“Miss Sierra, can you talk to him? It’s getting bad.”
“Put him on,” I say to the teacher. I continue working at my desk. This is not unusual, I get a call about Pumpkin every day. Some days, many more than that.
“Look, you got what? Two, three hours left of school today? Just sit down, don’t say shit and don’t move.”
“Got it,” he says, hanging up the phone before I have a chance to speak to his teacher again.
I should have known it was too easy of a phone call. My co-workers are used to coming to my office and shutting the door when they start hearing me yell phrases like, “I’m gonna smack every curl outta your head,” or “I swear before Jesus, I will smack every bit of brown off you.” But, I didn’t realize it was too easy and I kept on working until the next phone call came twenty minutes later.
“Miss Sierra? Yeah, the Toledo Police are on their way. We aren’t sure if they are going to arrest him or release him into your custody, but either way you need to get here.”
“Shit, Shit, shit,” my boss hears me say as I get up to get my coat and purse.
“What happened now?” she asks, continuing to punch numbers into her calculator.
“I have no fucking idea. I will see you in the morning,” I say, heading out.
The receptionist sees me leaving and asks, “Pumpkin?”
I arrive at the junior high school Trey attends in about ten minutes. The school counselor is waiting for me at the door.
“Hi, I’m really sorry. We tried to get him to move. He wouldn’t and he’s too big for any of us to try and move him. We just really need the money tray for lunch period.”
“The money tray?”
“Yes, it’s in the safe and he won’t move, so we can’t get it,” she says as we walk down the hall. I was about to ask her what—exactly—had happened as we walked into the teacher’s lounge. I didn’t need to. I took one look at him and I knew exactly what happened.
He listened to me. For once, he listened to me. He got off the phone, sat down, shut up and didn’t move. Unfortunately, he chose to do it in the teacher’s lounge in front of the safe that holds the cash register drawers for the cafeteria. He was doing exactly what I said.
“Seriously?” I ask him.
He didn’t say anything.
“I swear to God Pumpkin, the police are coming. They are already taking one person to jail, don’t make me make it two. Talk!”
“Hi Mom, just following directions.”
“Why? Why do you do this shit? Will you move so they can get the money?”
The cafeteria worker glared at me as she walked to the safe. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, you have no idea how sorry I am,” I say to her as she walks out of the lounge.
“Ok, so why did you feel it was necessary to do this?” I ask Pumpkin again.
“I’m O.D.D. I can’t help it, it’s a disability. I’m powerless. I’m as much of a victim here as all of you.”
That is just one of the many diagnosis Pumpkin has been given over the years. It stands for Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I think it’s more “I’m An Asshole Disorder,” but what do I know. Here’s my big question: If it is a disorder, why does it only happen when he isn’t with me? He can control it.
“You are about to be powerless in cuffs. Mr. Carillo is gonna kick your ass.”
He starts to speak, but the police come into the lounge.
“Put your arms out to your sides,” they instruct.
“Hi, how are you doing today?” he asks as the police pat him down. They don’t respond.
“Put your hands behind your back.”
“Why, Officer?” he asks, still smiling.
“We are taking you downtown, unruly conduct.”
“You might want to call in my name. There are some things, well one thing, you may be interested in,” he says.
“I’m not playing games. Put your hands behind your back or I will.”
“Combative. That’s what they are going to tell you. I’m combative,” he says, smiling broadly.
“Officer, can I just take him home? I will sign the charge. They are going to let him out tonight anyway. Mr. Carillo will be notified. Taking him in will just mean paperwork for you. You have more important stuff to do than this. I’m sorry you had to come out.”
They look at one another and at Pumpkin. They both know he will get out tonight. The officer puts his cuffs back on his belt.
“Thank you so much, Sir. I work tomorrow morning and he wouldn’t get processed till really late tonight,” I say as I sign the paperwork.
“Why do you put me in the position of having to kiss cop ass? You know I hate that,” I say as we walk across the parking lot.
“I coulda dropped him,” he says, shadow boxing.
“Get in the car, Rocky. And don’t listen to me ever again.”