Burbank Academy 1960 by Jamal Lee

“Bale’s got real bad issues,” Tilden said of his distant cousin, “and hasn’t got the proper wiring that a boy typically falls out of his mother’s hole with. Mr. Stillwater showed up pretty quickly once he heard his dog start barkin’ and damn spilled over with wrath at Bale’s disrupting of his whole arrangement with Gertrude and me.”

“You shot the war hero for shouting at you?” Dr. Muller asked Bale.

“Naw I… I was just a little frazzled up, y’know? He ordered Tilden and Gertrude to get the hell out of the room so it could be me and him. And you don’t never, ever want it to just be you and him.”

“And why is this?”

“Well… well I’ve been known to call it like I see it,” Bale said. “And I just don’t feel right about how Stillwater’s so interested in Gertrude’s bringing of Tilden around his house.”

“You shot him because you thought… you felt he was lecherous toward the boy?”

“Wrong again, doc. It’s just uncomfortable when it’s just me and Stillwater is all, since like I said, he knows that I know all about his… his infirmities. I tossed his Thompson to Tilden so he’d quit acting so pissed, since he digs Tilden so much… hell, what’s the good in bein’ a guy’s family friend if it don’t earn you a few good moments with his Thompson for godsakes?”

Bale shook his head disapprovingly at no one in particular while a horrible grimace spread across his face.

“And then Tilden clutched the trigger completely on accident trying to catch a hold of it. But it’s not like they say in the papers about how he supposedly laid tracks up the man’s back. Just a quick buzz that kinda grazed Gertrude a little bit on the arm before it cut up her daddy pretty bad, but not too bad. I set the gun back nice and neat while Tilden sat Gertrude down and sucked the blood from her cut, to stop the bleeding, ‘yknow? At least that’s the b.s. he’d tried to sell me. I knew he was just dying to put his lips on sumthin’ on that girl’s body. And the whole time she was pourin’ tears and stinky snot all over his head… Tilden’s such a bastard, ain’t he?”

The third bell of the day had rung and grammar school girls and boys in plaid skirts and sweaters raced about the halls, but dripped by slowly when passing the boardroom.

Soon enough the typist emerged from the mosh holding the hand of Penelope Schmelling, the erudite leader of the student discipline committee. She was led into the room as the derisive roars of the students engulfed her. “Coffee for the little girl,” Dr. Muller barked at the typist, who had nearly forgotten that her typist's breath was not welcome to commingle with headmaster's within the bounds of the boardroom. Dr. Muller shooed her vigorously as Penelope found a place on the far end of the table opposite the boys, resting her tiny feet atop the table.

“Whadya say, Schmelling? Personally, I want them the hell out of here by noontime, but not a moment prior to pressing their faces against one of those damn television cameras and pleading for some amnesty.”

“I understand your angle, doc,” the girl said, letting out a sigh that had her golden-brown hair hovering above her forehead. “But I have little patience for people who allow popular perceptions to make a conniving pussyfoot out of them. And frankly, I see only one person who matches that profile at this table.”

Dr. Muller straightened with disbelief.

Steeped in an incredulous stupor he struggled for words as Tilden stood from the table to guardedly accept Kosovare’s coffee from the wheezing typist at the door. Filled with awe at the well-developed eighth-grader, the boy set the cup down in front of her, almost tilting it on her relatively brief, plaid jumper.

“I know I’m here to give my opinion as to whether or not two kids' lives will be thrown into disarray,” she said, “but that typist… specifically how you boys treat that typist, is far more beguiling to me.”

Tilden invited Kosovare to continue as he took a seat on the glazed tabletop.

“Well… I mean with you it’s obvious, Tilden. And I hope you’re Tilden, because from what I heard, the blonde one is Tilden. But anyway, so why on earth were you so worried of touching the typist just then? The pigment on her skin has no unsanitary blemish, and likely never has, as adjusted and well-refined as she is. I’ve seen her be a real wretch sometimes, mind you, but now I see how closed-minded and rude her boss and asses like you can manage to be.”

Tilden’s voice began to fray at its edges as Kosovare’s gaze settled on the bridge of his nose

“I... I get it, Kosovare. And I don’t mean any harm either.” He said. “I can’t agree more that she’s had it tough and that she takes shit for no good reason. It’s just that good ol’ Bale here likes to go to the… the ladies loos, y’know? Up in the ceiling and such. And he’s seen her doing all sorts of things in that place, some that go much further than a bit of womanly maintenance to get you through the day. And never once has he seen her washing up afterwards.”

“I’d suck the knuckles out of her fingers before I’d so much as glance against yours,” Kosovare jabbed. “You didn’t have to go making her feel so self-conscious about herself.”

From the head of the table, Dr. Muller stared out into the trio of little people that he had allowed into the walls of the Burbank Academy in separate gleeful moments of the past. His eyes wandered to the boardroom window where the typist sat pecking about god-knows-what on a dainty Touchmaster, his stomach hair curling through the relaxed portion of his blue, button-up shirt.

Kosovare rose from her chair with her shoulders back, and her unruly, golden-brown hair fluttering about her face. With fuck-you fingers drawn, she tilted her cup and stomped her little legs out of the room spewing malice toward each of its remaining occupants. Dr. Muller also gathered himself for departure as Tilden passed his finger gingerly through the puddle of Kosovare’s tilted brew. Bale adjusted his crotch and gobbled up another gulp of deadening coffee.

Jamal Lee is a lifetime resident of Washington D.C. who has yet to see the White House without the aid of a textbook or computer screen. Outstanding qualities of his relatively brief journey through life are sparse, but he has committed himself to producing work noteworthy enough to add a blip of intrigue for anyone who has drawn the short straw condemning them to muster and interest in his goings and comings.