Chapter 3: Clint

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     Clint's carphone chirped. From the time of day it was, he knew whomever it was on the other side of that connection only had bad news for him. No one from work would call since he was still transitioning out of his old life and into his new job. That left family or other random forces of evil set on continuing the ruination of his life. In no hurry to welcome those random forces back in, his hand reached for the phone with the glacial pace one uses in hopes that the caller will hang up and go away. 

     "Mr. Davis? This is Mrs. Buttermore," said the voice on the phone.


     "Amanda's Principal?"

     "That's right. We need to have you come in."

     The forces of evil return.

     She went on to say more, but Clint recognized the end of his daughter's enrollment at another school when he heard it. Over the past year, principals had used variations on this theme, but they all amounted to the same thing. Your kid's too fucked up for us to handle, so you're going to have to find another school. 

    Every time the person on the other side of the conversation knew what had happened to Amanda. With each new school, Clint explained about her, describing who she used to be, and pleading for their help in getting her back. At first, he told the teachers and administrators her story so they knew what they were dealing with. He hoped they'd draw inspiration from that information to find the strength to keep working with her, trying to reach her no matter what may happen in class. 

     Now, when he told them, he hoped knowing her story would gnaw away a piece of their souls when they inevitably sent her away.

     "She scares the other children," stated Mrs. Buttermore after opening the meeting.
Up until that point, Clint didn't like or dislike Mrs. Buttermore. There hadn't been time to feel strongly about a person with such a bland presentation. Although he usually found her plain-spoken, bullshit-free approach refreshing, Clint now found it harsh and uncaring. Now, he was leaning toward dislike. 

     The group of administrators, teachers, and Clint sat in one of the school's conference rooms, with Mrs. Buttermore positioned at the head of the table. The walls were tan-painted cinder blocks and the carpet was a rugged, dark blue, indoor/outdoor style, like the rest of the school. 

     Modern bomb shelter chic. 

     Clint noticed that the table itself was actually made of wood, making it a rarity in his ever-widening experience with public school conference rooms. Lingering vestiges of common courtesy insisted Clint return eye contact to Mrs. Buttermore after getting distracted by the one-of-a-kind table. 

     Repeating well-worn lines like an actor on closing night, Clint said, "She can't help that. She's on medication and sees a therapist. We're doing our best here." 

     "Here" sounded more like "hee-uh". He wished his accent matched the locals, especially in his old job, but the east-coast quasi-New York accent he tried to bury always re-surfaced in stressful moments. Surprise overcame him for a second when he realized that he still felt stress in the middle of this predictable exchange. It gave him hope for his own resolve. 

     "It brings me no pleasure to have to tell you this, Mr. Davis," said Mrs. Buttermore. "After all, I went into this in good faith. I think it's fair to say we all did."
Heads shook obligatorily around the table. 

     "'Mr. Davis'? You called me Clint a month ago." He gestured around the room. "All of you did while you were telling me that you would give her your best," said Clint. 

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