My So-Called Life
The Substitute

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The Substitute

In English class the next day, Yvette is exhorting her colleagues to go to Foster and tell him they want the Lit: "Technically, it's our property -- it's our class work. He has to give it to us." Rayanne (who, in a nice bit of continuity, is wearing a Grateful Dead concert t-shirt) and Rickie walk in; Rickie is in the process of telling Rayanne the latest in Colcord news: "People are saying everything -- that he was fired, that he was sleeping with a junior, that he was thrown in jail." "Which jail?" asks Rayanne. The bell rings and Mr. Foster blusters in. The students are plainly unsettled by the change, and regard him warily. No more oriental rugs and candles, I'll bet.

Mr. Foster speechifies: "As some of you know, I've read the Liberty Lit, and found certain materials in it unacceptable. Those of you who have copies will please bring it [sic] to the administrative offices." Angela raises her hand and, when he calls on her, scoffs, "How can you say it's unacceptable when nobody's allowed to see it?" A polite clamor ensues, which Mr. Foster quashes: "That's enough. I must hold school-authorized publications to certain standards of decency. Anyone found distributing the journal will be suspended from school. That's a promise. A new substitute will be here in a minute to work with you until we find a permanent replacement. Is that clear?" Right on cue, Jordan -- leaning out the window -- yells, "Hey, it's him! It's Mr. [Colcord]!" Like the Pavlov's dogs they are, all the kids leap out of their seats at the sound of Mr. Colcord's name and hoof it to the window, where they all start screaming, "Mr. [Colcord]! Mr. [Colcord]!" Mr. Colcord finally looks up at them, and gives them a rather wan raised-fist salute. The kids return it, with about as much conviction. Mr. Colcord books, and the students, disappointed, return to their desks. Angela is the last to pull her head out of the window. Brian whines, "All that crap about honesty and truth...what a jerk! He didn't even teach." Jordan protests, "He did teach! He was the best teacher I ever had." Stunned to hear his voice raised in class, all the students turn and stare at Jordan, who adds, more quietly, "Well, he was." Angela briefly looks up at Mr. Foster, and then jogs out of class, followed by Rickie, Rayanne, and, after a moment, Sharon.

Mr. Colcord continues his walk of shame, and the four AWOL students catch up with him outside. Angela feebly says that they're "upset" about what's been happening. Rayanne asks him if it's true that he was fired, and he offers, "Yeah, you could say that." Angela squeaks, "I can't believe you were fired because of one poem." Mr. Colcord turns on her: "Why? You think injustice like that doesn't happen? It happens every day. Wake up!" He storms off. Oh, real mature. Angela watches him go, looking (and, I guess, feeling) impotent.

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My So-Called Life

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