Continued from: With Drawn: Part 9 — The Amazing Fleeing Sketchpad
John Berkley moved about the different tables that were scattered around the art room. He was helping various students with their projects. They were working on vanishing points.
A vanishing point is an optical illusion. It is two lines rising up the page to another horizontal line, where they meet at a point, like the tip of a triangle. It is supposed to create the perspective of distance in a drawing. The illusion is created because the observer assumes the lines are parallel and that they are running off into the distance where they would appear to naturally narrow and meet at the horizon. But the trick only works if the observer believes that the lines are parallel. Otherwise, the observer would just say that it was a triangle.
So there was John Berkley helping the students with their vanishing points, when suddenly it seemed like the air was sucked out of the room.
This is, of course, a figure of speech. If all the air was sucked out of the room, the room’s occupants would all suffocate. The reason it seemed like all the air was sucked out of the room was that all the students were suddenly very quiet. The banter and the chatter that the students engaged in while working had suddenly ceased. John noticed this change in the room and he turned to look toward the room’s door.
What had caused the sudden quiet was that Principal Cooper had entered the room. The principal had the power to hand out detentions and write disciplinary letters home to parents, so the kids made sure that they were on their best behavior when he was present.
The principal strolled from table to table, viewing the various projects and saying, to no one in particular, “Wow. Great work. Very impressive. Keep up the good work boys and girls.” The principal turned to look at John, and he said, “Mr. Berkley, may I please speak with you a moment?”
John said to the principal, “Of course.”
John stepped away from the student he was helping, and he followed the principal to the back corner of the art room. It was a perfect place for adults to have important conversations in low tones.
“So what’s going on?” John asked the principal.
Principal Cooper said, “Look, John, tell me, how did it go between you and Jacob Grist after school yesterday?”
John said, “It went well. It’s always nice to connect with students. Especially those students that are sometimes more difficult to connect with.”
Principal Cooper’s squirrely face twitched. The expression made the principal look as if he was taking a whiff of garbage for a moment.
The reason that Principal Cooper made this expression is because he found John Berkley’s do-gooder attitude somewhat nauseating. The principal felt this way because he did not think that John was sincere. He was what the principal called, full of shit. This, of course, was exactly what Joanne Walsh thought about Principal Cooper.
The principal realized what facial expression he had made and changed it to one more appropriate, one that did not telegraph the fact that he thought that John Berkley was full of shit. The principal said, “Want to try and connect with him again today?”
“Why? Did something else happen?”
Principal Cooper said, “I found Jacob in the bathroom with his sketchpad jammed into one of the toilets, overflowing the bathroom with water.”
“It wasn’t him. He’d never ruin his sketchpad.”
“I know it wasn’t him that clogged the toilet. But he won’t give up anyone else. He just stares at me, not telling me what happened.”
John said, “It was obviously Tommy Rogers.”
Principal Cooper seemed to muse to himself, “Yeah, Rogers. I’m sure it was him, too.” Then the principal said to John, “But I can’t prove it was Rogers, and I need to set some kind of example for the teachers that think Jacob is out of control. And, at the same time, I need to try and keep Jacob’s mother complacent. She’s way up my ass.” Principal Cooper glanced around the room to make sure that no student had heard him curse.
John said, “Who cares what the other teachers think?”
Principal Cooper said, “Look, this Grist kid’s got Mary Washington all up in arms about that drawing of Tommy Rogers the other day. He drew one of his classmates being decapitated, for god’s sake. Washington thinks the kid’s dangerous.”
John made a sound known as a scoff.
A scoff is a blowing sound people make when they find something ridiculous. It’s like an angry sigh.
John said, “That’s ridiculous. And we both know it.” John then said, lowering his voice, “And between you and me, Mary Washington is a little nutty in her own right.”
“We might know that it’s ridiculous,” the principal said, “but Mary Washington, Martha Dell, the other kids… They can’t all be nutty.”
John shrugged in a manner that is known as coy. This shrug was supposed to make it apparent that John did think that all of these people were nutty.
The principal said, “Look, they all think the damn kid’s psychotic.”
“I know he’s autistic, John. Look, just take him after school again today, will you? Try and connect with this kid. Try to find some way to get him to buy into this school.”
“Okay. Of course. Whatever you think will help Jacob. All I want is to help the students, you know that.”
Principal Cooper looked hesitant a moment, that garbage-whiffing expression threatening his face again. The principal said, “Okay. Thank you, John.”
“You’re welcome, Mike.”
The principal regarded John a moment again, his expression blank. Then the principal turned to leave, the principal calling out to no one in particular, “Awesome job, boys and girls, some really great projects here. Keep up the good work.” And then Principal Cooper was gone.
Continued in: With Drawn: Part 11 — A Question of Murals
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