And just as Daniel capped the can of spray-paint, he noticed the teachers hovering over him.
All nearly identical: clothed in oversized J.C. Penny women's apparel, radiating the collective heat of menopause, trading meaningless gossip that would never fill their empty lives. Like a plague of locusts they descended, moving collectively as a swarm; a swarm of middle-aged, low-income public-school teachers.
The swarmís eyes moved in unison, first centering on Danielís face, moving to the can of paint in his hand, tracking slowly across drunken sprawl of the scrawls of the walls.
Faces reddened like rising thermometers.
Daniel wondered if it was caused by embarrassment, anger, or an unforeseen third emotional state, until he saw their plump hands tighten into stiff fists. Like a boiling pot they began to hiss and steam and the collective heat, formerly attributed to menopause, became a glowing ember.
One of the teachers, either Karrie or Sherri or Terri (it was quite hard to tell the difference), broke off from the swarm, stomping forward in her Payless sandals like a territorial ape.
I did it, Daniel thought. I broke your windows and tagged your walls. Iíve started the fires. Do your worst: kick me out, send me away, and give up on me. Do something. Do anything.
Suddenly the teacher swung her balled-up fist straight into Danielís nose, breaking it.
A trickle of Danielís blood painted the linoleum. He screamed the scream of a scared little boy as he ran, without direction or intention, cursing everyone who would never understand.