The Deportees

The Deportees by Roddy Doyle

Book: The Deportees by Roddy Doyle Read Free Book Online
Authors: Roddy Doyle
the other boys and girls into the classroom. She stops at the door and turns to Joseph, Christian Kelly and Seth Quinn.
    —Not a squeak out of you, she says. —Just stand there.
    She is looking at Joseph. Does she think that he will run away?
    She walks into the room. Joseph remains in the corridor.
    —Now!
    Joseph hears the noise of children sitting down, retrieving books from schoolbags. He hears Miss.
    —Open up page 47 of Totally Gaeilge. Questions one to seven. I'll be right outside and listening out for any messing.
    Joseph does not look at Christian Kelly or Seth Quinn. They do not speak. They face the classroom door but cannot see inside.
    Miss has returned.
    —Now, she says.
    She stands in front of them.
    —I didn't do anything, says Christian Kelly.
    —Shut up, Christian, for God's sake.
    Joseph looks at Miss. She does not look very angry.
    —We have to sort this out, boys, she says.
    —I didn't—
    —Christian!
    It is, perhaps, a time when she will say God give me strength.
    But she doesn't. She looks at Seth Quinn.
    —Seth, she says. —What happened?
    —Nothing.
    Christian Kelly is looking at the floor. Seth Quinn is looking at Miss.
    —It was a funny sort of nothing I saw, says Miss. —Well, Joseph. Your turn. What happened?
    —Nothing happened, says Joseph.
    Miss says nothing, for three seconds. These seconds, Joseph thinks, are important. Because, in that time, the three boys become united. This is what Joseph thinks. They are united in their silence. They do not like one another but this does not matter. They stand there together, against Miss.
    She looks at the three boys.
    —You're great lads, she says.
    Joseph does not think that she is sincere.
    —What'll I do with you? she says.
    Again, the boys say nothing.
    —Seth?
    Seth Quinn shrugs.
    —Joseph?
    Joseph looks at her. He does not speak. He will not speak. He will be punished but he is not frightened or very concerned. He is, at this moment, quite happy.
    —Nothing to say for yourself? says Miss.
    Joseph shakes his head. He looks at the floor. There are many loud noises coming from the classroom. Joseph hopes that these will distract Miss. She does not speak. He hears her breathe. He looks at her feet. They do not move.
    She speaks.
    —Right, so. If that's the way you want it—
    —Miss?
    Joseph looks. It is Hazel O'Hara, the girl with the magnified eyes. She is at the door.
    —Yes, Hazel? says Miss.
    —I seen it.
    —Now, Hazel—
    —But I seen it. Christian Kelly pushed—
    —Back inside, Hazel.
    —But he—
    —Hazel!
    Hazel lifts her very big eyes and makes a clicking sound with her mouth. She turns and walks back into the classroom. They hear her.
    —She's a bitch, that one. I was only telling her.
    Miss follows Hazel. She rushes into the classroom.
    —Hands in the air!
    Seth Quinn speaks.
    —She thinks she's robbing a fuckin' bank.
    Christian Kelly laughs quietly. Seth Quinn laughs quietly. Joseph smiles.
    They listen to Miss. They cannot see.
    —Hazel O'Hara!
    —What?
    Joseph laughs. It is like listening to a radio programme.
    —I heard what you said, Hazel O'Hara!
    —It was a private conversation.
    He laughs because the other boys are also laughing. He hears them snort. He also snorts.
    —Don't you dare talk to me like that!
    —Like what?
    Joseph looks at Christian Kelly. He looks at Seth Quinn. They laugh, with him. Their shoulders shake.
    —Stand up! says Miss.
    —I am standing.
    —Hands in the air!
    —She's an eejit, whispers Christian Kelly.
    The three boys laugh together.
    It is quiet in the classroom.
    Seth Quinn whispers, —Now.
    And—
    —Now, says Miss, inside the room.
    This is, perhaps, the funniest thing that Joseph has ever heard. He laughs so much, he cannot see. He wipes his eyes. The other boys also wipe their eyes. He tries to stop. He knows that Miss will soon reappear.
    He stops.
    Then he says it.
    —Now.
    He thinks suddenly of his father; a great weight drops through his chest. He

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