Some passing thoughts on the events at work is only a grieving for the passing of notes in fifth grades when the two sisters were turned to the blackboard chalking up the High Math of The Second Coming.
It was a note Tony Graciano penned saying that after school he was going to kick my ass because I slammed his hand in the cloak room door .I looked at Tony behind me, the note under the desk,
and he was smiling the best his gummless mouth could manage, vapors of bacon and death on his breath.
“Would you like to share that with every one, Ted?” keened a voice, piercing with a hint of whistle swirling around each slippery ’s’ that slid against the tongue to the enamel of each capped tooth .Sister Marie, basketball tall and looking grim as grime in her stiff, consigned vestments, held out her hand, wrinkled and thick veined at the knuckles, demanding to see the note .I looked up at her, knowing God sees everything on a too-big TV screen as wide as the sky, and then handed the note up to her.
Her. long fingers wrapped around the paper like a satchel of loving snakes.
I remember from the fourth grade that Tony had said he wanted to be a writer when asked
by a lait teacher what he wanted to be when he grew up. Why, asked the teacher, and Tony enthused over the adventure stories he liked too read, and that he wanted to write his own someday that’d be even more terrific.
Terrific, said the Teacher, Then you ought to take pride to signing your name one everything to write from now on. Tony beamed that same gummless grin and nodded his head rapidly as though he’d just snapped a spring.
Sister Marie held Tony’s note in front of her face, an inch from her thick-lenses glasses that made her eyes seem to bulge frog like, and read the words quietly, a silent mutter moving her lips. Her face, already creased and lined with years of pure Catholic rapture, hardened even more as she lowered the paper and stared over and past me down the aisles of neatly lined school desks, her eyes finally stopping where Tony sat.
A vein popped out on her forehead. I looked back and saw Tony looking back at the sister with an innocent expression only guilty could provide. Sister Marie didn’t let him say a word.
“Mr. Graciano, into the hail, pleases, and bring your books with you” “
She walked up the aisle briskly, as Tony stood after closing his books, and turning around for a good view, all I could see was the broad sweep of her water blue cloak spread like Superman’s’ cape that seemed to absorb Tony in whole. Next I remembered the classroom door slamming, and then there was silence, one nun and a class of scared kids observing
a ceremonial gravity. It was as though Tony had not been in the class at all, not even on the planet.
Sister John Mark, whose name I never understood, picked up a rubber tipped pointer and said “We must be well behaved when we’re learning of the good news of Christ.”