Monday, March 2, 2015

Budo 101: Conclusion.

*Warning: This story describes an offensive event, and so language and situations may be offensive to some and are not intended for young children.

Part I is here. Part II is here.

Budo 101, Continued:

Jack was left sitting in his chair, staring at the principle’s desk, trying not to make eye contact. So that was her dad? No wonder she went berserk. Shit! That’s a dude who means business!
Mr. Merckle, sat in silence for about thirty seconds. Then he looked up at Jack. “Go back out in the office and wait for your parent to get here. Ms. Hagg has your suspension letter.”
Ashley and her dad were still out there. Dan was talking with Ms. Hagg, who was smiling at him like a middle-aged fan girl. “Yeah, I think I probably did enjoy that a little too much, but you know, it’s just wrong, and something needs to be done. I’m not sure what, but Sharon and I are going to think about it.”
Ashley noticed Jack and looked away from him. Whatever, bitch. It was just a joke. Just wait until I see Deek again, Jack thought. I’m going to... But he knew he was going to do nothing. He was going to play it off as no big deal and go right back to being Deek’s minion just like he always did.
Dan turned and saw him. Oh shit! Jack slouched into his chair and whipped out his phone.
“Ashley, here are the keys, I’m parked out by Evergreen Street. I’ll be along in a minute.”
“Okay, dad. I’ve got to grab my stuff from my locker.”
“Okay, baby.”
Dan walked over and sat down in a chair one seat over from Jack.
When he didn’t say anything, Jack glanced up at him. He was just sitting there, scratching his five-o-clock shadow, staring at him with a musing expression.
“Look,” Jack said, “If you’re going to give me the speech about ‘stay away from my daughter or else,’ save it. I swear I’m not interested in her at all. It was just a stupid joke.”
“Oh I know,” Dan said. “I know it was a joke, and I believe that it wasn’t your idea.”
“My buddy dared me. He wouldn’t let up until I did it.”
“Sounds like a great friend,” Dan said with unconcealed irony.
Screw you, man, Jack thought. What do you know about high school? Back when you went it was a one-roomed schoolhouse probably.
“So are you tired of it?” Dan asked.
“Tired of what?”
“Being a punk.”
Jack stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets. “I’m not a punk.” Why was this guy even talking to him?
“Well, I don’t know what else to call you. I don’t think you’re a bad kid, and I sure as hell know you’re not a good man, because a good man knows when to tell his ‘friend’ to go to hell. A good man doesn’t grope teenage girls. You’re not bad, you’re just a punk. I know. I was a punk when I was your age.”
“Gah!” Jack rolled his eyes. “What do you want from me? I’m just a kid! I won’t do it again, okay, can you just leave me alone?”
“Oh believe me, I know you won’t do it again. Everyone in this school knows that you have wandering hands, and you got beat by a girl.”
“She didn’t beat me,” Jack yelled. He stood up and punched the wall. Dan’s expression did not even flicker. “She got lucky, she surprised me, and I don’t hit girls.”
“I know that. Dude, I know she wouldn’t beat you in a fair fight, and she knows it too. She fought like I taught her to, just hard enough and long enough to get away without getting decisively engaged. She did the right thing. You could too, you know.”
Dan stood up. Up close and personal Jack saw that he was not quite as tall as he looked from a distance, he just stood like he towered over everyone, so people thought he did.
“I want to give you this,” Dan handed him a business card. On one side was the name, “Five Senseis’ Shotokan Karate” and an address. On the other side was a picture of a fist covered by an open hand and the words, “Admit one for Budo 101.”
“What is it?”
“It’s an invitation.”
“To your karate school?”
“Well it technically isn’t my dojo. My friend Tanner Sensei owns it, I just help teach some evenings and weekends.”
“So you want me to learn karate?”
“No, this is a special class. Budo 101 is a special six-month program that I developed with Tanner Sensei, for teenage guys such as yourself. It is invitation only, or judge’s order.”
“Judge’s order?”
“We have an arrangement with the county courthouse. It is an option for first time juvenile offenders who are given probation.”
“Do I look like a fucking juvie?” he threw the card on the ground.
Dan very mildly crouched down, without taking his eyes off of Jack, and picked it up. “No, you’re not a juvie. And I want to keep it that way. Only about half of our students are juvies, the rest are referred by school counselors, parents, pastors, that sort of thing. I think you would benefit by it, so I am inviting you, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” He handed the card back.
Jack thought about not taking it, but something about the older man’s straightforward demeanor made him stretch out his hand. Dan was not yelling at him or cussing him out. He didn’t even seem mad anymore. Jack looked the card over again. “How much does it cost?”
“It’s free.”
“Yeah right.”
“No, seriously. I am a dentist and my wife is a child psychologist. We don’t need the money. But free does not mean that it is cheap. It is invitation only, but it takes a serious commitment. You show up six nights a week for six months. If you miss a night you apologize to the entire class and make it up on Saturday. If you miss two, you are done.”
Jack scoffed. “And if I come? You’ll teach me, what? How to fight?”
“Among other things, yes. You will learn how to treat people with respect, for starters, how to be somewhere on time, and in the right uniform. How to let a boss know if something comes up and you can’t make it. You will push yourself mentally and physically. If you make it to the end you will learn how to relate to women in a way that is based on real life and not on porn videos. You’ll learn how to pick friends, how to stand up to your friends, and yes, a basic level of how to defend yourself or others against physical attack.”
“Basic level?”
Dan smiled and shook his head. “If you make it all the way through, you get a green belt in Shotokan karate and are eligible to join the intermediate class if you want, but there is no obligation. Some stay, and some kids who get through Budo 101 are glad to be done with us.”
“So green belt is...”
“It usually takes students a year and a half to two years as a white belt to earn their green belt, but that’s because most only come once or twice a week.”
Jack was silent. This was crazy. This guy had just called him a sexual predator and now he was offering to teach him freakin’ karate. “What’s in it for you.”
Dan shrugged. “Well, I’d tell you not a damn thing, but you wouldn’t believe me. Think it over. When you get tired of being pushed around by your ‘friends’ and taking it out on teenage girls who have been trained not to stand up for themselves, give us a call or drop by. The class is continuous, so you can start at any time.”
He offered his hand, slender but veined and muscular.
Jack didn’t take it.
“Well, you have a nice day, then,” Dan said. He walked out of the office.
Jack sat down and put the card in his pocket.
He looked at the clock, which barely read 3:30 P.M.
I hate my life, he thought.

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