The Foreigner   

by on March 12, 2024 :: 0 comments

photo "Empty Skies Hold the Most Prayers" by Tyler Malone

Mrs. Lipton held my wrists with her hands flat to the desktop and leaned her equine face down to mine. I could smell her hot breath and feel her anger. She was strong. Her plunging neckline revealed three inches of cleavage that my eyes refused to disregard.

“I warned you,” she said hotly. “But Miss—” was all I could muster. She lifted me by the wrists so that I stood on my tiptoes, and escorted me to the classroom door. “Go see Mr. Rice,” she said. “I will be down shortly.”

Principal Rice had a very small head and freckles. He was a nice man most of the time but too often fell under the sway of Mrs. Lipton. As a twelve-year-old I was just beginning to understand about sexuality. Mrs. Lipton had a horse-face, but I could see how her large bosoms attracted men. All the dirty magazines my cousin Charlie collected featured women with big boobs. They had prettier faces, yes, than Mrs. Lipton, but similar physical proportions.

Mr Rice sat at his big desk reading reports with bifocals perched on his tiny nose. His head looked as though it had been shrunken by tribesmen, though those heads were often darker complected. He asked me why I was there.

“Mrs. Lipton told me to come here,” I said. “She said she’ll be here shortly.”

He nodded as though he knew precisely what she intended. I had no idea what she intended. Was she going to send me home? Call my folks? If the case was the latter, the joke was on her; my mother was at work. I’d be happy to go home. Of course I’d eventually have to explain to my mother what I had done to be sent home, and though I wasn’t yet clear on this, I’d tell her as much as I knew. What had I done? What offense had I committed? When Mrs. Lipton asked me what my folks had planned for the Christmas holidays I told her they had cazzo planned, that is to say my mother had cazzo planned as my father had died the year before and she was still in mourning. Mrs. Lipton, new to our school, probably didn’t know that. And I’d hazard to guess she didn’t know what the word cazzo meant but suspected it meant something bad.

When Mrs. Lipton entered Mr. Rice’s office, she was breathing hard, her chest rising and falling impressively. I noted Mr. Rice’s pale eyes darting little glances at her as she caught her breath. It was all he could do not to gawk. A small smile played about his lips; saliva whitened his mouth corners.

“He used an obscenity in class,” Mrs. Lipton announced. “It was in his language, but I know it was an obscenity. The other children laughed and lost control of themselves. I’ll not have this jokester, this little foreigner, make a mockery of my class.”

Mr. Rice nodded reflectively and cupped his chin profoundly. “What do you suggest?” he asked her.

“I suggest ten strokes of the Black Doctor,” she said, “five for each hand. I have found this to be effective at other schools, with other children. The Black Doctor will reinforce any proscriptions we take.”

Mr. Rice agreed but only after an award-winning performance of regret and reluctance. “I’m sorry about this, kid,” he said, his small head beaded with yellowish sweat, “but it’ll do you good, believe me. By the way,” he said to Mrs. Lipton, “what word did the boy say?”

Mrs. Lipton wheeled around and faced Mr. Rice. “He said the word cazzo, sir.” Mr. Rice shrugged in bafflement.

“What does it mean?” he asked.

“What does it mean?” Mrs. Lipton barked at me.

I gathered myself. I’d not been raised to eat shit. “What it means is that if you touch me with that stupid black strap, my mother will come here and stick her foreign foot up your ass.”

editors note:

Living at the hands and teeth of violence brings out the best in all of us at any age. ~ Tyler Malone

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