Symphony 120

His morning class was a constant struggle between Sean and Duarte, but their pulls on one another, however much they might disturb the harmony of the class, were counterbalanced by the steady driving purpose of Stephanie Hagstrom. She was the center around the which the whole class moved. She was unaware of this herself, but without her half of the music would have gone out of the class.

Oscar Teixeira was the center of the afternoon class, but he was a melody still looking for a key. Neil had watched Oscar for eight months now, and he knew that the boy was not trying to be difficult. Deliberately failing the CAT test had been out of character; it had been a message of desperation sent to his father.

From time to time, Neil talked with John Teixeira. It was not that he wanted to. He hated every minute he spent with that most irritating man, but as the year progressed Neil became more and more convinced that John Teixeira was the real problem in Oscar’s life.

# # #

Neil had a meeting with John Teixeira during the second week of April. Teixeira explained that he had come directly from the courthouse without taking time to go home. He gave the impression of a man on the move. Neil was sure that John Teixeira was exactly that; he was equally sure that John Teixeira wanted everyone to know that he was.

Teixeira was able and intelligent, but he was using his abilities to cloud the issue. Neil decided to attack the problem from that angle. He said, “John, the last time we talked, I went away feeling like I had been led around by the nose. I don’t think you meant to do that, but you strike me as a man who only tells what he wants to tell. You also strike me as someone who can hide the fact.”

“You aren’t a psychologist. I don’t know why I should tell you anything about my private life.”

“Fair enough. I am not a psychologist and I would be the last person to pose as one. I can’t make an instant diagnosis and ‘cure’ the boy like I was some kind of faith healer. But I have been teaching for five years. I have dealt with hundreds of students, and I might see something that would be useful.”

“I don’t know why we have to talk about Oscar’s home life at all. He has a great home life. His problems are at school.”  Teixeira’s face was closed. His mind was padlocked shut. His eyes were video cameras scanning the premises for intruders.

Neil had to get through that barrier before he could accomplish anything useful. He said, “Oscar is the only student who is faking stupid. He has a unique problem, so the cause must be unique to him. From what I’ve seen, the thing that sets Oscar Teixeira apart from the other students is that he is John Teixeira’s son.”

“That’s absolute nonsense. The thing that sets Oscar apart is that he is smarter than any of the rest of them.”

“He is intelligent; he’s probably the smartest child here. But he isn’t that much smarter than Stephanie Hagstrom or Tanya Michelson, and in two years time, Tasmeen and Rabindranath Kumar are going to run right past him. If he doesn’t stop acting stupid now, stupidity is going to become a reality for him in a few years.”

“So tell him.” more tomorrow

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