“At your leisure, Mr. Dahl,” Coach was smirking over his size thirteen polished oxfords at me. His oxfords were propped as usual on his desk and his chair squeaked as he rocked it which he did every time he nailed somebody the way he had just nailed me. He nailed me because I was in a haze about what I had heard about Miss Brudgditter. So, I did not hear him ask me a question. That is what he was “at your leisuring” me about.
Somebody was saying something outside the classroom door and you could hear a sort of murmur. The radiator hissed in the room. Most everybody in the class were looking down at their open books or doodling in their notepads. Andrea Mosset and Dayrl Drainbought were mimicking Coach’s smirk back over their shoulders at me.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said. You always sirred Coach when he nailed you. “I was thinking to make my answer as accurate and correct. Maybe, if you could rephrase it. . . .” Which was pure bull. Which he knew. He just didn’t know what had distracted me. At least I hoped he didn’t. The room was very stuffy and the radiator heater popped and hissed again. I was sweating a little bit.
Andi rolled her eyes and turned back to the front of the class. And D.D., which is what everybody called Dayrl, thought what I said was funny and snorted and giggled.
Coach closed his eyes, rolled his head toward D.D. and opened them again. “Something funny, Mr. Drainbought?” he said. He left his size thirteens on the desk.
D.D. gulped his giggle. It was D.D.’s brother O.D. who had me worrying about Miss Brudgditter. He said he’d have her job. He said she made him have sex. He was bragging about it. Which is bull hooey because at the time he said it happened he was ditching Sylvia Smith because she wouldn’t put out, and Miss Brudgditter was safely, but maybe a little drunk, in her apartment. I know this because it was Halloween, and I was in my Goat costume, and I had ended up walking both Sylvia and Miss Brudgditter home.
“Well?” Coach said.
“No, sir,” D.D. said.
Coach snapped his eyes at Andi, but she was frowning down at some doodle she was making.
I felt a touch on my shoulder and a folded piece of paper fell into my lap. When I opened it, it had “Why didnt wr end after anteetum” scrawled on it. I lifted my hand and scratched my head and gave ole Chub, who sat behind me, a thumbs up.
“So, why Antietam didn’t end the war,” I said. “Sir.”
Coach jerked his head toward me, his size thirteens thumped to the floor and the chair squeaked. He leaned both elbows on the desk and folded his fingers together. His nail blue eyes hammered right at me. There was one thing he enjoyed less than somebody taking over his show like Andi and D.D. did, and that was somebody unnailing themselves when he knew he had them.
“Yes, Mr. Dahl?” he said. “We are waiting with baited breath.”
“I think it was the haze of war and the Union General didn’t realize he had beat the Confederates and so he didn’t know what to do. . . .” This was all parrot bull from the book. It also pretty much described how I felt about what to do with O.D.’s bull hooey about Miss Brudgditter. I couldn’t very well tell everybody that Jody Dahl had actually walked a drunk Miss Brudgditter home that night.
“And just who was the ‘General’?” Coach said. And he had nailed me again. The radiator let out a long hiss and pop. I heard someone outside the classroom door in the hall say distinctly, “she’s a hotty. . . .” I couldn’t think because this is exactly what O.D. had said. Then I heard Chub hiss “. . . ellen”. And that was enough to remind me.
“McClellan.” I said
I don’t remember the rest of the class. The change of class buzzer went off and we went on to Miss Brudgitter’s English class.