“Let me see that!”
Mr. Steven’s voice crackled through the silent classroom. All eyes popped up to locate the offender. No surprise. It was William Harrison Pettijohn, III.
Once the culprit’s identity had been established, everyone rolled their eyes, sighed and returned to the impossible calculus exam. Everyone knew “Trip” – short for triple – would never be prosecuted. The Pettijohns of this world, never were. No one ever endangered precious Trip’s future and survived unscathed.
“Ah, come on Mr. Steven’s it's a love note to Peggy,” drawled Trip's eased arrogance. “Don’t embarrass her by revealing its contents.”
“Should have thought about Peggy’s reputation, before you tried to slip her a note during my final exam,” Mr. Steven continued. “Class, may I have your attention. Please put your pens down. All eyes on me.”
Pencils snapped down on desktops in almost perfect syncopation. Astonished eyes watched in awed curiosity.
“No need to worry, I’ll refund the time you’re losing by this interruption,” Mr. Steven’s strong voice assured the class. “Trip why don’t you and Peggy come up here.”
“What does this ignorant little man think he’s up to,” Trip muttered into the ear of his friend Cal as he rose from his desk.
Peggy slid out of her desk, flushed with embarrassment. She had seen Trip lose his temper. She knew when class was over she’d be blamed for this confrontation. She would suffer dearly later.
Standing in front of the class, Mr. Steven unfolded the paper, eyed its contents and then handed it to Peggy.
“Read it, out loud,” Mr. Steven commanded.
In an inaudible hushed whisper Peggy nervously read the scribbled, “What formula do we use?”
“Peggy, do you know what formula to use?” Mr. Steven asked.
“No sir,” she replied eyes searching for an opening in the floor.
“Then why do you think Mr. Pettijohn would ask you?” Mr. Steven persisted.
“I don’t know sir,” Peggy admitted with a self-conscious shrug.
“So you’re telling me your boyfriend, who is lazier than dirt, was asking you for the answer to a question you don’t know?” Mr. Steven continued.
Peggy’s head timidly nodded.
“So Trip, why don’t you know the answer? You’re such a bright boy. Why you’re the great hope for our future,” Mr. Steven prodded. “You should know something as simple as calculus.”
Trip’s jaw clinched. Everyone’s eyes played tennis between Mr. Steven and Trip. Not a sound. Breathing ceased.
“Because, you arrogant little &*#@ of a teacher, I don’t have to,” Trip snarled in his tradition haughty pride, “and ain’t nobody going to do a #*@# thing about it.”
“Correction,” Mr. Steven smiled, “no one - until now.”
“Hey Mr. Steven, I see you’re exercising your rights,” smiled Peggy on her way out of the voting booth, Trip at her side.
“Sure am, every chance I get,” Mr. Steven answered.
“Hey, Steven, how you like working that dead-end job, teaching first grade?” Trip needled?
“Oh, Trip, you’d be surprised at the favor your administration did for me,” Mr. Steven counted, “First graders only know half the expletives you do.”
“You just don’t get it do you?” cornered Trip.
“Get what?” Mr. Steven inquired.
“The rules of the game,” Trip informed him.
“What rules would that be?” Mr. Steven asked.
“The Golden Rule,” Trip laughed, “the one with all the gold, makes all the rules.”
“Oh, that rule,” Mr. Steven tipped his regards to the Senator and his wife as he left. “Very true…but tell me Trip, you own all the gold?”
“What’s with that guy,” Trip turned to Peggy, “thinks he’s so superior. Who’d wanna be him anyway - loser?”
“Trip! Trip! Can you hear me?” screamed Peggy, “Please somebody help us! Trip!”
Tourists gathered around the fallen man on the steps of the national capital.
“Hey, you can’t do this to me! Do you know who I am?” raged Trip.
“Yes I do.”
“Then you know I don’t belong here!” Trip pleaded.
“Oh but you do, by your own definition.”
“What definition,” Trip glupped.
“The one about Who makes all the rules. Should have paid attention to Mr. Steven. You might have known the answer to your final exam.”
…for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Psalms 50:12b
© 7/26/04 Lissa M. Lee