Nine forty eight arrived more quickly than Joe had hoped. Sighing, he got up from Mrs. Feldt’s desk, closed the math book she had left for him and walked out into the hall. Lisa Powell was in the corridor chatting with two other women and she waved Joe over. “Joe, I wanted to introduce you to the other two second grade teachers. This is Barb Osgood,” she said, indicating a short, round African American woman of middle years, and then pointing to a square jawed woman who appeared to be in her early twenties added, “and this is Sarah Landis.”
Barb extended her hand and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Joe. Lisa tells me you’re from up north. That means we outnumber the natives today.”
Shaking her hand Joe replied, “Pleasure to meet you too. Barb Osgood was it?”
“Yes. I’m from Michigan originally and I do get a little tired of the mush-mouths.”
“Well pardon me for living,” Sarah said with a slight drawl. “Hi, Joe,” she added as they shook hands. “Sarah Landis, and I suppose I’m one of those mush-mouths Barb was complaining about.”
As Joe shook hands with Sarah Barb said, “No you’re not. Your little Charlotte drawl is cute. I swear I can’t even understand some of these kids sometimes. Anyway, I need to gather the Injuns from the library. Nice to meet you, Joe.”
“Uh, you too, Barb. Sarah.”
“Don’t stay in your room over lunch,” Lisa said. “We’ll meet in Barb’s room. It’s right next door to yours; okay?”
“Sure. Thanks,” Joe answered. “I better get,” he said as he walked toward the art room.
Mrs. Feldt’s children were lined up in the art room and six older children and four adults were lined up waiting in the hall just outside the room. “Well,” Mary said, “speak of the devil and the devil arrives. We were just talking about you, Joe.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he replied, checking his watch, “am I late?”
“No, no. Right on time. This is Nick Hayes, he was telling me that he gave your name to Becky.”
“Ah! Got it,” Joe answered, extending his hand to the tall, slender, dark haired man. “Nice to meet you, Nick. I’m really glad Chantelle ran into you.”
“Nice to meet you too, Joe. Chantelle called, I ran into Becky; not that it matters. Come down to my room after school for a minute, would you? I’m always looking for a substitute. Room 104.”
“Sure thing. Thanks again.
“Okay, Mrs. Feldt’s room!” Joe hollered with enthusiasm. “I will know you are ready when you are in a straight and quiet line. Before we hit the halls I need to tell you that we are Ninjas and must creep through the halls undetected if we are to be successful in our mission. That means silent feet and voices. Lead the way MS Katherine.
“I’ll come see you after school,” he added to Nick.
Joe walked alongside his class in an exaggerated tip-toe motion as they made their way back to the classroom. He pressed his finger to his lips to emphasize the need for quiet and strode to the front of the line and then slowed to allow the class to pass him in return. When they were nearly back to the classroom he caught up to Katherine and whispered, “Good job. Stop here please.” Coming to the spot where the girls’ restroom was located on one side of the hall and the boys’ the other he announced, “If you need to use the restroom then now is the time to do so. We will have math when we get back inside the room.”
Half a dozen boys and a few more girls walked into the restrooms and Joe stationed himself in the boys’ room doorway where he was visible to the students in the hall as well as those using the urinals. The bathrooms were set up with toilets and urinals inside the restroom but a large, communal sink with a foot operated faucet for hand washing was in view from the hallway. As the boys began to file out of the restroom Joe said, “Rubin Carter, wash your hands!”
The child inhaled deeply, exhaled, let his shoulders sag and said, “Oh, man,” as he half-heartedly complied with the request.
When the last boy exited the restroom and was washing his hands Joe walked across the hall, positioned himself in the girls’ room doorway and with his back to the restroom said, “Come on, ladies! The boys are all done. Don’t make me come in there!”
Trey had used the bathroom and then returned to his place in line and Joe said to him, “Trey, please lead the students into the class. Class! Get out your math books, I’ll be right in,” he said, loudly enough for all to hear. “Ladies!” he hollered into the restroom, “We are starting math! Do not dawdle and get out here ASAP!”
Joe followed the class and positioned himself in the room’s door where he could monitor the children in his room and also see down the hall to the girls’ lavatory. Katherine came out of the restroom, looked frantically around for her class, spied Joe in the doorway, pursed her lips, placed her hands on her hips and made a bee-line for him. “Great,” he whispered to himself, “The avenging Ker is about to strike me down.”