My 500 Words Challenge: Day 6

Challenge: Tell Someone Else’s Story

He sat running the fingertips of his right hand back and forth along the the rim of the wooden desk. The methodical movement eased the stress he was feeling. His left hand held the coffee mug. The coffee mug held whisky.

He took another sip and let it burn as it moved from the top of his throat to his stomach. A nightly ritual, but more so lately than ever before.

Why’d that kid get under his skin so bad? The kid could be a leader if he’d drop his attitude and disrespect for authority. The kids who were just hesitant trouble makers before now looked up to this butt head. Little jerk. Who did he think he was anyway?

John turned towards the window and spread the blinds between his fingers. The voice of the kids at the dance below echoed through the vent at his feet. Troublemakers were no doubt spiking the punch as he sat here and drank his own little stash.

But where was Pete? That was the question tonight.

He’d heard rumors that Pete had some plans and it wasn’t picking up girls at the dance.

What would it be this time? Setting off the fire alarm again? Flooding the bathrooms? What hadn’t he done? He was John’s biggest challenge yet.

I hate the kid. No I don’t, not really. John’s mind narrowed as he turned from the window and took another swallow. He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

He glanced at the trash can that lay by the door. It held the note he’d found earlier pinned to the wall outside his office. He was the principal and he wasn’t going to let Pete get away with this tonight.

A sound, a small step hesitated at his door. Sally stood there and slowly pushed the door inward. Poor kid, older in responsibility than her years should have allowed. But everyone’s hurt did something different to them he guessed.

“Principal Howard?”

“Yeah Sally, shouldn’t you be at the dance?”

“Well, yeah, I was, but I saw the note outside your door earlier and…” She looked at her feet and scrunched the fabric of her skirt between her fingers. “Well, I know you heard what Pete’s been up too and you and me both know he’s the one who left you that note.”

“Sally, spit it out. What did you come here to tell me?” He had made her sink back into herself for a moment but her skirt was helping her gather her courage.

“I just thought you’d want to know I saw him sneak out back behind the gym. He and some of the other guys were pushing that old green dumpster back into the dark.”

“Thanks Sally, now you go on get yourself back to the dance.” He could tell she didn’t want to go. She’d probably grow up to be a cop someday. You had to watch out for the shy ones with a strong sense of justice.

He took one more sip from his glass and stood. Pete wouldn’t get the best of him tonight. Sally quietly moved out of his office doorway and down the hallway back toward the dance. He knew that was the last place she wanted to be.

He bent and took the note from the trash can, straightened it in his hands and read it one more time. His chest tightened at the words. John tucked it in his pocket, turned, and locked his office door.

Sally sat in shadow peeking around the corner at him. He put his finger to his lips to keep her quiet and he moved out the door toward the gym.  

You’ve got plans for me Pete, but I used to be like you and I have plans of my own. You’re a tough kid but I’m tougher and no matter how much whiskey you make me drink, I’m not giving up on you.  

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