Comeback Kid: Episode Four: The Stage Is Set

For earlier episodes, please check my website If you’re up to date on what’s going on in the two wild lives of Brock Patrick, feel free to continue on to episode four.

The Stage Is Set

Brock left class and went down to the auditorium, just like he did in the new frame of events. However, when he saw Coach Hawthorne, whom Brock thought of as the stuck up head coach of the Edwin Middle School team handing out the sign-up sheets, he became scared and discouraged, thinking Hawthorne of all people would just laugh him off and send him back to class since Brock mightily struggled through the three hour practices during hot summer of 2003 during Hawthorne’s first year as coach. Brock was so pitiful he didn’t even play in a single game and played in about eight total plays the entire year during the five reserve games. Instead of facing this fear head on, Brock turned and bolted for the restrooms. While there, he gave himself one long, hard look in the mirror.

“Okay what are we going to do?” he asked himself through his reflection. “Are we going in there or what?”

He continued to stare at himself for a few more minutes before he decided to take one last crack at it and finally seize an opportunity to prove himself. As Brock exited and turned right in the direction of the auditorium, Mr. James, an assistant coach for the high school, was headed down the stairs to the very same meeting just as Brock became visible in the lobby. Keep in mind that Brock had left Mr. James’s class to go to this football meeting. By this time, the meeting had already begun and Brock looked as if he were skipping out on class since he technically was not present in the meeting. To make matters worse, Mr. James is not one of those individuals who is very understanding of the youth of America. In fact, he’s far from it. So far from it that Brock probably would have had a better chance of staying out of trouble had he just told Mr. James he was skipping the rest of class, meaning he was going to be in big trouble whether he told the truth or not.

“What are you doing?” thundered the gigantic Mr. James so loudly his voice echoed off the walls, causing the aging gym teacher, Miss Lund, to come running out of the gym where she was overseeing the sixth grade gym class.

Not only did Mr. James have a nasty temper, he had a very short one indeed. He was also a big man, standing at roughly six feet, four inches in height and weighing a good two-hundred and eighty pounds. He was also very, very well built and he was known to hit the high school weight room at least six days per week twice a day. In summary, Mr. James was big, muscular, and scary.

Wow, this is going to be bad, thought Brock, staring up at the large, hulking figure of Mr. James, who looked enraged and breathing like a rhino chasing down it’s prey.

“What’s going on out here, Mr. James?” asked Miss Lund in a falsely sweet yet sinister tone, glancing at Brock and then back at Mr. James.

“I caught one of my students down here trying to skip class,” reported Mr. James, his loud voice still echoing off the walls. “He’s supposed to be in the eighth grade wing but he’s down here in the lobby, probably walking around the building and not giving a care in the world over his dropping English grade, which is a D minus! What are you playing at, Patrick? What is your excuse?”

“I was in your class a few minutes ago-,” started Brock with a hint of desperation, but Mr. James cut him off, not giving in a single inch to allow Brock to explain his side of events.

“Then what are you doing in the lobby?” yelled Mr. James, whose voice carried so far Mr. Hawthorne poked his head out of the auditorium to see the commotion. He and Mr. James caught each other’s eye.

“I caught this cat red handed skipping class, Mr. Hawthorne!” exclaimed Mr. James across the lobby and sounding as if he had just unearthed buried treasure. “Does he look familiar to you? Does he need to be skipping anyone’s class at this point? What does he have in your class? An F?”

Mr. Hawthorne looked at Brock, laughed, and then shook his head at the scene and went back into the meeting.

“You’re grades in my class are poor enough and now you’re wandering around the school?” Mr. James raged on while Miss Lund walked up.”No wonder you’re almost failing in my class and failing Mr. Hawthorne’s math class! Oh yes, you didn’t think we teachers communicated about all of you, did you, kid! And don’t even get me started on Mrs. Triton’s class, I heard it’s a C minus and that’s because she was generous enough to curve them! Haven’t you learned anything at all this year?”

After that rant, Mr. James was now under Brock’s skin. Brock was feeling so much anger he did not care what was going to happen to him. So this was how it was going to be, so be it. Brock decided to push the envelope.

“Yeah, I learned how you ignore your students and gamble online during class,” smarted Brock with a half smile. “How much money are you winning these days all the while stealing from the school since you’re playing cards, fantasy sports, and who knows what else while on the clock?”

“Oh, you think you’re a comedian, do you, Brock Patrick? Miss Lund, take him to the office,” shouted Mr. James in a very dangerous voice, giving Brock and evil eye. “I’m late for a meeting and this worthless failure is not going to hold me any longer. I’ll see you in detention and if not I’ll know they shipped your worthless soul to the alternative school, son!”

“So you’re calling me-“, said Brock but this time it was Miss Lund who cut him off.

“You have no respect for teachers, boy,” she said through gritted teeth, towering over him. She wasn’t much taller than Brock, but she did outweigh him by more than a few pounds. Worse yet, she had an extremely vicious side to her which was ominous at this point. And despite her age, she is also in phenomenal physical condition, so much that she was able to wear sleeveless tops and look respectable in them.

“Honestly, half of you kids have no respect these days for any kind of authority,” she growled in a low, dangerous voice. You think you’re so tough, don’t you? You were a human pinball in while playing football in seventh grade, according to a few of your rather righteous classmates. You’re not tough, there’s not a single ounce of toughness or commitment in that little, tiny, wannabe tough guy frame of yours. Let’s go, boy, and if Mr. Douglas decides to put you in alternative school let me tell you, if you can barely survive football you will in no way, shape, or form survive a day in alternative school. I would like to see you try.”

And she grabbed him by the neck of his shirt and dragged him up the steps and away towards the direction of the office. He tried to pull away, but her grip was too strong for him. He had done it. He had one moment, just one moment of hesitation and what did it lead to? A trip the Mr. Douglas’s office.

“In!” said Miss Lund fiercely, pointing to a seat in the office as she opened the door.

“Miss Lund, who’s watching your class if you don’t mind me asking?” inquired Brock, taking a seat and reclining back in it, now thinking a little bit more offensiveness couldn’t hurt since he was in enough trouble as it was. “It appears to me that you are breaking the duty of your job. And you think of yourself as a good teacher? I beg to differ.”

“I have a student teacher in there!” yelled Miss Lund, putting her face inches from Brock’s, so close he could smell her hot breath. “We’re going to sit and wait for Mr. Douglas in silence and then he can sort your smart, wannabe tough guy attitude out. And if you say another word I’m going to write you up. Because let me tell you, Patrick, Mr. James is already going to see to that and Mr. Douglas does not take kindly to two write-ups in one day. Oh no, he doesn’t! You’re going to be a criminal in his eyes if you don’t shut up.”

She sat down in the seat next to his, across from a large desk that contained a single chair in the middle. They sat and waited a good ten minutes before the tall, yet stocky Mr. Douglas came into the office.

“What’s the problem?” he asked, addressing Miss Lund as he strode over to his desk.

“He was skipping a class and he became a smart mouth to both myself and his teacher, Mr. James, who happened to spot him down in the lobby while he was on his way to the high school football meeting,” she said, glaring at Brock the entire time. “I left my class in the hands of my student teacher, Mrs. Croft, and went to see if Mr. James needed any help. Lo and behold, this no name specimen thinks he’s Mr. Bigshot.”

“Okay then,” he said with a flat tone. He then turned to Brock. “Name?”

Brock was now so angry he wasn’t necessarily worried about what would come next, so he merely sat there in silence, staring at Mr. Douglas as if he didn’t understand the question.

“I said, name,” repeated Mr. Douglas, leaning in closer to Brock. “We can do this the easy way or I can call in Mr. Barr.”

Mr. Barr was the alternative school officer who had been called into the school more than a few times before. Typically he would arrest a troubled student and take them to the alternative school, where they would spend at least a few weeks. Alternative school housed student juveniles and the officers who led the school treated it as if it were jail. Partially because it was located within the confines of the Thomas County Jail.

“Brock Patrick,” muttered Brock, looking past Mr. Douglas.

“Brock Patrick,” he said in an undertone, as he typed into a computer set up on his left side. “I believe this is the first time I’ve had you in here. It seems like you’ve been involved in some minor incidents in the past but nothing too serious. But the way you’ve been talking today, it appears there’s more than meets the eye. What seems to be your problem? Talking back to teachers and wandering the halls, it appears. What’s the story?”

“I was just headed to the football meeting but had to go to the bathroom so I was running a few minutes behind,” said Brock. “Mr. James was coming down and just happened to catch me-”

“Mr. James must have waited until class was over, and that was fifteen minutes after Mrs. Wood called the football team down,” said Douglas, glaring at Brock. “That’s enough time to smoke a cigarette and down a beer in my opinion, which is becoming more and more of a problem at this school because of students such as yourself. I have a very hard time believing your story.”

“You weren’t headed to the football meeting anyhow,” grinned Miss Lund shaking her head, her eyes narrowing. “His football career in the seventh grade was beyond pathetic. He was a human pinball who was run over in practice by tiny James Gras. So supposedly this little wannabe thought about playing again two years later. Yeah right. What’s easier, Brock? A summer of waking up at the crack of dawn to running and conditioning in the heat or a summer of hanging out in an air conditioned room with junk food and videogames? I know you too well. We all know you too well. I know who you sit with at lunch and it isn’t the football team. You’re with those bottom of the barrel losers who will never go anywhere in life other than a halfway house!”

“That may be so that I quit football then, but-” started Brock.

“What were you doing in there for fifteen minutes?” demanded Mr. Douglas, standing up, face getting very close to Brock’s. “You, sir, have concocted some sort of story that just doesn’t add up. There is far too much evidence against you at this point and you’re very lucky I’m not calling up Mr. Barr right now!”

“What else would you be doing other than lighting a cigarette up?” asked Miss Lund sarcastically, eyes still narrowed. “And that’s all it better have been!’

“If I investigate the matter and find anything recreational, you will be escorted out of this school in handcuffs in front of everyone,” threatened Mr. Douglas. “And if you think I’m lying, just try me. Try me!”

“I was just, I don’t know,” sighed Brock, looking down at his shoes.

“You were skipping class, Patrick,” said Miss Lund. “Stop your lying and just admit to skipping class and not caring one bit about your pathetic little life!”

“Because I wasn’t,” said Brock defensively. “Seriously, I-”

“Mr. James also said that Brock was doing rather poorly in his class, as well as the classes of Mr. Hawthorne and Mrs. Triton,” said Miss Lund cutting him off. “This probably isn’t the first time he’s skipped the class. It’s just the first time he was caught.”

“Wow, a D minus in the class with a one point eight overall GPA,” said Mr. Douglas, eyes wide as he looked up Brock’s grades on the computer. “Okay, son, so you don’t have a single care in the world about your grades then. You also aren’t scheduled in low level classes. Just another one of those cases where the kid just doesn’t care. I see that a lot and it’s just sad. When kids like you grow into adults they are either jobless, on drugs, living in their parent’s basement, or in a prison cell. Don’t you realize your entire future depends on academic performance?”

“Like it matters twenty years from now,” said Brock, rolling his eyes.  “It’s middle school!”

“Once again, do  you realize I can call Mr. Barr right now and he can personally shuttle you to alternative school in front of the entire building?” glared Mr. Douglas, with his hand now on a phone next to the computer. “And if you give one more remark I’m going to do just that. In fact, if you miss one more day of school these next two weeks, I will not hesitate to give Mr. Barr a phone call about you because I see you’ve missed a good two weeks of school this year. And that is not a good sign because it typically means you are up to something detrimental to not only yourself but to others around you.”

“Okay,” said Brock, deciding it was best to concede.

“You’re going to serve two days of internal suspension,” said Mr. Douglas, drawing himself up to full height in his seat and pressing his fingertips together. “You will be in here with me, doing your school work without the luxurious assistance of your teachers. You will sit in silence for the entire day and focus on your work for eight hours of the next two school days. If you run out of things to keep you busy, I will find something for you to do and believe me, it will involve manual labor, something you’re obviously unaccustomed to. You’ll be scrubbing those steps you walked down today with a toothbrush in front of the entire school.  I will also be making a nice little phone call home to your parents and they will sign all fourteen demerits that you will receive by mail. Then we’ll see just how hard you really are. Because let me tell you something, you are not hard. None of you are. You got that?”

He sent Brock to his final period, which was art. There was only fifteen minutes left in the day and Brock handed the art teacher, Mrs. Horn, a slip explaining in great detail on why he was late.

“Where were you?” asked Lenny as Brock sat down next to him.

“Getting in trouble,” said Brock, head down.

“What did you do?” pressed Lenny.

“I really have no idea,” replied Brock heavily.

Brock was still kicking himself as he sat in Mr. Douglas’s office the next two days. Had he simply walked into the auditorium two days ago without hesitation the situation would have been much, much different. Sadly, this one event set the stage for the next twenty-one years of Brock’s original timeline.

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