The class ends before I have any idea what era of history we were even talking about. The American Revolution or maybe the Teapot Dome scandal? At the deaf school, every teacher knows sign language, and they have these captioning systems so everything shows up as text on a screen in addition to the lecture. Have I made a terrible mistake coming here? But I got so tired of the squabbles. Are you deaf enough? Strong deaf? Weak deaf? I just wanted to hang out and relax--not have to prove so much. I simply don't have a problem with hearing people. I always ended up defending them. Which landed me here. And now I'm not so sure....
Ah, but the girls.
One specimen, a perky little type, answers so many questions that it is easy to figure out her name even through Arterberry's swath of mustache hair. "Yes, Mindy?" "Miss Spark?" "Right you are, Mindy." "Mindy, Mindy, Mindy." Deaf people are also good at reading emotion as well as content, and it is easy for me to see that Mindy Spark is already Mr. Arterberry's least favorite student.
And then there is a girl I'm pretty sure is named Leigha. Mindy says her name a few times ("Right, Leigha?" "How 'bout it, Leigha?" "Oh my God, remember, this one time Leigha?"), so I get it. This Leigha is an unqualified beauty. Her eyes shine like steel, and her perfect face is the face in a dream you never even knew you were capable of having. Perfect. I write it down in my little notebook. MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD = LEIGHA-MIA. PERKY CHICK = MINDY SPARK PLUG. Then I write an observation about a weirdo from the bus. I don't know his name yet. Unlike Mindy, he answers no questions and spends the whole class staring at his fingers. SCUZZY GUY LOVES HIS FINGERS.
I hope this stuff will be on the test.
Excerpted from The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk Copyright © 2010 by Josh Berk. Excerpted by permission of Knopf Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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