Friday, February 02, 2007

Feb Story - 1

First Tuesday in September
6:05 AM


     With a SLAM on the snooze button, the alarm clock fell into an uneasy silence. The colon between the 6 and the 05 blinked dreamily through the darkness. Daniel squinted at the clock with a weary anger in his tired eyes. Lately he hadn't been rolling out of bed until a few moments before seven, but with the changes taking place today, he knew he had to struggle his way out of bed earlier.

     The cold tile floor of the hall helped get his blood flowing as he walked to the bathroom to prepare for the day. As the razor slid across the face in the mirror, Daniel noticed dark circles under his eyes and acknowledged the same thing he did every morning: that it was time to settle down and stop staying out so late every night. Especially with his new position, no matter how temporary it may be.

     Part of him hoped that he would be able to work as vice-principal long enough to show some of his ideas for change and impress the district leadership. He wasn’t sure how long he would have in the position. He had no idea how long the current vice-principal, Steve Johnson, would be gone. The Johnson family had disappeared without a word exactly one week ago.

     After he hadn't shown up for work for the second day, John York, the Principal, had stopped by the Johnson home to make sure everything was alright. When no one answered the door or phone, the police were called in to investigate. The lights were on timers. Closets and drawers seemed to be missing a portion of their normal holdings. Their SUV was missing from the garage. There was even a hold on their mail at the post office (though no end date was indicated). The police announced that with no evidence of foul play, they would rule it an unannounced vacation unless new details warranted further investigation. John continually waited for a phone call or some notice from Steve explaining the situation, but finally decided that he needed to look into finding a substitute for Steve.

     Daniel had spoken with John over the summer about transitioning into administration. As Steve’s disappearance continued to a third and then a fourth day, John approached Daniel about stepping in as acting vice-principal temporarily. Daniel was excited at the chance to prove himself. He enjoyed working in the library and indicated that he would gladly continue managing thing there, but more than anything, he was excited to show his leadership skills and work as an instigator for changes and improvements within the school. He wasn't sure how much power he would truly have in this temporary position, but he intended to do all he could to impress.

     Even if it meant getting up nearly an hour early to ensure that he looked more like a clean cut school administrator than a scruffy hippie librarian. With a clean shave, a freshly dry cleaned suit and dirty blond hair fighting against a part, Daniel smirked at himself in the mirror. It had been a long time since he had appeared so presentable. He hadn't worn that suit since the funeral in July, and even then, he hadn't properly combed his hair or shaved. He remembered Steve commenting on his appearance as they stood around before the funeral services began. He could always count on Steve for a biting comment on whatever he did.

     But whatever his feelings towards freshly pressed suits and clean shaven faces, Daniel was determined to make a good impression in whatever time he had at his temporary position. He glanced at the clock. On a normal day, he still be snoring soundly. But today, he took a deep breath, straightened his tie, grabbed his bag and headed off to work.

     Daniel pulled in to the parking lot and sat idly in his car for a few minutes. If anyone asked, he would say he was finishing a song on the radio, but his thoughts were so far away that he didn’t even know whether or not the radio was off. He closed his eyes and counted backwards from ten while he took a few deep breaths. Then he switched off the engine, stood as tall and straight as he could without feeling self-conscious, and walked through the school doors. A few students were already flitting around but he didn’t seem to notice them. And they paid no attention to him. Except for one student who watched very closely as Daniel approached the school and went to the front office to check in. He snapped a handful of pictures of the new vice-principal and then quickly darted down a side hallway.

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