|For Sale: Contents of a Clay Pot
Author: Ed Harley PM
Random tales from the junk drawer.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor - Chapters: 22 - Words: 14,065 - Reviews: 71 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 03-03-13 - Published: 12-22-11 - id: 2981707
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"2X +1 is greater than 4X-9"
Today, an educated white man taught inequalities to three inner-city youths.
Cobi was the only one who thought that was funny. He had just transferred in from a juvenile detention facility and was, of course, familiar with irony. Cobi pointed at the white board. "So, we get the X all by itself, ri'ite?"
Mike adjusted his black rimmed glasses that never seemed to fit right. "Yeah, isolate the variable on the left side."
Rayray was big and round, a 400 lb. Pillsbury Dough Boy with type 2 diabetes and a gold tooth. Rayray reared back in his chair, rubbed his belly and groaned like he was going into labor. "Aawww shit… what da whaaa?"
Cobi snapped: "The X is the variable, clown!"
Rayray could have squashed the skinny kid but he was both lazy and easily distracted. Mike tapped the board with the marker and Rayray's eyes followed.
"So, what do we do next?" Mike decided to involve another student. Student number three was named Pablo. He was quiet, respectful, and never chewed gum with his mouth open. Pablo was Mike's favorite student.
Pablo smoothed down his thin black mustache and blinked at his workbook. "Hmm… qué quieres… er… que he hecho?"
Since Pablo probably didn't even know why he was in this class, Mike reluctantly turned his attention back to Rayray.
"I don't knoooow." Rayray protested pitifully. "Just… doooo… it foooor us…"
Mike died a little inside. "Add a negative 1 to each side."
Cobi covered his workbook and glared at Rayray: "Do your own work, slob!"
Rayray muttered childishly.
"-2X is greater than -10." Mike could see they were stuck. "What happens when we divide or multiply by a negative?"
Cobi's eyes lit up. "Oh… the... arrow changes direction!"
Mike nodded. "So what's the answer?"
"X is less than 5." Cobi posed and dropped his pencil like it was a microphone at a rap battle.
Mike couldn't help being proud of Cobi's in-your-face mathematics but the clock struck 4 PM and Mike's last torturous GED class concluded. His three students left the classroom. Mike stayed behind to clean the white board and gather everything up in a big clear plastic box to return to the supply room.
Officer Wingo waited at the front desk. Wingo checked off items on his clipboard. "Four number two pencils, four workbooks, four algebra textbooks, and one blue marker with cap."
The officer put away the clipboard and stood. "How's the classes going?"
Mike paused as if thinking something profound. "You know that satisfying feeling when you really made a big difference in someone's life?"
"It's not like that at all." Mike turned and put his hands on the wall, feet shoulder width apart. Mike and the guard went through the procedure without orders, he got searched the same every day.
Wingo felt down one leg and then the other. "I wish you could teach my seventh grader. Her Algebra one is kicking my ass, big time."
"Hmm…do prisons have 'take your daughter to work day'?"
"Heheh… they do not."
"Too bad, we've got brand new text books."
Wingo patted down Mike's sides. "Yeah, you guys got it pretty sweet in here: mysterious soup, electric lights, group showers…"
Mike pointed out: "There's also all the learning opportunities; I mean, did you know there are over 27 words for masturbation?"
The young officer snickered. "There is that." After the search was complete Wingo used a keycard to unlock the door to the prison rec room.
"Oh yeah…" the guard put a hand on Mike's shoulder. "You didn't hear it from me, but you're going to see the parole board next month."
"I shit you not. Be sure to thank the meth heads for overcrowding this shit hole."
Mike got all indignant right then. "Hey now, this shit hole's my home! And… and this is all so sudden. I just been here 18 months… and I haven't even decided on a prison tattoo yet!"
"Better make your mind up quick." Wingo suggested: "White power is always a classic."
"Meh…" Mike shifted back and forth, "not really a big Hitler guy, know what I mean?"
"Hmm… well, why not try a face tattoo, everybody's getting'em these days. Like some Kung Fu symbol across your forehead or a tear drop running down your cheek?"
"Hey, that does sound nice. Maybe I'll go talk to that one-eared Chinese guy in the south wing; I heard he does good work."
"That man's an artist," Wingo agreed. "It's almost worth the hepatitis."
"What would it cost me?"
Wingo guessed: "Couple rolls of tape, maybe."
"What's he gonna do with the… oh right, he wears glasses..."
The conversation terminated as Wingo's boss walked in. He was a man who didn't appreciate casual talk between his corrections officers and the inmates so Mike took the opportunity to leave. He walked down the hall into the rec room, past prisoners dealing cards and wagering Skittles. Mike nodded at various friends, ignoring the not so friendly ones, and as always, being extra polite to the meth heads.