Hercules the Lesser sat quietly on the bench with his hands in his lap. His posture was good – not perfect. Miss Kravitz graded papers and hummed a tune that she learned when she was in elementary school.
After school Hercules the Lesser typically found his way down to Miss Kravitz’s classroom. She smiled when he she saw him. It was a welcoming smile. Hercules the Lesser only got those kinds of smiles from Miss Kravitz and Louise.
He walked in the room and sat on bench by the piano.
“I don’t feel like talking today, if it’s all the same you,” he said quietly.
“Do as you please, Hercules,” she responded equally quietly.
“Can I just sit here without talking?” he asked.
“Of course,” she replied.
“Can I press on the keys and make sounds?”
“Sure. Why not?”
“Can I sing?” he asked.
Then he giggled to himself. He knew he couldn’t sing.
“If you’d like to sing, by all means sing,” she said.
“I think I’ll sit here quietly and not talk anymore,” he said
“That will be fine,” she said with a smile.
Hercules the Lesser told Louise once – over a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy – that sometimes he wished he was Booger Wilson. Louise was dumbfounded. She reminded Hercules the Lesser that just about everyone General John G. Pershing Elementary School hated Booger Wilson – even some of the teachers. Hercules the Lesser told her that hate was better than apathy.
He didn’t envy Booger Wilson’s life – he just felt that being roundly hated was better than being roundly ignored. Louise thought differently but didn’t argue.
At a time when all the other kids were decked out in the latest Marvel or Disney costumes, Hercules the Lesser was squeezed into the undersized rocket ship costume. It was like red polyester sausage casing with fins. He never gave a thought to entering the costume contest because he knew they wouldn’t let him win anyway.
The Halloween dance was always a disappointment for Hercules the Lesser. His mother squeezed him into the same red rocket costume year after year. No kid wants to be the same thing year after year especially if it’s the exact same costume only now it’s worn out and a little dilapidated.
When Hercules the Lesser was a toddler someone gave him a pop-up rocket ship book. The first time he opened it he was startled by the brightly colored paper rocket that popped out of the pages. What he was showing was pure panic. What his mother saw was excitement. Soon she was bringing home every spaceship book she could find.When it came time to dress him up for Halloween she made him a red rocket jumpsuit of his very own.
That costume lasted four Halloweens before she was forced to start patching it. Every October 22 she pulls the old suit out of the closet and gets it ready for another year. She loves her Little Red Rocket Ship.
Miss Kravitz loved to play the piano and Hercules the Lesser loved to water the plants in her classroom. They both had their jobs to do to get the cozy little room ready for the day. He was grateful that she never forced him to speak, but she was always there if you needed someone to talk to. He just wasn’t very talkative, but she was there if he ever decided he had something to say.
When he arrived at General John G. Pershing Elementary School on the first day of classes, he walked straight to Miss Kravitz’s classroom. She would always greet him with a warm smile and a nice word. He didn’t get many of either of those in this place. Miss Kravitz was young and smart. She seemed to be just barely out of school herself. She was short – not much taller than Hercules the Lesser. Her clothes never fit quite right – straining against the seams although she was rail thin.