It all came together for me with a new editor. It's funny how I thought that when I finished the book I would be finished with the book. There is always more to do.
I was hoping to be in print by the Asbury Park Cat Convention in April. There's a reason that the tale of a teacher who survives a school shooting and ends up with PTSD would sell well at this cat show. It's the same reason that the book is called, Sideways Boy. Growing up as a pet lover I always thought there were plenty of books showing how great dogs are.
As I type this I still have a hard time believing it is true, but the evidence in front of me is undeniable. The book is nearly finished. If any of my loyal friends here want to be beta readers, there are a few spots open. Email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org
I burst through the
double doors back at the top of the stairs. I mean to stop and open the door
for what will hopefully be the arrival of a merely late, not absent sub next
door to me, but I see a large, dark head in front of the classroom. His stylish
goatee, almost regal bearing, and dark blue uniform mark him as a man among the
boys even before I can see the actual word, security, stenciled across his
back. Ahead of him a group of tightly packed minor trouble makers whisper to
each other and walk quickly past me to get out of his line of sight.
The variations continue with the kids’ footwear. Boys whose shirts look like they haven’t been washed in a week sport brand new $300 Jordans, or one of dozens of other sneakers, often in ludicrous color combinations. The girls are mostly wearing brand name boots like Uggs or Frye or some knock off designer thigh high monstrosities. The style for socks this year seems to be that, if they can be seen, they mustn’t match any other article of the wearer’s clothing. I must confess that even I am caught up in the wild sock trend and I am wearing a pair of brightly colored, tribally patterned knee highs under my stretchy khaki slacks.
As I looked back at my blog posts I noticed that I never finished posting chapter 1 of my one-day-to-be-published book. Ironic that it was about a year ago that I last posted a piece of it.
Behind the fading
whistling comes the staccato drum of alternating light and heavy, running
footsteps. “First!” yells Damarcus, a skinny, light-skinned and light-hearted black
kid who punctuates it with a joyous whack of his bony knuckles against his
“You cheated,” puffs
Jose, a short, heavy Dominican kid who is a little too out of breath for a
twelve year old who has just run up only one flight of stairs.
My basic point system works in multiples of 5,
making tallying point totals easy even for the mathematically challenged. Small
tasks and demonstrating positive behavior are worth the minimum 5 points. Bonus
tasks and something you want to recognize as especially good are worth 10
points. Group completion of large assignments and homework starts at 25 points
and goes up from there, but nothing is ever worth more than 100 points and
there should be very few 100s. At the end of every class, the group points are
tallied and the totals written in sharpie on the scoreboard in the back of the
science teacher, an old woman long past her usefulness that we are unable to be
rid of due to the influence of the teacher’s union, shuffles up to me, begging
for my key for the third time this week. Once again I graciously open her door
for her and as I stand there with a frozen smile waiting for her to realize
that she can go in now, I look around me. Above my head broken or missing
ceiling tiles make a checkerboard pattern, and I mentally plug the face of the
kid who broke each tile into the proper hole.
I am dancing to the
music as I step in a semi-circle to the left and punch my opponent’s face with
my right hand, turning my heel and rotating my hip in unison as I strike to
impart more force. I pause and center my weight so I use my body more than my
arms to throw my limp opponent away. Then as the lovely Ms. Lopez sings the
end, “Until it beats no more,” I step to the right and slowly raise my center
of gravity, feeling my body expand with my inner energy. My imaginary opponents
dispatched and the Tai Chi short form done, three quick, measured steps and a
tap of my finger stops the music.