My So-Called Life
The Substitute

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The Substitute

At some later (but not that much later) time, Jordan walks out of Mr. Foster's office with his head down. Graham, sitting on a bench, watches him go and apparently remembers him as the kid who can't read. He sighs.

Mr. Foster ushers Graham into his office. Graham says, "I'll make this brief --" but Mr. Foster derails him: "Let me see. Your daughter is --" "Angela. Angela Chase? She's a sophomore..." blah blah blah he tells Mr. Foster that he met Mr. Colcord and liked him. Or at least, he's on the point of saying he likes Mr. Colcord, but Mr. Foster -- thinking Graham is about to say the opposite -- interrupts him: "There's no need to go any further. Mr. [Colcord] is out, and will no longer be substitute teaching at Liberty in the foreseeable future." Graham takes a moment, and then tells Mr. Foster that he doesn't want to make trouble, but that Angela really liked Mr. Colcord, and that he got Angela thinking and questioning, and "isn't that what all of this is supposed to be about?...It's just that she was really shaken up. She believes you fired him." Mr. Foster says that he didn't fire Mr. Colcord: "I was strongly considering it, mind you, and then he quit. Right after I showed him this. [He picks up a piece of paper.] It's a copy of a subpoena, addressed to a Mr. Theodore Victor, a.k.a. Victor Racine [Mr. Colcord's real name], stating that the aforementioned Mr. Racine must appear in a New Hampshire court within sixty days for failure to pay child support to a family he deserted months ago....He took one look at that, and walked out that door." "He deserted his family?" Graham whispers. Hey, isn't it incredibly unprofessional of Mr. Foster to show that subpoena -- or even to tell that story -- to Graham? Good question. YES.

Back in the kitchen at Chase Place, Graham has apparently just finished relaying this story to Patty, who is shaking her head. Graham adds, "God, I wish I didn't know. I wish he hadn't told me! ["Um, word." -- Ed.] Now what do I do?" Patty recommends that he tell Angela the truth, and avers that "she can handle it." Graham tells Patty that he remembered to buy kitty litter. "My hero," says Patty, not facetiously.

AVO says...hey! With all the flurry of writing, we've hardly heard Angela's voice-over at all! I guess Mr. Colcord was good for something after all. Anyway, Angela is standing at a fence with a row of mailboxes crudely nailed to it, and is apparently waiting for someone to appear. AVO says, "It's so weird that teachers actually, like, live places." Mr. Colcord wanders out of the opening in the fence, wearing a somewhat more proletarian outfit than he did at school, and doesn't look especially pleased to see Angela there. She tells him she looked him up in the phone book, and that she couldn't believe he was listed. He starts to wander over to his car, and she quickly apologizes, "if that's not the right thing to do." Mr. Colcord simply replies, "What a waste of a Saturday."

Angela awkwardly says, "I heard you left your family -- abandoned them." "I see," he says. Desperately wanting to believe in him, still, she presses, "So are you saying you didn't? I mean, what's the truth?" Mr. Colcord hedges, "Well, there are a couple of truths. One truth is I left my family. The other truth is my wife is far better off without me. Yes. I got out. I escaped. I broke out of a prison of my own making, and many, many people want to punish me for that -- maybe even you." Oh, spare me. Leave your family if you must -- it's shitty, but it happens. But there's no excuse not to pay your child support. Your kids didn't ask to be part of the "prison of [your] own making," so don't give me that Kerouac shit. Angela assures him that she doesn't want to punish him: "I'm trying to --" "'To' what? To understand?" Mr. Colcord asks, continuing, "Look, my struggle for freedom is mine. Get your own. Get out before it's too late, Amanda." Angela starts to snap out of it: "'Get out'? Get out of what?" Mr. Colcord, possibly drunk, raves, "That mind-control factory -- that warehouse they store you in because they don't know what else to do with you." Angela asks, "You're telling me to drop out of high school?" Mr. Colcord smugs, "Good question. Yes. Run for your life. Save your life. Let the walls of your gingerbread house come crashing down." She looks askance, and he snots, "Or not." She fixes him with her gaze and says simply, "It's Angela. And I have to say I don't think leaving high school is the answer. I don't think leaving anything is. The thing is...is I kind of admired you." Mr. Colcord has the grace to look embarrassed, and briskly offers to drive her home.

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My So-Called Life

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