Ed Snape and the Troublesome Transfer Student
A combination parody and satire by Dean Webb
Ed Snape entered the faculty lounge just as the bell rang. First one there. Best shot at getting coffee.
Except both pots were empty. Ed growled as he went to fill up the pots with water. Then he noticed that someone had left one of the pots on the heater until it burned the coffee in the pot. Great. Add “clean the pot” to Ed’s list of chores. Ed asked the coffee maker, “Seriously? You couldn’t remember to stop heating the coffee? You boiled away another pot.”
“Sorry, Mr. Snape. The last guy to use it ordered me to keep it hot, no matter what. He always hates finding cold sludge at the bottom of the pot.”
“Didn’t you tell him I ordered you to not wreck the pots, no matter what?”
“He outranks you. Don’t want to get in trouble, but I think you know who it is.”
Ed rolled his eyes and shook his head as he headed to the bathroom to clean the pots. It had to be the new assistant principal, Randall Importantsoundinglastname. Ed was sure Randall had changed his name legally after he got his administrator’s certificate just so he’d sound impressive at job interviews. This was Randall’s second gig in administration, after serving 2 years at some school out in the boonies. Word in the lounge had it that Randall had been doing something a bit improper, as his wife had seen fit to divorce him right when he applied to work at Joseph T. Hogwart High School.
That figured. A guy that cheated on his wife was pretty much the type to be a jerk about making coffee. “ALWAYS fill the last pot!” Ed repeated that mantra as he scrubbed the burnt coffee out of the pot. What a way to start an off period…
When Ed got back to the faculty lounge, a few other teachers were there, sitting in all the comfy chairs. Ed got the coffee going. As he did, Donna Hifflewiggins scooted over on the sofa and said, “You can sit here, Ed.” Donna was a great old teacher, always ready to help a comrade. She’d been at JTHHS for what seemed like forever, teaching freshman Telekinesis classes, year in, year out.
Ed sat next to her. “I don’t know how you do it, Donna.”
Donna smiled. “I can see the future for most of them, I guess. I know they’re not freshmen forever, so I give ’em a good working over so they’re easier for you guys to work with. And it’s not much different from your sophmores in Potions I.”
Ed nodded. “I just wish I taught the Defense classes. I’d teach them to freshmen, even.”
Donna raised an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with Potions I and II? Thought you liked those?”
“They’re all right. But the reason I got into teaching was that I had a passion for Defense. That was my major at UT-SAM. Of course, I knew getting a Defense job right out of the gate was pretty tough, so I took a composite certification. Now I can teach everything, so that’s what they get me to teach. Everything except Defense.”
“Did you talk to the principal about this?”
“Every year, I put in for the job. Every year, he hires some yahoo or whack job from I don’t know where to fill an opening in that department and I’m stuck in Potions.”
“But did you talk talk to him about this? Face time is a whole different thing than putting in a piece of paper with a transfer request. Ray Dumbledore is a pretty good wizard, but he’s not a mind-reader.”
Ed reflected on that. “Maybe I should see him.”
Donna smiled. “It’s too late for this year but plenty early for the next one.”
Ed nodded and got up to go see Ray.
Ray Dumbledore was just leaving his office when Ed walked up. “Hey there, Ed!”
“Hey, Ray.” Everyone liked the way the two words rhymed. Ray himself was a man worthy of the happy rhyme, being one of the rare breed of administrators that cared more about the students and teachers at his school than he did about feathering his own bed. “Got a minute?”
“Sure.” Ray re-opened his office and motioned for Ed to come on in. “What’s on your mind?”
Ed sat down opposite Ray. “It’s about next year. I’d really like to move over to being a Defense teacher. I’ve got a passion for it and I’ve been wanting to move into that department ever since I started at JTH.”
Ray lifted his eyebrows and puffed up his upper lip in a way that indicated he knew exactly what Ed was talking about and that the answer wouldn’t be what Ed wanted to hear. “Well, Ed… I don’t know how to put this…” Ray turned and went through a stack of paper until he found the right sheet. “Can I trust you to keep a secret?”
“Sure. You know me.”
Ray smiled. “Well, this one’s a bombshell, but I want to keep you as a teacher so I guess I better tell it to you so you don’t make a big mistake. Look at this.” Ray handed the paper to Ed.
Ed read it. He couldn’t believe it.
Ray said, “I’ll need that back.” He held his hand out.
Ed gave back the paper. “The whole department?”
“The whole department, at a stroke.”
“But kids need Defense classes. Some of them, that’s what keeps them in school.”
“I know, Ed, but Defense Against the Dark Arts isn’t a state-tested class. It’s an elective and we’ve got some tough funding issues in the district, and the Arts always suffer in the cuts. It’s going to be pretty much statewide, from what I hear. Potions I and II are tested, so those jobs are always going to be there. If you were in Defense, I’d be in the position of cutting your position and then I’d lose you as a teacher. I don’t want that to happen. That’s why I didn’t move you over there. Something like this cut was always in the works. It’s just that this year, it’s a reality.”
“Do the current Defense teachers know?”
“Some of them have an inkling, but nothing official. I can’t say anything about it until the end of next semester, or I’ll lose my job. That’s why I need you to keep a secret.”
“Absolutely… so how about doing Defense as an extracurricular? I’d be willing to sponsor that.”
Ray tilted his head to the left. “On top of your coaching?”
“Sure. I could run it in the afternoon.”
“What’s going to happen to your social life?”
Ray tilted his head to the right. “Well, it’s just that I don’t want to see you get burned out or anything. If you can think you can handle it, though, you’ve got my blessing.”
Ed thanked him, shot the breeze about how the quidditch team was shaping up this year, and then went back to the lounge, hoping to get some coffee before his next class.
The tardy bell for 7th period rang and Ed announced, “All right, everyone, get out your pens. Time for a pop-quiz.” General groans echoed about his potions lab. “Too bad, so sad, I’ll be sure to show up for court when you sue me for emotional cruelty… you’ve got ten minutes.”
As Ed handed out the quizzes, a young man entered the room. He had the hopelessly confused face of a student new to school, with a schedule to match. “Excuse me, are you Mr. eSnape?”
“Yes. Let me make sure you’re in the right class.” Ed hoped the kid was in a different period, since 7th was already huge and tended to be his worst-behaved class of the day. Ed looked at the new kid’s schedule… and yes, he was in 7th period. His name was Enrique Alfarero, which explained the accent. “Where are you transferring in from?”
“What school are you coming from?”
Langston? That was a rather well-to-do private school for muggles. Why the transfer to a public school for wizards? Ed figured a visit to the counselor might yield some clues. For now, the kid needed to show what he knew. “Well, all right. Have a seat and take this quiz.”
Enrique nodded, took a quiz paper, and got right to work on it.
After school, Ed stopped by the counselors’ office and went to the lady in charge of Enrique’s end of the alphabet: Connie Razzenfrazzen. Connie was a cute, plump, grandmother of a lady just a few years away from retirement, but still sharp as a tack… most days.
Ed walked up to her open door and said, “Knock knock?”
Connie smiled. “Hi, Ed, what can I do for you?”
Ed entered and took a seat. “I’ve got a new kid today, Enrique, uh…”
“Enrique Alfarero. Yes. And I bet you want him moved out of your seventh period, am I right?”
“Well, it’s really crowded there and unruly. He’s a great kid, walked in today and aced my quiz, and I think he’d be a lot better off in my 3rd period.”
“Can’t. Sorry.” Connie’s answer was fast enough to indicate she’d already wrestled with that beast.
“Did you see the rest of his schedule? He’s in everything. You’ve got him in 1st period, too. JV Quidditch.”
“Really?” Ed leaned over to see the copy of Enrique’s schedule Connie was holding up. The kid really was in everything, which locked down his schedule tight. And, yes, there he was in JV Quidditch. “So why is he coming to us from Langston in the middle of the semester?”
“Langston has a number of scholarship programs for economically disadvantaged students. That’s why Enrique enrolled here. Apparently, his scholarship got canceled.”
“So how did he go from non-magical to magical?”
“Langston has a GTM program, and Enrique was in it.”
“They’ve got magical and non-magical kids at the same school?”
“Some people think it works.” Connie shrugged. “But, like you said, he’s a good student, so I guess it worked in his case.”
“I noticed he’s got a strong accent. Are there any language modifications I need to make for his spellcasting?”
Connie nodded. “Yes. Mr. Einstein-Bose is working on his IEP.”
“Anything else I need to know about Enrique?”
“Well, I know he comes to us from Guatemala. His parents were killed in the civil war there when he was very young, and he’s living with an aunt here. Confidentially, I can’t say much more about the home life, but let’s just say a little bird told you that you need to be on the lookout for signs of abuse.”
“Has CPS been involved?”
Connie nodded. “But you didn’t hear that from me. Most of it is verbal, so he may have some issues with various teachers. He wasn’t a problem at Langston, but with all the changes, I don’t know if that changed, too.”
“So how did he get into Langston on scholarship with a family situation like that?”
“Their other boy is there normally and the family enrolled Enrique there, but made it seem like he was an economically disadvantaged student. Langston found out where he lived and canceled the scholarship.”
“You didn’t mention that earlier.”
“Well, you got me in a talkative mood. Frankly, I think the whole thing stinks. The family he’s in already used him in one scam and has been abusive, so who’s to say they’re not working some other fraud with Enrique’s refugee status. He really seems like a nice boy and the people at Langston that I talked with said they hated to see him go. Apparently, the aunt’s boy is a terror. But you’re going to have him in your class and you’re also going to coach him, so you’re going to be in a spot where you may be the one adult in his life that really helps him turn things around.”
“Well, I only coach the seekers. Don’t know if I’ll see him much.”
“You will. That’s his position. He told me himself.”
Ed’s heart sank. This was going to be a huge, huge problem. Hopefully, if there was any justice in the world, this new kid would be terrible compared to the others and would accept playing at some other position.
The next morning, Enrique showed up to practice on time. Coach Snape took him and the other seekers off to the bleachers for broom drills. Drake Schlechtglauben, the starting JV seeker, gave Enrique the stink-eye from the get-go. Ed worried that Drake might try to get rough with the new kid.
Ed’s worries increased when Enrique finished the boom drills first. Those bleacher runs were murder, with or without a broom, but Enrique looked ready to go for another round. The kid was in great condition and had moves to match, no question about it.
Drake finished a few seconds later and made a point to fake a stumble and careen into Enrique. Ed blasted his whistle. “That’s unacceptable, Schlechtglauben! Take a lap!”
“I lost control, it wasn’t my fault!”
“Losing control IS your fault. Take another lap, while you’re at it.”
Drake’s anger grew. His face turned red, which, with his mozzarella-white hair, made him look like a strawberry milkshake. “I said, it’s not my fault!”
Ed had to match him, shout for shout, or he’d lose all authority as a coach. “I said it is, and you can take four laps or you can turn in your broom and try your luck with the dance team. I hear they also meet first period. But if you want to keep your starter spot, I suggest you hit those laps with a quickness.”
Drake peeled out on his broom and started his laps. The way he was going, he was set to have some nasty wind burns when he got back.
Ed got the rest of the seekers doing skill exercises. As they went through the paces, he noted that the new guy wasn’t just an ace on the bleachers. He had talent like Ed had never before seen. This Alfarero kid was golden – a prospect maybe for a pro team, and certainly a shoo-in for a full ride at a good Division I school. If he played as a starter, he’d get a lot of time in front of the scouts and that would be his ticket to a better place.
And that was the thing Ed feared most. Schlechtglauben was the current starter and his dad was president of the school board. Old Luke Schlechtglauben wasn’t above using his child to advance his schemes and vice-versa. He was the regional VP for Volde Mortgage, the nation’s largest lender to wizards, and nobody in town wanted to have his papers reviewed for possible clerical errors. Schlechtglauben always used that as a veiled threat to jack the rate up a percentage or two or hold the borrower in default and foreclose.
And Ed had just arranged for a home equity loan with Volde to pay off his credit card bills…
Schlechtglauben had already tied the fate of the district to his son’s starting on the quidditch team. When it looked like Drake was going to be the backup seeker in his freshman year, old Luke chose to fund the capital and equipment improvements package with a tax hike. After the coaches made Drake the starter, Luke proposed to the board that it instead fund the improvements with a much more palatable bond issue. Had the JTHHS coaches stuck to their guns, then the kids would still be using wands from the 19th Century. Drake was fine as a seeker, so the program didn’t suffer: just their integrity.
As for the #1 guy, he went off to another school less riddled with politics and earned his starting role there. Hogwart High made it all the way to the second round of the state playoffs, where they faced their former starter at his school… and that’s as far as they got. The other school went on to the finals, where it took its third straight state championship, won off an amazing snitch catch.
Of course, Luke Schlechtglauben had enough nerve to demand the head coach be fired if the team didn’t advance further in the playoffs this year – and this was just at the JV level! Ed shuddered to think of what kind of trouble Luke would raise up when Drake moved up to Varsity… or if another seeker became starter.
Ed knew it was only a matter of time before it was obvious that Enrique was the right seeker for the starting role. If this was like any other team where kids earn the right to play, all Enrique would have to deal with would be the hazing from other players before he proved himself. Here, he had to practically take on all of Volde Mortgage, since that was the power that kept Drake in his high place.
After practice, Ed called out to his new seeker. “Enrique! Come on over here for a minute.”
“Yes, Coach eSnape!” Enrique hustled on over. “Yes?”
“Walk with me.” Ed led Enrique back out on the field, now deserted.
Ed looked into the sky and watched the clouds scudding ahead of the oncoming cold front. “Enrique… I just want to know, is there any other school your family can get you into?”
“What do you mean?”
Ed turned to face Enrique. “You’ve got a great talent and I think it can get you noticed. You could get a full ride as a seeker, but you need to be in a program that can showcase your skills. This isn’t that program. Drake’s got the starter slot locked up and I can’t shake things around. We’ve built our offense around him, and we can’t work in a new starter, not at this phase of the game.”
“Why would some other eschool not also have this problem? If you don’t want me on the team, just tell me.”
This was going into a direction Ed hadn’t expected. “That’s the thing. I do want you on the team. It’s just that I can’t make that choice.”
“I’ll talk with the head coach, then.”
“His hands are tied, too.”
“Who do I need to talk to to fix this?”
Ed dropped his face. “Nobody, Enrique. Nobody. That’s the problem. The guy in charge of everything here isn’t someone that anyone talks to. He does all the talking. That’s why I’m saying you need to go to another school to get noticed. It’s politics. You’ve been here a day and a half, so you don’t know how things are run here, but that’s the reality of it all. You’re in my worst class of the day and I have to try and coach you in a sport where you can’t compete with the power and money that’s on Drake’s side. This place isn’t right for you, and I want you to know that from the get-go.”
Enrique kicked a rock across the track and turned away.
Ed looked back up. “Don’t get me wrong. I think you’ve got the best talent I’ve seen, ever. You’re a natural for the sport and you did great on the quiz yesterday. I mean that.”
Enrique turned back to face Ed.
“I really mean that.” Enrique lost some of the aggression in his stance. “And I want you to know that if you stay here at JT Hogwart, your options are going to be limited by forces outside your control or my control.”
Enrique looked down at the dirt. “I know. That’s my life. This guy Drake, right? His family’s got money?”
Ed nodded. “Dad’s also the school board president. He runs the town.”
Enrique looked back up and squinted. “Figures. Bunch of elitists. Just like the parents at Langston.”
Ed had forgotten that part of Enrique’s past. Maybe he understood, after all. “I’m sorry, Enrique.”
“It’s not your fault, coach. It’s just one more thing I have to deal with. My mom and dad got killed by death esquaderas, my aunt and uncle keep me here because they get a government check for it, and my grades aren’t good enough to be in the top ten. I’m already planning on junior college for my basics and then going on to UTD or UTA or something.”
“What are you gonna major in?”
“I dunno. Physics, maybe. I’m good with clairvoyance, so it’ll help in looking at particle traces, like what Pemberton-Doublebarrel does at CERN.”
“I know UTD has a good physics department. They don’t have much in the way of magical training, though.”
“If I want that, I pretty much have to go private, like to MIM or CalMag. I can’t afford that.”
The bell rang. Ed looked back at the school. “Well, you hurry on to second period. I’ll see you seventh and maybe I’ll figure something out.”
Enrique nodded. Then he smiled and ran to the school. Ed watched and smiled, sadly, for his new student. Ed decided he was someone worth fighting for, since it seemed like nobody else was doing the job. He didn’t know if he could take on Volde Mortgage or anything like that, but there had to be some other way of getting Enrique a fair shake.
Ed figured he’d skip doing his duty second period and do a little research on scholarship opportunities for Enrique. Ray didn’t like it when people broke the rules, but tended to be forgiving when they broke the rules for the right reasons. As long as Mr. Importantsoundinglastname didn’t catch him, Ed stood a good chance today’s premeditated skipping of duty wouldn’t go down as a mark on his permanent record.
And if Randall Importantsoundinglastname *did* catch him, Ed was ready to counter with a broken rule of his own: always fill an empty pot. If Randall wasn’t going to take care of the coffee pots, then he had no authority to stop Ed Snape from taking care of Enrique Alfarero.