"Really? Don't have time to sell one more coffee?" John shouted. No response from the kitchen. "Shoot," John said. He walked as quickly as he could, gal-lopping through the empty cafeteria.
"Hey, what's wrong with you?" A gruff woman's voice called out behind him.
"What's wrong with you?" John shot back immediately. He turned around and blushed. The woman was a security officer. At least, he was pretty sure it was a woman: short hair, thick shoulders, clean shaved, but effeminate.
The security guard said, "My name is Phoenix McHaine and you are in trouble now."
"What? You asked what's wrong with me! You yelled at me! Because I've got a limp! Don't pull that I'm in trouble crap. Sir. Ma'am."
"Security," Phoenix said, with narrowed eyes. "Where's your class?"
"Just outside. Math."
"I've got my eyes on you," Phoenix said, "Hah hah." mirthlessly.
"Get to class."
"Can you write me a note?"
"But you've kept me longer than I would have been otherwise. Otherwise I would've been just a little late, but now I'm, like, really late." John smiled and hobbled dramatically toward the security guard. "Please?"
The security guard, Phoenix, looked around and huffed even more dramatically, then, from the inner pocket of the jacket, Phoenix pulled a pad of light yellow paper and scribbled something on it. "There. Go."
"Cool. Thank you."
"Watch your mouth."
John slowly, carefully walked through the now completely empty cafeteria. The two different echoes from his feet followed him.
Walking across the threshold of the portable classroom, which smelled of disinfectant and overly dry air, John tripped and sprawled on the rough carpet, grazing his palms bloody. "Shoot," he murmured.
The teacher, a skinny, young man in a well loved, thrift store suit with a shaved head and lively olive eyes asked, "Are you Mercedes Baker or John Osborne?"
"John. I have a late pass," John held up the yellow slip of paper and the teacher laughed.
"Are you --." The Teacher paused while John stood up.
The name Mr. Porter was written on the board with a flourished P.
"You must've met our delightful security guard Phoenix," said Mr. Porter.
"Yes sir," John paused, "I was given this late pass."
Mr, Porter laughed. He said, "Sure. Make sure you read that late pass after class. Take a seat. I'll let you off easy since you're not the --"
A girl with a shaved head, an eye patch and gigantic, knee high black boots trip-skipped over John's backpack, still on the floor. She landed quietly and said, "Yo."
"You and John can next to each other in these front rows," Mr. Porter said. He added, trade numbers, you two are study partners now. Welcome to calculus II."