2007-11-11: Transfer Out


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Lee brings Joule up to date on happenings at Brubaker, they continue to hatch plans.

Date It Happened:

November 11, 2007

Transfer Out

New York City

Lee met up with Joule at her friend's opening - a teeny photography gallery stuffed full of post-show Broadwaygoers, dedicated artists, faux critics, and interested passers-by. He put on a good face, was genuinely glad to be there with Joule, was charmingly snarky with her friend's friends and several other hipper-than-thou attendees, but even though Joule's only been close with him a few weeks it's clear he has something on his mind that's keeping him from enjoying the night fully, or perhaps the art and stimulating company is slowly drawing him out of a hole he was in when he arrived. Nevertheless, they close it out and head for home, the brisk fall night air muted slightly by the lack of wind, arm tight in arm, sharing a pocket of Lee's long coat, hands interlaced. Ahead the lights of a Lebanese-owned coffee cart display a knot of tattooed clubgoers recharging for their next round, exhausted actors and dancers needing a jolt to get them home, and bewildered tourists trying to find a decent latte and the best way back to their hotels. "You want a drop of coffee?" Lee asks Joule.

"Y'know, a coffee sounds lovely," Joule agrees, leaning contentedly into Lee's arm. She, of course, was halfway working. The camera bag hangs from her shoulder between them so it's less a target for muggers. She's got a couple rolls of actual film — old school, yo — and several really nice digital shots, the better to adorn Jason's website, and the better to shop around to newspapers and artsy magazines. Ah, the freelance life. She dodges a drunken couple's staggering clinch, and glances over her shoulder at them. She whips a tiny pencam out of a pocket somewhere, frames them and snaps them in a twinkling.

Lee gets in line with her. "I, ah, sort of got some bad news yesterday. One of my problem kids, Chase…he's got his scores on the civics pretest up to the point where he's passing now. I mean, he finally came around. I got him sitting with some of the more advanced kids, put him in some projects that were interesting to him…and he brought his scores up." That's bad news? "So Assistant Principal O'Donnell transferred him out of my class and into a 'mainstream' civics class. That's the word she used, mainstream." This last slightly bitter.

"Ah." A pause. "I knew something was bothering you," Joule says, but not unkindly. "It's not all bad, though, is it? You're /reaching/ them. Even if the higher ups don't quite /get/ it. You're getting through to them." She strokes his face with cool fingers. "And after all, you didn't give a toss about this class six months before we met, did you? They've taken notice now that you do give a toss."

Lee smiles a little bit at the touch. "But now I can't get to his friends, the ones that were looking up to him. Now he's gone." Lee misses the little bastard, it's clear. "And, not to be mercenary about it, if she keeps doing this, I'm never going to get that one in three pass rate. Oh, ah, I'll have a cafe au lait, skim please."

Joule looks up at the menu and decides, "Chai latte, whole milk, two squirts caramel syrup, thanks, luv." She glances at Lee. "And you can't talk to her? Point out that he's a leader and the little droogs will follow him?"

Lee says, "I did talk to her. Well, we /started/ talking. Ended up with yelling. She's the school axeman, sent to keep the troops in line and put me in my place." He mutters darkly into his cup, cupping his hands around it to warm them: "I wasn't happy with her to start with. One of the kids got jumped and she hasn't done anything to even suspend the ones responsible because the victim's too scared to talk and the parents of the lead bully - little drug dealing maniac - will sue."

"You," Joule declares, gesturing forcefully at Lee with her cup, yet managing not to spill a drop, "Need — One: a distraction, and two: a better bloody job. I can distract you, but that's only going to work until you have work again. Or you need to get more teachers on your side. That might work."

Lee says, "If the union at Brubaker wasn't a joke, I'd go there. I've got a couple of allies, but for the most part the other teachers are relieved that they don't have to have the problem kids in their classes bringing down /their/ numbers. It's like Wall Street. Bloodless. Gives me chills." But that is less complaining and more firm - he sees it as a challenge. "You know, I am starting to like the work, though. Like…it's fun. I'm in the spotlight, and it's not even about me."

Joule beams, pleased he seems unwilling to give up. "D'you think a 'photo day' sort of thing would help? Kind of like a renegade, underground newspaprer? I could come in, show them how to take shots. Even loan them an old camera or two? If not a paper, a webpage, for certain sure. They could even be the ones who 'break the story'" — she makes air quotes — "of the video. What d'you think?"

Lee says, "I've been thinking about how to break the video." They walk together into the dim coolness of the autumn night. "That's one way to do it - another way might be parent complaints. Every journalist loves hearing a parent complain about their school, at least that's how ninety percent of the stories seem to start. I bet if I dug around I could find one that would really be offended."

"Oh, assuredly," Joule agrees. "You've probably got some prissy little princess in your class. Or worse, the teenage slut queen, whose parents have no idea what sort of little hellspawn changes into thigh highs and knots her blouse when she's twenty feet out of mummy's sight. Guarantee you their parents are completely in the dark. Take it from one who knows." She winks at Lee, saucily. "My dad spent a good bit of my teenage years sputtering indignantly at the faculty."

Lee's eyebrows lift and he joshes right back at her: "It's a pity it's not summer anymore, I think you have plenty of blouses that would look good knotted. I have a few candidates in mind, and with Harry and William's help, I might be able to set up a decent leak." he says with apparent satisfaction.

"So, right after the holidays, then?" Joule asks. "Right around the time kids are hating going back to school? Right around the time parents are thrilled they're going back to school?" She considers a moment. "I'm sure I could get a few kids to post flyers on bulletin boards in other schools, even. Taking it viral, subtle."

Lee says, "Exactly, you've got it exactly. I want to do production after finals this semester - I have to rewrite all the old tests, the ones in the files they gave me are from the Carter administration. Then get it out there early in January, when people are starting to look at the tests anyway. There's usually a few back to school stories that feature the tests."

"Then it sounds like we have a plan." Joule finishes her chai, and makes a long toss into a corner wastebasket. "Anything else on your mind, or are you sufficiently relaxed now?" The wind, long absent, is beginning to pick up.

Lee wraps an arm around her shoulder. "Plenty still on my mind, but nothing that really deserves to be there more than you. Let's go take some of it off." he says warmly.

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