The Future of Miss Powers - Cover

The Future of Miss Powers

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 1

Danny was an average looking lad of fifteen. He was long limbed and skinny for his height; spindly, but not awkward. He moved with greater grace than one might expect of someone with his kind of build. Outside of that, he had no remarkable physical characteristics that would make him stand out from a crowd of his peers.

He carried within him a streak of independence that was a mile wide. For an adult, that sense of independence would be viewed as a good character trait (except in the lower levels of the corporate world). In high school, an independent nature is the kiss of death, socially.

Another element of his character was that he was indifferent to the opinion of others. He just didn’t care what anyone thought of him. Hence, receiving the social kiss of death had no effect. He was who he was, and that was that.

It was the first day of school, and Danny had arrived early. His father had dropped him off while on his way to work. There had been a short pep talk about how school wouldn’t be so bad this year, this was a new school, and blah ... blah ... blah. Both father and son knew the talk of a better school year was an empty hope.

When asked about dealing with issues that had come up in the past, his father’s advice was that if things got too bad, to head over to the library and grab a book or go out and shoot some hoops. He would support Danny in dealing with whatever fallout there might be.

The advice about shooting some hoops sounded good to Danny. He had a bit of time before classes started, so he headed off to the gym. There were a handful of kids in the gymnasium doing various activities while killing time before classes started for the morning. At one end of the gym, six guys were playing a little basketball in a three on three game. There was a lot of yelling, shouting, and good-natured ribbing going on. None of them were all that good, with more misses at the basket than they made.

At the other end of the basket ball court, Danny was alone shooting hoops. Whereas the others had a shooting percentage in the high thirties, his was nearly a hundred. He just kept making basket after basket, no matter where he stood on the court when making the shot. He made it look effortless.

Such shooting accuracy was bound to attract attention. Coach Roberts stood off to the side with his arms crossed over his chest watching Danny calmly shoot three pointers one right after the other. Coach Titterman watched Danny imagining a state championship in the making.

“He’s too old to be a freshman.”

“That must be the new kid, Danny something-or-another.”

“What do you think?”

At a height of 6’2”, Danny was not one of the tallest boys his age. Despite enjoying shooting baskets on the court, he had absolutely no interest in team sports, particularly basketball. It was a problem, since the basketball coach saw him as a prime player for the team and didn’t want to take no for an answer. Danny’s skinny body didn’t look strong enough to push the other guys around the court, but the kid could hit the basket from damn near anywhere on the court. They could work with that.

“He’s a natural. He’s even got a good build for it.”

“He isn’t heavy enough for the physical side of the game, but he’s still got two years to grow into it.”

“JV this year and varsity next year?”

“I think so.”

“Let’s talk to him.”

The two coaches approached Danny. Danny made another shot. Swish ... the ball went through the hoop without touching the backboard or the rim. He headed over to pick up the ball, but noticed the coaches coming towards him. He paused to wait for them.

“Hi, Danny.”

“Hi, Coach Roberts ... Coach Titterman.”

“We want to talk basketball,” Coach Roberts said.

“Not interested,” Danny said holding up a hand as if to terminate the conversation.

“What do you mean, you’re not interested? You haven’t even heard what we have to say.”

“I don’t want to play on the team.”

“Why not?” Coach Titterman said.

“Three reasons ... I don’t like team sports. I don’t like to be man handled. I can’t afford to get thrown out of school,” Danny replied.

“Why would you get thrown out of school?”

“Athletes don’t get thrown out of school,” Coach Titterman said.

“There’s a lot of pushing and shoving on a basketball court. Like I said, I don’t like to be man handled,” Danny answered.

“A little aggression on the basketball court is a good thing.”

“I react instinctively and violently. Bones will get broken. That would get me thrown off the team and out of school.”

The two coaches looked at each other. They had not expected any kind of resistance to an offer to play on the team. Most guys at the school would have been jumping up and down in joy at being asked to join the basketball team.

Danny, deciding that the conversation was over, walked off without a backwards glance at the two coaches. He went over and picked up the ball he had thrown. He put it in the ball rack. He wandered back to the coaches. They were still looking at each other trying to decide what to say.

Danny said, “I’ve got to get ready for class.”

Danny picked up his backpack, slung it over his shoulder, and walked away without another word. The two coaches watched him leave dismayed by his total lack of interest.

After Danny walked off, Coach Roberts said, “That’s a shame. He could be one of our best players.”

“We’ll get him,” Coach Titterman said confidently.

“I don’t think so.”

“He’s new to the school and doesn’t have any friends. Playing basketball will be a good way to get into all the right social cliques.”

“I’m concerned about that whole reacting violently story. He said that in such a matter of fact voice,” Coach Roberts said with a worried frown.

“The guy is a string bean. Just how violently could he react?”

“I don’t know, and that concerns me. He wasn’t bragging or trying to sound tough. He said it like it was a given.”

“He’s got PE. We’ll play a little basketball. He’s going to have to play or fail PE,” Coach Titterman said with a smile.

“It’s about time for classes to start.”

“The first day of freshman gym. I hate that. All of those kids sat around playing their video games all summer and now we have to get them in shape.”

The two coaches waited for the kids to show up. Each of them kept thinking about Danny and his obvious skill at basketball. It would have been nice to see him playing against someone.

Teachers want model students who sit up straight at their desk, facing forward, and listening to the wisdom flowing from their lips like it was liquid gold. Someone who sits in a corner and reads books on other subjects can not, by all that is held holy by teachers, be a good student. Attempting to get the attention of such a student requires sending him or her off to the principal’s office, belittling him or her in front of peers, and generally getting on his or her ass every chance possible. If all of that fails, he or she must fail the course since it is not possible for the student to be learning such difficult high school material.

Danny was sitting in the back corner reading a magazine when Mrs. Elrich entered the classroom. She looked around at all of the fresh faces looking at her with great expectation. She smiled. It looked like it was going to be a good class.

She announced, “I am Mrs. Elrich. I’m your teacher for American History.”

There was the murmur of acknowledgment from the students. She began the process of taking the roll. Everything proceeded according to plan until she said, “Danny Markem.”

“Here,” Danny said without looking up from his magazine.

“What are you doing?”

“Reading,” he answered still without looking up at her.

“Well, put it away.”


“You’re in class.”

Danny finally looked up at her with a frown. This was the first class of the day and he’d been in it for less than five minutes. As he had expected, he was already having issues with one of his teachers.

“You’re taking roll.”

“Put the magazine away.”

Danny said, “I think we’re getting off on the wrong foot. Perhaps we should discuss this offline.”

A number of students laughed. Mrs. Elrich didn’t laugh or even smile. She glared at him.

“There’s nothing to discuss. I told you to put the magazine away.”

“I really suggest that we discuss this after class,” Danny said.

“There’s no need for discussion!”

Danny puffed up his cheeks and exhaled loudly. In a tone of voice that an adult takes when explaining something difficult to a child, he said, “I’m sure that we’ll get along better if we adopt a policy of mutual respect and toleration. I’ll listen to your lectures without correcting what you’re saying. You’ll let me read without making comments.”

“You won’t correct what I’m saying?” Mrs. Markem said with frost in her voice.

Danny said, “I know that the first topic that you’ll cover in this class is the migration of Native Americans from Asia across a land bridge at the Bering Strait. While you’re spouting that tripe...”

“Tripe?” she interrupted in near scream.

“Yes, tripe.”

“How dare you call it tripe!”

“Because it is. I read the textbook when I registered for school. It gives the land bridge theory as a fact. It isn’t a fact. In your position as a high school teacher, you have the unenviable task of defending its correctness. Unfortunately, the text book doesn’t mention any of the more recent theories concerning how Native Americans came here, such as the watercraft migration theories, of which there are several including one that has the Clovis people as migrants from Europe.

“While you’re spouting the superficial pablum that passes as the one and only truth in our textbook, I’ll be reading a special issue on that subject in the American Journal of Anthropology. In fact, that’s what I’m reading right now.

“Now the difference is, you’ll be talking about the migration over the land bridge as fact. I, on the other hand, recognize it as one of several competing theories to be debated in a scientific manner. That puts us at cross purposes. You are trying to open young minds to a body of commonly accepted lore without getting into a great debate, while I am on a journey of intellectual discovery, which necessitates debate.

“That is why I suggest that we adopt a policy of mutual respect and toleration.”

“Go to the principal’s office.”

Danny picked up his journal and, while rising from his desk, said, “Yes, Ma’am.”

Principal Bell stared at the young man seated in front of him. It wasn’t unheard of for a student to be sent to his office on the first day of school, but it was rare. That it was Mrs. Elrich who sent him was doubly troubling. She was a very popular teacher.

Danny set a recorder on the desk and asked, “Do you mind if I record the conversation?”

“Yes,” Principal Bell answered.

Danny reached for his cell phone.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to make a call to get someone here to represent my interests,” Danny said.

“You’re calling a lawyer?”

“No. I’m going to call my father,” Danny answered. “I don’t feel comfortable having a discussion with an authority figure, without a recording of it or a third party present.”

“I can have the secretary come in.”

“Let me correct myself. I should have said an independent third party. To be quite honest, I would prefer someone who can represent me. It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I don’t trust the system.”

Principal Bell said, “We’ll just have a friendly talk. There’s no need to drag your parents down here at the moment.”

“My phone has a speaker phone capability. My father won’t have to come here, he can participate in a conference call,” Danny said pressing the screen to make the call.

He placed the phone on the desk after activating the speaker phone function. The sound of the line ringing filled the office. Principal Bell stared at Danny thinking the kid was going to be a lawyer.

“Hello, Danny. I take it you’ve already been sent to the principal’s office.”

“Yes, Dad. I’m here with Principal Bell.”

“Was it Mrs. Elrich or Mr. Timmons?”

“Mrs. Elrich.”

“Mr. Bell, I’m Peter Markem, Danny’s father. I fear that we may have a problem.”


“Are you aware that Danny sent several emails to Mrs. Elrich in an attempt to negotiate his participation in class?”

Principal Bell was now convinced that he was dealing with yet another ‘helicopter parent.’ He hated parents like that and blamed them for the continual erosion of educational standards. He said, “Mr. Markem, there’s nothing to negotiate. He’s a student here, and we have certain expectations about how our students behave.”

“Look, Mr. Bell. I sent you several letters over the summer asking you to place Danny in an accelerated program. I know you turned down my request, but I’ve got to tell you that he doesn’t belong in a regular classroom. He’s a smart kid.”

The source of this story is Finestories

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