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The One Glance Man This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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If anyone knows the real soul of a school, it’s me. The counselors and admission people think they know it like the back of their tiny hands, but they don’t know squat about what goes on after hours. I do.

I won’t bother introducing myself. You’ll get to know me soon enough I think. I call myself the one glance man. That’s all people give me. They give me one glance and then I fade like mist into the walls. I don’t give a darn actually. I mean sometimes it would be nice and everything to have someone to talk to now and then, but at least I’m not getting called out.

I do have friends though, don’t think I don’t. I mean, take Jesus for example. Don’t go calling him Jesus, it’s Jesús. Although for me, he might as well be Jesus for all the crap miracles he’s pulled to save my job. I’m not exactly a good guy. I live on the shady side of town. Lots of gangs and lots of violence, and more than once I’ve had to take the long way around because of some sort of gang fight. Anyway Jesus helps by telling the boss my situation.

We used to hang out a lot, me and ol’ Jesus. But now things have changed.

My problems really started and ended when I found the note in the trash. I clean the school, so I’m always finding notes on the floor, next to the trash can, you get the picture. That’s how I know the soul of the school, because I see all the written crap the kids leave behind. I pick up notes like: “Hey Trish, want to be my girlfriend?” or “You dickhead” that sort of thing. I see all kinds of stuff. Yeah, if you really want to know I do have to scratch off the gum under the desks. Sometimes I’ve had to use my fingernails for that sort of thing, nasty crap.

I also clean the carpets and wipe down the lockers every night. By that time it’s around six o’clock and no moron is going to stay at the school that late at night. School gets out at three. I arrive at three and start cleaning the upstairs offices. I finish with those and it’s around three forty five. I then do all the upstairs, bathroom, carpets, lockers, kitchen, everything. By that time most of the kids have cleaned out. The stragglers are either joking around or crying in a corner. I don’t give a darn about either, I just vacuum right past ‘em. They give me only one glance.

Sometimes I feel like a rejected woman, getting only one glance. You know the kind of women I mean, the shady kind that go out and buy crappy skirts and tights with holes in ‘em and wear something really revealing on the top. Those types of women you see on my end of town. You can always tell you’re entering the shady side of town by the way the women dress, like they’re s***s or something. I haven’t once seen a woman wearing pants in my area. It’s all miniskirts or short shorts. Not that I have an eye for fashion. I just clean crap. That’s my department, the crap department.

Anyways, I was vacuuming the downstairs one afternoon, and I saw this girl crying in the corner. The corner she was sitting in was called the “kissing corner,” because that’s where we find the most couples making out, but today I called it the “crying corner,” because she was sobbing like there was no tomorrow. At first I moved on. Let her cry, howl like some sort of dog. But she wouldn’t stop. Even after I had finished two hallways down she wouldn’t stop. Her crying sounded like an animal whimpering.

I couldn’t not help her if you know what I mean. I mean her was this teenage girl, crying and there was no one around her. It was like leaving a puppy out on the road to get run over by a car and just not caring. I had actually seen a cat get run over once. Typical moron, driving at maybe the ol’ sixty miles per hour, that sort of thing, but there was a little grey kitten in the road. I was driving two cars behind, and when I got there…well I don’t want to even say anything anymore. I hate cats, hate ‘em with all my might. But this little kitten, well it didn’t deserve to die.

Neither did this girl, not that she was going to die, but she didn’t deserve to cry.

I cautiously walked up to her, like I do with everyone. I’m a cautious guy, I live on the shady end of town, how can you not be cautious living in the shady end of town? I walked up to her, although I really tip toed. I was wasting time. I had more crap to clean. It was around four thirty. This girl should have gone home by now.

“Hi…” I said, although my voice squeaked like I was one of those annoying parrots in the pet store, the ones you hate cause they won’t shut up. She stopped sniffling for a second. Her hair was brown and she sat in some sort of pretzel position. She wore dark pants that showed off her shaped legs. On top was a white low cut t shirt. It looked too old for her, like it belonged on one of those women from my side of town. She wore a brown jacket on top of that. She turned her head to look at me.

I’ll never forget the expression in her eyes. I could tell they were originally hazel, but now they were red and kind of bloodshot. Her nose was crinkled like she smelled some sort of nasty crap and her hands played with a crumpled tissue.

“Hi.” She rasped nasally. She didn’t look away. She didn’t give me one glance. She just looked at me. I almost fell to the floor. What a pitiful sight. Her puppy dog eyes filled with tears. I looked at the floor beneath my feet. Now I was giving her only one glance. I looked at her again. I sat down.

“I’m Theodore, but you can just call me Big T.” I smiled weakly. The girl’s mouth curled up a bit in an attempt of a smile.

“I’m Rebecca…Nice to meet you.” The words seemed to float out of her mouth, like ghosts. She stared off at the wall straight across from her.

“Why are you crying?” I’m not good at making conversation. Last time I had a girlfriend, she broke it because I wasn’t talking enough. She was one of the shady women. Afterwards, I couldn’t talk at all, except to Jesus that is. I was at least trying, give me some slack.

“I don’t really know.” The girl said and ended with some sort of weak chuckle, “My boyfriend dumped me today in front of all my friends. My parents got a divorce last month. I failed a math test. What more is there to ruin my life?” Again her hazel eyes looked into mine.

“I’m sorry.” It was all I could say. She nodded, blowing her nose into a tissue.

“I should probably go.” She stood up. I did too. For once I felt bad for her. The poor girl, how could so many bad things happen to one innocent person?

“Thanks Big T.” Her voice called me back to her Hazel eyes. I nodded.

“No problem. I hope you have a good day Rebecca.” What else could I say? I work in the crap department for Pete’s sake! I’m not good with words; that’s why I don’t talk to a lot of people. She walked away.

But I didn’t find the note until three days later. I was cleaning out Greg’s classroom. Everyone at the school knows him as Mr. Jet, but he knows me as Big T and so I call him Greg. He teaches science, so his room takes longer to clean. From today’s crap it looks like they were doing some sort of chemical experiment. There was a dark orange stain on the floor. I got down on my hands and knees to try and clean it off, but in the end I had to use the end of a screwdriver.

Finally I wiped down the lab counters. I slid on my back to check the bottoms of the desks. No gum today thankfully. Typically Greg’s room has one of the most gum chewers in the whole school. It’s surprising because chewing gum isn’t allowed, especially not in the science rooms. They’re afraid it’ll catch on fire or something. I guess our school has a lot of rebels.

I mopped the floor. As I was mopping the floor near Greg’s desk, I spied a scrap of paper on the floor near one of the cupboards. I stopped mopping and groaned as I bent down to grab it.

It had been neatly folded about six times. I don’t quite remember. I opened it. Written in neat handwriting (I assumed a girl’s) was what this note said:

“Top of the bridge, 12:00 p.m. Isn’t that what everyone does? Oh well, if you’re ending it, you best end it like everyone else. Top of the Iron Bridge, 12:00p.m. I will die.” –Rebecca.

I didn’t know what to do. How long had that note been there? I hadn’t seen Rebecca since I spoke to her in the halls, but it wasn’t like I was looking for her out of the rest of the morons at this school. But that didn’t mean I didn’t care. I remembered her hazel eyes. She can’t die. She’s so young. She’s so innocent.

I dropped the mop and ran upstairs. I’ll grab it later. I huffed my way up the stairs and finally made it to the main offices. Chloe was behind the desk. Oh good.

“Chloe, here, give this to Sean.” I panted. I handed her the note.

“Big T, Sean’s in a meeting right now.”

“Please.” Chloe glared at me for a second. She always does that when she doesn’t want to interfere. She’s got these soft brown eyes that look really shiny when she’s angry. I don’t know if it’s the light or not, but it looks good on her. Her eyes I mean, not her mad face.

Chloe looked at the note. Her eyes widened.

“I’ll give it to him right away.” She stood up and hurried down the hall. I nodded in some sort of reverence, and then walked back downstairs. I had crap to clean. It was almost six.

What I did find out was that they were able to stop Rebecca. They caught her walking to the bridge. Jesus told me this the next day.

No I wasn’t a hero. The police and Rebecca’s parents thanked Sean instead. They only gave a glance at me. That was okay, I’m a one glance man. Sean though thanked me privately. I was vacuuming. He walked up, called me out. I turned around, my foot catching on the vacuum wheel. Crap, that hurt.

“You alright Big T?”

“Yeah.” I said, stumbling into a standing position.

“I just wanted to say thank you. You saved her life.”

“Yeah.” He shook hands with me and left.

I gave him one glance before going back to vacuuming.

After all, I am a one glance man, working in the crap department, at a school. I live on the shady side of town. I saved a girl’s life once, but that doesn’t make me a hero. People don’t give a darn about me and I don’t about them either. I know the soul of this school like the back of my hand, and I give everyone just one glance, because I’m a one glance man.



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

FateRunnerThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 12 at 8:12 pm:
i think this is really good. its one of my favorites on teenink.  
 
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xiaoseThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Aug. 12 at 1:02 am:
This one is definitely going into my Favorites. It's such an incredible portrayal of an inconspicuous man who does extraordinary things. Bravo. 
 
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HeyDude said...
Aug. 11 at 1:22 pm:
This is a really awesome story.  Well-written, too!
 
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the-unrehearsedThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 11 at 12:32 pm:
I love this piece and everything it stands for. It makes me cry that we allow all these people to be unsung heroes when they really are the best of us. Thank you for the wonderful work!
 
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