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Joanne were good pals. Johnny’s dad owned a bar on Main Street called ‘Mike’s’ and drove a ‘77 blue Chevy pick-up with jacked up hydraulics and a confederate flag sticker across the back window. Johnny’s eyes looked like a hawk’s eyes, and his whole face was stuck in a permanent ugly scowl under his messy chestnut hair.

“Yeah, Rex, I think Squirrel is shakin’ in his boots over there.”

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, you couldn’t just call Mr. Joanne ‘Mr. Joanne’. You had to call him ‘Rex’ if you addressed him by name. If you called him anything else, you had to run laps all class. Johnny and maybe one or two other kids were the only kids that ever called him anything but ‘sir’, though.

Mr. Joanne spun on his heels and made a bee-line straight for Alan Squirrel, back in the S-section behind me. Mr. Joanne had a special disliking for Squirrel. As Mr. Joanne stalked back to Squirrel’s place in our lineup, some kids turned to watch, but I didn’t. Alan Squirrel was a kid with wiry long black hair, parted down the middle, thick black rimmed glasses and a tiny little gut which accentuated his stubby limbs and fingers, and I didn’t need to see him get reamed by Mr. Joanne.

Mr. Joanne undoubtedly stood close enough to Squirrels face so that a generous spray of saliva would be beaded on Squirrel’s lips and nose and lenses by the time the yelling finished.

“Squirrel are you ready for combat, you sorry waste of human genetic material?”

“Sure, sir, why not!”

“Why not!? Squirrel you are living proof that God has a sense of humor and a mean streak! Do you get me you little gremlin!?”

“Yes. Sir!” Squirrel managed to keep a straight face while letting a smile beam at Mr. Joanne from his eyes. Mr. Joanne could not stand this, and he hated Squirrel. Alan Squirrel, surprisingly, out of all of us, was the least afraid of Mr. Joanne I think. You could tell he was just cracking up on the inside, but I didn’t know why. Mr. Joanne was a total scary jerk. Mr. Joanne just paused in speaking as he and Squirrel stared at each other. Then Mr. Joanne started in on him, full force, like a hurricane of hot breath and moderately bad language.

“Do you know what you are in the real world Alan Squirrel? Do you Mr. Squirrel? You are a fucktoy, Mr. Squirrel, you are the whole world’s sex-bitch! You are a weakling, you are nothing, and you will be selected by nature to die the quickest, most pathetic death of all of your classmates just because you are a puny physical specimen! Give me twenty! Make it twenty-five and wipe that sneer off your face you communist queer-loving hippie!”

“Yes, sir, sorry, sir!”

“Shut up, fucktoy!”

Mr. Joanne does an about face from the illustrious Mr. Squirrel and then paces the room in front of our class. Squirrel begins his push-ups, collapsing momentarily at five and doing shaky-armed, bent-kneed girl push-ups by eight. I could hear what was going on behind me from all the wheezes and the thumps, then finally stifled giggles as Squirrel reverted to fully using both his knees to finish his twenty-five. I glanced back for a quick second. I saw Squirrel finish his push-ups, tiny beads of sweat standing out from beneath the wiry black hair brushing his forehead, then stand up and straighten out his back, the smile in his eyes gone. Mr. Joanne spat his game plan for the day at our class, his face

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