jo gujjiui gijeog (Joe Guzzi's Miracle)
Mr. Perkins was about to start History Class when the classroom door opened and a tall guy with a mop of black hair and a stubble of an unshaven face entered the room with a piece of white paper in his hand. Nobody had seen him before.
"Yes?" Mr. Perkins frowned, annoyed to be interrupted from his routine.
"Hi," the intruder said with a huge grin on his face. "I'm the new guy!" He handed the teacher the piece of paper while the students in the class mumbled among themselves.
Mr. Perkins scanned the piece of paper. "Well, Mr. Guzzi, welcome to Greenville High. Have a seat."
Guzzi glanced around the room and saw several available seats, most near the back of the room. He saw an Asian girl sitting by herself in the far corner.
. "Is that one taken?" He asked, gesturing to the seat next to the lonely girl.
"It is now," Mr. Perkins replied, playing with his red handlebar moustache as he was prone to do, usually subconsciously.
Guzzi floated to the chair and took a seat.
"So, what's your story, Mr. Guzzi?" Mr. Perkins asked.
"My story?" He wondered as he slouched into his chair.
"Tell us a little about yourself for the benefit of the class," Mr. Perkins suggested.
'Oh, yeah, hi everybody," Guzzi said, glancing around the room with a huge grin on his face. "Thanks, Mr. Perkins. I'm Tony Guzzi, but you can call me Guzz. My old man just got a job at Green College taking over for the guy who got splattered out on the highway last month. We moved here from Nowheresville New Hampshire so I don't know anybody or anything about this place. I play baseball but I'm really into hip hop dancing and Muay Thai and Capoeira."
"Are those foods?" Mr. Perkins asked blankly.
Guzz laughed good-naturedly. "Hey, good one, Mr. Perkins! No, it's martial arts."
"Oh," Mr. Perkins replied. "Like Taekwondo, Karate and Jujutsu?"
"Sort of kind of not really," Guzz replied. Muay Thai – or Thai boxing – is kick boxing combat sport known as the art of eight limbs because it combines fists, elbows, knees and shins. Capoeira is Brazilian martial arts combining dance, acrobatics and music with quick and complex maneuvers using power and speed through kicks, spins and other movement techniques."
"Interesting," Mr. Perkins responded.
"I could give you a demonstration sometime," Guzz said cheerfully.
"I'm too old for that nonsense," the middle aged teacher said with a groan.
"You're never too old, Mr. Perkins!" Guzz grinned.
"Anyway, welcome to the town, the school, and the class, Mr. Guzzi," Mr. Perkins said.
"Mr. Perkins, what about our group assignments assignment?" Some girl spoke up from elsewhere in the classroom. "You promised you'd tell us today."
"Yes, Miss Jones, indeed I did," Mr. Perkins replied. "And so I will."
He stepped back to his desk and picked up a folder. "The assignment is called 'A Day In The Life.' You and your partner will describe the day in the life of a person you will create from the time period and place I will assign. You may write journal entries, a newspaper feature article, a letter, or anything else that captures that person – or persons' – life in that era. Your grade will be based on the specific facts – meaning dates, places, people – and showing an understanding of the period. You should be creative and you should have fun. I have the team assignments right here." He held up a piece of paper for all to see.
Mr. Perkins glanced at Guzz. "Mr. Guzzi, your timing is impeccable. We had an odd number of students and I was going to have to triple up one team. Now you can work as a duo with Ms. Yun."
A few snickers broke out around the class and Guzz glanced about with interest.
"What's so funny?" Guzz asked, happy to be brought in on the joke.
"Nothing's funny," Mr. Perkins assured him.
"So, who's Ms. Young?" Guzz asked with interest to more snickers.
"Ms. Yun," Mr. Perkins clarified. "Ha Na is sitting right next to you, Mr. Guzzi."
"Hi Hannah," Guzz said cheerfully and there was more laughter.
"It's Ha Na, Mr. Guzzi," Mr. Perkins said.
"Ha Na," Guzz repeated. "Ha Na Yun, right?"
"Correct," Mr. Perkins replied, throwing the class a stern look when a few more laughs rang out.
"Hi, Ha Na Yun," Guzz said warmly as he looked her way but the girl immediately glanced away.
"Let me read off the rest of the team assignments," Mr. Perkins said, glancing at his list. "Mr. Downes and Ms. Haskins. Mr. Lacasse and Ms. Liriano. Mr. Williams and Ms. Matthews. Mr. McGrew and Ms. Jones. Mr. Nastrom and Ms. Bridges. Mr. Lambert and Mr. Fitzgerald. And of course the aforementioned Mr. Guzzi and Ms. Yun."
There were various reactions to the class assignments as Mr. Perkins read through the team announcements.
"And now," he said, quickly scratching something on a note. "Let me add one more era to the mix since we have a new team." He threw the paper into a bowl which he picked up and shook, using his hand to move around the pieces of paper even more. "There are now fourteen eras written on these pieces of paper," he explained. "Whatever era you pick, that's the day in the life you will cover. Any questions?"
The class mumbled but didn't ask any specific questions as Mr. Perkins walked around the room and had various kids pull out piece of paper, Ha Na drawing last. Mr. Perkins set the empty bowl on his desk. "Okay," he said. "Get with your partner and see what your subject is."
The fourteen kids scrambled around the room to team up with their partner. Ha Na was holding her piece of paper in her hand.
"What did we get?" Guzz asked with interest.
Ha Na was an attractive yet plain looking Asian girl – she was modestly dressed in some sort of long maxi-dress. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she didn't appear to be wearing any make up.
She held out the piece of paper for Guzz to take, which he did.
"Ha!" He laughed. He glanced at her. "When I say Ha – I mean Ha Ha not Ha Na," he clarified. "You can't make this up," he said, waving the piece of paper up in the air. "Hey, Mr. Perkins!" He said. "Is this some sort of set up? A plant?"
"Why, what did you draw?" Mr. Perkins asked with interest.
There was laughter throughout the classroom.
"Guess it was fate, Mr. Guzzi," Mr. Perkins replied. "Good luck."
Guzz folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in his seat. "I was hoping we'd get Thailand, 1939 when they changed their name from Siam," he told Ha Na. "Thailand means Land of the Free and we could have worked the Muay Thai in. Or Brazil, 1888 when Slavery was abolished so we could have worked Capoeira in." He let out a sigh and then glanced at her. "You're Korean, right?"
"Are you familiar with Sado Musul? Bulgyo Musul? Gungjung Musul?"
She shook her head no.
"Those are Korean martial art forms," he explained. "Did you ever take Taekwondo or Kumdo? Hapkido?"
She shook her head no again.
"Those are Korean martial arts practices too," he said.
Guzz noticed that Ha Na had yet to speak. "You do speak English, right?" He asked awkwardly.
She gave him an annoyed insulted look but – ironically – didn't speak.
"Hey, I'm the new guy, could you cut me a break?" He asked, slightly exasperated. "Say something so I know it's not me."
"I really have nothing to say," Ha Na replied in a monotone voice although it sounded just a bit musical.
Guzz could tell– judging from that one sentence – she spoke English well.
"Listen, I don't know what the story is around here," he said openly. "I have no history. It's my first day. I don't know anybody or anything so you get a fresh start with me. Whatta say we be friends right here and now before I hear all the gossip, rumors and stupid stuff? We're partners on this project so we're going to be together whether you like it or not so why not take advantage of the situation and break me in right?"
"The assignment is due the last week of the semester," Mr. Perkins announced from the front of the room. "That gives you plenty of time to research your topic and come up with ideas for characters. Here's the syllabus of requirements – how you present it will be up to you. There is a written and oral presentation requirement. I expect good work from all of you." The teacher passed the syllabus sheet out to the students.
Guzz looked at Ha Na. "So, are you going to help me out or not?"
The bell rang and Ha Na stood. She was maybe 5'3" to his six feet.
"Wow," Guzz said with surprise as he stood too. "You're a tiny thing."
"Why do you choose to insult me?" She frowned.
"I didn't mean to," he said desperately. "It was just an observation because – well, let's face it, we're going to be an odd couple no matter what."
"We're never going to be a couple," she said curtly as she headed for the door.
"I meant assignment couple!" He said, chasing after her. "My next class is English Comp with Ms. Lunch," he said. "Can you tell me where Room 208 is?"
She ignored him and kept walking out of the classroom.
"Please, Ha Na," Guzz said, trying not to sound desperate. "Can't you just be nice to me as the new guy?"
She stopped and looked at him for a long moment, apparently trying to decide if he was for real or just another jerk guy trying to mess with her.
"It's Miss Lynch," Ha Na told him.
"Your English teacher," she groaned. "Lynch, not Lunch. Miss, not Ms."
"What is it with you and names?"
"Miss Lynch," he said. "Got it." He leaned over closer to her. "I was only joking with all the name stuff," he said. "Trying to break the ice. Use humor to get noticed."
"Room 208 is down the hall and to the annex on the right," she said. "Don't say anything about her wart," Ha Na warned.
"Thanks," he said. "I'll see you around, okay?" He asked hopefully.
She gave him a blank look before turning and walking away without saying another word.
"Ha," Guzz said to himself as he went in the other direction.