Life Thriller

The Awakening

They keep testing my resolve.

This time it’s a wooden sculpture of a little monkey. It was placed on top of a piece of paper which read;

Hey Monkey Boy, go back to Africa, your big-ass ape mama misses you

I looked about my front porch and checked my doors to make sure nothing was tampered with this time. The last time, my house was broken into, I found a wooden effigy. It had a similar ‘love letter’ on it and a hive of bees that landed me in the hospital for a week.

There isn’t any sign of tampering. Good, the new security system paid off. My insurance doesn’t cover it, but I can’t afford to take any chances, they’re getting bolder by the minute. I was in a strange man’s land and because of the colour of my skin, I was not welcome.

I see it everywhere; how they pull their purses closer when I walk by. How they smile nervously when I offer to help. The tentative looks the parents share between themselves when they learn that their kid’s future depends on me. Maybe I’m just imagining things – or so I thought.

I was a novelty, the first Black teacher at the most prestigious private school in the country. They congratulated themselves on their humility and made me pose for a picture in the school’s brochure. I call it a brochure but really it was a piece of self-congratulatory garbage punctuated by the word ‘diversity’.

My friend Ali played a drinking game with it. I remember, we would each take a shot of tequila whenever we read the word. I lost count after 10 shots. Of course I knew it was offensive, but I never really was irritated by it. I was doing a good thing I told myself. This would give way to the acceptance of Black students into the school.

Boy was I wrong. It seemed like it worked. The first admission session after I started working came with an influx of promising Black student applications. We held meetings. Debated over the number of applicants we could accept. Held countless school fund dinners to introduce our applicants to the ‘school spirit’.

Whenever the parents complained about the amount they paid for the lunches, we reminded them of our 100% acceptance rate into Ivy League colleges. So they dug deeper into their purses till one by one all slots were filled with white kids.

At first, I thought there was a mix-up once I noticed that things were still the same. So I tried to get a meeting with the admission board, but I got stonewalled. Next, I tried my fellow teachers but they kept making excuses. I got angry and stormed right up to the principal’s office and there, the charade ended. He initially tried to placate me, explaining that it didn’t matter what race the students were. He even had the nerve to quote Socrates at me, saying 

Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well”.

I then went on to inform him that it was an Aristotle quote and the philosopher never said only one race was entitled to quality education. His gaze grew cold but he still continued his pleas that’s when he slipped up and I knew.

I was not the first.

I left his office and waited till dark to break back inside. What I saw confirmed my suspicions and revealed so much more. There were more brochures with many other smiling Black faces like my own. I also found out that for every dollar a Black parent paid to get his child into the school, the white parents paid ten more to keep them out. 

It was a guaranteed scam. Every year before admission, they’d get a Black teacher to lure in Black applicants and they’d be dismissed before the year ran out for various reasons. Seeing no other way, I acted like I had gotten with the program and kept my head low while I gathered evidence. I Copied files, spoke to some of the parents of the rejected applicants, kept correspondence of payments till it was time to reach out to my predecessors, the other Black suckers.

I thought nothing of it when I couldn’t reach the first one. A little surprised that the second was declared missing, alarmed to hear that the third was found dead from an apparent suicide. So was the fourth, the fifth through seventh were also declared missing. After I learnt of the death of the tenth person, I knew I had to hatch a plan. So, I had three dead people (from suicide) and 7 unexplained disappearances and nobody had taken notice. 

The school was located in the suburbs of a small town which was policed by a sheriff. I got his number from the internet and called to arrange a meeting with him for the next day. Earlier that day, my students baked me their usual monthly apple pie. Since I forgot it in the school, so I decided to go back for it at night and maybe snoop around the principal’s office one last time.

An ominous feeling came over me as I drove closer to the school. But I kept going till I got to the parking lot which was filled with cars. I was surprised to find the security entrance unmanned. Glad, I let myself in and hearing loud voices coming from conference hall, I decided to investigate. I looked in from a window and was surprised to find the whole town there. They seemed to be debating on hunting something. Curious, I moved closer to another view so I could see what they planned to hunt and was stunned to see my own face staring back at me. The principal wanted them to kill me immediately, but the mayor wanted them to wait for three months. He reasoned that I’d be too addled by the sedatives placed in the cake and wouldn’t be able to run. 

I was able to deduce that this was a regular meeting held monthly on a day where I’d be heavily sedated by the pie. I marvelled at the calibre of people present in the meeting then understood why there were no investigations. Everybody who was anybody was in that hall and they can easily sweep crimes under the rug. I cancelled my meeting with the sheriff the following day while I came up with a new plan.

At first, I sent myself a racist letter and pretended to be comforted by their concern over my safety.

A week after someone threw a bottle into my house and I called the police. They could offer nothing but safety tips. With the break in and sculpture, I’ve decided. Yes, I am leaving. I am going back to Africa. I locked my door, bag in hand and turned to leave. They were there, waiting for me.

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