I was wrong about Satou-kun.
I thought he was the type that liked to remain in the shadows, be the right hand of da man. Be that reliable, capable, dependable, loyal soldier, willing to not only carry out assignments but adept enough to anticipate the needs of his leader before they arise.
I remember I likened him to Bob the Goon, Jack Nicholson’s right hand man in Batman.
I drew this conclusion, and made this forecast, because of the way he was always silently at Matsui-kun’s side, ready to pounce on anyone who dared to challenge his apparently fearless leader, while Matsui proceeded to wreak havoc all over the school.
Well, that was last year when they were 1st-year students. And, as I mentioned in a previous episode, things have changed. The little dastardly duo was broken up, each of them assigned to separate homerooms. Whether it was done on purpose or was just a fluke, I’ll never know. But, once separated, and after a period replete with bouts of separation anxiety suffered by both students, they settled into their respective new environments…at least Satou-kun did.
As I reported previously, Matsui, though still as out of control as always, even more so in some respects, does not have run of the class like he had in his first year, and is occasionally subject to violent reactions to his acting out, especially from Tanikawa-kun. At that time he could instigate a riot with his behavior, but nowadays the students in his homeroom treat him like a nuisance, more to be tolerated than to be feared or followed. So, he has taken his one-man show on the road, so to speak. He does most of his foolishness in the halls or in the teacher’s office while class is in progress. To combat this, during each class, any 2nd year teacher that isn’t teaching that period must man the hallway outside of his or Mika-chan’s (yep, she’s still a horror show) class, to try and contain them as much as gentle scolding and passive insistence can.
Satou-kun, however, having fulfilled his sworn duty to do Matsui’s bidding and protect his liege lord at all costs, his contract apparently only called for this practice to continue for a period not to exceed (1) year, he has, by the look of things, re-invented himself.
Perhaps he’s not the future Yakuza henchman I had written him off as. I mean, to see him, socializing not only with other students but with me…you’d think he’d been lobotomized, his despise of me surgically removed. I still watch my back (and balls) whenever he’s in my vicinity, though. Old habits die hard and I’ll always remember that icy hard, “you’re on my shit list, Loco…so don’t ever sleep on me!” look he’d given me as a first year student. I’ll be damned if I ever let down my guards entirely.
Today, however, something happened that…well, let me just tell you.
Among the second year students, there’s a new bad boy in town: Ishii-kun. If he was in the class last year he was silent as the dead, cuz for the life of me I can’t remember seeing this little bastard until this year. He made a big splash last week when he arrived at school with his hair died a Fuck the world blood reddish-brown and moussed up like I-hope-you-don’t-like-it. Any time I see a student pull a number like this (and there are consistently 1 to 3 a year that do) I admire them. I really get sick of the conformity that pervades here sometimes so when someone pulls a Rushmore or a Dead Poet’s Society (which is what I call these acts of non-conformity), I really admire them.
When I had walked into the classroom last week and saw his hair blazing atop his head, my first words were “kakkoiiiii jyan!” (Coooooool!) which garnered an almost embarrassed smile from this 15-tear old punk.
Today was the last day of classes before the big tests next week, so we had no lesson planned. Just a game and study time for the kids. I have a kooshball that I use for games…actually I started out using it just for games but after a while I started keeping it with me all the time. There’s something about it…I don’t know. It relieves stress, I think. It gives me something to do with my hands. It keeps the kids in check by distracting them. I just like it, and the kids do, too.
Some, though, like Ishii-kun, like to throw it at other students as hard as possible. It really stings if you do, though it can hardly do any permanent damage. So, when we use it for games I admonish them before hand to throw it like their mother’s were the ones catching it.
“Ball, me choudai!” I want the ball!) Ishii-kun said, in greeting.
With I’m trusting you, so don’t make an ass out of me nowin my eyes, I tossed him the ball. That trusting look usually offsets any mischievous desire the student might have. But, Ishii…he looked across the room at one boy who, since the semester began, has been a magnet for abuse (yet has a look in his eyes like he’s gonna take a pair of scissors or a math compass from his pencil case to a bully’s neck any day now) and launches the ball at him so hard that it whizzed through the air audibly. It missed him ny inches and hit the window above his head with a thump. The boy picked it up. I raised my hand for it to be returned to me. He saw my hand up, then saw Ishii’s had rise as well, that and he curled his lips into vicious sadistic smile. The boy chose wisely. He tossed it to Ishii.
I walked over to Ishii.
“Ok, fun’s over,” I said, smiling my I love my job at times like these smile. “Please give me the ball, Mr. Ishii!” Please does wonders here, you don’t know. So does using a student’s name. They swear the ALTs can’t possible know their names and honestly, with me, they’re right 80% of the time.
“Fuck you, Loco!” he said with perfect English intonation, like he’d been practicing it. Practicing that accompanying insolent look, as well, I suspected.
I snapped. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking.
“What the fuck you say to me?”
I must have given him a look that informed him he had crossed a line that had never been crossed. It seemed to fuel him.
“FUCK you!” he repeated, his lip snarled a bit…this time, unmistakably: contempt. I knew exactly how he felt, for at that moment I felt it, too!
I grabbed him by his jacket lapels and pulled him close to me. He kept his chin up like he was prepared to take anything I had to give. Our faces were inches away from one another’s. I reached for the ball in his hand. He shoved the ball in his front pocket. l was about to dig in his pocket, rip that fucking thing out if I had to- but I was gonna get that ball- when an overly gentle voice drifted into my ear from somewhere.
“Loco sensei…” It barely registered.
Then, there was a tap on my shoulder. I didn’t dare take my eyes off of him. We were two souls in a duel, locked in combat. Age was irrelevant, size was relevant. Only victory, survival, was relevant.
“Loco-sensei,” came the voice again.
It reached me this time and I realized where I was…and that all eyes were upon me. The students, some aghast, some spellbound with excitement. At the doors, three of the other 2nd year teachers, manning the hallway, their faces filling the door’s window. Over my shoulder, Takahashi-sensei…an odd look on her face. I looked at my hand. It was still gripped on Ishii’s jacket.
I mentally pried opened my fingers…and released him.
to be continued
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