I’m sure you want me to start out by telling you about how I got kicked out of school and why I’m such a screwup so you can psychoanalyze me and make me bawl my eyes out like some worthless sap. That’s not happening. I’ll tell you what happened – hell, we’ve got an hour and there’s nothing else to do – but I’m warning you upfront, there were no lessons learned here. Just a lot of dumb shit that went down, nothing I’ll ever look back and say, wow, what a fascinating childhood, I should write a memoir all about it. I can give it to you straight up doc: I’m a fucked-up kid and getting sent to boarding school with mandatory – whatever this is – is probably better than I deserve.
I might as well start with my stepdad, that total dumpster fire douche bag. Well, he’s not my stepdad anymore. My mom finally kicked him out after I sent her his logins and passwords to his porn sites and conspiracy dark web holes.
So one morning about three months ago I sneak into my step-dad’s secret lair where he spends all day “working from home” and I see the bullshit he’s up to with all his conspiracy cronies and plots to take America back and even weirder shit that I won’t bore you with. It’s boring as hell to me now, if you want to know the truth, but at the time I was like, “This shit is whack! I’m taking pictures and thinking, wait til my friends get a load of this. We’re going to be laughing our asses off!”
But before catching the bus, I thought I’d have a little fun with the old step-daddio. I go: “Hey John, you might want to lock your screen. Your chat is wide open for anybody to see who’s walking by.” His face gets all purple and I can see his forehead veins pulsing like he wants to give me a beating or something. Not that I was worried. The guy probably weighs 140 pounds soaking wet. He starts yabbering, “What the hell are you doing snooping around in my office! That is private! And whatever you saw, well, it has to do with national security. Your generation doesn’t understand how close civilization is to being flushed down the shit can.” He looks at me all squinty like he’s wondering if I should be let in on the big secret. He says: “Just what did you see? Some of that stuff is very confidential and can’t get into the wrong hands. Not even your mother can know about this. Do you understand? Especially not your mother. Of course, I love your mother and all, but this is on a level she just wouldn’t understand.”
He’s gripping me tightly with both hands on my shoulders a little too close to my neck and he’s got that crazy eye look that says, “I don’t want to kill you, but I will if I have to.”
So I say: “I just read a little bit, the part where you were going on about DeSantis and Musk planning some hit job on Tucker Carlson and how they were going to frame George Soros in order to stick it to the libtards.”
Then he gets all quiet and paranoid. He’s looking around like there’s little elves in the walls listening in or something. “You know more than you should. I can protect you, but only if I know you’re with us. There’s a core group of us who are standing up tall and proud for America, and sometimes you’ve got to do unsavory things to protect our God given freedoms. Can I trust you to keep this on the downlow?”
He’s got the crazy eye going again and I’m remembering the guns he’s got in the room next door, so I play it cool and decide now’s not the time to mess with him. “My lips are sealed. You give me the word and we’ll do what gotta do.”
Stupid ass believes me and thinks he’s got a comrade in arms. Meanwhile I’m laughing my ass off, showing the whole idiotic conspiracy chat to my buddies on the school bus. The idiot uses an open spreadsheet for all his usernames and passwords, so it took me about 5 seconds to figure out how to access his account. Numbnuts continued to chat up the other nutcases on the site for the entire bus ride in real time. Better than the movies.
I get to first period History and we’re learning about World War II and the Nazis. All kinds of crazy shit went down with those assholes. I thought my stepdad was fucked up. I’m sitting next to my buddy Alex in the back row keeping our heads down like we usually do watching TikTok or Reels or some shit with the sound down low. I get called on to answer some question related to something the teacher was just talking about. I’m half listening so I give a half-assed answer I figure might be at least passable. I say: “Many of the experts disagree somewhat on the particulars, but no one can doubt the extermination of over 6 million Jews is one of the most horrible acts of genocide from recorded history.” This gem coming from teacher’s pet Leslie’s open book on the desk next to me.
He goes off on me because apparently, we are supposed to be focusing on the Japanese and the lead up to Pearl Harbor. He snatches up my phone and slams it in his desk drawer. Then this teacher, Mr. Miller, actually starts disagreeing about the number of Jews who were actually killed, as if the specific number even matters. We’re talking millions, right? Mass genocide. But he goes on about how we all have to go by the textbook for the tests and to please the “powers that be,” but if you know where to look to find the real information the government doesn’t want us to know about, you’ll find the real number of Jews killed in WWII was only in the low thousands, and most of the pictures of concentration camps were fakes to spread propaganda so the US could justify going to war. The whole class is staring at Mr. Miller like he has absolutely lost his mind. And he gets it in that moment. You can see the realization in his eyes, that he has just screwed up royally and as soon as this shit moves up the line, he can say bye-bye to teacher job.
I can’t stand Mr. Miller and would love to see that asshole get fired, so I yell out, “You’re a racist, fucking Nazi sympathizer!” At the time I figured the class would be right there with me, but instead all I got was this absolute deathly silence. Mr. Miller strides up to me all businesslike and grabs my arm yanking me out into the hallway. He slams the door and pushes me against the wall like I’m some kind of perp and he’s the bad cop interrogator. “Where do you get off running your mouth off at me?! Who the hell do you think you are, big shot?!” I’m trying to free myself from this crazy ass dude, and somehow manage to rip his shirt during the altercation. The shirt rips to reveal – I kid you fucking not – a goddamn swastika. I’m trying to run away but this guy is stupid fast, and he practically tackles me. He’s got me pinned up against the wall again. I swear to God, I’m getting fucking assaulted by this asshole.
I’ve got a huge knot on my head and my arm’s starting to bruise up from this maniac’s manhandling. He balls up his fists and I am damn sure I’m about to get socked in the face, but then he stops, and suddenly gets this super guilty hangdog look over his face. He knows he’s fucked up real bad. He starts bargaining with me that he’ll bump my F grade up to a C, if I could see my way to forgetting this little incident ever happened.
I was flunking that class hard core. Well, as you know, I was pretty much flunking all my classes. What am I going to do? Report him to the principal? Yeah, right. Like they take my word against a teacher’s. I’ve never had any credibility at school with any adults. I’m the “problem child.” And I didn’t really give a shit that much anyway, because at least I had an excuse to get out of class. Don’t worry Mr. Miller, your little psychotic freakout is safe with me.
He sends me to detention, my home away from home, most of the time. Mr. Scarsdale is the guy who’s aways monitoring the detention room. Me and the usual crew that always get sent there on the regular just call him Scars. Scars is all tatted up and has dreads. He’s definitely not your typical teacher. When he’s not babysitting the undesirables, they’ve got him teaching PE in the gym. That’s my sixth period and I probably showed up max 5 times. Since Scars and me are tight, he marks me as present and lets me skate by. My one A that whole year at Lawrence High.
Anyway, I’m telling Scars the whole story about what a fucked-up asshole Mr. Miller is and he’s laughing it up, like I knew he would. But then for the first time ever, Scars starts to get real and asks me if my home life is okay and why I’m always getting sent to detention. He likes chilling with me, but if I keep getting detention eventually the next step is expulsion and that would be most definitely un-chill. I am definitely not cool with this, but I give Scars a pass because he’s one of the few teachers at Lawrence who ever gave a damn about me. So we shoot the shit for a while. I tell him about the home life.
I tell him I do my best to stay away from home as much as possible, except to sleep on a bed at night, because my mom married a grade-A-nutsack who spends all day probably whacking off to child porn or some shit. My real dad split three years ago, but good riddance to that piece of crap, because all he was good for was leaving so many beers in the fridge, he didn’t know they were missing when I grabbed a six pack to go hanging with my friends. He was usually so blitzed when I’d come back from getting loaded myself, he didn’t even know I’d left the house. My mom works double and triple shifts at the hospital and I barely see her anymore.
He tells me, “You know, you could always crash at my place if you needed to. Friends help friends out, you know what I’m saying. I’ve been down and out. I know how it gets.”
And then he puts his hand on my thigh and starts spouting some shit about how friends need to help each other in ways nobody needs to know about.” I cannot believe my man Scars, who up to now, was the coolest adult at that whole school, is laying it out clear as Christmas that he is pedo-central. I said fuck that shit, and I told him he could take his damn hand off my leg and find some other punk to meet his needs.
Of course, he knows he’s got to cover his ass, so he starts begging, “Look man, we’re cool right? This can just stay with us. No one needs to hear about it.”
I was so fucking disappointed in him. But like I said, he’s been a good guy to me with the attendance marks and all that, so I tell him, “It’s cool. My lips are sealed. But I don’t swing that way, so don’t fucking touch me again.”
I ditch detection without getting approval, because what’s Scars going to do about it. I’ve basically got him by the balls from here on out. Pardon the expression, poor choice considering. I sneak back into Mr. Miller’s empty classroom to grab my phone while everyone is on lunch period and I take off out the side door where I figure the coast is clear.
This was just not my day, because there’s Mrs. Jost, the Vice Principal, getting out of her car in the parking lot, and damned if she doesn’t look me straight in the eye. I could have bolted, but I kind of figured what would be the use in that since the punishment would just be waiting for me the next day. I might as well get whatever was coming to me out of the way like ripping off a band aid.
“Devin MacArthur, I am becoming far too familiar with you,” she says as she leads me back to her office and tells me to wait there for her while she takes care of whatever bullshit vice principals do during the day.
After about an hour of sitting on her grimy puke green couch she finally comes back to deal with me. “Mr. MacArthur,” -- like I have now somehow earned the dignity of being referred to by last name, -- “I don’t need to pull up your record because it was only three days ago you and I were in this exact same setting talking about the exact same thing. This is starting to feel like a broken record. Clearly, I am not getting through to you and nothing I say, it appears, you take to heart.”
She was dead right about that. I generally tune out when adults start lecturing me. I’ll probably do the same thing to you. Fair warning Doc.
She gets this sad expression on her face, like she actually cares about me and is genuinely disappointed about what she has to say next. “You leave me with no choice but to recommend expulsion to our decision-making committee. It won’t be up to me entirely, but rest assured, I have become sufficiently acquainted with you to know there’s no reaching you. In my 20 years of teaching and working in administrative capacities, I have never believed a child was irredeemable. Congratulations, you’re the first one.”
I remember those words exactly as she said them to me. Because, well, that insult did pretty much hit home. Being called the single irredeemable kid out of thousands of kids felt pretty shitty. But I had an ace up my sleeve. I wasn’t proud to use it, because it felt kind of sleezebaggy to do it. But sometimes self-preservation just needs to happen. I knew about Mrs. Jost’s affair with Mrs. Kinsky, the Spanish teacher. A month or so back I had been riding my bike around the school late at night, just killing time, keeping distance from the asshole stepdad back home, and I heard some, let’s just say, interesting, noises coming from one of the windows that had been left slightly open. Jost and Kinsky were going full on lesbo over a large desk. It was pretty hot actually. So yeah, I took some pictures thinking it would be hot shit to show my buddies the next day. I’m not really a blackmail kind of guy, but I guess sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
I show Mrs. Jost my sexy photos of her little secret tryst and reminded her of her marital vows, she being a Mrs. and all. I let her know Mr. Jost would probably hate to see those pictures and I would sure hate to have to show them to him. “You know, Mrs. Jost, I say, “I think I could just forget this whole thing if we decide to let bygones be bygones. You let me do my thing. I let you do your thing. My lips are sealed.” I gave her the ol’ zip of the lips pantomime and watched her face blanch and her entire body lose all the confidence she had when we started our little chat.
I thought that was a pretty clever move. But it turned out Mrs. Jost didn’t care that much about her marriage because my mother informed me that night that the school had expelled me, effective immediately for failure to meet a minimum academic standard and for an obscene amount of truancy.
I guess I figured I had it coming. I didn’t bother tracking down Mrs. Jost’s husband and carrying out my threat. I did hear she got divorced and I kind of wondered if I had anything to do with that. Who knows.
So that takes me to present, dishing up my life story to the likes of you, Mr. Brown Suit and Fancy Loafers. I didn’t catch your name earlier. But I wasn’t listening either. We’ve got a few minutes left? Well, in case you’re wondering if anything happened to Mr. Miller or Scars, all I can say is that they got what was coming to them, but I doubt it had anything to do with me. I hear Mr. Miller is being investigated over something to do with unauthorized teaching methods. Big surprise there. I told my old buddies at Lawrence High about Scars’s predilection for underage boys. I didn’t really figure anything would happen to him, I just wanted to put the alert out so people would know to keep their distance. One of my buddies, one with more violent tendencies, took it upon himself to give Scars a beatdown after school one day. That kid is in juvie now. I’m pretty sure Scars still has the same gig over at Lawrence. Maybe he’ll think twice about improper overtures in the future. But it’s not my problem anymore.
Looks like time’s up. How long we gotta keep doing this?