Snakes and Pills

132 - spot

o you know why you're here?" the principal asked the boy sitting across from him. The boy hesitated in answering, not because he did not know. He was just considering how he should say it.

"I asked you a question, Mister McDowell," the principal impatiently reminded the boy. Jerry knew he must really be in trouble if the principal was calling him by his last name. Adults always did that. Was it supposed to be ironic? Polite and formal titles when you're about to get a reaming.

The boy fidgeted around in the chair which was much too large for him before finally answering his principal's question. "Umm, I guess it's because I got caught selling my books to other students in English class."

The principal mulled over Jerry's words, until he focused on just two of them: "'You guess' that's why you're here?" he said, incredulously seeking confirmation that he had heard Jerry correctly. The boy just nodded, not wanting to say anything that might make it worse, clearly seeing that his answer had done nothing to defuse the situation.

"Explain," the principal pushed on.

"Well, I just don't get what the big deal is. I know that I shouldn't be trying to run a business here at school. But honestly, I would have given away my books if I could have. The materials cost money, though. I was only charging a dollar to help cover those expenses."

Jerry was lying a little bit. He had done the math, and all told each book only cost him about thirty cents to make. The other seventy cents were pure profit that he planned to enjoy, but the principal didn't need to know that.

The principal simply frowned at the boy's explanation. "No, Mister McDowell, the problem is not with you selling things at school, as wrong as that may be. What got you in trouble is the thing you're selling."

"What?!" Jerry exclaimed, forgetting for a moment the situation he was in. "Books?! For selling a book? I thought books were a good thing at school. I'm not pushing drugs or anything like that. Just a book. Everyone is always telling us how good reading is and that we should read more, and now I get busted for it?"

"Come on, Jerry," the principal sighed, pushing his fingers against the point where his eyes and nose met. "It's nothing against books, and I am well-aware of this school's efforts to promote literacy. It's your book specifically, and its contents, that we are having a problem with."

Jerry looked dumbfounded. He had knowingly lied a little earlier about how much money he was making on this venture, but now he honestly had no idea what the principal was talking about. "What's wrong with my book? I wrote it myself, and it's even educational!"

Off his desk, the principal picked up a confiscated copy of Jerry's book. He turned the cover around to the student and displayed it, as if the boy had never seen it before. "Could you please tell me what part of a book called 'A Dictionary of the Sickest Bad Words' is appropriate for you and your fifth grade classmates?"

"It's a dictionary. They're useful, especially in English class," Jerry earnestly replied.

The principal flipped the crudely-made book open to a random page. "Mhm, so, for example, you see a lot of your classmates needing to use the word 'sphincterscrote' in their book reports?"

Before Jerry could answer, the principal turned to another page and continued, "Or do they just urgently need to look up the definition of 'assbuttboner?'"

"Well, duh, why do you think I made the book in the first place?" Jerry asked, as he crossed his arms.


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