, January 2021

Carl would catch a whiff of perfume and cigarettes heading into his eighth-grade English classroom, where Ms. Orlando would be seated atop her desk at the front of the room, legs crossed, dark stockings, one of her high heels dangling playfully from her big toe, flipping through a stack of essays, licking her manicured fingertips every few pages. In her forties, with a shapely, petite figure, she had a taste for leather miniskirts, tight body dresses, smoking Parliaments in the teachers’ lounge, and driving her red Corvette—a truly classy, sexy woman who knew what she was doing, unlike these silly junior high virgins with their perms, braces, and Benetton—

During class she would assign tasks to the boys she knew had boners under their desks—erasing the chalkboard, handing out papers, going to the A/V room to get the film projector—and whoever was first to be assigned a task, it would be his forever. Her favorite was T.J. Connelly, the class clown, who had the task of sliding under her desk like a mechanic to fix the bottom drawer that got stuck every day. She would sit in her chair while he worked below, which, to the rest of the class, looked as if she were merely sitting behind the desk, but T.J. always claimed she had her legs spread wide enough to tell what color panties she was wearing, and one day claimed she wasn’t wearing any at all—

By November, most of the possible tasks had been assigned, but Carl, among Ms. Orlando’s more fervent admirers, had not been chosen, until, finally, the Monday before Thanksgiving—

“Carl,” she said, standing next to his desk. “Would you be able to stay after school for a few minutes? I have a special favor to ask of you.”

“Sure,” Carl said, sensing heads turning towards him—

Next period in social studies—

“You sly dog!” T.J. exclaimed, laughing almost maniacally. “She wants it, dude, she wants it!”

“She’s not gonna let him do it,” Emanuel said. “She can get arrested for that.”

“Who’s gonna tell?” T.J. said. “Dude, this is the chance of a lifetime! And even if he’s right, you’re not the one who’s gonna get busted. Dude, I’d give a thousand bucks to be in your shoes right now!”

* * *

The corridor was quiet by the time he pushed his locker closed and headed towards Ms. Orlando’s classroom, knowing he was going to miss the bus and have to catch the late one with the jocks and detentionites. As much as he’d fantasized of scenarios exactly like this, the realness of it terrified him, he who knew not how to kiss, unhook a bra, or smoke a cigarette afterwards. But he couldn’t chicken out—T.J. had been right about this being the chance of a lifetime, and he knew he would regret it forever if he didn’t go through with it—

She was waiting for him in a leather overcoat, giant European sunglasses, and an Yves Saint Laurent handbag hanging from her forearm, Carl able to see the pack of Parliaments inside. On the floor next to her desk was a large cardboard box full of green “Phonics” workbooks.

“Would you be a dear and follow me out to my car with that box?” she said. “That’s why I wanted you, because I needed a big, strong man for this special favor.”

“Sure,” he said, throat dry, the word barely coming out.

The box wasn’t heavy. She shut the classroom lights and he followed her down the empty corridor, her clacking high heels leading him out of the building to the Corvette parked in a far corner of the lot, apart from the sedans and minivans.

She unlocked the passenger door and opened it.

“Just put it on the seat, darling,” she said.

He felt her watching as he gently placed the box on the leather upholstery. There was no back seat, and he wondered how he was going to fit—

“Thank you, love,” she said, digging into her handbag for the cigarettes, “and be sure to do your reading tonight. I’ll be asking questions in class tomorrow. Be ready, I may call on you… Ciao!

Carl’s erection remained firm after the Corvette had disappeared up the street. With aching balls and forty minutes until the late bus, he headed back into the building and up the stairs to the quiet of the second-floor boys’ room, where he went into the clean stall and slid the latch shut— ▪