Nasrin

#NASR-09-SHOOT

Shoot Me ’Gain, I’m Not Dead Yet

I

But li’l did they realize that the Academic Council was meeting in a phosphorous-lit room full o’ metal folding chairs & Creamy Crisp donuts.

While everyone else was seated, the Principal stood, his necktie wobbling ’bove them as he moved like a noose.

I called you all here so we could discuss a pressing problem: we’ve all been hearing ’bout nothing but school shooting after school shooting — Now I know what you’re thinking — His hand flapped up like a bus’s stop sign: ‘It won’t happen to us. ¿What are the odds?’ I’d hope we’re savvier than that.

Algebra teacher, Sir Salsbury, fidgeted in his chair. He knew how unpopular his pesky polynomials & curves were.

¿What can we do?

The Principal pointed to a bespectacled woman ’side him. I’ve had Madame Birch prepare a list o’ the most bullied students. We’ll have to sort through it to see which are the riskier specimens. Ideally, we should focus less on the academic or athletic high-achievers, as they’ll probably just soothe their impotency by imagining themselves as the next Bill Gates or Tiger Woods while their bullies are handing people fish sandwiches & fries.

¿What ’bout the students who are in clubs — like all those art & acting clubs?, asked ’nother teacher.

The Principle rubbed his chin. That’s a good question. On 1 hand, they should have the same benefits that the high-achievers have; on the other, ¿aren’t artists the kind o’ weird people who usually do weird shit like shoot up schools?

Well, let’s just look through the list & see, said ’nother teacher.

As they did so within the next few minutes, 1 name stood out.

¿Who’s ‘Nasrin Mohsen’? The Principle’s brows narrowed. ¿Does anyone know a Nasrin?

Physics 1 teacher Sir Okra said, I think she’s the one who sleeps in class all the time. A few other teachers nodded & said, Yeah, in mine, too. Okra crossed his arms. Awfully rude, I must say. I bet she won’t be sleeping when I’m making millions off the movies I sell o’ my greatest teaching hits while she’s handing people their tacos & tater tots.

So, ¿are her grades bad?, asked the Principal.

O yeah.

Barely passing.

I don’t e’en think she’s passing my class.

Must spend all her time doing athletics, ¿right?, asked the Principal.

But all o’ the coaches said that Nasrin wasn’t in any sports.

¿Is she in any clubs?, asked the Principal.

All club leaders shook their heads.

OK… Um, ¿how long has she attended this school ’gain? The Principal stared back @ that name — “Nasrin Mohsen” — & felt sweat trickle down his face.

You know, I don’t know…, 1 o’ them said.

I didn’t e’en remember I had her till Morton brought up her sleeping in class.

So… ¿It’s entirely possible that this student just dropped into our school without our noticing?, said the Principal, swinging his head ’mong the teachers. ¿Do we e’en know how long she’s been in this country, a’least?

I think she must’ve been here for a’least a semester, said 1 teacher. I could swear I remember her… or maybe that was that Lluvia kid I’m thinking o’.

Then 1 o’ the other teachers, Sir Balsa, slapped his forehead & threw out a finger. ¡O! ¡I just remembered! He laughed. She’s the 1 who wrote that essay ’bout how she spent her summer making MIDIs for some dumb website where they make levels for some video game as ol’ as I am.

The Principal threw a hand out. That — I remember hearing that that 1 nutjob — Eric & Klebold? You know, the Columbine shooters. ¿Didn’t they make levels for some dumb Satanist game?

’Nother language arts teacher turned to Balsa & said, ¿Did she write to you ’bout her favorite heavy metal songs?

They both started cracking up laughing. Balsa pointed a finger @ her & shouted, ¡Yes! She also said she wanted to marry the singer o’ 1 o’ them.

The Principal grasped the sides o’ his face. ¿Are you kidding me, you 2 knucklefucks? ¿Fiddling all her time ’way making levels for Satanic video games, listening to heavy metal? ¡She might as well turn in picture o’ her stabbing her mother’s entrails out to her art teacher!

No, I don’t remember her e’er doing that, said her art teacher; ¿though she did draw a lot o’ cartoon… men? Who looked like women. I think ’twas some o’ that cheap Asian animation they make for a cent an hour.

The Principal turned, pointing @ each o’ Nasrin’s teachers.

¡You hilarious dipshits need to watch this kook mo’ closely! ¡I’ll be damned if I have the media or some angry parents down my throat ’cause some nutjob decides to shoot up the school ’cause somebody made fun o’ her favorite rock band!

II

Nasrin felt e’en mo’ uncomfortable than she usually did when she developed the suspicion that her teachers were staring @ her oddly. She knew they were, ’cause she was usually the 1st one in class, so ’twas clear they weren’t looking @ someone near her. Usually they just ignored her while she used the beginning 5 minutes to catch up on her always-scarce sleep; but not this time.

Worse, they were acting oddly, too. For instance, her math teacher, after praising her loftily for a failed test, lifted her backpack & started looking through it. ’Course, she didn’t balk, since she’d already learned long ago that doing so only made them mo’ likely to take something or hock a lougie in it.

I hope you don’t mind, Madame; it’s just a standard procedure. I do it to everyone.

But she couldn’t help noticing that he ne’er searched any o’ the other students’ packs.

Her fellow students treated her oddly, too. They weren’t mean to her — that would be normal. The problem was the opposite, actually: they stared @ her as a sea turtle that hadn’t bothered to learn “Earthquake” would stare @ an electric mouse. & when they shuffled out, ’stead o’ bumping through her as if she were air, they edged or rushed ’way as if she were air that carried radioactive cancer chemicals. It worried her: she wished someone would shove her or make fun o’ her hair when they think she’s not listening so she could be sure nothing bad was going on.

The 1 exception was 1 student who walked up to her with a solemn stare as Nasrin was sitting @ a urinal.

She said slowly, Nasrin, I want you to know that we don’t hate you & mean you & your people no harm. ¿Do you understand?

Locking her eyes on the farthest corner o’ the tiled linoleum, Nasrin said, Um… ¿No?

The other student continued, & incidentally, it’s truly the US doing all that stuff you guys say’s being done to you. I mean, obviously you shouldn’t bomb anyone, but if Allah or whoever says you truly have to… I’m just saying… they’re a mo’ fitting target is all.

¿Allah? ¿Isn’t that a Dragon Quest character?, thought Nasrin.

Nasrin stood & walked o’er to the sink to wash her hands. She frowned in the least conspicuous way she could as she heard the other woman’s footsteps follow her, followed themselves by her voice:

I’m just saying: I think you’re beautiful — not in a gay way, ’course. I’m just saying you don’t need to cover your beauty. You’re free here.

Nasrin stared @ her reflection, showing a single large eye poking out o’ her glasses, the other covered by splayed spiky black bangs. She gripped the inside o’ her sweat-pants pockets as the sides o’ her face rained sweat.

She’s planning something. ¿Why must people always be planning something? We’d all be safer if nobody planned stuff, but no…

Then she heard the stranger say, I hope you won’t attack me for saying so, but there’s someone out there who loves you…

Nasrin looked up @ the other student in the mirror, unable to hide her astonishment, her excitement, & her fear.

Then the other student said, “Jesus”, & Nasrin looked down ’gain with a frown.

Figures that the only guy I can get is imaginary — & still cheats on me with everyone else.

III

Sir, ¿isn’t this a bit excessive?, said some teacher who existed only for this scene.

The Principal paced through his office in a camo bulletproof vest, helmet, visor, & shield with a sniper pistol in each pocket o’ his dark slacks.

We have to fit into budget somehow, said the Principal.

I dunno, man, said the teacher. ¿Squeezing 64 students into a single classroom? E’en more o’ them are going to ’scape still retarded, & then this country’s going to be nothing but retards. He sipped his styrofoam cup o’ coffee & vodka.

¿You think I’m happy ’bout it? Watching for possible school shooters will be e’en harder now. You know how sneaky they can be. The Principal took out a pistol & adjusted its tip.

If it helps, I saw a student say that after school yesterday @ some park he was going to beat so much shit out o’ ’nother student that he’ll need to buy a new asshole to shit, said the teacher. Don’t remember his name, though.

¿Fights? That’s not freaky; that’s the normalest thing you could do in secondary school. Stop being ludicrous, said the Principal. No, I’m still thinking it’s that Mohsen kid. There’s too many symptoms &… I just have this feeling.

Could be that we won’t have a shooter @ all, said the teacher. Not every school does, you know.

The Principal stopped & pointed @ the teacher. See, now that’s just the thinking that allows shootings to happen in the 1st place. I’m not so dense. No, I have a feeling we’re going to be next. It’s like 1 o’ those Shakespearean plays where fate comes in & the main character refuses to answer the call, & then Zeus becomes angry & casts the Unspeakable Spell on him.

I’m pretty sure the whole point ’hind fate in those plays was that no matter what you couldn’t ’scape it. ¿Don’t they usually have the character try to kill the problematic character only for that character to become stronger ’cause o’ that or something? I think I remember that in some play Freud wrote ’bout some father who hated his son ’cause his son was horny for his mother.

I don’t know. Look, either we’re fucked or we’re not fucked if I’m careful. Therefore, I should be careful.

The teacher nodded. ¿But what are you going to do with that weird Arab kid?

The Principal sighed. I’m not sure. Watch her closely for now, stealthily interrogate her through her teachers, research her as much as possible.

The teacher elbowed him. Hey, if you’re lucky, maybe she’ll be like a lot o’ teens & have her social media full o’ racy photos o’ herself. ¿You e’er seen Ava Swanson — the junior in cheer squad — ’s page? I swear that student could wear a sweater & her boobs would still be on the verge o’ popping out.

The Principal glared @ him in disgust. You’re just for this scene, remember that. You’re far too expendable to develop characteristics like pedophilia. ¡For god’s sake, man, you don’t e’en have a name!

I’m just saying…

The Principal rose his voice. I’m just saying you need to get out o’ my office, out o’ this story, & out o’ existence. You’re fired from this series fore’er.

& with that the teacher didn’t exist anymo’.

IV

Um, Nasrin…

Nasrin jerked out o’ her daydreams, causing the teacher who had spoken to step back & shriek, ¡Don’t hurt me! ¡I mean you no harm!

Nasrin sat there staring @ Sir Salts. Both were shaking, Sir Salts with a hand held out.

We just need to talk to you.

¿W-why?

J-just come ’long. Everything’ll be just fine.

Nasrin stood & followed Salts in through the cafeteria, & then down a dark, unfamiliar hallway into a small room full o’ plants, where there sat @ the desk the principal in full army gear & eye-concealing dark shades. But Nasrin’s attention dropped quickly from these when she noticed the gun in the principal’s hand, aimed straight @ Nasrin’s chest.

Don’t move, the principal said quickly, shaking the gun mo’ toward her as if that’d make its bullet somehow mo’ powerful. As if that’d make its bullet somehow mo’ powerful, Nasrin cringed & leaned back.

Seeing this sudden movement, the principal jumped & shot Nasrin in the chest, knocking her to the ground in a bloody puddle. The other teacher shrieked & stepped ’way from the puddle as if it might attack his ankles. The principal brought out a kerchief & wiped his sweating forehead.

The principal stepped out from ’hind the desk & pointed down @ Nasrin’s jacket.

There. You can tell by the pockets. Gang equipment. Used for hiding guns.

The other teacher bent down & picked Nasrin’s limp hands out o’ the pockets with the delicacy o’ picking up moldy newspapers. Then he dug through the pockets.

There’s nothing in here, said Sir Salts.

The principal stared into space for a minute, looking like a student who just realized he forgot to turn in an important paper. He then bent down, picked up Nasrin’s hand, & pressed the butt o’ the gun into her hand for a second.

She has 1 now, said the principal.

Sir Salts stood. I must voice my protests to this.

The principal picked the gun back up, stood, & leaned his head out toward the door. ¿Is anyone else round?

No.

Good.

The Principal shot Sir Salts, & then tossed the gun onto the floor.

Poor Salts — a victim in the crossfire o’ my brave struggle gainst the terrorist. We’ll make sure he gets a proper tribute tomorrow.

O, ¿did a shoot-out happen here?

The Principal looked up with alarm, only to turn to anger when he saw the teacher who was only s’posed to exist for the previous scene.

O, I guess you finally got that Arab kid, the teacher said as he reached down to touch Nasrin’s corpse, only to be stopped by the Principal.

I told you you weren’t s’posed to exist anymo’.

¡Hey! ¡I’m not done!, the other teacher exclaimed as he struggled gainst the Principal’s grip.

The Principal pulled the teacher up to his feet & shoved him out the door before slamming the door on him.

¡& don’t come back! The Principal sighed as he stood with his thumbs in his belt edges. He liked the slick feel o’ its rubber. This place would fall to pieces if I weren’t here to deal with all this crazy shit. ¿& is anyone e’er grateful? Hell no.