DEFEAT. 033 – Hallway Lesson Plans
[DEFEAT. is Rendar Frankenstein’s truest attempt at fiction. Presented in weekly episodes, the novella tells the tale of Daryl Millar – a hero who dies at the intersection of pop culture, science-fiction, war epic, and fantasy]
Gramps and Daryl walked down the hallways with resolve. Neither had any desire to spend another second in the school, a place that was supposed to foster reason and rational thought but was overrun by small-minded tyrants. Ah, just like the real world!
And also like the real world, Daryl had been punished for calling into question the legitimacy of a reigning power. With his balled-up fist, Daryl asked Brady Moore’s jaw Hey, what makes you think that you have the right to do whatever you want?! For these efforts, the teen was suspended for the remainder of the school day.
The bell rang and a cavalcade of bleary-eyed youngsters filed out of classrooms. They were tired and hungry, teeming with hormones and devoid of reason, underappreciated by their teachers and over-appreciated by their parents. Those that noticed Daryl slapped him on the back and thanked him for his early-morning contribution.
After all, word travels quickly in a high school. In terms of pure speed, the gossiping patterns of suburban youths ages fourteen to eighteen should be studied by telecommunications companies. Without any sort of genuine perspective, most of these students find no greater satisfaction than in hearing and spreading the tale of some rule’s infraction:
Who did what? Seriously? Does Becky know? She doesn’t? She has to. Well, yeah, I know she’s stupid but Jake is her boyfriend! And they’re serious! They’ve been a couple, for like, seven weeks! Well, I think it’s cool that he did that but he’s going to get in trouble and you have to realize that if it comes out that you were with him then you’re totally going to get busted as well, and there goes our big after-prom party that I finally convinced my dad…
And so on.
And so on.
And so on.
Swimming against the current of rumors and unfulfilled potential, both Daryl and Gramps saw a figure with whom they needed to speak. The relationship each held with this pretty young thing was unbeknownst to the other. For one of them, she was one of those rare teachers who was both intelligent and concerned. For the other, she was the daughter of a friend who had been known and looked after for decades.
Worlds apart and yet within the same hemisphere.
“Clark! How’re you doing? Wait a second, do you know Daryl?”
Gramps chuckled at Evelyn’s inquiry and responded jovially. “Do I know Daryl? Hell, I helped make kid. He’s my grandson!”
“Ahh, that makes sense! Daryl Millar! I never put it together!” And with this newfound understanding, an expression of solace and satisfaction made its way across Ms. Lang’s face. In this chaotic and unintelligible existence, there was yet another individual that could be trusted. Through and through.
But the countenance was short-lived. The history teacher remembered that she had a question for Daryl. A question that had kept her up all night, reliving a scene of terror that she had never anticipated coming across.
“Daryl! Have you heard anything about Riff and 8-Bit?”
The teen was baffled. Thoughts flew this head appropriately; “Wait, how the hell does Gramps know Ms. Lang? How does Ms. Lang know about 8-Bit and Riff? What is going on?” Fortunately his confusion subsided and he was able to offer some answers.
“Well, I visited them both at the hospital last night. They’re sore and a bit busted up but neither had to stay overnight. So I guess it could’ve been a lot worse. Still, between the both of them they walked away with some missing teeth, bruised ribs, black eyes, sprains and one broken nose.”
“Oh,” Evelyn gasped, “that’s terrible.”
“How did you know about Daryl’s friends?” Gramps was curious, beginning to realize that interconnections were surfacing.
“Oh, well I was taking Reilly around the block last night when I came across two kids being beaten up by a goon-squad. I yelled at them to stop, but they carried on as if they didn’t even hear me. It was only a few seconds, but watching something so violent made it seem to stretch on for an eternity. It really felt as though time slowed down.
“But then Reilly tried to jump in and he ended up being swatted down.” At these words, Clark’s mouth went agape and his eyelids peeled themselves backwards. Perceiving his concern, Evelyn offered the necessary reassurance, “Don’t worry, he’s perfectly fine — just a little startled. I ran home with him right away and then called the police.”
“Oh, thank God Reilly’s safe.” Clark was relieved in such a way as to elicit yet more confusion from his grandson. But the teen was willing to hold onto his questions until later. Or never.
“Anyways, where are you two going?”
Daryl told his teacher with pride, “Gramps is taking me home. I’ve been suspended for the rest of the day.”
“I started a fight with Brady Moore. He was the one behind the attack last night and there’s no way I was going to let him walk away untouched.”
Evelyn Lang tried to conceal her satisfaction, a teacher’s reflex to hide the fact that she approved of the physical assault of another student. But she decided Screw it and patted her student on the shoulder. “We all have decisions to make in life. And sometimes we have to do something despite knowing that there will be negative consequences.”
Ms. Lang hugged Clark, told Daryl not to worry about the day’s homework, sent her regards to 8-Bitt and Riff, and headed to her next class.
Clark and Daryl left the school and headed for Bandini’s Café, where the breakfast Gramps had abandoned would be cold by now. But he was still going to finish it.