Mingwei Gu

writings on business, meditation, technology, markets, sci-fi, organizations

27 Sep 2020

Pie in the Face

The lemon merengue pie sailed through the air and splattered on his face.

Lenny sat motionless on stage in the school auditorium. One camera clicked and flashed. He leaned forward slowly and gently removed the pie tin, catching the largest pie chunks. Another camera. He placed the tin on the table besides him and grabbed a few paper towels.

He stood up and wiped the pie from his face. Lenny was in his late twenties and a new sixth grade math teacher at Los Tranquilos Middle School. Standing at six feet, he dressed his Herculean frame with a green polo shirt and grey slacks.

His assailant brimmed with a smile. Chuckie won the math derby for the entire sixth grade. And getting to pie Mr. Dervish was the prize.

“Let’s give a round of applause for Chuckie and Mr. Dervish!” announced Principal Jenssen. Applause filled the auditorium as both Lenny and Chuckie made their way off stage.

“Good throw, Chuckie. Think about giving baseball a try. I’m serious”

“Will do Mr. Dervish”, said Chuckie. He turned and headed off to his friends in the bleachers.

Lenny felt the cream and lemon merengue clinging to his face. He needed to wash up. He pushes the doors open to exit the auditorium.

He briskly walked down the hall to the men’s restroom. He went inside and rinsed off face and washed his hands.

Just as he’s coming, a sharply dressed woman is leaned with her back against the wall.

She smirked. “Look at you rookie. The kids love you”

Angelica stood a few inches shorter than Lenny, helped by her six inch heels. She wore her hair pulled back in a bun. And horn rimmed glasses outlined her face.

Lenny chuckled and angled his body towards her. “Well Angelica, I give ‘em what they need and a little of what they want”

“Who woulda thought a math competition capped with a mini-carnival would take us to top of the district in math? Gotta hand it to ya”

“It woulda gone nowhere without you,” Lenny admitted, “You killed it selling the idea to the principal.”

“Well having a rookie teacher with experience in the army AND as a circus perfomer didn’t hurt”

Lenny gave a pained smile. He started turning away.

Angelica continued, “You know, you talk about your army days all the time. I swear the kids have your stories memorized at this point. But you never talk much about your history in the circus. Why is that?”

Lenny looked down, “It’s … hard to talk about.”

She shook her head, “Oh I didn’t mean… if you don’t want to..”

“It’s OK.” Lenny looked away. “I thought I knew what fear was when I left the army. We deployed in the bloodiest combat zones. My platoon was pinned down without support for nearly four hours. I held my brothers as they died. I thought I was going to die. All around me was carnage, and it was sickening.”

Lenny looked back and stared her in the eyes, “But let me tell you. I didn’t know what fear was until I joined the circus”