She called Trevor and Humberto the last bastion. They were the last stronghold of that gang’s place of power at Alma Mater. Like two sentinels, they stood across the street in front of the liquor store, one tall and light, the other short and dark, scowling in the sunlight at the petite woman at the streetlight near campus. Sometimes, red devil tails would dangle from beneath their white T’s or heavy flannel shirts. With surliness, Trevor would puff himself up, knowing she was watching him.
“I’ve warned you at least three times to not wear that on campus.”
“Let me put it away.”
“No, you’ve done this too many times.”
“So it’s not hurting anybody.”
“Watch your tone.”
“Man, you always got something to say to me.”
“Because you are defiant, Mr. Benitez. Come with me to the office.”
“I ain’t got to go anywhere.”
“You heard me. You always got to mess with me and my patnas. How come you don’t say nothing to your folks by the tree? Yeah, you think no one was gonna say nothing. I’m sick of it.” “Mr. Benitez, come to my office. You’re being suspended.”
“I know. And I don’t care.”
“You don’t. Good.”
They stalk into the building, past the stares of all the kids on the front porch. Trevor’s breath comes quickly. He is dizzy with hatred.
Once they are in her tiny office, they sit across the desk from each other in silence. Then her glare softens and she speaks, her voice no longer strident and hard, now calm and soft.
“Trevor, we can’t go on like this. We have to be able to talk this out.”
“Nothing to talk about. You’re gonna suspend me. Do what you gotta do.”
“Trevor, some of the things you said didn’t sit well with me. I think we do have to talk. I think you’ve misunderstood me.”
He looks at her quizzically. A voice in his head tells him she’s being real but he is unsure.
“I want to do a good job here. My job is to protect the campus and all the students. You seem like you don’t believe that.”
“You don’t think I’m here for all of you?”
“No. I think you’re only here for some people.”
“So how do we change that? How do I make things right? I want to be here for you and your friends. I know you don’t believe that. Now you have a chance to tell me what’s what so we can squash this.”
“You wanna squash this?”
“And you’re not gonna suspend me?”
“Well, you yelled at a vice principal. That has to have some consequence.”
“And what I say in here won’t be on my suspension?”
“No, what we say in here is just part of our conversation.”
Trevor decides to take a chance and begin to trust her.
*Please keep my student, Daniel, in your prayers and thoughts. May he survive tomorrow’s surgery and his current struggle to live.