“I mean a lot of the little boys at that school talk a lot o game, Mrs. Herlong, but Derrick’s not one of the boys. He’s different.” Tonya nibbled on the chips thoughtfully. “I had the hots for him when he first got there, but I see there’s just too many of them on his jock. They swarm around him like a hive of bees.” She smiled triumphantly. “That’s a hyperbole, isn’t it, Mrs. Herlong?”
“Yes, Tonya. So why is it you feel that I should be so concern about Derrick James?” Rachel asked calmly, fondling the pendant in her pocket.
“Arwin and I were making out…I mean studying and we somehow got on the subject of the Winterfest coming up at the school Arwin says he doesn’t think he’s going because it’s Derrick’s birthday and since Derrick don’t have a date, he didn’t want to go. Well, I made the comment that with all those girls dying to go out with him, all he’s gotta do is look cross-eyed at one of those trifling bitches – oh I’m sorry, Mrs. Herlong.”
“It’s alright,” Rachel encouraged trying to hold back her anxiousness to hear what Tonya was trying to warn her about. “Please continue with what you’re comfortable with saying.”
Tonya did. “Like I said, Derrick’s just got to raise his hand and fifty girls will fall at his feet to go to the dance. I mean I was like that at one point too, but he’s got too many that want him for my taste and since I’m on the inside circle, I see all that crap that they do to get to him.”
Curiously, Rachel asked, “Like what?”
“They use to put their panties in his locker in the beginning until he made this huge announcement for that shit to stop and now they shove notes in his locker. For Sweetest Day in October, when he opened his locker, like a million of them cards just flooded out for him. It was sickening.” Tonya rolled her eyes around in her sockets. “Anyways the whole football teams planning on to use the Winterfest dance as their excuse for partying legally with the school whether they win or lose, so the whole teams trying to get dates and go. Afterwards, they are planning some private thing at a hotel. Everyone except Derrick. Everyone’s pretty much on pins and needles waiting for Derrick to show up at the dance with a date.”
Clearing her throat, not feeling so nervous anymore, Rachel asked, “What does this have to do with me, Tonya?”
“When I pointed out that Derrick could take anyone, Arwin said he don’t want to take nobody at that fucked up school, except Mrs. Herlong.” Tonya snorted in disgust. “Hello! Hello! You’re his teacher, I says, but Arwin’s like, that don’t make a difference. He says Derrick’s got his sights set on you and there ain’t no moral or ethics gonna stop him from getting what he wants.”
Rachel nervously laughed. “It’s most likely a high school crush, Tonya. It’s nothing to take serious.”
Tonya leaned forward with this real grave look in her eyes. “Derrick James don’t give out his affections like they was air, Mrs. Herlong. That boy’s got a serious crush on you and everyone knows what Derrick James wants, he gets.”
“He’s sixteen years old, Tonya. I’m not considered part of your teenage world. Derrick
James is my student and I’m his teacher. He’ll get over it. Lots of kids fall for their teachers. I did it too when I was a child, but once I matured I understood that it was just a crush. I got over it.” She started to get up as if this was the end of the subject.
Tonya reached out and grabbed Rachel’s arm to stop her from moving. There was a deadly serious look in her eyes. “This ain’t no crush, Mrs. Herlong. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Derrick ain’t gonna get over this. Not the way Arwin was talking and I’m just warning you. He’s going after people who want to hurt you and he ain’t taking no prisoners.”
Rachel became a little worried. “You think he could hurt my husband? Is that what you’re trying to say?”
“I’m just saying, Derrick knows people who could do things for the right money and even
though I pretend I don’t hear shit or understand shit, I know Derrick’s old man got mad money and Derrick’s got the key to his old man’s bank account.” Tonya chomped on a chip nervously. “I’m just helping him do some things cause he’s a friend. A good friend that I like a lot, but I like you too much, Mrs. Herlong, and I don’t want things to get out of hand without you knowing what’s going on. Plus, some shits about to hit the fan soon at the school and I don’t think you need to even open your mouth about Derrick, but I know you won’t cause you don’t like gossip.”
Thoroughly confused now, Rachel asked, “What’s about to happen?”
Tonya stood up abruptly using the back of her sweater to wipe her mouth and frowned worriedly. “I gots to get home, Mrs. Herlong. My mom goes psycho when I’m out too long.”
She followed Tonya to the door. “What was going on? What could be going on?”
The girl paused at the door and looked over her shoulder at Mrs. Herlong suspiciously. “You don’t have the hots for him, do you? I know you’re married, but Derrick’s got a great body and shit.”
Rachel blushed, but then stiffened up significantly. “Like I said, I’m his teacher and he’s my student, Tonya. There won’t be anything going on.”
“Good, because I would sure hate for a teacher like you to get wrecked cause some man thinking with his crotch. I like you too much to see you get kicked out.”
It didn’t sound like a warning, but Rachel wasn’t sure if Tonya was being a friend for foe with that statement.
Locking the door behind Tonya’s exit, Rachel wondered what was going to happen next.