With Drawn: Part 20 — A New Approach

Mystic Island Middle SchoolContinued from: With Drawn: Part 19 — The Principal’s Office… Again

Principal Cooper and Mr. Barney were talking together in the school hallway. Principal Cooper would always stop to talk to Mr. Barney if he saw him in the hallway. This is because back when Principal Cooper was in middle school, a jock like Mr. Barney would have been cool to talk to, even though, back when Principal Cooper was in middle school, jocks like Mr. Barney would hardly ever talk to him. So Principal Cooper would now talk to Mr. Barney in the halls because Principal Cooper was now cool enough to do so. However, Mr. Barney talked to Principal Cooper for a different reason. Mr. Barney talked to Principal Cooper not because Principal Cooper was cool, but rather because Principal Cooper was his boss.

While Principal Cooper and Mr. Barney spoke together, they heard someone saying these words: “Look at that, just the two men I wanted to talk to.”

Principal Cooper and Mr. Barney turned to find John Berkley striding toward them, John with his arms spread wide like he wanted to hug the two men.

Judging from Principal Cooper and Mr. Barney’s expressions, it did not appear that John was just the guy they wanted to talk to. John was neither cool enough in Principal Cooper’s eyes to talk to, nor did he have enough authority to warrant a conversation with Mr. Barney.

Principal Cooper said, as if wincing, “Hello, John.”

A wince is an expression someone makes when he or she is in pain.

Principal Cooper wasn’t actually in pain. It was more that he found talking to John Berkley painful.

Truth is, Principal Cooper didn’t even realize he had made a wince, which was okay, because John didn’t notice Principal Cooper had made a wince either.

John said to Principal Cooper, “So I was doing some thinking. During those detentions with Jacob Grist, he and I were discussing murals and the great mural painters. You know, Rivera, Siqueiros, and such. And I was thinking about what you said about Jacob needing to get more involved in this school. And that’s when it hit me.”

John paused as if it should have hit the other two men, too. The truth is, it didn’t hit them. In fact, John Berkley might as well have been speaking Mandarin Chinese to both of the men. Principal Cooper had a difficult time trying to decipher what point John was trying to make, and Mr. Barney understood nothing that came out of John’s mouth whatsoever.

Principal Cooper glanced at Mr. Barney to see what Mr. Barney thought of what John was saying. Mr. Barney raised his eyebrows and looked off down the hall. This expression was meant to illustrate to Principal Cooper that Mr. Barney was quite bored with John’s banter.

When John realized that what had hit him had not hit the other two men, he said, “What if Jacob did a mural here in school? Something he can be proud of, something the other students can respect.”

Principal Cooper glanced at the gym teacher again. Only this time, the principal had an expression on his face that conveyed that John might possibly be onto something. Mr. Barney still had an expression on his face conveying that he thought John was speaking Mandarin Chinese.

Principal Cooper said to John, “Interesting idea. A mural of what and where?”

John said, “Well, this is where Mr. Barney comes in.”

Hearing his name mentioned in all that Chinese made Mr. Barney say, “Huh?”

John said, “What if Jacob was to do a mural in the gym? It could be a mural depicting school pride, you know, sports teams or something.”

Principal Cooper glanced again at Mr. Barney, and the principal said to the gym teacher, “Well, what do you think, Harvey?”

Mr. Barney said, “Grist? You mean that weird kid that Tommy Rogers drew all over with a Sharpie?”

John said to the gym teacher, “Yes, that Grist. And he’s not, that weird kid.

The italics above are because John stressed those words with the tone of his voice.

Mr. Barney said, “Didn’t he draw a picture of a kid getting his head ripped off or something? How do we know he won’t draw something bizarre up on the gym wall?”

John said, “I’ll make sure he doesn’t.”

Mr. Barney snorted. His snort was because he didn’t believe that John would be able to keep Jacob from drawing something bizarre on the gym’s wall.

Principal Cooper wanted to snort, too, but he kept a professional demeanor, which is to say that he did not let on that he also thought John would fail in keeping Jacob’s artwork in check. The principal said, “When is he supposed to work on this mural?”

John said, “He could work on it during study periods, or after school. Whenever he has the spare time.”

The principal said, “Jacob doesn’t do any of his schoolwork as it is. He should be spending his study periods getting caught up with his assignments.”

John said, “Jacob doesn’t do his schoolwork because he doesn’t find value in school. Let’s give him a reason to care. Let’s give him something connected with the school that he can be proud of.”

The principal looked at Mr. Barney and said, “Harvey?” He did this because he was wondering what Mr. Barney thought of this idea.

Mr. Barney shrugged, which was meant to express that Mr. Barney didn’t like the idea very much.

But the principal did like the idea. And so Principal Cooper said to John, “Very well. But you be sure that Jacob Grist doesn’t end up doing some giant mural of Tommy Rogers getting his head ripped off.”

John said, “He won’t. I promise.”

Continued in: With Drawn: Part 21 — The Second Mural

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