When Liv pulled that coin out of the crumpled paper, the moment my eyes laid on it, I knew I had seen it before. My step dad collects these golden coins in his office. My step dad was one of the teachers. The kids call him Mr. Paul. He wants me to call him dad, but he is a full time teacher. I would never say “Dad” to someone like that. He’s a treacherous person. I saw his rap sheet yesterday. Everyone knew he’d been to jail once, they just didn’t know the second time. He’s been to jail twice, both times for twenty years. Everyone knows what he did, and whenever people see me, they start bringing it up. My mom is on the crazy side, and she doesn’t really care about me. That’s why I moved out of the house last year. I don’t think mom or Paul even noticed. My real dad was suffering from depression, so the last time I saw him was the last time I will ever see him. I tried to ask Paul why he was collecting these random coins, then he said;
“Now, don’t you try to be smart with me, boy.” So he threw me in the closet for the rest of the day, and I starved through dinner and breakfast. I don’t really have any friends at school, and when Liv dumped syrup on me, it was the best meal I had had in two days.
We examine the coin.
“Whadda you mean you’ve ‘seen it before?’”
“Paul collects them.” I explain.
“Christopher Paul, that cheeky little blob of slimy green barf? What kinda idiot accepted his job application? ‘Oh, and by the way Mr. Job Applicants person, I’ve been to jail twice.’” Liv says in a mimicking old man voice. I laugh at Liv’s joke. She knows that Mr. Paul is my step dad. She knows Mr. Paul went to jail. Cathleen is probably one of the few people who doesn’t know. It’s either that Liv and Lauren have chosen not to tell her, or she just refuses to believe it. But, oh, Mr. Paul! Your so perfect, there’s no way you went to jail! Teachers are good people, and nothing is ever wrong with them. That’s what Cath would say.
“Why didn’t you ask him why he collects them?” Liv asks.
“He wouldn’t let me. I’m sorry, but-”
“Don’t worry. I was just testing you. I know why someone would collect these.”