Jet is a delinquent from a wealthy Manhattan family. His favorite teacher at his exclusive school dies and is replaced by a mysterious German man. He tries to find out more about Heinrich while gri...
Jet woke up with a massive hangover. His eyes traveled over to his clock; it read 6:45. He bolted upright in a panic. If he slept away the day and got kicked out of Saint Ann’s, his parents would murder him when they got back. He looked out his window and realized it was still early morning.
He quickly got showered, dressed, and gathered up his books. Jet ran down the stairs and took the elevator to the ground floor. He stood on the curb, waiting for his ride. He started cramming l’Hopital’s rule in his head as Joe pulled up. He got in the backseat with no ceremony.
“What the hell is this thing doing? This is shitty. I can’t see it.” Jet pounded page 487 of his Edwards and Penny Calculus book.
Ivan looked over at the book and shook his head in disdain. “Take the derivatives of the top and the bottom then look at the limits of each. Makes sense now?”
“Oh! I see it! Damn! Why didn’t this book just say so. “
“One hundred bucks if you go take my test,” Jet joked.
“I wouldn’t take ten of your toes to take your test. By the way, your breath reeks. You smell like puke and bourbon.”
Jet looked at the rear-view mirror where Joe and Frances were giving him disappointed looks. Jet mumbled, “Shut up, Ivan. It’s not your business.”
The Freshman shrugged and went on reading Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynn Truss. They were all quiet on the way to school. Jet jumped from the car the moment it parked and didn’t say any parting words to his friends. He jogged to Mr. Chang’s room in spite of his clamminess and nausea.
The plump Chinese man looked up from his desk and gave Jet and scowl. Normally, Mr. Chang was very good natured, but he got irritated when students blew him off. “You’ve been avoiding me, Mr. Link!”
“I’m sorry. Can I take the test before school starts?”
“I’m deducting a letter grade for your tardiness.”
Jet took the test and handed it in just as the others were taking their seats. He could barely focus on the test because of his throbbing head. He just hoped he passed. He was in a fog for Mr. Chang’s lecture. The next class, Mr. Gamo’s chemistry, was also nothing but a blank, as was Dr. Kazumi's philosophy class that was held every Tuesday and Thursday.
Study hall and lunch gave him a chance to recover a little, but he still had a nagging headache during Mr. Dwambee’s history test. There were three long essay questions on the test. The last one he didn’t bother with; it involved something about Otto Von Bismarck and the rise of German nationalism that he just couldn’t remember.
He considered skipping the next class, but Joe and Frances finally cornered him and dragged him down the hallway. It was still cool and dim in the sterile room. Mr. Heinrich glanced at him and raised an eyebrow. Jet wondered for a moment if the man knew what he had done last night.
“Every Tuesday afternoon I want you to take the class and write two pieces. One in German, one in Italian. Take the whole class and pick any subject you want. If you have a question, please ask. Go ahead if you have none.” Heinrich announced and leaned back in his chair.
Jet couldn’t believe his luck. He got out paper and start scribbling a foul tirade about instructors who expected the students to teach themselves. He criticized everything he could think of down to Mr. Heinrich’s gloves. Just to be difficult, Jet did every other sentence in German and the following ones in Italian.
As an added finish, he used ever dirty Japanese insult Joe had taught him and wrote it at the bottom of the paper. Fifteen minutes into the class everyone was still struggling, Jet marched up, tossed the paper on Heinrich’s desk, and marched back to his seat without glancing at the man.
“Very creative, Mr. Link, but my parents were married and my mother was a human and not a female dog. Plus, let me assure you that I won’t eat excrement anytime soon,” Heinrich announced across the silent classroom. “By the way, who ever taught you Japanese must be a native speaker. This was flawless.” Jet sat upright, amazed the man also knew that language. He looked over at Joe. His best friend now had his head totally turned away.
“I think we need to have another discussion after class.”
“Okay, everyone, hand in what you have. Dismissed, except for Mr. Link and his clever little essay.”
Jet just sat in his desk, arms crossed. Joe gave him a swift kick to the leg on his way out. After the classroom was empty, Mr. Heinrich walked over, holding the piece of paper.
“You said to write whatever we wanted. I did.”
“So I must tell you, like a small child, to not use profanity and to make complete German and Italian paragraphs? The other instructors have told me how smart you are; I’m beginning to think they exaggerated your intelligence.”
“Let's go see Dr. Gilmore.” Heinrich jerked his head to the door. Jet followed the German man down the crowded hallways. His face was blazing hot as all the students turned to stare. They made it to Gilmore’s office and were let in quickly.
“Oh dear. What brings you here, Mr. Heinrich?”
“Mr. Link’s fondness for Japanese and English profanity.” Heinrich handed Jet’s paper over to the headmaster. Gilmore shook his head at Jet.
“He started it! He called me dumb!” Jet snarled, glaring at the German man.
“I did no such thing. I said I question his intelligence when he wastes his talent like this.” Mr. Heinrich countered in a calm voice.
“That’s it, Jet! You’ll apologize right now and get to Mr. Britain’s class!”
“Over my dead body!”
“Then you will write a sincere apology letter before I let you back in this school. Consider yourself suspended otherwise.”
Jet felt himself get clammy at the pronouncement. He stood, stiffly turned, and headed towards the front door of the building. He walked home in a daze. By the time he got to his bedroom his hangover had worked itself out. It had left him drained, as did the argument in Gilmore’s office.
It wasn’t long before he drifted off into deep sleep. Rolling thunder started pressing itself into his awareness. His body temperature gradually climbed to the point where he felt sweat rolling off his back. He jolted awake; his room was totally dark and it was pitch black outside.
He didn’t get out of bed to turn on the lights. He glanced over at the glowing digital numbers, 9:43. He tugged off his school uniform and tossed it beside his bed. He sprawled on his back and took deep breaths, gradually he drifted back into a light sleep.
He heard a rustling just under the rolling thunder. Flashes of lightning illuminated his dark room at irregular intervals. His eyes caught a slight, shadowy movement towards his right during a flash. A crack of thunder startled him, he felt his mattress slightly sink by his feet as the shadow moved towards him. His heart furiously pounded. An iciness touched his bare skin; movement was impossible because he felt made of lead.
The word ‘Schlaf’ echoed gently in his head. Jet felt as if he was being pushed downwards into sleep. He fought the sensations for twelve heart beats and then gave into the blissful tingling invading from his right wrist.
Jet reluctantly woke up; he slid out of his bed and stretched towards the ceiling. He stumbled to the bathroom and hopped into a hot shower. He felt good and well rested. He soaped himself up and paused when he saw a deep, yellowish patch on his right wrist. It felt cold under his fingertips and throbbed, but not painfully. It was actually a pleasant sensation, causing his body to involuntarily tremble when he touched it.
“Damn, I must of fell or something,” he mumbled. He shrugged it off and finished getting clean. He threw on sweat clothes; he didn't plan on going to school. He figured he'd write an apology letter when he was good and ready.
As he passed his desk he saw the cream colored letter folded on the desk. He paused and unfurled it.
Dear Dean Martin,
I appreciate your time in reviewing my student’s application. As you can see, Jet Link is well qualified for your institution. His talent in foreign languages is outstanding. His grades are superior and he is on the best terms with all the staff and faculty at Saint Ann’s Academy. His extracurricular pursuit in track makes him an ideal candidate as well.
Jet tossed the letter aside before he had to read any more. His throat felt tight as tears threatened to break through. Jet had decided he wouldn’t give in to tears over Miss Cathy; there were just too many to let go. Besides, his parents had ingrained a fear and loathing of being out of control deep inside of him. He suppressed the urge and walked to his parents’ entertainment parlor.
He decided to spend the day drinking and watching Jerry Springer, The Maury Show, and COPS. He looked at the wet bar, but jogged back to his room. It was 5:38 in the morning. He sat at his desk and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. He just couldn’t disrespect everything Cathy had done for him.
All he had to do was write an apology and endure the man for the next seven months. It wasn’t like he would be chained to Heinrich for the rest of his life. He started writing in German. He threw away his first two attempts and then he let his hand dictate from his heart rather than his brain. It came in scraggly English. He jumped up and got dressed in his school uniform.
“I appreciate this note, Mr. Link.” Heinrich folded the letter and tucked it in his jacket pocket. “I’m satisfied, Dr. Gilmore.”
“Good. Now we can put this all behind us. You did the right thing, my boy, and I won’t let this get back to your parents. You now have fifteen minutes before you have to get to Mr. Chang’s class. By the way, he wasn’t pleased with your grade from yesterday’s test. Neither was Mr. Dwambee. I suggest you talk to both of them about some extra work you can do over the weekend. They’re both amenable to the idea.”
“Great...” Jet said, voice drenched in aggravation.
“Now, now. Not one of us wants to see you fail. You should be grateful you have a chance to make things up before midterms.”
“Thanks, Dr. Gilmore.” Jet said.
He and Mr. Heinrich left the office and started walking down the hallway. The wide windows let in a soft glow along the right side. Jet watched his instructor put on his tinted glasses and walk close to the left wall lined with lockers.
“I know you’re not angry with me, just the circumstance that brought me here,” Mr. Heinrich said as they walked along. “I hope we can start over.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry about everything. Like I said in my note, I just wasn't ready for the change.”
“Grief is like an ocean wave. You can't hold it back and you shouldn't try.”
Jet about snapped and told the German man to mind his own business, but he took a deep breath instead. “This isn’t what Links are supposed to do, admit weakness, but I feel so tired lately. When I woke up this morning, it was the first time I didn’t just feel angry. It was like it drained out of me while I was sleeping.”
“That’s a positive step in the right direction. Hanging onto anger can wear you out. You really need to allow yourself some sorrow so you can move on with your life. You will always feel pain, but the tears do finally come to an end.”
Jet paused and turned to Mr. Heinrich. The man leaned in a shaded doorway of the foreign languages classroom, he had an odd half-smile. Jet gradually returned the smile and said, “You really know how I feel, don’t you?”
“I lost my wife some time ago.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“I’ll see you later.” The German man nodded to him and went inside his classroom as the hallway filled up with students.
“Hey! Jet! Where have you been?”
Jet turned to see Joe walking towards him. They started walking towards Mr. Chang’s classroom.
“I got into some trouble yesterday, but it’s all cool now.”
“We got to meet Coach Geronimo after school.”
“Cool. I’m up for a run.”
Jet took his position on the track and focused on the finish line. He ignored Joe as the shrill whistle sounded. He launched himself towards his goal. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Joe pour on the speed and pass him. Joe crossed the line first, Jet a few seconds behind. They slowed their pace and walked over to Coach Geronimo; both panting heavy.
“You haven’t practiced. It shows,” Geronimo said to Jet. The redhead teenager nodded and leaned over, hands on his knees. “You aren’t ready for this weekend.”
“I know. I’m sorry about that, Coach.”
“I’m going to suspend you until after midterms.”
“What? You can’t do this to me now. Please... I need this.”
“What you really need is time to yourself. If it wasn’t for your horrible grades, I would keep you on the team.”
“This sucks! It’s not fair!” Jet said kicking at the ground. The brawny Native American gave him a cross look over his display of temper.
“If your grades improve by January, and I see you’ve regained your speed, then you can compete again. In the meanwhile, you can still practice with the team.”
“What does everyone want from me?” Jet shouted.
“To live up to your potential and take responsibility for yourself. It’s the same thing Miss Cathy wanted for you.” Coach Geronimo turned towards a group of Sophomores playing soccer in the middle field and walked over towards them.
“Can you believe that?” Jet asked Joe, who sat on the middle of the track. Jet flopped down beside him.
“Yeah, I can. I told you he was thinking about it.”
“Running is all I have right now! Damn it! He’s being unfair.”
“It’s not a big deal. All you have to do is make up some work for Dwambee and Chang this weekend. Just keep showing up for practice. If he sees you’re working hard, he’ll let you back on. Too bad old man Gamo won’t let you make up anything. Man, I hate his chemistry class.”
“Yeah... you're right. I guess I could use a break,” Jet mumbled, drawing his knees up to his chest. He leaned his arms on them and scanned the mostly empty bleachers. Frances and Ivan were there along with half a dozen other people in their clique. Jet’s eye were caught by a man in a trench coat and a fedora standing in the shade of a tree beside the bleachers. “Hey! Isn’t that Mr. Heinrich bundled up like it’s thirty below?”
Joe looked over to the tree and nodded. “Looks like him. He must have thin blood. Can’t tell it by how cold he keeps his room. You didn’t cuss him out today. What gives?”
“We talked this morning about some stuff. He’s pretty cool.”
“He's weird. Hey! By the way... I need a huge favor from you?”
“What is it?”
“You know the new girl? Helen?”
“The one who wants to hook up with you, never mind the fact you have a girlfriend? How could I miss her? Every time you turn around, she’s there.” Jet looked at the top of the bleachers and saw the blond, spiky haired girl sitting alone. Her eyes were fixed on Joe. Jet looked over to Frances and saw her glaring daggers at Helen every few seconds.
“Frances is really riding my ass about Helen, but I don’t want to be mean to her. She's really a sweet girl and she's just shy because she’s new. I thought you might like to take her out this weekend. We can all go to that new club Frances wants to check out.”
“I’m not into clingy girls.” Jet said. He turned his eyes back to the tree, but he was mildly annoyed to see Heinrich wasn’t there any longer. He had hoped to talk to him some more.
“Come on. She's really cute and she has a nice body. Like I said, she’s really sweet.”
“Well then... you take her out!”
“Are you kidding! Frances would kill me! Be a pal... I’ll pay our way in and get Ivan to help you with Chang’s make up assignment. I just need to get Frances to think that Helen and you might be dating. Besides, I think Frances is right. You really need to get a girlfriend. I mean, you’ve only been out on seven dates over the last two years. Never the same girl twice.” Joe glanced around suddenly and leaned over to Jet. He switched to Japanese when he asked, “I mean... how do you get laid when you don’t take them out?”
“I do fine,” Jet snapped and jumped up. His face was blazing hot; it grew redder when Joe laughed at him.
“Will you please go out with Helen on Friday?” Joe jumped up, hands clasped together.
“Fine! I’ll do it ‘cause you’re my friend. Personally, she’s not my type. Keep that in mind when you’re forking out money. And the runt comes over on Sunday to help me with Chang’s work.”
“Deal,” Joe mumbled quickly as Frances came jogging over. Helen trailed behind. Jet listened to Joe hammer out the details for the double date on Friday. Frances seemed pleased, Helen seemed pissed. Jet figured it would be miserable, but Joe was too good of a friend to bail on.
To be continued.