Ricky Brown was the most non-popular boy in the school. It wasn't that people hated him. More like nobody noticed he was there half the time, and the other half the time when they did notice, he was just in the way.
He was terrible at sports. He was so bad, even in PE class he was always the last one left when they picked the teams, and the PE teacher would kind of sigh. And Ricky was so embarrassed he didn't want to be in PE at all. It was his worst subject, he especially hated the part where they had to get dressed in their PE uniforms. It was embarrassing to take his clothes off in front of people and Ricky was small for his age so he got teased. So then Ricky started to forget his PE uniform on purpose.
In the locker room all the other boys were half-changed by now and Ricky was just sitting on the bench. But nobody was really noticing him until the coach came in.
“Ricky, get dressed now!” the PE teacher ordered but Ricky just sat there. “Ricky, I mean it,” said the coach. “Where's your PE uniform?”
Ricky was feeling like nothing mattered anymore, he was so tired of being teased he didn't care. “I forgot it,” he said.
“That's the third time this week!” yelled the teacher.
Ricky just stared at the floor feeling his face burn. Now everybody was looking at him, some were kind of shocked because Ricky never got into real trouble even though they knew the PE teacher hated him. Mainly because Ricky was so clumsy though, not because he was a trouble-maker.
“That's it,” said the PE teacher angrily. “Your going to the office!”
Some kids were used to this but for Ricky it was new, so he didn't know what to do. In the office there was a big counter almost like a fast food restaurant and behind it was the school secretary. She was talking on the phone when Ricky came in, then she hung up the phone and looked at Ricky.
“May I help you?” The words might of been polite words but you could tell by her voice that she was sarcastic.
“Um, I guess,” said Ricky. He felt weird standing there. There were some other kids there who were in trouble too, they were looking at him and smiling to each other like he was some kind of joke. “The PE teacher told me to come here,” Ricky said.
The secretary sighed like she was really tired of explaining things. “Do you have a referral form?” she asked making it sound like Ricky was stupid.
“Oh, um... yeah.” Ricky pulled the pink piece of paper out of his pants pocket. It was kind of crumpled from being in his pocket so long, when he handed it to the secretary.
She held it in her fingers like it was a piece of dirty toilet paper.
“Sorry,” said Ricky. He wasn't really sorry so the apology came out kind of rude, making the secretary even more mad.
“Sit down!” she ordered.
Ricky looked around for a seat but they were all taken. The other kids didn't move over to let him sit down. So finally he found a spot on the floor and sat there with his back against the wall behind a potted plant. It was a big leafy plant almost a like a tree, and he was glad that its big leaves hid his face because he was really depressed now and he had to fight back some tears.
It seemed like forever before his turn came. Ricky was feeling tired from sitting there so long when he heard his name finally being called.
“Ricky Brown! Ricky Brown!” Then the secretary saw the boy's legs sticking out from behind the plant and she yelled “What are you doing on the floor!”
“You told me to sit down,” said Ricky.
“Are you being insolent?” said the secretary.
“Don't talk back to me. I asked you a question. Stand up right now!”
Ricky quickly stood up. His face was red now and his heart was beating fast. He felt confused, like whatever he said was wrong.
“What do you have to say for yourself?!” said the secretary.
Ricky tried to the think of what to say but he couldn't think of anything.
“Fine,” said the secretary in a steely voice. She picked up a pen and wrote something down on a piece of paper. Then she put the paper in a folder and pushed a button on her desk.
A big man came out of an office in back of the counter. Ricky recognized the man as Mr. Harrison the assistant principal of the school. All the kids were afraid of him because he had a reputation.
The secretary handed Mr. Harrison the folder and Ricky noticed that his name was on it. Mr. Harrison opened the folder and looked at it, then he looked over the tops of his glasses at Ricky.
“Come into my office,” said Mr. Harrison.
Ricky was feeling pretty scared now as he came behind the counter and followed Mr. Harrison into his office.
In the office was just Mr. Harrison's desk and a really plush leather office chair where Mr. Harrison sat, and on the other side of the desk was an uncomfortable wooden chair. Ricky sat in the wooden chair facing Mr. Harrison while Mr. Harrison read through the papers in the folder that had Ricky's name on it. While Mr. Harrison was reading, Ricky looked around the room. On the bookshelves were books about how to deal with problem children and the walls had framed certificates of where Mr. Harrison went to college.
Mr. Harrison seemed to be reading a long time looking at all the papers in Ricky's folder, and the chair Ricky was sitting on was so uncomfortable he started to squirm.
Then Mr. Harrison gave Ricky a very stern look, and Ricky tried to sit still.
“Do you have anything you want to say?” Mr. Harrison asked Ricky finally.
Ricky was surprised because Mr. Harrison's voice sounded almost friendly, not mean at all like he expected.
“No sir,” said Ricky trying to be polite. “Except, well... I'm sorry I guess.”
“No. I mean yes,” said Ricky. He was starting to feel confused again. The words kept coming out wrong.
Mr. Harrison sighed, like Ricky was a really sad hopeless case. Then he started reading from a paper in Ricky's file, “Two counts of disobedience of a teacher. Three counts of insolence. Four counts of back-talking and disrespect. One count of being out of uniform. One count improper use of school furniture. One count of ruining official school records.” Mr. Harrison took off his glasses now and looked sternly at Ricky. “Young man these are very serious charges.”
Ricky felt Mr. Harrison's eyes digging into him. He felt ashamed to hear all those things written about him, he had to admit it sounded really bad when they put it like that. And he started to be afraid of what was going to happen to him, and of what his punishment was. The tears started to come then and he felt even more ashamed but he couldn't help it. He had never been in this kind of trouble before.
Mr. Harrison didn't say anything, he just stared at Ricky. Finally Ricky stopped and wiped his eyes on his sleeves. Even though his breath was still shaky. He felt totally embarrassed for crying like a wuss.
“Ricky I'm going to be straight with you,” said Mr. Harrison. “Your file is very worrying. Your behavior has become so bad so fast, its a red flag. We need to deal with it immediately before it gets out of control. Because of that reason, I am calling your parents in for a conference. And I am recommending you for a B.M.I.”
Ricky was really panicking now. A conference was bad and this B.M.I. thing sounded even worse. He didn't know what a B.M.I. was. He wanted to ask what a B.M.I. was but he couldn't get the words out, his throat was so tight and he was so scared.
“Its a special program to help boys with problems,” Mr. Harrison said. “Boys like you.” He picked up a pen and started filling out a form. “Its nothing to be worried about,” said Mr. Harrison as he kept writing on the form.
But Ricky was worried. Very worried.