.”

At this point, Reilly tuned the Principal out, replaying the scenes in his head, wishing that the playground had surveillance cameras, so he could get a copy of the video. BONK. What a sound! And that one time when the ball bounced straight up in the air off the rebound, a good eight feet! And convincing Jason to stay and keep playing after each bean was masterful, telling him if he quit he was an even bigger sissy than everyone already thought.

Reilly looked up, tuning back into the conversation.

“…and this is getting old, young man.” Principal Evans walked out of the office for a moment, and returned carrying the dodgeball. He set it on his desk in front of him, and placed his hands back where they were before, palms down, on either side.

Reilly smiled again, recognizing his partner in crime, as it were.

“I think I’ll be creative with your punishment this time, Reilly.” Principal Evans lifted the ball in one hand, the other hand still on the desk. “I think I will bean you in the head with this ball a few times. See how you like it. What do you say?”

Reilly held his smile for a moment, and then it melted away. He looked from the ball, to Principal Evans’ stern face, and back again. Could he be serious? He can’t do that, can he? Reilly glanced around the room, nervously, then looked back at Principal Evans, who was tossing the ball up a bit and catching it in the same hand.

“I think a couple good whacks with this ball and maybe you won’t think it’s funny anymore.”

“You...you can’t do that.”

“I’m the Principal. I can do whatever I want. I make the rules. And the newest rule is that you reap what you sow.” He grabbed the ball, and quickly pulled it back, as if to throw it.

Reilly recoiled in his chair, covering his head with his arms.

Principal Evans burst out laughing. The ball dropped to the floor, and Principal Evans sat back into his big leather chair, snickering and dabbing at his eyes.

Reilly looked up. “Dad! That’s not funny!”

Principal Evens stood again, shoulders still shaking. “You should have seen your face. Come on, admit it. I got you good with that one.”

“Well, a little, maybe.” He sat back and exhaled, puffing out his cheeks.

“Look, Reilly, you gotta knock off the nonsense, son. How will it look for me to have to expel my own son?”

“C’mon Dad…Jason is a loser; he deserved it.”

“Well, some day, you’re going to mess with the wrong person, and get your butt kicked. Now shoo.”

Reilly stood smiling, and walked toward the door. “Got it, Dad. Seeya.”

As he left, he kicked the dodgeball against the wall, causing a picture frame to come crashing to the floor. “Sorry Dad. Bye.”

Principal Evans sat back in his chair, smiling. “Ah, kids.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Sally Hanan03/08/05
Brilliant, hilarious, what more can I say? Oh yes, a winnner with every line you wrote. (It really was very funny :))
Catherine Pollock03/09/05
Oh, I had trouble keeping the laughter down...

Priceless story.
Debbie OConnor03/10/05
Good, solid story with great humor throughout. I would have liked to see Reilly truly repentant in the end.
Dave Wagner03/10/05
Me too. But if he'd been truly repentant, it would have ruined the whole point of the parable, which I apparently wasn't obvious enhough about...

I was trying to illustrate the way many people seem to approach their relationships with God, as far as: we are His children, and often act as though we can get away with any kind of behavior we want to, because He will "forgive us anyway," and though there may be the threat of punishment (reap what you sow), it won't really amount to anything but a slap on the wrist, if that.

My hope was that people would read it, think "man, I wish that little turd would have got some sort of punishment," and then perhaps do a little self-reflection, as far as the attitude we have toward our relationship with God, especially in regards to the compromises we make with sin and sinful behavior.

Well, it was worth a shot....
Debbie OConnor03/10/05
Okay, I knew I was reading a parable and I just missed the whole point. This is GREAT work, Dave. Again, remember Jesus had to explain his parables, too! :)
donna robinson03/10/05
I definitely missed the parable. I think because you gave the lead character, which is really the principal, a personality we couldn't like. He showed no depth in dealing with the kid, even if he was going to back down. He had no wit behind his action which a parable usually does. But that's just me!
What I think you did do was draw a character that hits true of people; they do the deed because they enjoy the deed and are expert at rationalizing their behavior. That is definitely the defining character in human nature that keeps repeating itself. The principal's part, if I wanted him to change places with how we think of God, would have had to have had a hint of sadness at the end. People often think like that, oh, yeah, well, it made God sad, I feel a "little" bad but it's okay, he let me off this time.

So yeah, I get it and regardless it was characters you wanted to dislike! Made me want to write the come backs!
Actually, I liked the story, I thought it was funny, especially because my husband is a principal and there's times he wishes he could react in that exact manner.LOL

But if you ask me, I have a feeling you might have been Reilly as a child, only because of your critiques. Haha. (Read the thread, had to comment.)

By the way, although you've been called harsh, mean, cruel, etc.(: I have learned from the critiques' you've left on my submissions.(:
Dave Wagner03/12/05
I think I'm (occasionally) called "harsh, mean, cruel, etc." only because writers (like me) are sensitive about their work, and anything other than glowing words tends to cut deep...I know when I craft my sbmissions, there's a sense of ownership, of pernthood, almost. And, like parenthood, we tend to overlook any flaws our children might have, and view them in the best possible light. When someone points out a flaw, it's hard not to take it personally.

Like the comment two comments up from this, that said the "parable" was a swing and a miss because the characters lacked wit...well, I see the point, and yes, it's true...if I'd spent more time on it then perhaps I could have added more depth to it. My first impulse is to say "you're wrong", then my next is to say "well, I've never tried writing a parable before, so it's not bad for a first try, right?" But boil it all down, and the comment is right. I could have done a lot more with it, and will keep that in mind next time. I'm happy with both my submission and the critique of it.

Onward and upward.

Oh, and no, I wasn't like Reilly at all, quite the opposite. I was shy, introverted, and basically scared of people.
Yvette Roelofse12/17/08
You got Reilly's character down perfectly...and apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. *LOL* I loved this piece: the small boy's perspective, the relationship between father and son, the nice twist in the tale. It's charming.