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Chapter 12: Scene 41: No wonder Pat can't read


ThinkLink: Has anyone ever given you a hard time because they thought you were trying to act smart?

       I push the workbook across the table at Pat. "Page 46." No wonder Pat can't read three syllable words. Lab's for reading, and Pat does anything but. Tutoring him is like pushing a mule from behind.

       "So what's your excuse this time?" I ask.

       He slams down his workbook. "Can't be bothered." He looks around and leans across the table. " Something's coming down ."

       "Yeah? What?"

       Pat rakes his overgrown bangs off his forehead and pushes the workbook at me.

       I push it back. "You think I'm gonna snitch ? I showed you I could keep my mouth shut."

       "Yeah, but this is different." Pat paws through the papers spread out in front of him. "What's it I'm supposed to be doing?"

       "Forget it," I tell him. "The bell's gonna ring." While Pat fools around, putting his book and papers into his folder, I watch a kid across the room. His head's down and he looks like he's sound asleep. "What's with him?"

       "You mean Dumbo there? He's all doped up."

       "In here? He gets stuff in here?"

       "He could if he wasn't such a stupe , but staff gives him pills. He's on loan from the state mental hospital . Tried to bash a staffer with a chair, so they say they can't do nothing with him but send him over here."

       "No better place than this for him?"

       "He likes it OK, I guess."

       "I bet." I look around, "You see Tony? He said he wasn't going to the hospital today. I thought maybe he'd be in here again, like he was when they called off his shift yesterday."

       Pat looks at me funny. "Tony? Nah. He's got other stuff to do."

       I feel like a dope when I remember what I said to Tony when he came in yesterday. "I could tutor you along with Pat."

ThinkLink: When did Tony say this?

       Tony gave me one of his gazing-down-off-the-mountaintop-at-the-little-people looks. "Me? You think I need Tutoring ? Me, who tutored Pat here?" He sat down at the table, across from me. He picked up the workbook Pat'd been struggling with. "Level C. How you doing in this?"

       Pat screwed up his face. "I can flick it off in nothing flat, but I got other things on my mind. I can't think so good."

       Tony laughed then and drummed his fingers on the table. "Do I ever know."

       Now, Tony ignored me totally. Last think Ineeded was him mad at me. "I didn't mean nothing. About the Tutoring ."

       "You think you're the only smart cat around here. Give me a subject. I can tell you about it one, two, three. I even won an essay prize once." He snapped his fingers at me. "You that smart, Cowboy?"

       "I never won a prize."

       "I knew that," he said, and went off to look through some magazines.

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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