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“So where is Rainie exactly?” Jiro huffed as he drove the car around the unfamiliar tracks.
“She’s at Robbie’s school right now,” Mike answered. “We’re supposed to talk to the teacher today. You know Rainie; she wants to be a part of Robbie’s education as much as possible.”
“Robbie?” Joe wondered.
“Yes, my son,” Mike proudly remarked.
“I know who he is!” Joe quipped fiercely at Mike. “I’m just wondering why you would let him go to school here. This place looks like the prairie.”
“Well, we were going to go for a private school like we always do, but apparently there is only one school here in Caoya and it’s a public school,” Mike nodded as he looked at the rural fields of the rustic town. “It’s all we could get since we live here now.”
Once they arrived in front of the school, Mike had already seen his wife’s car parked in front of the soaring flag pole that reached all the way to the sky. It was already late in the afternoon and Mike was delayed earlier from the horde back in the terminal. Making their way to the old school house, the three got out of the car and headed inside the administration office. It was a small, busy office with a female receptionist, a female secretary, a few phones here and there, and a little girl who sat at the corner, dangling her feet from her chair waiting for the principle.
“HI!” Mike smiled at the receptionist and said with a bright smile. “I’m here to meet with Ms. Lynn. I’m Robbie He’s father. My wife, Rainie, should have been here a few minutes ago.”
The receptionist typed a few words onto her computer and flashed the three men a gentle smile.
“Yes, Mr. He, correct?” she beamed. “They are waiting for you in room 2B; just walk out the door on the left and you’ll see it on the way to your right.”
“Thanks,” Mike courteously answered with a bow before turning to the two other guys. “Ok, you guys can hang out here while I fetch Rainie and Robbie.”
As Mike made his way through the halls, jiro and Joe were left standing in the office all the by themselves.
“Now this is awkward,” Joe laughed. “I haven’t been in an elementary school since…well since I was in elementary school!”
“Well it’s just going to get a bit more awkward,” Jiro winced as he explained his situation. “I have to go.”
“Go where???” Joe asked worriedly. “Don’t leave me here!”
“I have to see my beau,” Jiro answered. “She works here as a second grade teacher.”
“Beau??” Joe cringed a bit at the feminine line Jiro provided. “Since when did you start talking like a southerner from America??”
“Since I met Ella,” Jiro smirked.
“Who’s Ella??” Joe asked even further.
“My girlfriend,” Jiro nudged.
“Girlfriend?!?!” Joe said in shock. “Since when did you have a girlfriend???”
“Since I got here,” he laughed. “I’ll only be gone for a few minutes. Try not to wet yourself OK? Now be a good little boy and play with the children.”
“Hurry up and get it over with!” Joe scoffed as he nudged on the shoulder.
“There’s a little girl for you to play with Joe,” Jiro laughed some more. “Don’t make her cry now…” he continued to tease.
“Don’t make me have to hurt you,” Joe growled. “GO!”
Finally by himself, Joe looked around for a chair to sit on and only found one left was next to the little girl Jiro was talking about. She was the typical second grader; long straight hair pulled back into two ponytails, jean overalls that only cut off to the knees, and a pink and white t-shirt with a funny little cartoon in the middle. He smiled kindly at her and made his way slowly to the seat.
“Can I sit here?” he asked sweetly. She gave a quick nod, and looked at the emptied seat.
Even as he sat down, the little girl continued to wave her feet back and forth, back and forth. She tilted her head to her left side and stared at Joe with absolutely no sense of embarrassment. She didn’t smile, nor did she frown. She just sat there flapping her legs playfully. Joe was getting a bit nervous and anxious himself. He didn’t like having her just stare so intently at him. He wasn’t famous! Why was she so focused?!
“Can I help you?” Joe asked her finally.
She sat still; her head still tilted for a moment and then she snapped it back to position. She pointed at his pilot wings, pinned on his dark blue blazer.
“You’re a pilot,” she uttered out loud, as she scanned his attire fully.
“Yes, yes I am,” he smiled a bit.
“My mommy works at the airport too,” she continued.
“Oh really?” he suddenly asked. “Which department?”
She frowned for a moment and extended her hand to her head and scratched it bit.
“…I don’t remember…” she pouted. “But the airport is big!”
“Yeah,” He nodded nicely to her. “Do you know if she works in an office or restaurant or outside as a clerk…”
“OH, OH! She works in a uniform,” she jumped excitedly.
“Well all employees are required to wear a uniform…” Joe winced. “I’m afraid you have to give me more information. What’s her name?”
“KRIS LIN! How many times do I have to tell you? No talking!” shouted the receptionist.
“Sorry Ms. Yee,” the little girl said before she scrunched back into her seat.
Joe looked at the little girl as she was moping to herself. Her arms were folded towards herself and she sat on her crossed legs, huddled together like she lacked the warmth. He felt a bit awful for putting her in the situation she was in.
“Sorry I got you in trouble,” he whispered to her as he nudged her arm a bit with his elbow.
“It’s Ok,” she whispered back. “I get in trouble a lot.”
“Are you in trouble with the principal?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she shrugged. “But the principal and I are buds. My teacher, Ms. Chen, just doesn’t ‘get’ me, ya know?”
“I see,” he chortled softly.
“Ms. Chen says I talk too much and that none of its…what’s the word…contributing to the conversation. So once in a while she sends me to the principal’s office to cool me off.”
“Did that happen this time?” Joe asked as he turned towards her to see her reaction. “Don’t you get embarrassed?”
“I have tough skin,” she nonchalantly answered without looking at him. “That’s what mommy always says. I say it’s because I fall down a lot and my scrapes and cuts turn all hard and brown so I rip them off and I grow this tough part on my skin.”
“That’s disgusting,” Joe winced.
“Yeah, I get that a lot,” She nodded. “I actually got in trouble for super gluing the fire alarms shut.”
Joe held his choice of words when he heard it. He turned his head slowly to the little girl to examine her a bit more. She didn’t look like the type to do such a thing.
“Why would you super glue the fire alarms shut?” he asked anxiously.
She tucked her legs beneath her and positioned her seat in front of Joe. She gave a deep sigh and began a long and exhausting explanation.
“Well, we’re not supposed to pull the alarm anyways or you’ll get in trouble. Last time, I really thought my friend Johnny was yelling ‘Fire! Fire!’ so I opened the glass part of the alarm and then pulled on the lever thing. I thought I was going to be a HERO! All the firefighters were here and police officers; EVERYBODY! But I got in trouble because it turns out Johnny wasn’t saying fire. He was calling out my friend ‘Kyle! Kyle!’ Ho, ho you should have seen the look on everybody’s faces HAHAHAH! But I got in trouble because you’re not supposed to pull the alarm for dumb reasons. I got into sooo much trouble for that. Yeesh, I swear I had to clap so many erasers back then, I was breathing in chalk. So to make sure it never happens again, I super glued all the fire alarms shut during lunch today, but the yard duty ladies ratted me out. Now, here I am. How was I supposed to know that super gluing fire alarms was a safety hazard? I thought I was doing everybody a favor. If nobody pulled the alarm, nobody gets in trouble.”
“What if there is a fire?” Joe asked.
Silence. Joe rolled his eyes as he stared at the baffled little girl who remained puzzled. He laughed as he saw her face change from expression to expression. First she looked up at the ceiling to think about what she did, then frown trying to understand and put things together, then widen her eyes at her realization and finally slapping her forehead.
“Oopss…hey I’m only 7. So sue me why don’t cha?!” she retaliated.
Joe was in awe. How can anybody think that that was a good idea?? She was absolutely insane to do such a thing. And the biggest thing; Kyle doesn’t sound like anything close to Fire!
“So are you waiting for your girlfriend too like your other pilot friend?” she suddenly asked. “Or do you have a kid here?”
“No, I’m waiting for my friends so we can head back to home,” Joe answered politely. “I have to head back to the terminal though, so I can finish up some paperwork.”
“You know, my mommy works in the airport too. I told you,” Kris waved her hands to get his attention.
“I remember,” he laughed. “You didn’t get a chance to tell me which department though.”
“She works in the back and goes through a bunch of suitcases and stuff” she explained.
“That can either be security or baggage handler,” Joe thought out loud.
“She’s a baggage handler!!!” Kris yelled excitedly.
“SHHH!” hushed the receptionist.
“Sorry, Ms. Yee,” Kris lowly answered as she made a deep pout. “She’s a baggage handler. You know how I remember? It’s because she handles all the bags,” she whispered closely as if it were a secret meant for just the two of them. “Think about it.”
“Oh so that’s why,” Joe nodded.
“Yep! Ain’t I a smartie!” she laughed. “But mommy hasn’t worked there long so I don’t know if you know her.”
“I might,” he shrugged. “What’s her name?”
“Kris Lin,” the secretary called out. “The principal will see you now.”
As the two conversationalists turned to see the principal’s door creak open, Kris turned back around and placed a hand in front of Joe.
“Got to go; they be calling me! My name is Kris, by the way,” she smiled, beaming her gorgeous white pearls.
“My name is Joe,” he said back to her as he took her hand and shook it lightly.
“Joe, huh?” she said out loud to herself. “Can I call you … Mr. Joe?”
He laughed a bit at that. “You can call me whatever you like.”
“Mr. Joe it is,” she said, as she got out of her seat and headed to the office.
“Kris!” he called out to her. “No more super gluing fire alarms! Got that!?”
“I get it, I get it!” Kris waved back as she shut the door behind her.
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