VIII. Moves and Countermoves
Shantreyl was at work, updating her class website for her seniors. Graduation was in three weeks. She had one week to finish the rest of the organic unit before reviewing for the external exams. She was hard at work when someone knocked on her door.
“Come in,” she said as her fingers flew over the keyboard. She looked up to see the bottle-blonde bitch coming in, holding a giant vase of yellow and red calla lilies.
The fuck does this bitch want now? “Good morning,” she said.
“Good morning, Shantreyl. You have another delivery and I thought since I had to come and talk to you anyway that I would bring it down. These are really beautiful.”
“Oh,” Shantreyl said. “Thank you. Just put them there on the lectern. What is it that you need to speak with me about?”
“You’ve been selected to attend the “Making Learning Visible” conference this week.”
“I can’t do it,” Shantreyl said. “I have to finish the organic content this week so Grade 12 can start reviewing for their external exams next week. And why is the conference so late in the school year anyway?”
“I didn’t ask if you could go. I said you’re going. And apparently it’s a scheduling issue. We’ve already paid the presenter and so we’re going to get our money’s worth.”
Shantreyl glared at the woman hard enough to burn holes in her soul, if she was capable of doing so. “I’m not finished with this last unit. I have two more subtopics. I can’t leave this in the hands of a substitute, Cindy. It’s organic chemistry. Send someone else.”
“No. You’re the one who’s going, so just write three days’ worth of lesson plans for all your classes.”
“Did you just say three days? Three days?”
“Yes. Wednesday through Friday.”
“You want me to abandon my seniors right before external exams to go to a conference that most likely won’t come from the perspective of a science teacher? A conference that, for me, will be useless??”
The bottle-blonde bitch’s expression was pinched. “If you write complete lesson plans, the sub will be able to follow them. You’ll be expected to present to the rest of the faculty during next week’s staff meeting.”
Shantreyl stared at the woman, not hiding her fury, and waited about thirty seconds before trusting herself to respond. “You expect me to write a script for the sub to read? You expect a substitute teacher to teach my grade 12 higher-level chemistry students stereoisomers and nucleophilic substitution? Are you serious? How do you think that’s going to go? You’re doing this to get back at me for last week. That’s why I said I find it difficult to think your intentions are friendly when you pull petty stunts like this.”
“I’m not getting back at you for anything and it’s not a stunt. Every department is sending a teacher to the conference.”
Shantreyl wanted the bitch out of her classroom. “This is unfair to my kids. If my students do not do well on the organic portion of their external exams, I’m holding you responsible.”
“If your lesson plans are thorough, they will be fine.”
Shantreyl glared at her. “Is that all? Are you done?”
“You can calm that tone down, Miss Troy.”
Shantreyl’s last fuck flew out of the window. “Since you’re likely to put a note in my file anyway, I’ll keep my tone as is. Have a good day. I have work to do.”
She went back to working on her website and did not look up until her classroom door opened and closed. Once that happened, she put her face in her hands and let tears of rage glide down her cheeks. She was going to go to Dr. Bowlen this afternoon and express her concerns, even though she suspected that he was going to back the bottle-blonde bitch instead of her. What evidence did the bitch have on him?
After a few minutes, she felt calm enough to think straight. She got up and walked over to the lectern to admire her flowers. They were gorgeous. She plucked the card out of the flowers and read it, annoyed that the bottle-blonde bitch was able to see what it said.
I enjoyed Saturday very much.
Shantreyl smiled. “So did I.” She leaned forward and smelled the flowers. Then, realizing that it was Monday, she went back to her desk, got her cell phone and called him.
“Shantreyl,” he said. “Hello.”
“Hi,” she said. “I got your flowers. They’re exquisite. I love calla lilies.”
“Good to know,” he said. “I’m glad to hear it.”
“Your timing’s pretty good. My day just went straight to hell.”
“What happened, baby?”
“The bitch I told you about? Well, she’s sending me to a conference even though I have to finish the material this week before the external exams. Basically, she’s making me abandon my kids when they need me the most and I am so angry right now.”
“Why would you have to go to a conference this late in the school year?”
“Why indeed. She fed me some bullshit line about scheduling issues and for whatever reason, I was “selected” to go even though there are newer teachers here in the department who would benefit from the conference. She’s doing this to get back at me for last week.”
“I’m sorry, baby. What can I do to make you feel better?”
“You’ve already done it. I just need to vent. I’m not going to that fucking conference; I don’t care what happens to me. I’m going to start job hunting this week.”
“Shantreyl, don’t. You can’t let her run you from that school. You’ve been there longer than she has. And haven’t you signed your contract for the upcoming year?”
“Unfortunately, I have. But the principal doesn’t support me anymore, Malcolm. He always backs her up. I swear, the bitch got photos or video or something on him. I can’t work in this environment. I’m getting to the point that I start stressing out as soon as I pull into the parking lot. I can’t work like this.”
“We’ll figure something out, baby. I can hear you getting agitated. Calm down. Tell me, what are you doing this Saturday?”
“I haven’t made any plans.”
“I would like to invite you to have dinner with me at the Vermilion. There are three in-house restaurants: Medallion, Embers and Carnival. They specialize in different cuisines. Embers is a Brazilian steakhouse, Medallion is a French restaurant, and Carnival is featuring Italian this week. Which would you prefer?”
“I’ve never eaten at a Brazilian steakhouse. I’d like to try that.”
“Done. Full disclosure: I will be officially working this Saturday, but I will take a three-hour lunch break, as it were. Are you all right with this?”
“Yes. So when does your lunch break begin?”
“The moment you arrive. What time would you like to have dinner, beautiful?”
“Seven would be nice.”
“I will send a car to pick you up at six-thirty on Saturday evening, then.”
Shantreyl smiled. “All right. What should I wear?”
“Okay,” she said. She was already feeling better. “I’d better get back to work.”
“Everything is going to work out, Shantreyl. Don’t you worry your pretty little head. People like your VP tend to get exposed sooner rather than later.”
She sighed. “If you say so.”
“Have a good day, beautiful. I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Thank you again for the flowers.”
“You’re more than welcome.”
Shantreyl hung up the phone, a smile on her face.
* * *
Shantreyl was curled up in her favorite chair with ShoNuff in her lap, sipping on some wine. Jaya and Renee were on the couch.
Renee said, “That bitch!”
“Exactly,” Shantreyl said. “I knew she was going to find a way to get back at me for not letting her see my gifts from Malcolm last week. And Dr. Bowlen backed her up. I explained the problems it’s going to cause for my seniors, but he doesn’t give a shit. They’re trying to control me, and for what I don’t know.”
“What are you going to do, Shantreyl? You’ve already signed your contract for next year.” Jaya said.
“I haven’t decided yet, but I do know one thing: I’m not going to that conference. Fuck that.”
“How are you going to get out of it?”
“I don’t know. I should take sick leave. I’ve used up my personal days.”
“How are you going to fake being sick? You know that you need a doctor’s note after two days.”
“I know. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m at the point that I don’t care. I’m not going to that conference. If they fire me, they fire me.”
“Shan,” Jaya said, “That’s reckless. You’ve worked too hard to jeopardize your career like this, just because of that woman.”
“But it’s all bullshit, Jay,” Renee said. “There’s no reason for Shan to attend that conference. The bitch is pulling rank and pulling a stunt just to get back at her for some fuck shit. I’m with you, Shan. I’d find some kind of way not to go too.”
Shantreyl’s phone rang. She looked at the screen. “It’s Malcolm.”
“Should we leave?” Jaya asked.
“No, not yet. Just hold on a moment.” She answered the call. “Malcolm?”
“Hello, Shantreyl. I was thinking about you just now and I have an idea. I’ll send one of the Vermilion’s in-house physicians to you on Tuesday evening and they’ll write you a doctor’s note if you really don’t want to go to that conference.”
“Are you serious, Malcolm?”
“I’m serious. I told you, I don’t want you distressed. I don’t like it.”
“But I’m not sick.”
“Migraines can be terrible. I know this firsthand. My mother used to get them all the time. They come out of nowhere.”
Shantreyl didn’t say anything but understood exactly what he was telling her.
Malcolm said, “So you’re okay with me sending the doctor tomorrow?”
Shantreyl thought for a moment. She meant it when she told her friends that she wasn’t going to that conference. She was absolutely sick of the bottle-blonde bitch’s stunt queen antics. She could pull stunts too.
“I’m okay with it, Malcolm. Thank you.”
“He’ll be there around seven. He’ll check you out and write you a doctor’s note for how many days?”
“Three,” she said.
“All right then. That’s settled. I have to get off the phone now, but I just wanted to clear that with you. I’ll talk to you soon, baby.”
“Okay,” she said. “Thank you, Malcolm.” She hung up the phone.
Renee and Jaya sported equally eager looks. “So??” Renee said.
“He’s sending a doctor here tomorrow to check me out and write me a sick note for the rest of the week.”
“But you’re not sick,” Jaya said.
“Migraines can be nasty,” Shantreyl replied. “They can come out of nowhere.”
Renee clapped loudly, understanding instantly. “I love that slick muffucka! He coming through like a champ!”
“Indeed,” Shantreyl said.
Jaya looked concerned. “So he’s going to send a doctor here to lie for you?”
“Apparently,” Shantreyl said. “I’m fine with it, to be honest. It solves the problem of me getting out of the conference without penalty…and then I don’t have to start job hunting. And I get three days off. I’ll be able to contact my seniors via the website.”
“I don’t know how I feel about this, Shan.”
“You don’t have to feel any kind of way about it, Jay. Problem solved,” Renee said.
“What if this backfires?” Jaya said.
Shantreyl said, “How can it?”
“What if she calls the physician?”
Renee replied, “So what? He’s not going to renege. Shan’s in the clear.”
Jaya shrugged. “Something feels off about this. How does Malcolm have the ability to send a doctor to you—someone you’re not familiar with—who is willing to lie for you? Don’t they take oaths or something?”
“He’s sending the in-house physician from the casino he manages. It’s okay, Jaya. You don’t have to worry about it.”
“Besides,” Renee said, holding out her fist for Shantreyl to bump, “she’s getting one over that bitch at work. I’m all for it.”
Shantreyl returned the fist bump.
Jaya sighed and shrugged. “All right then.” But Shantreyl knew from her expression that she wasn’t all right with it.
“It’ll be okay, Jaya. Don’t worry about it. And look at it like this: I don’t have to start job hunting.”
“I know,” she said. “I just…never mind.”
“I have other news,” Shantreyl said. “I’m going to dinner with Malcolm on Saturday night. I have to go find a semi-formal outfit.”
“Where are you going to dinner?”
“We’re going to dine at one of the restaurants in the Vermilion. He let me choose, so we’re going to dine at the Brazilian Steakhouse—I can’t remember the name.”
“Ooooh, fancy,” Renee said. “What are you going to wear?”
“I’m not sure. I just want to look really nice.”
“Aw yeah,” Renee said. “Are you gonna fuck him afterwards? He’s your boyfriend, after all.”
“Probably not. He’s gonna go back to work after dinner.”
“You wanna carry Mary Jane with you, just in case?”
Shantreyl smiled at Renee. “You’re so funny.” Then she bit her lip. “Maybe.”
Jaya said, “Do you want me to go shopping with you?”
Shantreyl nodded. It had been a long time since she and Jaya went shopping. “Yes.”
“When do you want to go?”
“What about your hair? Are you getting it done?”
“Nope. I’m going to wash and twist it, and then wear an up-do. So I’m going to need an outfit that shows off my neck and shoulders. It’s supposed to be a slimming technique.”
“All right,” Jaya said. “We can do that. What about your nails?”
“Definitely going to the shop for a mani/pedi.”
Renee said, “I want you to look so good that he forgets all about what he’s supposed to do and focuses on doing you. He deserves a reward for getting you out of that conference.”
“You got a point,” Shantreyl said. “He did me a solid.”
“But it doesn’t have to be sex,” Jaya said. “You don’t want that to be the basis of your relationship. This is merely your second date. Wait until the fifth or six date before you have sex again.”
Renee rolled her eyes. “Jay, are you serious? Malcolm likes her and she likes him, and she knows what he wants…she shouldn’t have to wait that long for the D, especially if it’s good.”
“If Malcolm keeps up this pace, it would mean she’d only have to wait until next month.”
“I’m playing it by ear, guys. He’s officially working on Saturday, so we will not be intimate. He’s taking time out of his schedule to have dinner with me and that’s it. I’m trying to remove sex from the equation, but if circumstances arise and I want it, then I’ll get it.”
“Good,” Renee said. “Own that shit.”
Jaya merely shook her head. “Okay sis, we’re going to go. Let us know what happens when you call in sick Wednesday morning.”
“Bet,” Shantreyl said.