Brass Monkeys

Brass Monkeys by Terry Caszatt Read Free Book Online

Book: Brass Monkeys by Terry Caszatt Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terry Caszatt
it a Strobolocus after himself. It’s nothing more than busy work.”
    Just then a man riding a wheelchair emerged from the confusion at the far end of the room. He had stubby legs, duck-fluff hair, and a pimply complexion.
    “That’s Strobe,” whispered Harriet. “And he’s not handicapped. He just rides that chair because he thinks it’s funny. Oh, and don’t stare at his pimples.”
    Strobe saw me now and wheeled over to a nearby table. On it sat a small brass monkey with a grinning face.
    “It’s his incense burner,” murmured Harriet.
    Strobe flicked a match afire with his fingernail, then leaned forward and lit the incense in the belly of the monkey. A thin trail of smoke floated upward.
    “Get in your seats, you little stinkers,” Strobe yelled at the class. Then, with a laugh, he jumped out of the wheelchair, gave it a kick, and strode toward me.
    “Well, well,” he said. “What have we got here? Would this be my new student, Mr. Eugene Wisenheimer?” His eyes glittered with a mad light. I tried hard not to stare, but I had never seen a grown-up with so many zits.
So many big ones
    “Wise,” I said. “Not Wisen—”
    “Right,” he replied. “Mr. Wisenheimer.”
    He turned away from me now. He was smiling at the class, most of whom were still talking and laughing. The two wrestlers hadn’t paused in their battle.
    “So, class!” Strobe yelled. “What did we learn from that little exercise?”
    One of the students held up a dead mouse and cried, “Fight or flight?”
    It dawned on me what the group had been chasing. A small mouse.
    “Excellent Elliot,” said Strobe, “you little imbecile.” Several of the kids laughed.
    Strobe turned to me with a cracked smile.
    “So, Eugeenie, do you like science?” He thrust his chin forward and I pretended I didn’t see the fiery, quarter-sized zit on the end of it.
    Several kids, including Harriet, Alvin, and Weeser, were listening intently.
    “Yeah, I like science a lot,” I stammered. “In fact, I love it.”
    “I wuve it,” Strobe mimicked me, and a couple of kids snickered. “Well, that’s good Eugeenie. You’d better wuve it.” He began picking his nose with his thumb and forefinger. I stared in fascination: I’d never had a teacher who did that. I once had a third grade teacher—Mr. Draftfelder—who clipped his toenails during recess, but nothing like—
. I grimaced as Strobe wiped his thumb on his pants.
    “Now find a seat, Mr. Wisenheimer,” he went on, “and get out of my sight.”
    I nodded and headed for a desk at the back of the room. I caught a glimpse of the disappointed looks on Alvin’s and Weeser’s faces. What did they think I was going to do, go nuts and put Strobe on his back for the count of three?
    The rest of the period passed by in a confused blur. Strobe lectured on the “habits of bees.” He held up the wrecked remains of a bumblebee model and kept referring to it as a “honeybee.” While he talked, the class joked, chattered, threw paper at each other, and generally paid no attention to him.
    Near the end of the lecture a strange thing occurred. One of the insect’s wings fell to the floor. Strobe giggled and picked up the piece, then turned and eyed us.
    “Monkeymind,” he said. Then he snapped the part back in place. I thought it was some kind of dumb attempt at humor, but the class seemed to freeze. Then the moment passed and he went on with his ridiculous talk. It was totally weird.
    Toward the end of class, I glanced over to see how Harriet and the others were taking all this. They were watching me with hopeful gazes, obviously waiting for me to start my big rebellion. When I turned back, I found Strobe staring at me with a suspicious look as if he, too, thought I might try something.
    The bell rang then, and my last image was of Strobe mounting his wheelchair and wheeling about in a small, mad circle.
    I just about broke a leg trying to get out of that room.
    Harriet, Weeser, and Alvin

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