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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide


Put Down That pencil
By:Jim Henderson

The occupant inside the barricaded room defiantly replies, Iím not giving up!

Moments later a squad a black uniformed men in combat boots burst into the room amid a shower of splinters. The remnants of the door lay in pieces under their feet. Every manís rifle is pointed at the ďsuspectĒ.

Stand back, he menaces threateningly! Iíve got a weapon. Iíve used it before and if I have to, Iíll use it again. Brandishing a pencil, he waves it about wildly. Another pencil is tucked behind his ear. The swat team freezes. Itís their worst scenario, the one they dread the most, a deranged ďwriterĒ.

Put down that pencil before someone gets hurt, the squad leader calmly intones. Weíve got to take you in.

On what grounds, the belligerent man stammers? ďImpersonating an authorĒ is the reply.

For a moment the suspect hesitates, trigger fingers flex nervously. Silence, and then the squad leader speaks. It doesnít have to be like this, he attempts to reason with the potential assailant. All the while, every member of the swat team is thinking to himself, What if that pencil goes off? Adjectives and verbs and other projectiles could fill the room with their deadly spray. And everyone knows that names really can hurt you!

The suspect appears confused and angry. You donít understand, no one does. Not my wife, the kids, or my boss at work. Even my own mother thinks Iím crazy to want to be a writer! His voice trails off, You donít think Iím crazy, do you? Of course not, said, the officer. Both men know heís lying.

For a brief moment, there is silence in the standoff. The situation appears to be stabilized, yet precariously perched on the precipice of chaos. The sergeant glances around the room. He is appalled by the sight, the obvious signs of an addict are all around! Pads of paper, writing journals, ...and the pencils! Those deadly implements of senseless verbiage and prose. A trash can off to side is surrounded, overflowing with crumpled wads of attempted literary efforts. Itís much worse than I thought. If only someone seen the signs, had turned him in, he could have gotten help. But now itís come to this. Another literary ďwannabeĒ with delusions of grandeur.

The silence is broken by the sergeant. You want to talk about it...you know, tell me how this happened?

It all started so innocently, he said, lowering his guard. A book report here, an essay there. One thing leads to another and before you know it...his voice falters. Before you know it youíre doing lap tops and then word processors. I canít stop myself. A few words here, a sentence or two there. Then the paragraphs, I canít get the paragraphs to stop. Theyíre in my head!

He didnít have to say a word, the real horror was told in the eyes of the suspect. The extent of his condition was broadcast by those glazed over eyes from staring for hours at a blank, luminescent monitor. His hand moves slowly toward a keyboard, his fingers began to twitch around the keys uncontrollably.

He continues after a pause. The disease spread. At first Iím shoving manuscripts at a few of my friends but there not interested. At first they tried to be nice but soon they avoid me. Now Iím asking total strangers to proof read for me!

A negotiator is called in to defuse the terse standoff. We can help, he says. A padded cell, weíll get you some counseling, and a good treatment program. With any luck, you can beat this. Afterwards, weíll relocate you, set you up with AA, Authorís Anonymous. Listen to me, I know what youíre going through, itís happened to me too. An audible gasp fills the room, uneasy members of the swat team glance at each other nervously.

For the first time, the suspect appears to consider surrender. He ponders before he replies. What will happen if I donít turn myself in, he questions?

It will go hard on you, probably incarceration. Maybe even...he falters.

No, the suspect gasps, not.. not a rejection letter!

Yes, Iím afraid so!

With that, he surrenders and is escorted to a waiting patrol car to be wisked away. All right, the squad leader announces to the crowd that gathered around to watch, Go home! Itís all over now. The crisis has been resolved...

...or has it?

Sergeant, a team member urgently cries out. Come here quick! He is obviously in a state of panic. What is it, man?

One of the pencils is missing! Someone must have gotten it.

Here we go again!

Jim Henderson is currently employed in the field of environmental regulatory compliance. He enjoys writing as a past time and has had several articles published in various on-line publications.

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