John Albert Driver’s little brother shot him. They were rabbit hunting. His brother had seen a rabbit dart through the brush in front of him. He raised his gun and turned to shoot it. He fired his 20 gauge into John Albert’s belly. John Albert was left bleeding in the woods while his brother ran home. Their mother called an ambulance.
John Albert wasn’t very popular in the sixth grade. He was chubby and had taken a little longer than the rest of us to grow out of his fascination with professional wrestling. He still wore World Wrestling Federation t-shirts and could be heard bellowing the taunts of his favorite wrestlers in the hallway between classes. He would point at imaginary foes and scream, “Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?” before head-butting his pudgy face against a locker.
John Albert wasn’t at school the Monday after his brother shot him. But stories explaining his absence were. His cousin said that he was in critical condition and that he probably wouldn’t live. A boy who lived down the road from John Albert said that his little brother had shot him on purpose.
By the time fifth period had ended John Albert’s brother was going to the electric chair for murder. Zach Cooke’s father was a police officer. He had arrested John Albert’s brother and taken him to the jail. Zach Cooke told us this. John Albert would probably die and his brother would be convicted of first-degree murder.
The tardy bell rang, signaling the beginning of the sixth period. Mrs. Jackson entered the class and slammed the door shut. Mrs. Jackson was the most beloved teacher in the entire sixth grade. She never yelled. She never sent kids to the Principal's office. In her soothing southern drawl she would explain the three branches of government.