Drugs – A Serious School Problem
S.Q. Lapius was happily ensconced in his favorite chair just about to bring the evening paper into focus, when the bell chimed.
It was easier for me to stop what I was doing, i.e. mixing cocktails, and answer the door than for Lapius to disengage himself from the cushiony comforts that seemed to have captured the middle third of his body.
A bedraggled hairy vision, dressed in blue jeans and an old army jacket shouldered his way past the half opened door. I did not know whether to run or strike out in self defense, when a piping voice said, “Hi, Harry?”
I peered quizzically trying to make out the features behind the woolly forest of hair that obscured the features of the visitor, but to no avail.
“It’s me,” the voice said, “Pidgy. Is Uncle Simon home?” I nodded dumbly and followed him into the living room. Simon looked up and recoiled instinctively, as Pidgy dropped his rucksack to the floor.
A billow of dust settled slowly, as the room filled with the aroma of dried and stale sweat.
“Hello, Uncle Simon,” piped the voice.
“My God!” Lapius exclaimed. “Who is this, Harry?”
“Funny you don’t recognize him, Simon,” I answered, “Your kith and kin, your sister’s boy, Pidgy.”
“Pidgy,” Simon said trying to make out whether the hair that covered his face like a wild fungus was merely a Halloween disguise. “Pidgy,” he repeated. “What are you doing here? Oughtn’t you be at school?”
“I ought, Uncle Simon, but I ain’t, because they threw me out.”
“Then that makes you an ought, doesn’t it?” Simon said, still somewhat unsure of himself. “Why aren’t you at home then?”
“One reason, is because my folks are away. I thought I’d come here and settle down a bit, try to get it all together, you know.”
“By all means, my boy, make yourself at home. After you have showered and shaved, we’ll have dinner.”
“Well yes, Pidgy. You are very unkempt, and frankly the scent emanating from you or your garments won’t blend with the fragrant meal I plan to serve.”
“It’s not fair to ask me to shave.”
“Who said it was fair? It is merely a condition.”
“Okay,” Pidgy said grudgingly, “You win.”
“Why did they separate you from the school, Pidgy?” Lapius asked, while he adjusted his glasses to the new visions.
“Well, they caught me with some marijuana.” “Where did you get the marijuana?”
“At school,” Pidgy said indifferently.
I showed Pidgy to the guest room, and on Lapius’s orders, searched his rucksack and clothing for any left over drugs that the school might have missed.
I found only a small pipe that had a sweet smell to it. Pidgy objected to the search, but I explained that was also a condition.
At dinner, Pidgy, shuffling around uncomfortably in his seat, explained that everyone at the boarding school smoked pot or some reasonable facsimile. “I’ve been doing it for three years, since I was fourteen.”
“Egads,” exclaimed Lapius, “surely that is not what you were sent to school for. Do your parents know about this? What will happen now?”
“I don’t know,” Pidgy said not as abjectly as I might have expected him to. “But I guess since the folks are away you will have to talk with the headmaster.”
The following day, Lapius, Pidgy and I drove to the school. The headmaster greeted us warmly, with a sad shake of his head. His heavy lidded eyes blinked rapidly as if to prevent tears from welling over the lids. “I am terribly sorry about this, Dr. Lapius. But as you know we have no choice.”
“I should think not, sir,” Lapius responded. “But what is the next step?”
“Oh, there is no problem, Pidgy has good grades. We will place him in any prep school of his choice.”
Lapius’s jaw dropped, “You mean you will transfer Pidgy to an equivalent school?”
“Of course,” the headmaster cajoled, “it will take only a phone call.”
“But,” Lapius said, “if his offense is serious enough for expulsion, why foist him on another school?”
“But we don’t want to interfere with Pidgy’s career.”
“Then keep him here.”
“I am afraid we can’t do that, Dr. Lapius. That would create a discipline problem.”
“Seems to me you already have a discipline problem. Did you ask Pidgy where he obtained the marijuana?”
“That’s not necessary.”
“Well, ask him anyway.”
The headmaster turned reluctantly to Pidgy and asked the question, Pidgy said, “At school sir.”
“It would seem to me,” Lapius addressed the headmaster, “that you are hardly in a position to expel Pidgy. After all, you might risk suffering exposure of the fact that your institute is ridden with drugs. That wouldn’t be good for enrollment, would it?”
“You can’t prove that, Dr. Lapius. All that can be proved is that Pidgy had the drugs.”
“But Pidgy believes he can prove it,” Lapius said coldly.
“Wouldn’t that be counterproductive Dr. Lapius? We are prepared to help Pidgy in any way we can. He can put us down as a reference. I will give him the best recommendations.”
“That hardly seems consistent with the action you are taking.”
“But it would be for the best, wouldn’t it Dr. Lapius?”
“I’m not sure," Lapius mused. “Pidgy’s parents sent him to your boarding school for an education in scholastics, not in pot. Apparently you have a marijuana garden here instead, in which youngsters, beknownst to you or not, are easily influenced to partake of the drug. Surely you should be alarmed about this state of affairs, and take some corrective measures. You do play the role of Loco Parentis, you know, and thus have grave responsibilities that you haven’t lived up to.”
“What measure can we take? Can we search the boys? Search their rooms?”
“Not a bad idea for starters,” said Lapius.
“Their parents wouldn’t stand for it,” the Headmaster said sternly. “You’ll have to come up with something better than that.”
“Were I in your position sir, I would write every parent and tell them that drugs are a serious problem in all schools, this one included and ask them to be aware of their use at home, and also for permission to search them out at school. In other words, stop sweeping the problem under the rug.”
The headmaster smiled indulgently, “Things aren’t that easy,” he glanced at his watch. “I must be off.”
When he said goodbye the headmaster put his left arm around Pidgy’s shoulders and chucked him under the chin with his free hand.
“You have spunk boy, and brains too. Remember always that we are behind you.” He turned to shake hands with Lapius, but Simon somehow couldn’t extricate his right hand that had been dug deeply into his coat pocket.
On the way home Pidgy was exultant. “You sure told him off, Uncle Simon.”
Lapius turned to him coldly. “Shut up you idiot. If I were the headmaster I would have chucked you out as well. But not into another prep school.”
Then Lapius turned to me, morosely, “We are all accessories, aren’t we Harry?”