It Was a Movie Day

It was a movie day. The projector was already set up, I could picture the screen unrolling, Mr. Fallon tipping the long, varnished and brass-tipped oak pole up to the top of the blinds, turning the little fixture thing which dropped them like theater curtains, dimming the room. Then he’d turn off the lights with a two fingered push of the double-button light switch next to the classroom door. Then the room would be dark and still but for the clickity rhythm of the projector we would soon hear. I wondered what we would see. The room grumbled. It always happened on a day when we’d get to watch a movie in class. I couldn’t understand, we were getting to watch a movie, what could they be grumbling about?

I sat in the back right, along the same wall as the classroom door to the hallway, up front. Mr. Fallon was standing at the board, erasing a set of multiplication tables, I assumed from the class prior. I was in 6th grade, but we shared rooms and teachers with the 5th grade, whose lesson that had been. 

Mr. Fallon was tall, with thick, dark black hair, and bushy eyebrows. He had a dark blue sweater over a light blue shirt, the collar of which emerged at his neck, and at the cuffs as well where his sleeves were pushed up. You could see hair all over his forearms too. He was loud, easily the loudest teacher in the school. Even when he was just talking to one person he was loud. 

The classroom had settled down, and Mr. Fallon was beginning to explain that we were about to see a movie; one which would end up becoming a favorite of mine still, years and years down the line. Mr. Fallon was telling us that we were about to see The Dot and the Line, when a tardy student, Jimmy Morris, rushed in. He cracked open the door, the bright hallway lighting at his back contrasting the now dim room, and he slid into a front seat, letting the door slam behind him. 

Jimmy had oversize plastic-framed glasses with thick lenses forever taped together at one broken spot or another. He had wildly thick, unkempt dark hair, and every day found him in the same plaid flannel shirt and jeans, and smelling of chewing tobacco. He was the first kid I knew that chewed tobacco. In the fourth grade he trained himself to swallow it so he could covertly chew in class without having to spit. Though he was no bully, he was in fights a lot. Fights seemed drawn to him.

“Why are you late Jimmy?”

“I was, like, in the bathroom.”

Mr. Fallon sighed a heavy exasperated breath, and dropped his head a touch. “Jimmy, why do you insist on inserting the word like between every other word you say?”

“I don’t, like, um, I don’t know.” Jimmy chuckled to himself as he said this.

Mr. Fallon turned to the class as a whole, “Why do you all insist on this? You’ve learned it, somewhere. You notice I don’t stammer with like umm like between every like umm word I say.” He exaggerated his voice and twisted his face as he performed his displeasure for us. “How would you like it if I like umm spoke to you like that?” He turned back to Jimmy. “Now, don’t disrespect me, and tell me, Jimmy, why are you late to my class?”

“Well like, I told you, I was, like in the bathroom.”

Mr Fallon’s face was now hot, and red, and sweaty. Quickly he reached out, he took Jimmy Morris’ arm in one of his big hands and he pulled him from his seat; the wooden desk skid, the matching chair clattered to the hard terrazzo floor, Jimmy braced against the assault, but quickly, out the door they went. Mr. Fallon’s footfalls echoed alongside Jimmy Morris’s repeated complaints as the former dragged the latter toward the stairs, and toward the office.

The door slammed shut and we, maybe thirty of us were left in the dim, dark room. Some kids laughed or gasped at what had happened. The bolder took the opportunity to exclaim cuss words out loud like Holy shit! or Damn! at what we’d witnessed. A few continued to grumble about it being a day we had to watch a movie. Me, I was uncomfortable, and full of energy. I wasn’t angry, at least not like Mr. Fallon had been. I was a little scared, like Jimmy looked as he was yanked from the chair and dragged from the classroom so swiftly. 

I felt something akin to envious, though that’s not right either, I think. Something in me wished for a teacher, any teacher, or any adult at all, to try to touch me like the way Mr. Fallon had touched Jimmy Morris. There was a dark rage deep, deeply stashed away that came for just a breath of air when I saw Mr. Fallon take Jimmy Morris’ arm like that and drag him from his seat in front of us. I did, I wished some teacher would try to handle me like that. Eventually Mr. Fallon came back, and after squelching a couple quick questions from the front row, we watched the Dot and the Line, which became one of my most favorite films, still, to this day.

Published by pedalpoet

Poet, writer, and songwriter living in Seattle, WA

2 thoughts on “It Was a Movie Day

  1. That’s an interesting reaction to a situation like that. I know that any time I’d see a teacher yank someone up and drag them out of the room, I’ve always thought that it was better them than me…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My reaction has been something I’ve thought about a lot over the years. There were a lot of times in my younger days when I walked around like I was daring people to fuck with me. A self-destructive streak in a number of ways it seems as I look back. Good things those are gone! 😉


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