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Danny’s head popped up as Darrin walked into the room. When he realized that he wasn’t being rescued by one of his parents, he dropped his head into his hands. Darrin shot him his best disapproving glare before sitting down beside him to wait. He glanced around the room and decided at least the furniture was adult sized. He found a copy of some home and garden magazine that had been left for the poor parents to flip through while they waited for the principal.
The inner door opened and a very puritanical couple came through followed by a boy whose nose didn’t look the best for wear. The parents both looked offended as Darrin watched them exit the office over the top of his magazine.
“Danny, Mr. Anderson, come in please.”
Darrin motioned Danny to lead the way and followed him into the principal’s office. They sat in the plastic chairs that looked exactly the same as they had years ago when he was in Danny’s position. The only sound in the room was the principal flipping through a file in front of her. After a few minutes she closed the folder and looked first at Darrin before locking her gaze on Danny.
“Well, Danny. You’ve had quite a day. And it looks like you’ve been a good student before now. So what brought about this sudden attack of hooliganism?”
Darrin bristled at the inference that Danny was, of course, in the wrong, but he let it go…for now. Darrin tried to listen to the canned speech the principal was giving Danny, but he wasn’t as focused as he should have been.
“Don’t you agree, Mister Anderson?”
Ah, crap. If I’d known there was going to be a quiz I would have paid attention. I’ll just have to punt and hope for the best.
“Danny, you shouldn’t go around punching people in the nose. Violence doesn’t get us anywhere.”
“Exactly. We have a zero tolerance policy here, so I’m afraid you will be expelled for the rest of the day.”
It took all of Darrin’s will to not look at his watch, but he was fairly certain there was less than an hour of school left. He wasn’t going to question the almost nonexistent punishment. Danny, unfortunately, wasn’t as good at seeing loopholes in administration speak.
“But, the day is almost over. Does that mean—“
Darrin leaned forward and cut Danny off as he extended his hand to the principal. “Thanks, ma’am. We will certainly talk with Danny and make certain this doesn’t happen again. We are all terribly upset by all this. Thank you for your time and attention to this issue.”
By the time he finished he had Danny up and headed for the door. The principal followed them and announced loudly.
“Thank you for your attention to this issue, Mister Anderson. As I said, we have zero tolerance for fighting and deal with it quickly and appropriately.”
Darrin nodded as he opened the door. “Yes, of course. We certainly agree.”
Danny seemed determined to say something, but Darrin guided him by the shoulder out of the room. They escaped into the hallway and found Mark cornered by his parents. Their poses reminded Darrin of vultures over a carcass. They glanced up and shot he and Danny a glance that would have vaporized them in any science fiction movie. He spun on his heel and headed for the opposite doors with Danny in tow.
They made it to the parking lot and Darrin gave Danny a slight push toward the passenger side of the pickup. He didn’t feel like either of them were particularly running, but both wanted to be away from the school. Darrin relaxed once they were on the road to home.
He glanced toward Danny to find his eyes locked on the road ahead of them. He waited for a minute before realizing Danny was hoping to escape the lecture that was coming. Darrin knew that trick and had no intention of letting the incident go.
“So, you punched that guy?”
“Yeah, he had it coming.”
Darrin thought about the principal’s light punishment. “What did he do?”
“He was picking on my friend, Brandon.”
“Yeah. He’s gay.”
Darrin pulled to the side of the road and stopped the pickup’s engine. “He’s gay?”
“Yeah, he’s gay. Mark was making fun of him. Then he called Brandon a fag and I punched him.”
Danny looked at Darrin with a very mature expression on his face. “I’m not gay.”
“Okay. You can—“
“I’m bi. You know. Bisexual. I like girls and guys.”
Darrin fought back a smile, but knew this was a serious moment for Danny. “That’s fine with us. How do you feel about it?”
Danny shrugged and finally turned to Darrin. “It’s good. But I’m not going to take crap from people.”
This child must be Trent’s.
“I agree. You shouldn’t,” Darrin said.
“Am I getting punished?
“What is it?”
“You have to feed the chickens tonight.”
Danny stared at him for a moment. “I do that anyway.”
“Oh, really? Imagine that. Well you better take care of the chickens.”
“If he messes with Brandon or me I’m going to punch Mark again.”
Darrin studied Danny for a moment. “I’d kick him in the nuts.”
A satisfied smile came over Danny. “That’ll work too.”
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