The bell to end second hour rang. The thirty-four students in the
classroom seemed to exhale simultaneously, a sound between relief and
exasperation. Almost no one finished early, except Eloise, who always
finished early, but that fact didn’t surprise Dave. This was one of
his tougher tests.
“Time’s up,” he said, “please put your unit test in the basket
up front on your way out.”
Dave’s AP U.S. History class stood up and filed out slowly, putting
their tests in the basket as they made their way out. None of them
looked too happy. Antoine was grumbling under his breath as he put his
test on the pile.
“Mr. Bell, I need to you to tell me something. When did we talk about
this Saratoga thing?” he demanded, standing akimbo with one foot
forward, reminding Dave of his Aunt Gloria. “I did not remember that
at all, and I remember everything you teach. Everything. You know I do,
If you remembered everything, thought Dave, youwouldn’t be cutting a C
“We covered Saratoga last week, Antoine. You should remember it was
one of the last decisive battles of the Revolutionary War.”
“I was sick last week.”
“You know the rules, Antoine. If you can’t make it—”
“You got to make it up,” said another student behind Antoine.
“Who asked you, Shaquanta?” said Antoine, turning to face her.
“This ain’t none of your damned business, now is it?”
“Shut up,” she retorted.
“Enough,” said Dave, in the voice that showed hemeant it. This was
an AP course, Advanced Placement, supposedly the cream of the academic
crop at Custer, and he still had to put up with this middle-school crap.
“Get to your next class, Shaquanta,” he said. She left, smirking at
“You swore again, Antoine,” said Dave. “I thought you were going
to work on that. You know that’s anotherphone call home.”
“Mr. Bell, I don’t care if you call my house—” began Antoine.
“Watch your tone, young man,” said Dave. He knew he couldn’t
afford to let Antoine get started. There had been at least one Antoine
every year of his career: part lawyer, part preacher, part bullshitter;
if you let them drag you into negotiating, you were sunk. You had to nip
it in the bud with them. Antoine looked at Dave, decided he meant
it,took a breath, and clamped his mouth shut.
“If you’d rather not get the phone call, Antoine, we’ll go right
ahead and refer this matter to Mr. Ricks.”
Antoine squared his shoulders, turned and left, maintaining as much
dignity as he could.
Dave sat down, made a note to call Antoine’s house that night, and
then leaned on the desk, rubbing the bridge of his nose. It was only
third hour coming up, his junior World History class, and it already
felt like it should be the end of the day. Dave closed his eyes. He
never used to feel this way in the middle of the day. He must be getting
Excerpted from "The P.S. Wars" by Geoffrey Carter. Copyright © 2017 by Geoffrey Carter. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.