Judging from the stoic look on Gavin’s face, Hal knew exactly what was going through his friend’s mind. His dad was going to kill him.
Two hours earlier Gavin had seized the initiative when Mister Delisian, the English teacher, had left the room. Delisian walked with a swagger that could resemble a limp, and he spoke with the accent he’d acquired growing up in Greenville, South Carolina.
“Hal Peters,” Gavin announced, in a drawl bent to impersonate the now absent teacher, “let me ask you for the ninth time to explain the lineage from Shakespeare to Faulkner to James Dickey.”
Gavin walked toward Hal as he made his statement and as he did, he exaggerated Delisian’s limp. The room rippled with laughter. What he didn’t know is that the teacher had returned and was watching the impromptu satire through a door that was cocked open on the other side of the room.
Delisian then walked through the door and slammed it shut behind him.
“Are you mocking my disability?” he asked Gavin.
The giggling in the room suddenly stopped.
Hal bit down hard on his lip, realizing the fix his buddy was in. Sweet Sheila Williams, who imagined herself giving birth to Gavin’s children someday, crossed her arms across her throat and made a scissors action, begging him not to respond.
Gavin blushed, tilted his head down and scratched at his brow. He then rolled his eyes and shook his head in dismay.
“That’s it for you, young man,” said Delisian, and he dispatched Gavin to the principal’s office.
To Hal, Gavin looked as though he were on death row, sitting there, in a metal folding chair, awaiting an almost certain suspension. Gavin’s dad was a major in the Marines. He resembled the actor Ed Harris, only with a scar on his right cheek. Hal knew the punishment at home would be severe.
“What the hell, Gav?” Hal asked wistfully. “What the hell?”
Gavin made eye contact briefly, then stared at the carpet.
“Dad says freedom isn’t free,” he answered flatly. “Neither is comedy.”