reading?” he asks. I start to sweat. It is officially time to face the ghost of Dummy Halpin. It is time to watch as my classmates make light of my family history, my deafness, my freakish forerunner. But at that moment, Pat walks through the door. Most eyes are on him. Mindy waves. Leigha gives him a hard-to-read look. What is upwith her eyes? Only Devon acknowledges me, giving me a huge thumbs-up from across the room. Can I crawl under my desk? Hmm … A bit too much of me for that.
“Was there anything
found interesting?” Arterberry asks. I am getting better at reading his lips, but I am beginning to wonder if
even did the reading. But then he says, “Anything that relates to our class?” turns toward me, and gives me a wink. “How about
, Mr. Carlson?” he asks. Poor D.C. adjusts his glasses and speaks with his eyes down as if reading his notes, even though he is obviously totally making it up as he goes along, saying something like: “The history of coal mining is important to our class because it is an important part of our region of Pennsylvania. Coal is something that was mined for many years, the mining of which was used for many things. In conclusion, coal mining was—”
Arterberry cuts him off with a raised hand and a withering look. I am beginning to feel relieved. Is it only Devon and I who have done the reading? Arterberry then turns and looks straight at me.
“Didn’t any of you
the reading at all?” He is exasperated, not surprised, and maybe a little sad. I find myself feeling bad for him. I look around the room. Only Devon’s hand is raised. I have no choice but to also raise mine. The rest of the class keeps their arms down, so it looks like we are waving at each other. Then he actually does wave to me.
Arterberry is not amused. He does not want to call on Devon. He clearly wants to call on me but does not know how. I
speak. I could say a few words, make the sad bastard happy. Butmy voice makes people laugh. Arterberry stares at me and then pretends I said something.
“Thank you, Will,” he says. “I can imagine that it was very interesting to you. The rest of you
should know what I mean. Was the miner in the text related to you?” he asks me. I nod my ever-reddening head. “I
you knew that story?” I shake my head.
“See that, class,” he says, waving the book. “You should try reading; you might learn a thing or two.” Then he explains that “our Will Halpin” is named for a famous coal miner, which is something “anyone could be proud of deep inside.” I feel something deep inside, but I think it’s nausea and maybe … shame?
When I get to Miss Prefontaine’s room (a little late due to my routine of following Leigha Pennington … but I’m
a stalker), The Dolphin is nowhere to be found. Word has already spread that we have a sub for the day, so plans are no doubt made to make his life miserable. We used to do some classic stuff to the subs at the deaf school, especially the hearing ones. We’d sign outrageous filth with happy smiles or make epic mouth farts when the sub turned around to face the board.
All Travis Bickerstokes and Pat Chambers, the leaders of this classroom, can think of doing is making people switch seats. Pat takes Travis’s chair with a big grin. Marie Stepcoat is absent, so they bully Devon into her chair. Devon, being Devon, clearly doesn’t want to engage in such tomfoolery, but Travis whispers some sort of threat that gets him to reluctantlyplay along. He sits there obviously upset about breaking the rules.
The sub enters—a big bruiser of a man with one angry eyebrow and meaty fists clenched tight. He says his name, but I don’t catch it and decide to call him MTG (for Mr. Tough Guy). He looks at the seating chart and takes attendance. When he calls Pat’s name, Travis says, “Here.” Pat loves