When The Force is with us, we call him Rudy Skywalker; when we’re feeling alliterative, we call him Rudy the Roamer. His buddies just call him Rudy.
He’s a tall, slim kid, and as you might have guessed, he likes to stride down the hallway peering into classroom windows every hour. His teachers complain that he spends more time out of class than in it. He has a long, skinny nose that looks Italian, but his last name is Hispanic, and he “bops” like a Crip. His bop, or strut, usually indicates where his head is that week. It’s been more pronounced lately, a bad sign.
I remember him from my class, not for his bathroom breaks, which were no more frequent than anyone else’s, but for his role as the go-between. Little Olivarri with the bright blue eyes, an unusual color among this darker population, would lean over and whisper to Rudy, and a few seconds later Rudy would throw up his hand, “Hey Miss.” I’d answer. Systematically, he’d turn back to Olivarri in a whisper, and Olivarri would start writing. I admit, it took me a dozen or so episodes to catch on, but when I did I thought the kid was going to die of embarrassment because I put a stop to it.
One day Rudy asked me a question, and I gave the answer directly to Olivarri. His eyes grew huge, a little color came to his cheeks, and he buried his face in his writing. It went on like this for awhile before I started to make him ask his own questions. Finally, at the end of our sixteen week semester, he could talk to me. The following semester I made sure to greet him in the hallway as he made his way to class. It was a good thing; I had the opportunity to sit in on his Phase II interview. His palpable shyness was painful to watch, and we all worried how he’d make it in the real world. When he stepped outside so the committee could discuss his performance, it became clear that he only spoke to two or three staff, and I was one of them. On the other hand, I heard he could talk up a storm with his peers who said he was awfully immature and easily mislead. What a shame. That’s what led him to prison in the first place. His co-defendant, whom it was said initiated the crime, walked away with a lesser sentence either in the juvenile system or with community service. I just remember the gross disparity. It wouldn’t be the last time I was perplexed.