Teens & Young Adult Suspense

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

“Go talk to Mr.Kirby” 

This phrase had become a staple in the halls of Jennings High School over the past 7 years. Anytime a deranged juvenile fashions a fist, “Go talk to Mr. Kirby.” If a perplexed minor questioned life, “go talk to Mr. Kirby.” If an aggrieved adolescent gate burst to release a raindrop, “go talk to Mr. Kirby.” Mr. Kirby was the state-renowned, award-winning, school counselor that JHS was blessed to include on the payroll. Top-ranked schools, universities, and established academia all sought the coveted prize of having his astute intellect in their organization. But Mr. Kirby was appeased to continue his work in the hallway of Jennings High School.

The majority of the teenagers striding through the hallways of CHS did not perceive how great Mr. Kirby's celebrity status was. Except for one young man. Lee admired the genius of Mr. Kirby and sought to follow in his footsteps. Daily he would walk by Mr. Kirby’s office and peek his head in the door. “Hello, Mr. Lee. How are you doing today?” He would hear as he watched Mr. Kirby read through a few pages on his desk. “I’m good sir. Any suggestions for my study today?” “Why yes. Study these pages I have here. It’s a fascinating study that many of my colleagues find controversial. But I believe it is very beneficial for studying the mindset of humans.” Mr. Kirby hands Lee a manila folder as he sits behind his wooden desk. “Awesome. Thank you, Mr. Kirby.” Mr. Kirby smiles. “I’m glad one of you students is showing interest in counseling and psychology work. It’s refreshing to see.” Lee quickly glances over the study conducted by Stanford and then places it in his backpack. “Thank you again, Mr. Kirby. I have to get to class but can I come by later?” “You know what. I think I have given you plenty of material to study. I think it's time for some field work.” That would be awesome!” “Of course don’t tell Principal Jones this. She might give me detention with the rest of the students.” Lee laughs and waves goodbye as he exits the office.

The bell rings as youth throughout the school start to salivate for the lunch they are about to eat. For Lee though, the bell signals for him to enter the great Mr. Kirby's office. “Hey, Mr. Kirby! I’m ready!” Lee says as he enters with a notepad in hand. “Well aren’t you the eager one. But did you want to eat lunch first?” Mr. Kirby says as he types an entry on his computer. “No sir. I’m so ready to learn that I’m not hungry.” “Interesting. Usually, as soon as that bell rings, children all over the school become Pavlov Pets.” “Classical conditioning! I studied that one sir.” Mr. Kirby laughs. “Good job my padawan.” Mr. Kirby saves his work and sends his computer into hibernation as he stands up from behind the desk. He was a tall but very slender man, whose towering figure would intimidate a stranger. But his smooth face allowed his gentle smile to be unhindered and exhibited in a way that calms the mightiest lion.“ Now let's go do our own study.” “I’m ready sir!” Lee excitedly says as he follows his mentor into the sea of subjects.

“The best way to learn the behaviors of animals is to watch them in their habitat. Just look around his courtyard. What is the first thing you notice.” Lee starts to glance around at the yard at his peers. “Umm, I think the first thing I see is how everyone is in different groups.” “Great observation. People desire to be in contact with others. We need it. We crave it. We want it so badly, it is many times the very reason we find ourselves in trouble.” Lee continues to stare at his peers. “But what about the people who are sitting alone? They don’t seem to want that interaction.” “I disagree. They want and desire that interaction as well. But some people, especially you youngins, don’t understand who they are yet. Which develops some type of confusion, and leads them to be alone until they find a like-minded person to interact with. As a counselor, I believe it is my job to do that.” Mr. Kirby starts walking toward a student with Lee closely behind him. “Hello, Ms. Lisa.” “Hey Mr. Kirby,” a girl turns and says. Lee instantly recognizes her. She was Lisa Rice. Head cheerleader. Future prom queen. And the former leader of the mean girls of the school. “How are you doing on this beautiful day.” “I’m great. How about yourself.” “I’m good also. Thank you for asking. But I need your help, Ms. Lisa.” “Anything for you Mr. Kirby.” “Well, you see that young lady sitting by the tree?” “Yes sir.” “That is Ms. Andrea. I have noticed Ms. Andrea watching your practices, and I believe she wants to be part, but don’t know how to ask.” “Say no more Mr. Kirby. I will go talk to her.” Mr. Kirby claps. “Excellent. Thank you, Ms. Lisa.” “Mr. Kirby, don’t mention it. Ladies, let's go talk to her,” she says as she ushers her crew toward the tree. Mr. Kirby then places his slender but elongated hand on Lisa’s shoulder as she walks by. She winces but allows it to stay. “And Ms. Lisa. Remember if you need to talk still, I’m in the office.” “Yes sir.”

As Lee watches the most popular girls in arguably the city walk toward their new recruit, he wonders how Mr. Kirby had so much power over the head-crazy teen. “Mr. Kirby, you are amazing. I never thought anyone could control Lisa. That girl was crazy.” “Well Mr. Lee, as Shakespeare has taught us, anyone can be tamed.” Lee froze in response to the statement. “I’m sorry, that was a poor attempt at a joke,” Mr. Kirby says while chuckling. Lee smiles. “Oh, I get it. I just had to think about it.” “It’s ok. Let’s play like I never said that. I can’t lose my cool points with you.” “Mr. Kirby, you will always be the coolest.” They both laugh and continue walking down the hallway. 

Throughout the lunch period, Mr. Kirby continues pointing out the different behaviors of the various subjects while Lee took notes. A bell then rings to signal the end of the lesson. “Dangit. I was really enjoying this,” Lee says as he puts his notebook into his bag. “I learned more about life in these 30 minutes than I have learned about anything throughout this whole semester.” Mr. Kirby smiles. “I have to admit, it has been a joy teaching a student instead of correcting or observing. What class do you have next?” “Umm, History. Mr. Taas.” “Ah. That man is ancient old. And all he does is give tests.” Lee laughs. “That’s what I said!” “Tell you what. How about you go check-in. And then tell him I have an assignment for you.” “Really?” Lee asks with an excited grin on his face. “Yeah. And then you can come in and listen to a few of my sessions.” “Oh my gosh. That would be amazing Mr. Kirby. Am I allowed to do that though?” “Definitely. I’ll go talk to Principal Jones about it so she at least can back me up if Mr. Taas says anything.” “Thank you, Mr. Kirby,” Lee says as he turns and runs down the hallway.

When Lee returned to Mr. Kirby’s office, he found Mr. Kirby sitting on the edge of his desk with one of the rude jocks known in the school. “Oh, I’m sorry. I can wait outside.” “Yes, leave you bi—!” “No sir. That’s not what we do, is it? And Lee, come on in and sit please.” “But Mr. Kirby, no!” Mr. Kirby stands up and places his hand on the young man’s shoulder. “He is ok. He is just observing in the back. And just like before, nothing leaves this room. So please continue.” Lee walks to a chair in the back of the room and sits, while Mr. Kirby walks around his desk. “Please continue sir.” The student slightly turns his head to get a glimpse of a giddy Lee. “Nope, it’s just me and you. Continue sir.” He turns back around and looks at Mr. Kirby.

For the next 15 minutes, Mr. Kirby asked questions while the young man answered. He asks questions ranging about his house, his room, his mom, his bed, his state of emotions, his showers, and his sexual activity. Though the boy was reluctant at first, he started answering questions like Lee was not there. Lee sat in the back and observed what he considered was the most intense discussion he saw with his own eyes. He imagined that Mr. Kirby was like a superhero, and the boy was a villain. And it was Mr. Kirby’s job to break him. And at any moment, Mr. Kirby was going to snatch the boy up and put the fear of God in him. But, the reality of the scene was not that intense. Though Mr. Kirby at times stood up to touch the child’s shoulder, he never snatched his soul away as Lee wanted. “Ok, Mr. Lowe. We will end here for now. But remember, if your behavior does not change, we must step up a level. Ok, Mr. Lowe?” The young man stands up trembling and grabs his backpack. “Yes sir. Thank you, sir.” He then turns and looks at Lee. “And thank you to sir. And I am sorry for being rude to you earlier.” Lee confusingly looks at the teen. “Umm. Not a problem.” 

“Have a good day Mr. Lowe,” Mr. Kirby says as he closes the door. “Mr. Kirby. I say again, you are amazing.” Mr. Kirby smiles. “Thank you.” “I watched that whole thing, and I have no idea how you were able to turn that guy into the most respectful brother ever.” “Well, it’s just years of experience and research. Plus, I’m pretty sure you saw some of the tricks, you just didn’t realize it.” Mr. Kirby moves and sits in front of his desk. “Tell me some things you have on your notes.” Lee starts to flip through all of the notes he took through the day. “Umm, I did notice you stare directly in their eyes, even when they try to look away.” Mr. Kirby puts his hand on his chin. “Great observation. That lets the subject know you aren’t afraid of them, and that you mean business. And for younger subjects, it many times let them understand you are the authority. What else do you have?” “Umm, I don’t know if this is anything. But I did notice you sometimes touch their arms.” Mr. Kirby tilts his head slightly. “Interesting. Can you guess why?” “I think it's for reassuring? Maybe?” Mr. Kirby smiles and walks back around to his chair. “Good job Mr. Lee. We should do this again.” Lee flips his pages back and forth nervously. “What’s wrong?” “Umm, I don’t know if I can ask.” “It’s good. You can ask me anything. Just remember it doesn’t leave the room.” “Umm, when you said another level, it seemed to really scare him.” Mr. Kirby mischievously smiles. “Another great observation.” He then stands up and walks beside Lee. “Studies have shown that In order for subjects to really change, there must be rewards and consequences. My research shows that greater change happens when the consequence is great. And extreme change happens with extreme consequence.” Lee started to worry that he stumbled across something he shouldn’t have stumbled across. He then felt a hand on his shoulder. “It’s alright Mr. Lee, you are not on that level yet.” 

Lee feels a chill creep over his body. The touch that he had assumed was for reassurance, was actually a touch of fear. “Don’t be afraid Mr. Lee. I have observed you, and I think you are ready to view more of my research. So I changed my mind. Let’s take this out of the room.” 

Lee looks at the ground to view a shadow of a long slender man as he follows Mr. Kirby into a hallway underneath the hallways. He tries to get his mouth to move to ask the question of where they were, but he couldn’t find the strength to surpass the terror. “Welcome to my research facility. Principal Jones allows me to use this basement as long as I get results.” The hallway was dimly lit by lights illuminating a few rooms. Mr. Kirby turns and looks at Lee. “So here is where the real work is done.” A door bangs as if a drum machine was turned on. A tear starts to roll down Lee’s cheek. “Mr. Lee. It is ok. I merely seek to educate you on the field and hope that you can be the one to continue my work. I am getting older, and I need someone to pass down my knowledge to. So you are like Charlie, and this is my chocolate factory.” The banging continues to provide background music. “What do you say?” Mr. Kirby's eyes stare directly into Lee’s eyes as they began to fill up with puddles. 

“Good morning students! Principal Jones here with your morning announcements. The basketball team is off to a good start as they come away with a win against cross-town rivals. Team captain Drew Lowe racks up 22 points and 10 assists. Also, a great job by Lisa Rice and her squad for a wonderful halftime show. I believe I saw a couple of new faces out there. Also, prom is coming up quickly, so make sure you get your votes in for king and queen. I believe Lisa and Drew are on the ballot but vote for whoever of course. And on a sad note, I know a few of you are still in mourning for your classmate who went missing over the past month. You may find yourself filled with confusing emotions. You may be sad from thinking about what could have happened to him. Or you may find yourself with anger at whoever could have taken him. Or other emotions that may well up. No matter what the emotion is, just know you are not alone. Please find time in your day to go talk to Mr. Kirby.”

July 09, 2022 03:49

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