The tortured sounds of the alphabet song drifted across the lobby for the fifth time that day. From the next room, rising above the muffled voices, I heard, “Teacher, what does it mean, ‘feces’?” I sighed and rubbed my eyes, fighting sleep.
“What is…. what is surprise?” Tomio, the pudgy bald Japanese salaryman sitting across from me, jiggled a leg beneath the table and looked up from his textbook. “I don’t know this word ‘surprise.'”
Without blinking an eye I nailed the table with my fist. Pens and pencils leaped to the floor. Tomio bleated like a startled sheep.
“Yeah, that’s it,” I said.
“Bikkurishita! I am scared!” Struggling to control his fluttering heart, he twitched and squirmed and adjusted his tie. “You are mean! Ryan is mean!”
“Well, you won’t forget ‘surprise’ again, will you?”