At the same time, they entered the office doorway. Billy’s side received a sharp elbow jab, and his lungs almost hurled from his throat. Pain. Major pain.
René pointed at the chair. “Sit. I’m going first. Unlike you, I don’t got all day to be playing around.” He strode to the counter. “Is Mr. Carlson in? Mrs. Lamb sent me.” The attitude in his voice melted into an ass-kissing, respectful tone.
“What for?” The secretary, with a big beehive straight out of the sixties, stood.
René pointed his thumb over his shoulder. “Redsky got into my little cousin’s face. I have to talk to Mr. Carlson about it.”
“Okay. Let me buzz you in.” The swinging-sixties secretary reached for the phone.
Never mind his aching side. Billy scrambled from the chair. “I ain’t taking the rap for this. You started it, loser.”
René whipped around. “What’d you call me?”
“I called you a loser.” Billy fisted his hands.
“You worthless punk.” René held up his finger in a lecturing gesture just as the teachers did. “Wanna talk about losers? Your mom and brother are total alkies and welfare leeches. It’s people like your family who give reds a bad name. That’s why everyone hates on us and says we’re a bunch of drunks sucking the taxpayers dry.”
“Is that what Chief Oshawee says when you’re having your fancy steak supper? Or maybe your mom says it ‘cause she’s some bigshot accountant?” The jeer flew from Billy’s mouth.
“Give it a rest, boys.” Mr. Carlson’s thick voice whirled into their argument. “My secretary told me you both were sent here. René,” he pointed at the door, “into my office. And, Billy, sit down. We’ll talk once I hear René’s version.”
It figured Prince Oshawee would get to go first. At least Billy had been smart enough to pass off his stash to Lonn before being sent to the vice principal’s office.
For ten minutes, Billy waited, and waited, and waited, the second bell having already rung. René was probably painting a sham picture of Billy shoving dope down Stuart’s throat.
The door to the vice principal’s office opened. René huffed out. He shook back his shoulder-length, thick, almost-black hair and trounced from the reception area into the main hall.
Instead of raw fury searing Billy, being ignored by the royal spare was sharp teeth sinking into his skin. Big deal. He didn’t give a shit about anyone or their opinion. Especially an Oshawee.
“Billy…” Mr. Carlson and his big gut filled the doorway. “In here. Now.”
Billy slunk into the office and flopped in the usual stiffer-than-a-board chair opposite the massive oak desk. He dropped his backpack and his frustration onto the floor. There was no point in arguing. Chrome Dome would believe an Oshawee over a Redsky.
Mr. Carlson sat on his king-style throne. “Fighting again?”
What could Billy say? Nothing.
“I didn’t think so.” Mr. Carlson picked up the phone and flipped through his Rolodex. “I have business to attend to. You’ll report to room two-o-two after school. We have a new strategy when it comes to physical disputes. You’ll find out then when you get there. Dismissed.”