Finally, a moment’s rest, the man thought as he sat down on the toilet. He looked at the words inscribed by years of led-tipped pencil etchings and pocket knife carvings dug into the wall of the stall. Obscenities and gestures, far beyond the morality of what high school students should be projecting, lined the streaks and gashes of the pseudo-plastic partitions.
With a deep sigh, the gentleman tossed his loosely adorned suit tie over his shoulder to keep it from dipping into the depths of the porcelain bowl. His phone buzzed, he dug for it in his lowered slacks. Digging beyond his brown belt he pulled up his phone and glanced down at the text message.
“Hey, James! How much longer are you gonna be? I can only cover the class for a few more minutes. These kids are animals.”
James rolled his eyes and simply typed, “Okay.”
Then just as he was beginning to find his moment of peace the door to the men’s room swung open. He closed his eyes and inhaled sharply at the sound of juvenile delinquency mounting. There is no escape. The two boys laugh and talk feverishly without much filtration. Their conversation didn’t halt even as the sounds of the toilet paper dispenser flipped wildly.
“Alright, alright…I already gave you the money, where is it?” The younger and more nasally boy asked. James could have sworn he recognized the kid’s voice. He peeked through the awkwardly placed gaps in the door. A sliver of the interaction was in his line of sight.
“Well, that’s what I gotta talk to you about…I need another thirty,” The older boy asked. James recognized the voice instantly as Skinner Browne, his least advantageous student who was a less than active participant currently on his 3rd attempt at English I.
“Another thirty? Skin, man, I don’t have it. I thought you told me that one stick was twenty?” The kid asked, his voice beginning to shake.
“Well, that was before, now I need another thirty. Come on, give it up.” He then demanded before the flip of a switchblade echoed through the restroom.
Then, just as the young kid’s eyes grew wider than a quarter. The toilet flushed.
Both boys looked at each other and then at the stall door which was slowly pushed open. Then, with the wooden soles of Jame’s twelve-dollar thrifted dinner shoes cutting through the low hum of the ventilation unit that echoed amongst the stalls and sinks, the young kid darted out the door. James rolled his eyes and flipped his tie from over his shoulder as he now stood square with the super senior.
“Come on, give it to me Skinner,” He asked softly, he really didn’t wanna file the paperwork on this one. He started to step in closer, “please kid come on, don’t make me-”
The puncture of Skinner’s small knife halted Jame’s words. Looking down at the entrance wound from which the knife was still hanging out he grasped the hilt and winced. Blood staining his hand he looked up at Skinner who looked back at him just as shocked at his own action.
“Dude…” James then muttered before collapsing to the sticky floor of the men’s bathroom. Skinner, with words lost on him, shuffled away and exited quickly. As the door slowly closed the echoes of his stomps danced in the distance.
Groaning through the pain he laid there in the pooling of his own blood before reaching for the phone in his pocket, as he dialed 911 only one thing was able to escape the pain mounting on his lips,
“What a bunch of animals.”