A Bad Girl Ch. 02bySimon J.©
Susan settled into her seat, and for the entire term she never once raised her hand. If I called on her she'd either ignore me, looking out the window, or else she'd stare at me blankly. There wasn't much I could do beyond give her another detention.
After her first report card, neither of her parents came to parent-teacher night. Since she was in great danger of failing, I took it upon myself to call her listed phone number. Receiving no reply, I attempted to contact her parents at work. At her father's workplace number I was told that Mr. Castle was away at the moment and probably wouldn't be back for several weeks. Her mother's listed employer—the construction firm of Stonewall and Mason—told me that Mrs. Castle no longer worked for them. Intrigued, I pulled her file card at the office—technically a no-no but easily done if one knew the file clerk.
There were two listed addresses. The first was in a gated community at the top of the hill forty-five minutes from town. The security guard took my name and number, and then explained that he couldn't let me in, as Mrs. Castle hadn't left my name with him, but I could wait with him if I chose. Meantime, his eyes travelled hungrily up my legs to my neckline, but never got as high as my chin. I tried to give him a withering look, but I think he just thought I was squinting to read his badge number.
The second address was on what would normally be called the wrong side of town. It was a once-pretty single-storey wooden house, with a battered picket fence. Weeds and rusty swings languished in the backyard, complimented by more weeds and litter in the front. I would have thought it was an abandoned house except for the man coming out.
He wore a faded blue robe, and had a faded handsomeness himself. His feet were bare. He limped and had a thin black cigarette in his mouth and a clinking bag in his hand. He raised his head and no doubt caught me staring from my car, because he waved sardonically, then flipped me the bird. He dumped several bottles into the trash can at the side of the house, and went back in. I heard yelling.
I had put the car in gear when a dark mop of hair poked out the door, there was more yelling, and then the door of the house flew open, and Sue crossed the weedy yard at a run. I hammered the gas to the floor, and peeled out. It was guilt, of course. I had a semi-legitimate reason to be there, but at the same time, something told me that I didn't want to be caught lurking around a student's home.
But as I drove off, I looked in the rear view mirror. The figure standing on the sidewalk was just a silhouette in the late afternoon sun, its fists balled by its side. But that silhouette looked defeated, angry, hurt and unhappy. And I'm a teacher first. I put on the brakes and reversed toward her.
Sue slouched to the driver's side, head down, not meeting my gaze. "He's inside." I was flustered for a moment. "Who's inside, Miss Castle?" "My Dad. That's why you're here, isn't it?"
Wasn't it? I suddenly wasn't sure I wanted to talk to Mr. Castle. Moreover, I wasn't sure he'd care, that he'd understand the importance of what I needed to tell him—that the years between his daughter's age and mine were important ones, and that those years could make a difference between his daughter being successful and happy, or . . . or not.
But it wasn't her father, or her mother I really needed to talk to. I'd had conversations before with other students, even with Sue—although not with any results that I could see. Perhaps it was worth one last try. Even now I wonder whether I might have already been seeing the little signs of how my life and Sue's were to change.
"Get in." I said, swinging open my passenger door. Susan climbed in without asking where we were going. It crossed my mind that I could have been a kidnapper; a rapist; anyone, and she'd still climbed in. Then I almost laughed—goody-two-shoes Miss Flock, with her grey woollen skirts and her plain blouse and glasses—a rapist, and a lesbian rapist at that!
But my oh my—did I ever want to be!
Here ends this chapter of the Chronicle of Althea Flock. Part III will follow in about thirty days. See you then, Dear Reader.