This chapter was really difficult to write. Maybe because I was getting back from the long break and my procrastination hormornes had kicked up and kept saying wait wait, wait…
Sorry for the delay. I’m goign to be ready for you tomorrow with chapters 9 and 10
Rachel didn’t know how long she trembled after she got home. Her mind was a million miles from earth. Mrs. White noticed her upset, but didn’t make comments on it, but Robert took no notice of her as usual and went about his own ritual of getting a beer and sitting in front of the television until he fell asleep.
When the hall clock struck midnight and she found herself still awake, Rachel went into the bathroom and threw some cold water on her face. Staring into the mirror at the puffy dark circles around her eye, she thought about her moment of abandonment. “What if…” Closing her eyes, she forced herself not to think about that when she had told Derrick not to do that. There were no what ifs. There was never going to be a chance to make anything happen with anyone. She might as well accept her lot in life.
Yet, she told herself that before Derrick her lot in life had been all right. So why couldn’t it be all right again? What awakening had Derrick made her experience?
Taking off the pendant reluctantly, Rachel knew she had to give Derrick the message that there would never be an “us.” Going back in her room, she put the pendant inside of her old jewelry box.
Arriving at the school, the next morning, she checked her voicemail and was surprised to hear that Ramsey McPherson had returned her call. He was a big force in Davenport’s politics and that he had given a personal recommendation in Derrick’s file meant something.
He had said in his message for her to call him back anytime between seven until five giving his personal cell phone number. She had arrived early for school and took this opportunity to give him a callback before her homeroom class arrived.
“Hello, Mr. McPherson,” she said when he answered the phone. “Like I said in my message, I’m Derrick James’ English teacher and I’m having a problem submitting some grades for him to the board.”
“Have you spoken to his father?” Ramsey questioned.
“No, sir. I didn’t want to blow things out of proportion, because the problem isn’t with Derrick, but the people in my administration that doesn’t wish for this young man to succeed. He’s getting well over above average grades, but there won’t be a chance in hell for him to make anything of himself if he has to contend with people who don’t want him to get anywhere,” she said.
“You aren’t suggesting I try to remove these people, are you, Mrs. Herlong?”
“I’m asking for your assistance in making sure Derrick has a chance. I didn’t know who else to call without making a big thing out of it.”
Ramsey chuckled on the other line. “I’m the prosecuting attorney for Sawyer County, Mrs. Herlong, and anything on my desk becomes a big issue.” Pausing for a moment to think, he said, “I’ll see what I can do, but I’m a busy man so I make no promises.”
“Derrick’s father did a lot for me in college and I owe him big time and I know that smart ass boy of his will definitely be just as intelligent as his father. I’ll call you back with a school board contact in about three hours, who’s going to help me out. I’ll leave the message on your voicemail. Is that fine?”
“That’s more than fine, Mr. McPherson. Thank you so much for all your help.”
“I like that you care about Derrick enough to do something like this, Mrs. Herlong. He’s lucky to have you on his side.”
She flushed from his praise. “Well, like you said he is very intelligent and I think he deserves a fair chance at succeeding despite what he did in the past.”
“Have a good day, Mrs. Herlong.”
Disconnecting, Rachel smiled to herself proudly and went to her classroom. She decided to tell Derrick that day of what she had accomplished to make amends for what happened yesterday. If he could just get over his infatuation with her, then she was positive they could be great friends and have a wonderful teacher/student relationship.
He didn’t come to his first hour class with her, nor did she see him in the third hour that she taught. Worriedly, she stopped Arwin at her desk on his way out and inquired about Derrick.
“He wasn’t at home last night,” Arwin admitted. “After he left the café yesterday, I haven’t seen him.”
By the end of the day, Ramsey kept his word and gave her the name of a school board member to contact tomorrow and wished her luck in helping Derrick again.
Blowing off Derrick’s absence thinking that he was most likely embarrassed about the whole incident from the coffee house and just didn’t want to face her the very next day. She was positive that he was very aware if he had too many unexcused absences that he could be sent back to the detention home. Derrick was stupid enough to risk that over embarrassment.
Yet, Rachel found herself biting her lip restlessly the rest of the day and went down before leaving the school to see if derrick showed up for football practice. The team was going to play for the state championship next week and the coach was making the players train almost everyday despite midterms coming up as well in three weeks.
The following day, Derrick still didn’t show up for school. She contacted the school board member who knew what she was speaking about as soon as she got on the phone with him. Ramsey McPherson wasn’t kidding when he said things on his desk become a big deal. The school board member assured her he would request the records from the detention center and get back with her after the Christmas Holiday to request official copies of Derrick’s school records because he would also be looking for the progress reports Derrick’s probation officer was given as well, which he hoped the school made copies of or the probation officer should have on file.
Again she checked at football practice, but there was no Derrick and even the coach was getting worried because Arwin couldn’t tell anyone where Derrick had run off.
“He’s my best damn defensive lineman and I can’t win in state without him!” the coach snarled.
When first hour began the next day, she started off on attendance and just as she was about to say Derrick’s name, Dwayne Davish showed up at the doorway with a coffee cup in hand looking a little bit jovial, leaving a bad taste in Rachel’s mouth.
She looked over at Arwin, who only shrugged his shoulders as if he had no idea what was going on.
As a delay tactic, she stopped attendance to see what Dwayne wanted knowing fully well what he was so happy about. Beside Dwayne appeared a young looking cocky man, with a bald head and bright pink lips, who had to be a little older than Rachel with broad shoulders and a lean waist. The wide nose served as a distraction to what could be good looks if he also got rid of the pissed off and dissatisfied look he wore on his face with that beard.
“How can I help you, Mr. Davish?” she questioned as if she was honored to have him in her class.
“Derrick James has been missing for the past two days?” Dwayne questioned.
“James? Derrick James?” she asked, pretending to really have to think about it. “Let me check my books. You know I’m still new to this job and can’t remember every student. “ They actually had the nerve to follow her over to her attendance records as if she was going to lie about it, when she know full well her attendance records were turned into Dwayne every day. She still continued to play the flighty role though to stall. “Well, look it here!” she said as if amazed by her discovery. “He has two unexcused absences. Was I supposed to make some kind of special notification, Mr. Davish? I know you have so many criteria’s when it comes to Mr. James. It’s so hard to keep up with them from one day to another.” Leaning in close to make it seem like it was a big secret, she said in a very low tone, “I assumed you wanted Mr. James to come back to a school environment that would treat him like any normal child, but with all the stipulations, it’s become quite difficult to even remember everything I’m suppose to do for the other students. I mean I don’t mind the progress reports, but all that recalculations on grades and –“
Her rambling was getting on both of their nerves, and it was the other man who interrupted her. “Mrs. Herlong in no way do we want to make your job difficult. And no you don’t have to notify anyone. We pay very close attention to all of Mr. James actions.”
“And you are?” she questioned.
“Michael Montgomery.” His piercing almond eyes swept over her from head to toe lasciviously. “I’m Derrick James’ probation officer. I was notified the first day of his unexcused absence. And I’m here today to get the detailed paperwork out the way before we send him back.”
Rachel felt like she had been improperly licked like a stamp from the look in his eyes and the overly long handshake he gave her. Michael Montgomery gave her the creeps.
“Why don’t you just finalize all this, Mrs. Herlong,” he said trying to sound charming. “By calling his name for attendance, marking the sheet, so we can be on our way in getting Derrick James out of this school as soon as possible and back where he belongs in the county detention center,” Dwayne ordered.
They needed her to sign the attendance log that would give them the proof they need in order to send Derrick back. She was very aware of this and Dwayne was not about to just order her to do it in front of the entire class where there would be too many witnesses to say she had been forced to sign the log.
She did her best a fluttering and said, “Well, I forgot where I stopped off at. I should start all over to make sure I got everyone, knowing you’re so concerned over the student’s attendance, Mr. Davish.” Sitting back at her desk, she began to read the names again real slow.
The students looked a bit baffled at what she was doing, but the whispers throughout the room brought the class to an understanding and they started to assist her delaying efforts by answering just as slowly.
“Henderson… Alexander,” Rachel called off.
“…Here,” came in muffled reply at the back of the room.
“Taking her time marking the last student name that answered, she heard an impatient huff come from Dwayne. “…Huckle…Lisa,” she said.
“What was that?” Tonya asked at the back of the room. “I didn’t hear you, Mrs. Herlong.”
Rachel smirked. “”Huckle…Lisa Huckle?”
The class was quiet for a moment.
“Did you say Hankle?” Arwin asked.
Angrily, Michael snapped, “She said Huckle! Lisa Huckle!”
The girl in question, who was sitting right in front of the teacher’s desk, said, “Here.”
Rachel nervously licked her lips. “James…” She paused and then said again.
“James…Derrick?” There was no answer as all the students looked around the room as if derrick was going to pop up at any second in the midst of them. “Derrick James?” she asked one last time in almost a desperate tone.
A complete moment of silence came again and her shoulders slumped as she looked over at Arwin, who looked helpless and confused too.
Dwayne smiled with Michael and ordered, “Go ahead and mark him absent, Mrs. Herlong.” He looked around the room once more. “Clearly you can see he’s not-“
“Here,” Derrick said quietly, standing at the doorway of the classroom.
She wanted to run to him and throw her arms around his neck, but at the same time shake him for putting her through a moment of hell. ‘Where the hell had he been?!’ her thoughts screamed to ask him that question, but she kept her demeanor calm. “Oh yes, Derrick. Please have a seat,” she said as if this was usual.
Michael immediately blocked Derrick’s path to his seat. “Outside Mr. James,” he ordered sternly.
Derrick turned around and walked outside the door with Michael and Dwayne following him. Rachel immediately got up and started to leave the room. The whole class wanted to know what was going on as well, but she ordered them to read chapters seven through nine and answer the questions at the end of every chapter. The class groaned, but she knew they were going to be on their best behavior if they wanted her to find out what was going on.
Soon as she stepped out there, she heard Dwayne snarl at Derrick, “Do you have a tardy excuse, Mr. James?”
Derrick reached in his jacket’s inside pocket and pulled out a pass from the football coach. “He needed to see me about next week’s game.”
Dwayne handed the note to Rachel. She noted how Derrick avoided looking at her and in a way her feeling were hurt.
“Where have you been for the past two days, Mr. James,” Michael demanded to know.
“Your mother said you hadn’t been there since the other day and you certainly were not at school.”
“I had business,” he mumbled. “The deal was no more than three right? I won’t miss today if you’d move the hell out my way.”
Michael looked actually mad enough to strike Derrick, but he wasn’t crazy and Rachel could see that the man had a little fear inside for Derrick. Not just because of Derrick’s size, but by the way the young man carried himself and stood up to Michael.
She still couldn’t get over how much he could change given the situation. Derrick was a man way before his time and knew how to weld his own inner strength in different situations. She found her attraction for him growing more and forced herself to stop her illicit thoughts.
Breaking up the tension, she said, “I do have a class to teach, gentlemen.”
“Get your ass in your seat and you better not miss another day of school,” Michael ordered. “You’ve used up all your get out of jail for free cards, asswipe, and I’m going to have you back where you belong very soon.
“We’ll see about that,” Derrick sneered arrogantly, before walking past Michael going into the classroom.
Rachel started to go into the classroom, but Michael called her while Dwayne closed the door to her classroom.
“I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but whatever you’re doing, it won’t work,” Michael warned her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she lied.
He leaned in close to her narrowing his eyes to slits. “You’re not as stupid as these other teachers of his. You know the game and I play it very well and very dirty. Don’t think you can stop me from my attempts to put Derrick James back in the center.”
“Derrick’s a good kid.”
“You sure that’s not your pussy talking,” he snarled disgustedly.
She slapped him open handed to the face starling even herself at her actions, but she recovered quickly and derided, “You better be glad I’m a lady or you would have gotten worse than that, Mr. Montgomery.” Flipping her nose in the air, she stormed into her classroom and sat down at her desk. She forgot there was a room full of students in front of her as she put her hands over her face to gather her equilibrium. It took just a moment, but once she removed her hands, she shot a venomous look in Derrick’s direction. He had his head down in a book. He was the only student that did so and she wanted to scream at him.
“You alright, Mrs. Herlong?” Arwin asked.
“Yes, Arwin, I’ll be fine. Complete your reading assignments,” she ordered and picked up her attendance sheet to quickly complete that portion of her ritual.
When the bell rung, she ordered sternly for Derrick to stay after class. He didn’t bother to get up and since her next hour was going to an assembly in the auditorium with another teacher and his next hour was study, Rachel knew they would have time to talk. When everyone had filed out the classroom, she closed the door to give them some privacy and went over to his desk folding her arms over her chest and standing with her legs akimbo.