(Being hard at work on getting my book finished I haven’t written a short story this week. I feel moderately bad, but under the circumstances sacrifices must be made. My life will be different next week. Until then help yourself to bit of my main character.)
“This will go so much smoother if you will all just get in a line.” Tammy’s voice rose higher with each word, a useless attempt to verbally control the throng of adults groping over her desk like zombies in search of a meal.
Samson tried not to chuckle as he thumbed through the stack of papers marked for him. Tammy’s desk was placed fully across the main path to Principal Brandt’s office, the door being in a direct line with her chair. Anyone needing to speak with the Principal had to deal with Tammy first. Like it or not though, the only order in force this morning was that of alpha versus everything that wasn’t alpha, excluding the scavengers drifting around the outer edges looking for their shot, and secretaries who lacked enough self-assurance to enforce order in an excited situation.
As if to prove his point, a narrow, pale arm covered in a three quarter length black knit and surrounded by four wide, silver bangles, snaked its way between himself and the other third grade teacher, Mrs. Chang, and snatched one of the thinner stacks off the top of Tammy’s faux wooden desk. From the edge of his vision, he could see the platinum blond head of Alison Kanger, one of two seventh grade math teachers, retreat to the south wall with her prize. Ghost white skin and large, round eyes with irises the color of drying earth clay, Alison was a startling apparition in the fluorescent illumination of the school’s main office. More than once in his first three weeks here it had amused him to think she would be a heart stopping shock on a dark, county road in the dead of night. High beams or low wouldn’t make a difference. If Alison Kanger jumped in front of his car he would scream like a school girl and jerk the wheel.
Using her middle finger to push her glasses further up the bridge of her nose, Tammy scowled at the group, her round, flushed cheeks bulging outward like a chipmunk.
“Is anyone even listening to me?”
Noting the way the small muscles around her eyes were tightening Samson looked directly at her and smiled, showing just the bottoms of his upper teeth. Tammy’s pupils expanded instantly and she smiled back, her teeth fully exposed. Quickly he looked back down at the papers in his hands.
“Not really,” Alison stated, head bowed over her papers. The fluffy, overly large bump she teased into the front of her hair translated into the pillar of a crown in the shadow she cast on the pastel yellow wall behind her. Her angle in the light coupled with her head down posture gave her shadow a grotesque hump on its back.
“Animals, all of you.” Straining to cross her arms over her chest Tammy huffed deeply and used her feet to push off from her desk, propelling her office chair backwards, away from them all. A slight turn at the end gave everyone a side view of the long, brown tresses she refused to trim, the split ends appearing gray and unhealthy as they floated through the air a mere two inches from the floor.
Seeing all his pages were in order Samson went through them a second time, not really looking now as he watched Alison from the corner of his eyes. The way she was licking her finger before turning every third page was maddening, like listening to someone scrape their nails over an old, slate chalkboard. The small gap between her top and bottom teeth, clearly the result of a mild overbite, was filled with the tip of her tongue waiting for its next opportunity to wet the middle finger of her right hand. Near the bottom of the stack she froze for a second, her eyes widening and a calculated smile spread over her entire face. It vanished so quickly that had he not been watching he would have missed it completely.
Straightening up he began to make his way out of the office. At six feet on the nose, he was taller than most of them and used that difference to his advantage. Careful to not step on Mrs. Chang’s foot, he dropped one shoulder and slid between her and Mr. McDonald, the Middle School Phys Ed teacher. McDonald grunted as Samson’s pristine blue button down brushed his arm.
“Mmpf. Football players.”
A guilty smile flashed across his face. He had never been a football player or into any sports at all. His muscular build was from the hours spent at home doing floor exercises while studying his suspects on the plasma. He never went to a gym.
“Goodbye Samson!” Tammy’s voice sing songed over the heads of the teachers.
Raising a hand in acknowledgment he headed into the hall toward the Elementary wing. He had twenty minutes to get himself together before the kids started pouring through the doors.
“Dream on, sister.”
Irritated by the snarky tone, Samson paused and thought about going back to confront Alison about her assuming attitude. It would be a great start to his day, but it would undoubtedly give Tammy the wrong idea. She was nice and all, but she was also a toad. Every time he looked at the squat secretary with her four feet of dead hair, his mind drew a picture of a jelly-filled amphibian with giant glasses riding on a shaggy lily pad. Naw, let Tammy deal with Alison on her own.
The school housed kindergarten through high school, each part joined to the next by a single set of heavy, metal, double doors. Pushing his way out of the middle school, Samson let the big doors bang shut hard behind him and walked to his classroom near the end of the hall. Cardboard cutouts of pumpkins, scarecrows and jack-o-lanterns were taped to the walls above the coat racks and JOC banners were tacked over every classroom door. Closer to the floors, cats, ghosts, spiders and colorful fall leaves had been pasted. The overall impression was an entire hallway of Halloween. Welcome to October.