Johnny’s Failure — Part 1

Jim LaBate
4 min readJul 24, 2019

Failure to Attend Class

When the police arrived at Johnny’s home in early January, they knew something had gone terribly wrong. The front door — despite the swirling snow — was wide open, and they saw a backpack with textbooks bulging from the top and a laptop computer thrown in a wastebasket near the foot of the stairs.

“This is the Troy Police Department. Is anybody home?”

When no one answered, Detective Frament gave his orders: “Brooks, you check out the garage and the basement; Smitty, you go upstairs; Welch, you and I will cover the main floor.”

Unfortunately for Johnny, each of the police officers found plenty of evidence that hinted at Johnny’s destruction. In the garage, Officer Brooks found a 1995 Corvette convertible in the process of being rebuilt. The hood was up, and parts were strewn everywhere. Similarly, the dashboard was wide open, and wires of assorted colors littered the front seat. The huge basement was mostly empty, but each side told the same story in a different way: the weight bench and treadmill on one side were dusty and covered with dirty clothes while the pool table and bar on the other side contained empty beer bottles and numerous blue and red plastic cups.

As Officer Smith explored the bedrooms upstairs, he found a sleepy college student in each bed. In what appeared to be the master bedroom, he found an overweight baseball fan still wearing his Yankees parka and his construction boots. In the bedroom that doubled as a home office, he found a pizza delivery guy still wearing the company baseball cap. And in the messiest room he had ever seen, the officer discovered a carved wooden Indian resting alongside a basketball player dressed in his jersey, shorts, and sneakers.

On the kitchen counter, though, Officer Welch found the most serious evidence of all: “Dear Johnny, Due to your poor academic performance during the fall semester, you are officially on probation for the spring. If you wish to continue your college education next year, your grades during the spring semester must show dramatic improvement.”

After their search of the main floor, the officers went upstairs. “Johnny, wake up,” said Detective Frament to the young man sleeping next to the wooden Indian.

Jim LaBate

Jim LaBate works as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, New York.