Left Handed Hammer

Jeremy rises early and creeps downstairs to the dark kitchen, grateful that his parents are still asleep.  The silence is punctuated by an occasional hiccup of the fridge motor turning on, and the groan of settling floorboards.  Jeremy sways in the shadows, lulled by the soft tempo of his breath.  Each night, his parents’ shrill, self-indulgent snapping rings through the house and tears into the young boy’s dreams.  He stands crooked and puffy-eyed, hunched beneath the dense heft of their ugly words.  As the gray dawn approaches, Jeremy braces himself when their muffled shouts overhead pierce the stillness.    

At school, he eats lunch alone in the side yard.  In Mrs. Parker’s class, he likes to sit at the rear, quiet and removed, watching over his classmates.  He secretly appointed himself as an honorary class monitor whose sole duty is upholding justice and enforcing the rules of right and wrong.  So when Shorty steals chalk, Jeremy pinches him purple and blue.  When Jeremy catches Fat Sam eating glue sticks, he throws a pencil at him, the tip breaking off in the poor boy’s cheek.  And when Billy sticks gum under his desk, Jeremy chokes him.

            Mrs. Parker’s nerves cannot tolerate Jeremy’s violence.  She winces openly at the boy when he approaches her, being unable to disguise her fear and disgust.  Each day, she makes use of his warped sense of duty, by sending him to deliver notes to other teachers.  His first stop is Mr. Avery’s class.  Jeremy puffs up his chest and marches down the hall to Mr. Avery who reads the note while shaking his head, “Oh dear, I’m afraid that I don’t have one.  Ask Ms. Tompkin and let her know that I sent you.” 

            Jeremy skips down the hallway, eyes gleaming, and hands the note to Ms. Tompkin who peers sideways at the grinning boy, “Oh dear, I’m afraid that I don’t have one either.  Ask Mrs. Jenkins and let her know that I sent you.” 

Mrs. Jenkins sighs ruefully when Jeremy hands her the note, “Oh dear, I’m afraid that I don’t have a left-handed hammer.  Ask Ms. Harber and please,” she pauses dramatically, “let her know that I sent you.”  Jeremy sprints to Ms. Harber’s classroom, his back straight and head held high, the wilted note fluttering in his hand.  The sound of his tiny feet in flight slapping the linoleum echoes in the empty hallway.

 

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