Sunday, October 10, 2004

I wasn’t really scared when I saw Steven brain the kid in the hall. It was like being in a car-wreck, it happened so fast. As soon as I reacted, it was over. I wasn’t even scared when I saw the blood splattered on the floor, still in shock I guess, and I never saw the victim, so I didn’t really know the extent of the damage.

I might not even have reported what I saw, had there not been another fight in the hallway during my next class. Sticking my head out the door, to see what was up. I t wasn’t a big deal, and the school safety officers seemed to have it under control, so I flagged one down.

“Hey, uh, you know that fight that happened right here earlier this morning, before third period?

“Uh, yeah, uh, no… uh, what fight?”

“There was a fight here earlier, someone got jumped, there was blood everywhere… whatever. I saw it. I know the kid who did it. Didja catch anybody?”

“Uh, yeah, uh, no… uh, why don’tcha go upstairs to the security office and tell someone what you seen.”

So I did. I went up there after 5th period and found a cop. He was intrigued by my story, but didn’t know hat to do about it. He wrote down my and Steven’s names, and sent me on my way.

I had pretty much forgotten about all this when my next class was interrupted by a dumpy, balding-yet-mulleted, dean. (All older male teachers are dumpy and balding, this is not an encouraging sign.)

“Bob Babylon? Is Bob Babylon here?”

That’s me, of course. Problem was, my kids have been bugging me for a couple of weeks now trying to figure out my first name.

“Mister,” I would tell them. “First name Mister, last name Babylon.”

This mullet-head jackass just totally blew up my spot. It was rough. You’ve never been so embarrassed as an adult as when you have had thirty 16 year olds clowning on you all at once.

“Bob! Bo-o-o-o-o-ob! Mr. Bob! Bob Babylon! Ha hah ha ha ha hah!”

So I went upstairs again, and stepped into a war-room. The aftermaths of at least half-a-dozen violent incidents had coalesced at once, and the security office was in crisis mode. I was starting to get a little freaked out.

The place teemed with cops and kids. Radios crackled incessantly. Cops interrogated corn-rowed kids in every cubicle corner. Some one had been stabbed in the face, I overheard and then remembered seeing an ambulance out front that morning when I arrived. IA teacher had been assaulted, but she was okay. Two black kids who were either victims of some sort of violence or in some lesser trouble themselves, I couldn’t tell which, sat complaining to a Dean.

“This the worst school in New York. This like Rikers. You need get the Turtles up in here, they be having shit locked down.”

The Turtles, I assume are some kind of hardcore prison guards from Rikers.

“I think they’re busy guys, sorry,” the Dean replied with a sigh.

I was ushered back and forth between cops and Deans and school security, telling my story again and again.

I was shown and asked to identify a weapon, a yellow bandanna with a padlock tied to the end of it. I was asked if I would be willing to testify in court to what I saw.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I said. “I mean, I know the kid, he’s always been very respectful with me…”

“He’s 17 and a half with zero credits. This is his fourth fight so far this year. He put the kid in the hospital.”

I agreed to do it if necessary, and I wrote up a written statement.

I saw Steven the next morning as I arrived for school. He was waiting in line for scanning looking quite dapper in a baby blue Jordan UNC throwback with matching hat and shoes.

I didn’t look up as I walked by. I don’t think he saw me. I caught sight of him again down in the basement later that day, lounging in a counselor’s office. He poked his head in my classroom a few minutes later, looked at me sideways, and left.

Now I’m scared.

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