As a bit of a supplement to my upcoming book, Ghosts are Assholes, here is another vignette into Vincent’s life that I hope you enjoy. It is entitled What I Learned In School Today.
“What’s the answer to number 2?” the young boy asked the dowdy ghost floating over his left shoulder. His voice was barely audible as he did not want to risk attracting the attention of his fourth-grade teacher sitting behind her desk.
“Vincent!” the apparition admonished, “Are you asking me to cheat?”
“Uh-huh!” the boy replied eagerly.
“Why didn’t you study?”
“Wanted to watch the Mariners game.”
“You couldn’t have studied before the game?”
“You’ve known about this test for a week. You couldn’t have studied earlier?”
“I had to watch a lot of ballgames.”
“You have to study for your tests.”
“You sound like my mom.”
“She sounds like a very caring and intelligent woman.”
“Whatever. Are you gonna help me or not? Mom’s gonna kill me if I fail another test.”
“I’m sorry, Vincent, I won’t help you cheat.”
The boy let out a heavy sigh. “Well, I was hopin’ it wouldn’t come to this. I’m the only one who can see you, right?”
“So I’m the only one who can help you, right?”
“You kinda need me.”
“I don’t like where this is going, Vincent.”
“If you don’t help me pass this test, I won’t help you.”
“Vincent! That’s blackmail!” she screamed even though it wasn’t blackmail, it was extortion.
“Uh-huh! So you gonna help me?”
The apparition let out a long, exasperated sigh. “Fine, I’ll help you, but only if you promise to study from now on.”
“Yeah, sure, whatever.”
“Vincent,” the woman chided, “Promise me you’ll never cheat again.”
“Okay, okay, sheesh, I won’t do it ever again.”
The teacher looked up from the papers she was grading. “You won’t do what ever again?”
Vincent’s classmates giggled. They each turned to face the now perspiring lad sitting in the back corner of the classroom.
“Uh, n-nothing M-Ms. J-Johnson,” he stammered.
“Uh-huh.” The teacher shook her head then sighed. “Just finish the test, Mr. Pietro, and do it quietly.”
Vincent let out a relieved sigh and wiped the sweat off his brow. “Okay, Ms. Johnson.”
Disappointed with the lack of drama, the rest of the class begrudgingly turned their attention back to their exams.
“You’re still gonna help me, right?” Vincent asked, remembering to whisper this time.
“Since I have to. The answer to number two is ‘b’, and the answer to number three is…” The little boy eagerly wrote the answers the poltergeist apprehensively delivered. When he turned in his test, he teacher gave him an odd look as he could hardly contain his jubilation. Vincent never enjoyed turning in exams so his behavior made her suspicious but she decided to let it go until at least she was able to grade the thing. The young boy was oblivious, though, as he was feeling so much joy that nothing could dampen his mood.
That is, nothing could until he reached the end of the school day, where the teacher’s worst fears of why Vincent was so happywere alleviated by that point. In contrast, Vincent’s worst fears from earlier that day were confirmed.
“I failed the test!” the boy screamed. He showed the apparition his exam. It had a large red “F” stamped in the right corner and a sticky note was attached. It said in rather strong words that his teacher and his mother needed to have a serious discussion pertaining to his grades. “I only got two answers right out of twenty!”
The ghost flashed a smug grin. “I wanted to teach you a lesson about cheating.”
After a short pause, the grin disappeared and she confessed. “No, not really. I was just guessing. I’m afraid I don’t know much about history. Still, it serves you right for cheating.”
“Wait! That means you weren’t a good student!”
“Maybe so, but that’s why I know it’s important to study and take your schooling seriously!”
“Aw, man! This blows! Mom’s gonna be so angry at me and I’ll probably have to go to summer school! Probably won’t be able to play baseball or watch the Mariners! This sucks! What good is this ‘gift’ of seeing ghosts if they can’t even help ya pass a test?”
“You shouldn’t rely on ghosts to help you succeed. You should only rely on yourself.”
Vincent remained silent. It was followed by a short and awkward pause.
“Um, Vincent? Dear?”
“Does this mean you aren’t going to help me?”
“No,” Vincent answered solemnly, “I’ll still help you. I was always gonna. I just wanted help with the test. Let’s go see Mom. She’ll know what to do.”
“Wait, what do you mean?”
“She’s better at that kinda stuff than me. Ghost stuff, I mean. She even told me to take all ghost stuff to her so I can concentrate on school.”
“Your mother can see ghosts too?”
“So everything you said was a lie!”
“Oh, when I see your mother, we are going to have so much to talk about! I’m sure she’ll have much to say about this. Your lack of respect will not be tolerated, young man!”
“Geeze,” Vincent thought to himself as he was berated by the apparition on his way home. “Ghosts are jerks.”
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