Part 1 - Chapter 2 - How Sing Gets His Name

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I stared at the scalpel Pockets gripped in his hand, my anger turning to fear. The blade protruding from the handle was only an inch long but razor sharp. He could hurt me bad, and I didn't stand much of a chance defending myself. Pockets' arms were as big around as my thighs. Only one thing I could do.


I tried to bolt. Pockets was too quick and grabbed the back of my shirt collar.

I yelled, "I'm sorry, man, let me go."

That finally got the teacher's attention. "Hey, knock it off. Both of you."

The few kids in the class who bothered to look our way wore blank, vacant expressions, their eyes half closed as if our little drama bored them.

"He's going to cut me with the scalpel," I cried.

Pockets chuckled. "You yell like a girl. Sounds like you're singing." He pulled my hair really hard.

I yelped.

"You make such nice music that we're gonna call you Sing from now on." He glanced around the classroom. "Aren't we?"

My classmates nodded numbly. Nobody dared stand up to him.

The teacher stepped toward us and addressed Pockets. "Let him go."

Pockets yanked me around, putting me between himself and the teacher. "Mind your own business, Teach. This here is between me and Sing."

The teacher stopped and gawked at the scalpel Pockets held. "Put down the scalpel. Think about what you're doing."

"I know what I'm doing, Teach."

"He threatened to cut me up," I said, hating the thin, reedy sound of my squealing, little boy voice.

Pockets yanked me backward in the direction of our lab table. "That's a lie. I never said anything like that. What I told you was that I was gonna mess you up, not cut you up."

As terrorized as I felt, that distinction made little difference to me. Looking at the teacher, I blurted, "Do something."

But I knew he wouldn't. The man was old, scared, and had a reputation for being cowardly. He'd be the kind to stick his head into the hall and yell for school security.

The teacher looked at his desk phone, telegraphing his intentions to anyone paying attention.

"No need to bring in outsiders," Pockets said in a voice low and cold. "Like I already told you. This is between me and Sing."

In his eyes, I could see that Teach wished he was any place other than here. He took a step back and said in an unconvincing tone, "Put down the scalpel. Do it now."

"No can do, Teach. Not until I settle my score with Sing."

"There are twenty witnesses in this classroom."

Pockets laughed and waved an arm. "Them? Nobody here is gonna say nothin'." As he made eye contact with the other kids in class, they all looked away. Turning his attention to the teacher, he said, "Besides, you can't lay a finger on me. I don't have to do a damn thing you tell me to do. You ain't my father, and even if you were I sure as hell don't listen to him, neither."

The teacher seemed to consider for a moment and tried another approach. "All right. I won't presume to tell you what to do. Instead, I'm going to ask you nicely. Would you please put down the scalpel?"

Pockets let go of my collar.

"Okay, Teach, since you asked so nice."

"Now, if you two are done screwing around I suggest you proceed with the lab."

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