Sunday, March 20, 2011


Mrs. Johnston was out that day, sick with a parasite. We didn’t wonder where she went. We were just glad to have a day off from drinking spoiled milk, which is what she made us do during Social Studies.

Mr. Ferrell came in her place. He looked very odd for a substitute teacher, which is to say he didn’t have a gun in his mouth. Mr. Ferrell was pleasant and we soon found out why.

“Guys,” he said, standing in front of, no, defying Mrs. Johnston’s desk. “Today we are mixing things up a bit. Today we are having a movie day.” We all looked at each other, mouths open. “I brought a selection from my personal collection.” He slowly pulled a DVD case from his leather jacket. “It is Monsters, Inc.”

The class erupted in celebration. Desks were thrown, trumpets blared, and Pete Hemsworth blew chunks all over the window, he was so excited.

The next day Mr. Ferrell was the substitute for Mrs. Bostick and when the muffled explosion of joy hit our ears just as we began sipping our yellow milk, we all knew what was happening across the hall.

After school that day I saw Mr. Ferrell getting into his 1992 Ford Taurus. “Where are you headed?” I said.

“I’m out of here,” he said. “I have spread the joy of movie day to the students of Creek View Elementary School and now other people need me.”

“Can’t you stay? Just one more movie day? We need you.”

“I can’t, kid. Everyone needs a movie day. Without me this world would collapse.” He flicked a cigarette into the dead grass. “People get so tightly wound from doing the same work every day that their scrotums swell with tension and burst like grapefruits in a vice. I was put on this earth to prevent that.”

I looked at his grizzled beard and the worn DVD case in his hand. I knew then that the world was bigger than me.

His Taurus coughed to a start and he was off, veering left down the street on two flat tires.

“Where are you going?” I shouted.

There was no response.

Twelve years later a newspaper headline gave me the answer.

“Hero Brings Peace to Mid-East with Monsters, Inc. Viewing”

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