Don’t You Forget About Me (Pt. 5)

“Well, it wouldn’t be what you are used to, but it is something,” Claire commented with a smile.  Brian watched as Allison and Andy nodded and looked once more at Dottie.

“I didn’t take it,” he replied and took Dottie’s hand in his.  He gripped it tightly under the table as we watched the looks of confusion starting to form on his friends’ faces.

“What?” Andy asked.

“I didn’t just apply for jobs in the local schools, but I branched out to others in the district and some not in this district,” Brian continued.

“Okay, buddy, so did you get another VP position?”

“Yes.”

“How far away is it?” Andy asked.  Brian looked down and he could feel Claire’s eyes on him.  He looked over at Ally and he could see the light going off as she realized more what he was saying.  She looked down and had a grim expression.

“Come on Brian, where is the job?” Claire asked.

“You see most schools around here don’t need Vice Principals, and some of them are undergoing the same thing as Shermer.  So there weren’t really any positions…”

“Come on Brian, where is the job?!” Claire asked louder.  The concern had grown on her face and she gripped at the table until her knuckles were white.  Andy looked confused at her for a moment; not grasping fully what was happening.

“I applied for jobs out of state,” Brian said, and the oxygen left the room as his friends started absorbing what he was saying.  Dottie squeezed his hand in reassurance.

“I applied for some positions on the West Coast…”

“Yeah, Charlie and his wife are out there, and Fiona is planning to attend Washington State University,” Dottie interjected avoiding Claire’s scathing glare.  She looked frantically at Andy and Ally.

“Brian, what are you saying?” asked Claire.

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Don’t You Forget About Me (Pt. 4)

“And no one stopped this?” Claire asked still in shock.  Brian looked down feeling his cheeks starting to grow red.  Dottie squeezed his hand.  Claire continued to glare at Brian, and clenched her hand into a fist.

“He didn’t have a choice.  The voters decided,” Allison said softly.  Claire snapped her gaze at Allison.  The anger still flickering in her eyes.  Andy started rubbing his neck nervously and looked apologetically at Brian.

“Someone could have changed their minds…”

“No, no one could,” Allison continued calmly continuing to look Claire in her eyes.  Allison had been the only one to take on Claire and win.  She kept her stance.  “And lets be honest.  Are parents really going to turn down state of the art schools with the right resources for their children?  Shermer is old and needed to be either remodeled or torn down, and the voters decided to tear the building down.”

Claire huffed and looked away.  She swirled the wine in her glass then started drinking it.  She looked away from everyone in the table.  Her gaze lingered on the empty chair next to her.  Andy looked nervously at everyone.  Brian looked at Dottie and she put her head on his shoulder giving him a reassured smile, while Allison just kept her eyes on Claire.

“Yeah, so,” Andy said, clapping his hands then resting his hand on Allison’s thigh.  She tensed for a second then looked at Andy and smiled softly.

“So Bry, did you apply to the new schools for the Principal position or stay with the VP position?”

“I tried for both actually,” Brian said.  He felt nervous.  He knew Claire’s fuse was already on a countdown and he really didn’t want to set her off any further.  “How is the insurance business, Andy?”

Brian was hoping to distract Andy and change the subject.  He really wanted to save this subject for tomorrow before the goodbyes between them and Claire.   He wanted to be able to run without things being further awkward tonight.  They still had to meet tomorrow for breakfast and the other thing.

“Insurance is insurance,” Andy said undeterred, and Brian wanted to groan.  “Have you heard anything yet?”

Claire’s gaze returned to Brian, and he wanted to disappear under the table.  Dottie locked fingers with him and he looked at her.  She smiled at him and squeezed his hand.

“Yeah, I have heard a few things.”

“So did you get it?”

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get it,” Brian said looking at Andy.  He ignored Claire’s glare.  She leaned forward and got a concerned look.

“Principal or VP?”

“Neither.”

“What!?” said Allison, scooting closer.  Andy sat back with his mouth open, speechless.

“I am not surprised,” Brian started.  “I was one of the applicants with the least amount of administrative experience and course work.  I mean I was a teacher first, then moved into being a Vice Principal.  There are more and more administrative applicants that have the proper degrees and experience without spending years in the classroom.”

“So what you are saying is the positions are going to kids with administrative degrees,” Claire said.

“I won’t say that exactly, but I will say there were some questionable choices,” Brian said looking at Claire.  He let out a sigh and decided to eat his bread he had buttered earlier.  Andy shook his head and a frown started to gather on his face.

“So what does that mean for you, Bry?”

“Well, a few of us were offered teaching positions instead.  It would be a pay cut and we would have to complete some training before hand, but we would have jobs.”

“What would be teaching?” Claire asked taking another sip of her wine.

“The offered me the position of teaching shop…”

Andy let out a loud laugh, and everyone else followed.  Allison clutched at her stomach as she fell back against her chair laughing.  Andy started to slap at his knee and he bent over.  Claire had started laughing to, and muffled her laughs in her arm, but with every laugh her arm shook, which had caused the wine in her glass to swish around.  Brian chuckled and looked away.  A smile crept across his face, and it made him flashback to the library many many years ago, when a group of teenagers met for the first time.  He looked over at Dottie, and was jolted back to reality.  She wore a smile but he could see the concern in her eyes.  He knew it was now and never for him to let the group know.

Don’t You Forget About Me (Pt. 3)

Brian and Dottie were the first to arrive at the restaurant, but the rest of the crew wasn’t far behind.  Andy and Allison arrived with Claire in tow and the group were quick to exchange hellos and hugs.  Claire rarely came back, and the last few years had only really been for this quick meetup with the old crew.  Her parents had moved away during her senior year, but she had kept in touch with Bender and Allison.  The yearly get-together had been sparked with that and only seemed right to be on the anniversary of the day they all actually had sat down and got to know each other.

Brian gripped Dottie’s hand and looked at her smiling.  She looked back at him smiling then returned to chatting with Allison.  Claire had laid her jacket over the back of her chair, then sat down shifting herself slightly away from the empty chair next to her.  Her eyes met Brian’s and she smiled.

“How have you been?” she asked leaning forward.

“Can’t complain.  The school year is almost over so that will be a good break.”

“I bet.  Kids today seem to be such a handful.  Tiff hasn’t been doing good in school.”

“Uh-oh, what is going on?”

“Who knows?  She hardly talks to me these days, and Allen isn’t really communicating much.  Trish said she would try poking around, but we will see.”

Brian nodded, giving her a concerned look.  “Things still not going smoothly for you and Allen?”

“No.  I wish it had been more amicable, but things got so nasty toward the end of the sepearation.  I am thankful if I can get a cordial text message at this point.”

“That has to be rough, and I am sorry about you and Tiff.”

“Divorce is never clean.  It is always a messy affair, and at this point the only consistent thing is they all resent me.”

Brian found himself squeezing Dottie’s hand in gratitude.  Thankful, they never had as many issues Claire and Allen had in their marriage, and their divorce.

“I am sure the girls don’t resent her,” Dottie chimed in, and Allison nodded in agreeance.  Claire just chuckled and looked away.  At that moment, a waiter came to the table.  They quickly ordered drinks and appetizers, and the waiter left.

“Hey Claire, did Brian tell you the news?” Andy asked.  Brian felt a lump form in his throat and he paled.  He hadn’t wanted to discuss the news this early in the night, and he could only guess how Claire would react; let alone Andy and Allison.

“No, what is going on?” Claire asked eyeing Brian, and he felt Dottie squeeze his hand for support.

“Well..”

“They are closing the old high school down,’ interrupted Andy.  At that moment, the waiter had returned with the drinks and baskets of bread.  Andy had snatched a piece of bread and started buttering it.  Brian looked dumbfounded and Claire looked shocked.  She looked back and forth at Andy and Brian.

“They are closing Shermer High down!”

“Yeah,” replied Allison.

“What?” Claire asked.  “Why? How?”

Andy and Allison stayed quiet and Brian took that as he cue to explain.

“It is several factors,” Brian began, grabbing a piece a bread.  He gripped it nervously and avoided making eye contact with Claire.  “Funding, student numbers and the conditions of the building…”

“But you are the Principal…”

“Vice Principal,” corrected Dottie.  Claire just glared at Dottie and Dottie shrank down in her chair.

“You are the VICE Principal, how can you let this happen?”

“Well, one, this wasn’t my decision.  This was the school board, the Superintendent, the city, pretty much the voters agreed to a levy and to consolidate some of the schools if they got newer schools that were more up to date and more efficient,” Brian said calmly.  He set down the bread to pat Dottie on the leg, and he looked over at her and winked.

“So what is going to happen to the building?”

“We don’t know,” started Andy.

“Actually, they plan to demo it and it is getting parceled out to a hotel and a mini strip mall.”

Andy, Allison and Claire sat there not blinking with mouths open.  Brian calmly buttered his piece of bread and started to eat it.

“Are you serious?” Allison asked, and Brian nodded.

“Sadly, yes,” Dottie said.  “After the voters agreed to the levy, there were several organizations scouting the land.”

Don’t You Forget About Me (Pt. 2)

Brian felt a hard pat on his shoulder, and turned to find Andy’s balding head and navy business coat.  He stood next to Brian looking into the library.

“Hey Andy, I didn’t realize you were here tonight.  Do you coach tonight?”

“Oh no, just a quick stop in to talk to Jim about Saturday.”

“Big game?”

“Nah, just a standard practice.  Did you hear Ally got Claire?”

“Yeah, is she staying at your house?  Dot and I forgot to offer, and frankly my mind has been elsewhere.”

“Oh understandable, buddy.  She decided to stay at a hotel this time,” Andy said patting Brian on the shoulder again.  He looked back at the library focusing in on the statue in the middle of the room.  “I can’t believe that is still there.”

“What?” asked Brian, looking at Andy confused.

“The statue,” he replied pointing at it.  “I figured that would be gone by now.  Never knew what it was.”

“It’s supposed to be the tree of knowledge I believe,” answered Brian.  “And, the main library is taking it at the end of the school year.  They are doing a big remodel right now.”

Andy nodded and continued to scan the room with Brian.  “So many memories…”

Brian nodded in agreeance.  He could almost see the tables and hear Vernon in the room.  A smile spread over Brian’s face and Andy patted him again on the shoulder.

“Well I will see you later, buddy.  7:30?”

“Yep, see you later,” Brian responded and Andy turned to head to the gym.  They both waved at each other.  Brian turned back to library and he could see the ghosts of five misfits for a moment, then he left whistling.

**********************************

Don’t You Forget About Me (Pt. 1)

“Tommy!”

A lanky sixteen year old boy suddenly turned around to face a booming voice.  An older man stood there with his arms crossed staring down the teenager.  The teenager looked down at the trash he had just thrown down, then looked back at the man.  He stood there with a firm glare not budging, and the teenager slumped down in guilt.

“Yes, Vice Principal Johnson…”

“Is that your trash?” he asked pointing to the garbage near Tommy’s feet.  Tommy nodded in response.

“Pick it up and throw it away properly,” Johnson continued, and the teenager quickly shuffled to pick it up.  “We will be here for a few more months, so we will keep the building intact.”

“Sorry, Vice Principal Johnson.”

“Just do better, Tommy.  I know you got some real potential.  I saw your artwork in Ms. Finch’s classroom.  Did you enter the contest?”

“Yes,” Tommy answered shyly, and Johnson patted him lightly on the shoulder.

“Awesome.  Now get going before you miss the bus.”

Brian watched the teenager race out the door.  It felt like the kids were making his hair grayer quicker these days, but everything had been chaos in the school as of late.  He had tried to keep things calm, but even his nerves had been rattled.  The afterschool meeting had been cancelled, and for once; Brian was very happy for that.  The gang was getting together tonight, and at least now he could unwind a bit before seeing them.

Suddenly, there was a vibration in his pocket, and he quickly reached into his pocket pulling out his phone.  Flipping it open, he saw his wife, Dottie, had sent a text.

Ally has picked up Cee at the airport.  Meeting tonight?

                Meeting cancelled, he texted back.

                Good!  So earlier meet up?”

                Yes, 7:30.  Can you call Julio’s for reservation?

                On it J, she responded.

He put the phone back in his pocket, and turned to head back into the office to get everything settled before the weekend.  Brian stopped looking in the direction of the library, and a nagging feeling tugged at him.

“Just a quick minute,” he said under his breath.  He made his way to the library and opened the door peering into the room.

“Hello, Mr. Johnson.”

Brian jumped for a second, but quickly located the voice.  An older women looked at him from under her glasses, and she held a book in her hand.  She looked back at the bookshelf, and went back to shelving her cart of books.

“Hello, Ms. Potter.  Sorry to disturb you, but I will be gone in a moment.”

The woman paid him no mind and he felt like he was fifteen once again.  He scanned the room, and he had been reorganized several times, but he could still see it with the empty tables up front.

“Hey Bry!”

Time (Pt. 3)

“Looks like Tweety almost took flight there, John,” said Earl.  Earl had been reading the paper when John had nudged him to look up at the clock.

“Yes it does.  She had always been one to try to take flight,” John replied drying a glass.  “Think I am going to have to call Ralph, and have him fix her again.”

“Why don’t you just get a new clock?” asked Earl, “I mean it may be time you get some new.  Maybe, something digital.”

“Nah,” John laughed.  “That cuckoo clock has been in the family for generations.  It would be bad luck if we got rid of her.”

Earl snorted and returned to his paper, ignoring the cuckoo bird wobbling back and forth.  John turned and picked up the phone, dialing Ralph’s number.

“Hey Ralph?” John said into the phone.  He nodded and smiled.  “Yep, Tweety attempted to take flight.  Do you think you can get her fastened down again?”

 

Time (Pt. 2)

I looked around the room full of tables, and there were small crowd of people.  Sitting at random tables, I anxiously looked at each person trying to make eye contact.

Help me! I screamed.  I looked at a small boy seated near me, and worry took over my face.  The boy laughed, tugging on his mother’s sleeve.  She looked down at him, and he pointed up at me, giggling and talking gibberish.  She peeked up at me for a moment, then quickly turned the child’s attention back to the piece of paper on the table.  She handed him a red crayon then pointed at something for him to color.

Help!  Please someone! Don’t you hear me?

It had started to rain outside.  Rain had started to streak down the front windows.  People shuffled quickly by becoming blurs and blotches of color.

Help!  I flapped my arms more fervently, but no one was looking at me besides the old man behind the bar.  He laughed louder, slapping the counter with his hand.

Don’t you hear me?  Help me!

The sound of clattering silverware filled my ears.  Thumping of glasses as people placed them down.  The scraping sound of plates across the tabletops.

Help me, I whimpered.  Conversations flooded my ears.  Loud muffled talk with clips of heated arguments and bursts of laughter.

Help me.

No one was looking at me now.  Not even the old man behind the bar.  He was now on the phone.  I bobbed there, wobbling back and forth.  I started shaking my arms furiously, hoping, wanting someone to look at me.

Help! I shouted again, but still no one noticed.

Are you all deaf?  You are all stupid idiots!  Can’t you see me!  Can’t you see I need help?

Nothing.

Help me!  Help me, please!  I want to be free!  Please anyone help me, I cried out, and as fast as I had been propelled into the light; I got yanked backwards.  I flew back, and watched as the small door closed once again.

Nooo! I cried, tears welled up.  I watched as the light was squeezed out of the room by the door clamping shut.  I flopped forward.  My head hit the door, but the door didn’t budge.  I was back in the dark.  Stuck.  The ticking started once again, and tears started to streak down my cheeks.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

Time (Pt 1)

Picking at my feet, I tried to shift and move them.  The ticking thundered in my ears and I knew my window to escape came with every beat.  I tried to move quickly, eyeing the door in front of me.  The dust filled my nose, and I fought the urge to sneeze.  Trying to shift my feet, but they didn’t budge.  I continued to bang on them; frustration grew with every blow.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

Scrambling more, my waist twisted side to side trying to free my feet.  I was stuck.  Panic worked its way up my spine, and my body trembled.  Closed my eyes, I took a deep breath.  Then another.  Silencing the shaking sound of my body, until all I could hear was the ticking.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

There was a muffled sound growing in the background.  A rumbling of low pitches growing louder and louder.  My eye flew open as my breath caught in my chest.

The voices!  It is almost time, I whimpered.

Tick, Tick, Tick.

                Frantically, I banged at my feet.  Tears started to well up in my eyes, and I reached down grabbing at my right ankle and tugged.  My foot shifted slightly, and excitement grew.

Tick, Tick, Squeal.

                The gears began to grind and squeal.  I shot up, shaking my head back and forth.  I was still stuck.  It was too soon.  I hadn’t freed my feet.

No, no, no!  Too soon!

Clank, Ting, Screech.

The small door in front of me flew open, and the room filled up with light.  Blinded, I tried to shelter my eyes, but suddenly I was propelled forward.  I shot out passed the door, flying forward.  The weakened bond of my feet became looser, causing me to lean further forward.  I dangled high above the floor.  Blinking quickly, my eyes adjusted to the light.  The grooves of the floor reached and grabbed at me.

Ahhhhhh!  I screamed lurching backwards, which straightened me back upright.  I tried to move my feet, but they moved only slightly and I realized I was still stuck there.  My gaze shot up and cased the room.  I made eye contact with the old guy behind the bar.  He had been drying off glasses, and he looked up at me.  A smile stretched across his face as he stared.

Help me! I yelled flapping my arms.  He laughed and turned to another old man sitting at the bar.  He had been hunched forward reading the paper.  The guy behind the bar leaned toward him and pointed at me.  The second guy looked at me listening and seemed to nod at what the other man had been saying.

Help me, please!  Why are you just looking at me!?