The Sounds of Animals Fighting – Chapter 1

So I found this short story I started a couple of years ago. I though I would share the first chapter.

Chapter 1

School’s Back From Summer

The world seemed so much smaller just last week, but it always does around this time of year. Penelope entered the threshold of the solid steel doors into a controlled chaos of colors and district approved charts. The carpet was a gray shade of purple with stains from years past of crayons and bubble gum. The swarm of butterflies in Penelope’s stomach was getting more and more aggravated with every step she took and every glance and smile she received from the other kids in the class. She had promised her mom that she would be perfectly fine; after all, Skyler was in her class. She couldn’t let her mom down by running home now. For her age, Penelope was a very particular little girl. She loved the smell of clean laundry and she hated when people mentioned the San Francisco Giants. She secretly hated the color pink, but she knew that if she voiced her opinion not only would she be ousted by a congress of her peers but she would have to get a new wardrobe and a job to go with it since her family had imagined her loving pink since the day she was born. Her room was pink, her sheets were pink, even the hair-clip that so clumsily held her bangs from shielding her eyes from the stares of strangers in the overly pink classroom was pink. Penelope figured that she only needed to pretend to like pink until she was too old to receive free things from her mom.

“Hi antelopee!” cried a roarous voice across the room. Penelope recognized that voice. Lionel Woodard: neighborhood child-king. His parents had moved from a city north of Redlands into the suburbs of Beaumont only two months prior but somehow he had managed to gain and maintain the respect of the kids in the neighborhood. Every summer morning Jason Bloomenshine and Sebastian Hernandez would wait for him to come to his door. By the end of the first month Lionel had trained them not to ring the doorbell because it may upset him if it woke him up. They had to wait at his doorstep, as planned of course, until Lionel stepped out. Lionel, as clever as he is, gave his gang nicknames. Jason was Blue Jay, Sebastian was Heron, and he of course was Lion. To the annoyance of Penelope however, Lionel had decided to give her a nickname too. Antelopee. She despised every syllable in that nickname individually.

“Don’t pay attention to him,” nudged Skyler, “come sit by me!”

“I hope he gets kicked out of school. I don’t really see him as a school type; he seems more of a garbage man type.”

Penelope felt relieved that her only hope to sanity on this dreadful day was there. She and Skyler had been friends since they can remember. Their families had lived in the same neighborhood their whole lives so they knew everyone that had come and gone through it during that time. Of all the people they had seen and met, they disliked Lionel the most.

Before Lionel had shown up, Jason and Sebastian were really good friends with the girls. They all spent summer afternoons playing baseball by the pool and drinking lemonade out of old Coca Cola bottles. It all changed when Lionel showed up. Maybe it was resentment for the loss of her friends, or maybe it was how meticulously Lionel planned every annoyance towards her, but Penelope knew that she would never ever like Lionel, and so it was.

Over the years the situation wouldn’t get any better. Lionel would go on to kill Penelope’s dog halfway through sophomore year in high school, a feat that would put him in juvenile hall for six months. He tried to convince everyone it was an accident. It was an accident, but no one believed poor Lionel after all the things he had done.

“Jackson Clark.”

“Right here!”

“Astrid Jones.”

“Present!”

“Vang schiongpong…schingponch…ong.”

“Songponopochong.”

“Is that you then?”

As if his name wasn’t threatening enough, Vang Songponopochong stood at the doorway with only one strap of his backpack around his left shoulder and a live chicken in his right arm. The look of bewilderment on the chicken’s face was nothing compared to the look on Miss Penny’s face.

“Young man, the fourth grade is no place for a live chicken! You need to call your parents to come pick this up immediately!”

“Can’t.”

“Well why not?”

“Cause. They gonna eat him.”

“Well it’s a chicken. We can’t have a chicken in this classroom. If you don’t call your father right away I will make sure the principal has a meeting with him after school.”

“His name’s Mike.”

“Well Mike Shongpingpongchong is going to meet with Dr. Vernon after school and that’s that. Goodness gracious, bringing a chicken to school. I don’t know what kind of education they’re giving where you’re from but here at Margaret Tha…”

“The chicken’s name is Mike. It’s not just a chicken, he has a name.”

“Mike is not a good name for a chicken, that’s a person’s name.”

“Penny is not a good name for a person, that’s a chicken’s name.”

The whole class sat silent. Not a single word was said and not a single glance was exchanged. All eyes and ears were glued to the impending doom of Vang Songponopochong. Perhaps it was the frustration of having to return to a thankless job for one more year. Perhaps it was the years of spousal abuse hiding behind heavy makeup and stories about shower doors. Or perhaps it was the countless fruitless psychiatric meetings at an attempt to cope with an alcoholic father and an impotent mother. At that moment, a cerebral pressure valve erupted and the impulse traveled down Miss Penny’s bruised arms and struck Vang Songponopochong across the cheek. The slap resonated across the desks, a vibration only comparable to the vocal chords of Miss Penny’s 4th grade class as they gasped in unison and disbelief.

Vang stood motionless as Miss Penny fell to the ground in a quiet sob. He looked down upon her with towering eminence. Startled by the incident Mike jerked himself free from Vang’s arm and hopped onto Penelope’s desk. To her amazement, chickens are much more frightening up close and alive than dead in the freezer. She shrieked in panic, which sent the entire classroom into chaos. Mike spread his wings and hopped from desk to desk, visually and audibly assaulting every kid in his path. With all the commotion, no one had noticed that Vang had stepped out of the classroom. He casually strolled to Principal Vernon’s office. Teachers and students began pouring out of classrooms trying to identify the source of all the screaming and clucking but Vang paid no attention to them. When he got to the principal’s office, the door jolted open and there stood Principal Vernon, the youngest principal to ever set foot at Margaret Thatcher Elementary School. In his constant worry of seeming amicable he constantly wore tacky ties, which in his opinion were good conversation starters. He also never matched his socks so that when he walked, children found him less threatening. That day he was wearing a bright red sock he had received in a pack of socks the previous Christmas and a white sock polka-dotted with faces of elephant seals.

“Go back to your class..uh…what’s your name son?”

“Vang Songponopochong.”

“Ok…Vang, let’s go back to your class.”

Principal Vernon power-walked his way down the hall, glancing into the windows of classroom doors trying to determine where the noise was coming from. Vang followed closely, also looking into the classroom windows, trying to capture the size and complexity of his new school.

“Mike got loose in Miss Penny’s class.”

“What? Who’s Mike?”

“Mike is a chicken.”

“A chicken? Feathered bird chicken?”

“Yes.”

“What is a chicken doing in the school?”

“He was gonna turn into food, so I rescued him.”

“You brought a live chicken to school?”

“Yes.”

“And where is Miss Penny?”

“Crying.”

“Why is she crying?”

“She hit me.”

Principal Vernon froze midstride and looked down to find Vang staring back at him with a slightly red palm imprint on his right cheek.

“Miss Penny hit you?”

“Yes.”

“What for?”

“Because she didn’t like that her name was the name of a chicken.”

“I thought you said the chicken’s name was Mike?”

“It is Mike.”

“So is Miss Penny’s name Mike too then?”

“No. Miss Penny’s name is Penny. That’s a chicken’s name not a people’s name.”

“And she got mad that you said that to her?”

“Yes.”

“And then she hit you.”

“Yes.”

“I find that really hard to believe. Let’s go see your teacher.”

Once more they powerwalked down the hall, this time ignoring all the classroom windows, filled with peeping eyes and pressed noses. When they got to Miss Penny’s class, they found Miss Penny beginning her lesson for the day, writing on the board.

“Miss Penny, sorry to interrupt, but it has come to my attention that there has been an incident in your classroom?”

Miss Penny looked surprised. She had been an excellent liar all of her life, a coping mechanism she constructed to be able to escape the reality of her miserable life. Her charming blue eyes and coquette messy curly red hair made a great compliment to her slim physique and flauntingly mischievous smile. She glanced at Principal Vernon and began her theatrical performance.

“Class, what do we say when Principal Vernon comes in?”

“Good morning Principal Vernon,” exhaled the class. One could almost smell the fear in their breaths, matching the look in their eyes, filled with desire for the day to be finally over.

“Can I help you with something Principal Vernon?”

“Yes…do you mind if we step outside for a second?”

“Not at all. Class, Principal Vernon and I need to have a word outside. Penelope, you’re in charge while we’re outside. Vang, you stay here while the adults talk, have a seat wherever you like.

Now what can I do for you Roger?”

“Penny, did you hit Vang?”

“Did he tell you that?”

“Yes. He came into my office, said something about bringing a chicken into your class and after an exchange of words you hit him.”

“Well he is lying. It’s true that he brought a chicken. That much is true. We did exchange words and then that beast started kicking and screaming. Fucking savages.”

“Chickens?”

“Yes, chickens.”

“Well why would Vang accuse you of hitting him?”

“Are we seriously having this conversation right now? The kid just showed up to my class today. He’s new. He’s probably dealing with a lot of anxiety and stress and god knows what goes on at home considering his father seems to butcher live animals in front of his children on the dinner table. He did it to seek attention.”

“So if I ask any of the students to corroborate on this issue you wouldn’t have a problem with that?”

“Like I said, the kids went through a very traumatic experience. They are in no position to be corroborating on anything.”

“Ok. I’m going to trust you on this one Penny. By the way, where is the chicken now?”

“How would I know? With all the commotion the damn thing must have walked out the door.”

“Ok. Thanks Penny.”

“Thank you Roger, I know you’re just doing your job, now let me do mine.”

Miss Penny had had a romantic interest in Principal Vernon the year he started working at Margaret Thatcher Elementary School. Whenever there was a school function she would volunteer as a chaperone because she knew that he had to be there. Little did she know that her efforts were in vain. Principle Vernon was not only 10 years younger than her, but he was also a closet homosexual. Her advances made him so uncomfortable that he began to wear a wedding ring and soon after, and much to his relief, she discontinued her pursuit.

The class sat silent. The unpleasantness of the morning had left a bitter taste in Miss Penny’s mouth. She walked to her desk and sat down, staring at a pile of ungraded pop quizzes from the year before.

“Mister Woodard. Would you be so kind as to sit up or do you want to be the first in your class with a hunchback?”

Lionel shot up onto his chair, his back perfectly aligned to the contours of the chair.

“Thank you. Now class, I would like to apologize for whatever it is you think you saw this morning. I’m sure we were all a little surprised by Vang’s pet chicken running amuck but everyone deserves a second chance, so let’s all give Vang here a second chance. Vang, is there anything you would like to say to the class?”

“Where is Mike?”

“The chicken is gone. It flew out the window.”

Without hesitation, Vang jumped from his desk and sprinted across the classroom to an open window. Quickly he slithered through the narrow opening and out onto the lawn where he continued his stride.

“Young man get back in here right this instant! I’m going to call your father!” Miss Penny yelled.

“Can’t. He don’t have a phone,” shouted Vang as he sprinted across the football field.

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One thought on “The Sounds of Animals Fighting – Chapter 1

  1. I can’t lie, I am interested as to what will happen next. That is the first step in writing a good story, always make sure that your reader wants to… no, NEEDS TO KNOW what happens next.

    I am not sure what the direction of the story will be, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the next few chapters. If the story continues to feel like it is going in too many directions, I fear that readers will lose interest before they can get to your point!

    I don’t know if you plan on adding to this piece of writing, but I should hope that you do. Your skill as a “wordsmith” is apparent, and must therefore be utilized to its greatest potential. If we have been blessed in any field, whether it be cooking pancakes or performing heart surgery, it is up to us to ensure that we do so repeatedly for the good of others. It may become obsessive in nature at times, but that is the only way to grow in our gifts so that they can have an even further reach.

    You have motivated me to continue writing, as well as, to post a chapter on my blog so that I can receive your thoughts. Please do…

    Thanks for sharing

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