by Eric Leja
I have no idea how it came to this. I found myself sitting under those fluorescent lights, being hypnotized by their hum. The room reeked of farts and other smells children tend to emit. The desks, placed neatly in rows of eight by nine, were dinged and carved into. This was my new nightlife. At least it was better than the pizza joint I spent my days in. I had a masters degree in World Theology. It’s a degree about as marketable as a bag of shit. I would’ve been better off learning how to be a janitor. Like I said, I don’t know how this happened. I just took an elective about religion and it interested me. I kept going with it for some reason and ten years and a bajillion dollars in loans later, I’m spending my nights teaching kids who can’t afford a private school about their faiths, and my days delivering slices for Freddy’s pizza.
However, I was very good at it. And I knew it all. I taught Catholics on Tuesday, Jews on Wednesday, Muslims on Thursday and all types of protestants over the weekend. It made me feel good about myself, I must admit. I instructed youth in their respective religions, so they may go into the world confident in their God. And all my bases HAD to be covered; when I reach the pearly gates, I don’t care if I’m looking at Jesus, Allah, or motherfuckin’ Buddha, ’cause I’ve dabbled in every damn faith there is.
The first of the kids began trickling in. The scuffing of their shuffling feet gave my ears a break from the mind-numbing buzz of the lights. They were completely miserable and unenthusiastic. It was a little unfair. Just because their parents couldn’t afford to send them anywhere but the godless state funded battleground of public education, they were punished with an extra hour of class. I felt for them. At ten years old the last place on earth you want to be at is in a classroom after three in the afternoon. So I tried to keep the class as interesting as possible. I actually had a great lesson for today about the last supper.
The little hoodlums had all finally shown up and were sitting at their desks in the yellow, smelly, humming room. I was about to start when Timmy raised his hand. Timmy was a little dipshit who always asked the most asinine questions: “Is it stealing if I pick a penny up from the floor?” “Is SpongeBob going to hell?”
However, nothing could prepare me for the doozy he was about to drop on me this time. Glaring at the curious kid, I addressed everyone, “Good evening, class. Aaaaand Timmy already has a question. What’s on your mind, Tim?”
“Mr. Teacher, I think I sinned the other day.” He was near sniffling. Jesus Christ.
“Well, Tim, that’s something you need to speak about with-” Shit. What was today? Oh yeah, Tuesday. Catholics. “That’s something you should discuss with the priest in the confessional, okay buddy?” He looked scared. And his big, innocent, ten year old eyes, filled with a ten year old’s concern, caught the better of me. I curse the moment they did forever. “Are you okay, Tim? Maybe we can talk after class.”
He sucked on his lip nervously, “But I don’t wanna wait. And I… I don’t want the father to yell at me. But… well… I was watching this show… and this lady came on… with these really big… um… boobs…” There was a collective giggle, and even I had to smirk.
“It’s not a sin to see women on TV like that. But make sure you get permission from your parents before you watch any shows on television.” I said, genuinely trying to be caring.
“Well, my mom was downstairs, and the lady on the TV was wearing almost nothing… and I… I kinda started playing with my wiener a little…”
My God. The class erupted. Some girls “Ewww”ed in disgust, and boys laughed.
“It’s not a wiener it’s a woo-hoo!” Little Ross chimed in.
“Nuh-uh! Only girls have woo-hoos!” Someone in the back corrected him. They were all giving their two cents now. This was a rather slippery slope.
“My mom said it’s called a ‘Paul Walker’.”
“Hey I saw a movie with Paul Walker!”
“Gross! Sammy watches wiener movies!”
A collective “Ewwwwwww!” from the class.
“Children!” I yelled, “This is not talk for the classroom. And, Timmy, this is an incredibly private matter. And you should talk to your parents about it before you talk to anyone else.”
He simply went on to explain, his innocent eyes still near hell-fearing tears, “Well, Teacher, my mom did come in the room. But I was so scared I hid it. I have this teddy with a hole in the back. So I shoved it in there. But that didn’t help. That only made it awesome!’
I put my head into my tired hands. Just then, a curly haired, cranky, little girl, with more attitude than any adult should even have, jumped in. “Did the bear consent?” She demanded, cocking her head.
Timmy was more nervous now, “Uh… I don’t know…”
“Then you raped it.”
My head popped back up like it was on a spring, “Angela! How do you even- Okay, never mind. That’s enough. We’re learning about the last supper today. That’s Jesus’ last night on earth before He died for our sins!” I lost them. They were all looking at Tim and waiting to hear what happened next, my passionate explanation of their religion fell upon deaf ears.
“So, anyway, I went running out of the room when my mom came in. I had to hold up my pants with one hand, and I had to use the other one to hold teddy on… my… Paul Walker…” He looked at the boy who suggested the moniker as he nodded with approval. “…And I ran outside. I know I’m not ‘sposed to go into the street, but I was scared. A big car almost hit me, and the guy inside started screaming all sorts a bad words at me. I dropped teddy and ran down the block. Then, there were a buncha big girls, like almost grown ups, down there. And they were REALLY pretty so that didn’t help my Peter Walker go away.”
“It’s Paul.” Someone corrected.
“No you can call it a Peter too, you can.” David, formerly one of my best students, added. A little too confidently.
All these dick terms had Tim a bit confused. “Oh. Okay. Well, then the pretty girls started laughing at me when I ran by them. Which was really mean. So I turned around and I called them a bunch of skanks.”
My eyes widened at that one.
“I heard it on TV once. And boy the pretty girls didn’t like that. They started chasing me. I was running real fast. But it was hard with my Peter out and everything. I just kept screaming at them too. I don’t remember how long I ran, but I was getting real tired. And then a policeman came up with his car! His sirens were going and everything!” The class gasped.
Erica perked up in her desk, “Really? Wow! My dad says you need to always stay away from police!”
“My daddy said the police are our friends.” Shayne argued.
“My daddy says he’ll come home again when the police leave him alone.” A timid voice from the back added.
“Hey kids!” I yelled, desperately, “Anyone want to know about Jesus!?” They looked at me, as if to be surprised I was even still there.
“Yes, Mr. Teacher. But I thought Jesus might’ve sent the police at me. On account of playing with my wiener. So that’s why I ran from them too.” He had the class’s complete, undivided, unsalvageable, attention. “I knew his car was fast, so I ran through people’s yards. One lady was outside and she screamed real loud when I went through. And I banged my wiener on one of her tomato plant thingies and it really hurt! But I kept going. Boy, I didn’t want that big old policeman to get me. I ended up in an alley somewhere. And there were big kids. Boys this time. They were smoking.”
“My brother smokes. It’s so cool.” Dylan informed us.
Angela spun around, “Smoking makes you die.”
Tim continued, “I know it makes you die. So I was scared at first. But the big kids didn’t yell or chase me or anything. One of em just looked at me. And he told me to put my wiener away. Only he called it a… a cock. But I don’t think you’re ‘sposed to say that, right, Mr. Teacher?”
Finally. An in. “Right, Tim. You’re also not supposed to talk when the teachers trying to-”
“So I put it away,” He went right on with it. Little shit was getting cocky, “And fixed my pants up. And the big kids were actually really nice to me. They said a lot of bad words. But they were kinda cool. But I wanted to get home so I had to say bye. But one of em gave me his cigarette.” Another collective gasp. “I didn’t want to smoke it. But I didn’t want to get yelled at anymore, so I puffed on it as I walked home.”
“Wooooaaaahhhh.” Dylan was impressed.
“I only smoked it for a little bit though. It was kind of gross. I got rid of it when I got near my house.”
Oh my God, was this the end? Finally. Let’s get back to class.
“My mom yelled at me when I got home, but she wasn’t mad for very long. But then later that night I put the TV on again, and I saw another really pretty lady…”
“Tim. Story times over, come on now.”
“But this time I played with my wiener real hard and something crazy happened!”
Holy Mother of God. “Tim! Enough!”
“And it was super cool but it made a mess everywhere! And then my dog started licking at it and I felt really really bad.”
The class, was awestruck. All these kids just stared at their new hero. Their new, weird, little fucking hero. I ran my fingers hard through my hair as I realized this was probably the end of my career.
“So, does that mean I sinned, Mr. Teacher? Am I going to go to hell?”
I stared at little Timmy and answered him as matter of factly as possible, “Tim, there is not a doubt in my mind, that you will go straight to hell. Where you will burn, for all of eternity.”
Since then, I’ve only delivered pizzas.