As Johnny wandered around the school, he had become so lost in his thoughts he didn’t see the locker door fly open.
He grunted in pain and muttered “dammit.”
“Oh, sorry!” said a girl.
Johnny rubbed his forehead. His pain subsided as he stared at a girl he hadn’t seen in quite a while. One that he particularly fancied.
“Lena…uh hey,” Johnny stuttered.
The girl smiled, “Welcome back, Johnny.”
The two reminisced for a few moments until the bell rang.
“Maybe, uh, maybe we can go get some lunch, or see a movie, or something some time,” Johnny said nervously.
“Sure,” Lena smiled brightly, “see you later.”
As she and the remaining students in the hall all disappeared, Johnny was left standing still in the hallway. Alone.
He thought of what his next move would be but then…
A female voice came over the school’s PA system. “Jonathan Jones, please report to the administration office please.”
Really? More distractions…he thought on a memory, maybe not.
Johnny made his way to the office and checked in with the secretary that had called for him. “He’s expecting you.”
It was instinct more than anything, a casual stroll if you will. He made his way past the few desks, with the feeling of eyes on the back of his head, watching him, his movements, body language. It was if he was being assessed.
He wandered down the long hallway that led to the Principal’s office. The door was already open, an open invitation to all (the alleged open door policy which was meant to also be literal).
The Principal turned around from looking out the window. “Ah, Mr. Jones, welcome back.” He sat down at his desk and gestured that Johnny do the same. “Please, take a seat.”
The middle aged man looked the juvenile over. “I see you have decided to rejoin us, that pleases me greatly.”
“For a while, and then I will be taking a leave of absence,” said Johnny.
The Principal curled his lips, “I see.” He reclined in his desk chair, kicking his feet up on the desk. “I do apologize, I’ve never been one to be formal, and of course, I do offer my condolences about your friend, Jerry.”
“Thank you, Mr. Ramirez,” said Johnny.
“Now, I have been informed that you were involved in…an altercation with some students?” Ramirez sat back up in his chair and shuffled some papers around on his desk. “And by one account, you allegedly threatened one, choked them out, and well, I am sure you know since you were there.”
“Theodore attacked me first, I was merely defending myself. Some things may have been said in the heat of the moment, but no real harm was inflicted on my account,” said Johnny.
“So you are admitting to the account’s testimony?” asked Mr. Ramirez.
“Great,” the man took the stack of papers that alleged Johnny’s threat and shredded them. “Admittance is the first step in acknowledging a problem.”
Johnny thought the action was confusing as he stared at the smiling Principal.
“Now, since that is behind us and we’re on a new path, I’d like to hear what you’ve learned while on your…break.” said Ramirez.
Johnny replied with a confused look. “Uh, I beg your pardon, sir?”
Mr. Ramirez’s smiled faded to a stern expression and a serious tone overtook his voice. “I want your report about your time away from the institution, Mr. Jones.”