Let Go. And Letting Go. Part One

By Tom Nussbaum
It had been twelve years since Nico Meyers had been fired by the rural Idaho panhandle school district. It had been sudden, unceremonious, and, Nico thought, unfair. It was the day after the end of the Spanish teacher’s second year at the high school.

He had recorded his students’ grades, completed the other year-end obligations, and was exiting the building when the stern-faced principal chased him down in the foyer. “I have something for you,” he said, handing him a school district envelope. Nico pulled a letter out as the principal rushed back into the school.

“We have become aware that your weekend trips to Spokane,” the letter read, “violate the moral code clause of your contract and pose risks to our students. We will not allow you to recruit and groom students for sex. Your affiliation with the school district is terminated.”

Nico stared at the letter with disbelief. “What the hell!” he gasped. “I am not recruiting or grooming anyone for anything. I check ID and serve as security at a gay bar on Friday and Saturday nights across the state line. How does that pose a threat to district students?” he asked. “And how did you ‘become aware’ of where I go on my personal time unless a representative of the district is tailing me? I should sue based on discrimination.”

His defensive attitude, however, lasted only moments. Optimism, Nico’s normal mindset, took over. “But I won’t,” he thought with a shoulder shrug. ‘When one door closes, others open.’ ‘When life hands out lemons, turn them into lemonade.’ They’ve confirmed my plan.”

Unknown to other staff members, Nico had become disenchanted with his
conservative school district and the repressive high school at which he taught. He had planned to leave after his third year.

Aware that school administrators would be out of the building the following Monday, Nico went to the school to pack up his belongings. The only people there were the custodian and the head secretary.

“I’m so sorry about this, Mr. Meyers,” the secretary said.

Nico eyed the woman with distrust. “How long was this in the works?”

“A while. One of the boys reported that you had a rainbow flag decal inside your closet. Do you?”

“Who? That closet was off-limits to students. That was where I put my coat, boots when it snowed, and lunch. There was no reason for any student to look in there.”

“Well, one did. At least one.” A moment of tense silence followed. “I’m so sorry about this,” the woman repeated. “What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know.” His answer sounded unconvincing, but the secretary did not seem to hear the lack of conviction.

“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, Mr. Meyers,” she whispered, “but they hired your replacement before you were officially terminated. Just graduated from Boise State. The superintendent’s niece.”

“What? She got the job because she’s related to the superintendent? That violates the district hiring process. That’s just wrong.”

“They said it was an emergency, an unusual circumstance.”

“But it still is wrong.”

“As was displaying that rainbow flag decal in your closet.”

“How is that wrong?” Nico snapped. “And I wasn’t displaying it! It was in the closet. My closet.”

“You are in Northern Idaho, Mr. Meyers. Did you not understand how conservative it is here? I’m conservative. But this area is almost too conservative for me.”

“I took the job thinking I could change it. Just a little.”

“You came from Tucson, right? Just out of college. Well, this isn’t Tucson. This isn’t a big city. Nor a college town.”

“Yeah. Maybe I should go back there.”

But Nico Meyers did not return to Southern Arizona. Instead, he relocated to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a few hours from his mother’s inland hometown.
To be continued…



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