Benjamin

I student taught at Benito Juarez High School.  In those 15 weeks, I witnessed no learning.  I did, however, meet some real characters.

Benjamin never missed school.  From the back of the room he stared at me with cold vacant eyes.  After a quiz, his untouched, nameless paper remained in the same position it had been given to him.  Benjamin spoke to me just once.  “Mr. Neill, (long weird pause), $600 for an ‘A’?”.  He laughed way too loud, and put the six bills back in his wallet.

The “real” teacher, Mr. Morrill, had me calculate the grades.  Benjamin’s column was blank – no homework, quiz or test scores.  I asked Mr. Morrill about it.  “Oh”, he said, “You didn’t know?  He shot someone.  The judge gave him a deal.  If he has perfect attendance this year, he beats the murder rap.”

I finished my term in December.  Around spring I paid a visit.  Benjamin wasn’t there.  I asked about him.  “Oh”, said Morrill, “You didn’t know?  He shot someone else.  He’s in jail now.”