The Future of Miss Powers - Cover

The Future of Miss Powers

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 14

Mrs. Herd studied the poster sized print of Danny’s collage. From an artistic perspective there were a few things wrong with it, but from an advertising perspective she felt it was rather inspired. The slogan was quite good, even if it wasn’t his idea. The fact that he had included a small picture of a deodorant stick rather than spell out the name actually drew attention to it. All in all, it wasn’t bad.

“I like it,” she said.

“That’s good,” Danny said.

“Critique it for me,” she said.

Danny said, “I think the pictures are all reasonable, but I was a bit too far from the subjects. That one of Chuck sweating could have been replaced by a close up of his face with sweat dripping down it. I didn’t have a picture of that and had to blow up the picture that I did have to get what I got.”

“Good observation.”

“Same with Susan.”


“The background photograph of the football field probably should have been taken from a slightly different spot. Something that might have put the side line of the field more in the center of the picture so that the players were in field and the cheerleaders off field.”

“I agree,” she said. “I didn’t notice that until you mentioned it.”

“Outside of that, I think I did as good of a job selling the deodorant as I could,” Danny said.

“I think the same thing. In fact, it was a little better than I anticipated. A lot of artists have a difficult time making the transition from ‘real’ art to commercial art. In terms of your goals, I think that commercial art should remain your focus for the rest of the semester.”

“I kind of agree with you,” Danny said.

“I know you don’t care about grades, but for this project, I’ll give you an A.”

“Good. What’s my next assignment?”

“I have a challenge for you.”

“What?” Danny said sitting up straighter on hearing the word challenge. He liked challenges.

“Suppose you want to invent and sell a 3D printer for printing houses. Put together a presentation to get funding for that idea.”

“What kind of presentation?”

“That’s up to you. It could be a PowerPoint presentation or even a film or maybe even both.”

“That’s tough. I’m not going to get that done tonight,” Danny said thinking about how much work would be involved in this project.

“I’m not expecting you to finish it tonight. I want you to spend a month on it.”

“Okay,” Danny said.

“Come and see me when you have problems or questions.”

“Sure,” Danny said.

“I’m off to get some coffee. My break ends in ten minutes,” Mrs. Herd said.

“Right,” Danny replied absently, thinking about the assignment.

After she had left the room, he made several copies of his poster advertisement. He had promised to give one to Chuck and to Susan. He wanted to keep a copy of it, too. It didn’t take long to make the posters, and he was done before Mrs. Herd returned to the art room.

He left the art room carrying three cardboard cylinders, two of which contained one poster each. The other contained three copies of the poster. He had plans for two of the copies. He took them to his locker and traded them for his flute case.

Danny went out to the bleachers out by the football field. He took a seat at the end farthest from the building where he would have the most privacy. He assembled his flute. Now that he had finally gotten control over his breath, he was practicing his fingering. He sat down and started playing the scales to help limber up his fingers.

He practiced until lunch time. He cleaned up the flute, and packed it away. He dropped it off in his locker and went to get lunch in the cafeteria. He went through the line and got a dieter’s special: soup and salad. He went over to the table where he usually sat and ate.

He didn’t pay attention to any of the dirty looks sent in his direction. The rumor mill had gone rampant over ‘the creepy guy’ taking photographs. Any comments that Chuck might have made about the conversation earlier had not spread with the speed of the juicy rumors.

After he finished eating, he went back to his locker and grabbed his flute. He headed out for the football field to practice some more. He didn’t feel like dancing, particularly after having Val send him dirty looks the previous afternoon.

He sat on the bleacher practicing and thinking about his discussion with Mrs. Holmsteader earlier that morning. He came to a rather surprising conclusion, namely that he had no clue how public opinion was formed. When it came to more public figures, he knew that the press had a large role in it, but how did it work in a more private setting such as a school? He realized that he was clueless.

He had come to the school with the whole intent of sitting in a corner and working on his college homework, while avoiding being noticed by anyone. That plan had survived about two minutes into Mrs. Elrich’s class. Then his whole class schedule got rearranged. He imagined that had created a few rumors. He had to admit that everyone complained about him quoting other people. Was that really enough to get him labeled as creepy? If so, that was pretty lame.

He put aside his thoughts, and practiced another song. After several times through it, he paused and got out his cell phone. He set it to record and played the song on his flute. Afterward, he replayed the recording listening to his playing. He decided that a couple of passages were a little rough, so he focused his practice on those portions. He repeated the process until he felt that he had gotten it as correct as possible without an external opinion pointing out weaknesses of which he might not be aware.

Mrs. Shapiro asked, “Where is Danny?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” Val announced.

Stephanie said, “I don’t blame you.”

“What is your problem, Val?” Steve asked.

“He was taking our pictures during practice yesterday. We don’t need stalkers!”

“I know exactly what he was doing. He was working on an art assignment for Mrs. Herd. He wasn’t stalking the cheerleaders. In fact, he was taking pictures of everyone there.”

“It’s still not right,” Val said.

Stephanie said, “Everyone says he’s creepy.”

Seeing that Steve was about to explode, Mrs. Shapiro said, “No ... no ... no. I will not allow you to disparage that fine young man in such a fashion. Such a travesty of opinion must not pass without remark.”

“Everyone knows it,” Val said.

Steve said, “I know otherwise.”

Stephanie said, “How did you become friends?”

Mrs. Shapiro said, “Go ahead and tell them.”

Steve said, “The very first day of school, Danny went to the gym to shoot baskets before classes started. He’s good.”

“I can attest to that,” Val said. “We could go to the state championship if he’d play for the team. Even Coach Titterman said that.”

“No. He’d get thrown out of school, and we’d probably have to forfeit a game.”


“That’s not important, now. You want to know how we became friends and I’m telling you how.”

“Go ahead.”

“Well, the coaches spread the word that they’d like him to join the team. I figure that I’d confront him about not playing for the team. I figured that I’d push him around a little, and he’d say, ‘okay, I’ll join.’ I know, Mrs. Shapiro. It’s pretty stupid.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” she said.

“Well, I pushed once and nothing. I pushed him a second time and it was less than nothing. It was like I hadn’t even touched him. He warned me not to try a third time. I tried a third time. The next thing I know, he’s got me in an arm lock and I’m totally helpless. The whole time, I’m thinking that I’m going to eat the guy for lunch as soon as he lets go.

“Then he tapped me on the shoulder. I swear that I thought I was dying. My legs went out from under me. My brain shut down. My eyes crossed. The pain in arm was unimaginable. I couldn’t even move it. I was totally helpless.”

“You? I can’t believe that,” Stephanie said truly surprised at the idea of Danny being able to render Steve Sharp helpless.

“Believe it. He just walks off after letting me know that the next time I attack him that he’ll break my arm and both of my knees. I knew beyond any shadow of a doubt that he could do it, too. He could have tattooed ‘I am an asshole’ on my forehead and I would have spell checked it for him!”

Mrs. Shapiro laughed at that. “That’s a good turn of a phrase,” she said.

“Thank you. I followed him out the door and apologized. I didn’t mean for it to escalate to that level. He was real nice about it. Before you ask, he did do the quote thing. The thing is, I knew exactly what he meant by it. It was a bit more perceptive than I was used to hearing from someone my own age. My Dad says things like that all of the time.”

Val said, “That quote thing is half of what makes him so creepy.”

“No. Your interpreting him quoting others as creepy is not a reflection on him, but is an illumination on your own insecurities. He makes you feel uneducated and that is an insult to your vanity.”

Even as Val bristled, Mrs. Shapiro applauded and said, “Well phrased. I must admit you surprise me, Mr. Sharp. There are many...” she paused to look deliberately at Stephanie, and then at Val, “ ... who think you are little more than a dumb jock.”

“Hey,” Stephanie said despite knowing that Mrs. Shapiro was correct.

“I know. She has not yet seen beyond the persona that the role I have on the football team has created in the minds of others.”

“Perhaps today will change that.”

“I wish...” he sighed. Then he said, “The next time Danny and I met, I discovered that he believes in the Greek ideal.”

“What’s that?” Stephanie asked.

Val wanted to laugh at that. Danny was anything but the Greek ideal. He was tall and gangly, rather than well built.

Mrs. Shapiro said, “A healthy mind and a healthy body.”

“I knew that. I just hadn’t heard it called that,” Stephanie said.

“I was complaining about not having enough time in the gym and he offered to let me use his equipment. He has a very good gym at his home. We started working out on his equipment every weekend and talking. He’s telling me about college.”

“He really is in college?” Val asked.

She had heard it mentioned several times, but hadn’t believed it. If Steve Sharp was saying it was true, then she would have to believe it. Steve wouldn’t lie about something like that.

“Yes, he is,” Mrs. Shapiro said, “The whole reason that we pulled him out of his other classes, was that he wasn’t learning anything in them. He’s taking second semester calculus in college, and we were forcing him to sit through introductory algebra.”

“God, he must have been bored out of his mind,” Val said knowing how frustrating it could be sitting through a class that wasn’t challenging.

“We didn’t even put him in the accelerated classes like the ones you and Steve are taking.”

“Poor guy,” Val said finding that she was starting to empathize with him.

Stephanie looked over at Steve. She hadn’t been aware that he was in the accelerated classes. Maybe he wasn’t just a dumb jock.

“Ben Carson said, ‘Every time I am looking into the depths of somebody’s brain, I’m thinking, “This is what makes a person who they are. That structure contains memories. Everything that they’ve ever experienced is right in there,”’” Steve said. “I find it sad that so few people have bothered to look into the depths of Danny’s brain. No one has even tried to glimpse his soul. You should see some of the photographs he’s taken. One of them took my breath away.”

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