They remind us of jackals or hyenas. They are a pack, small yet fiercely loyal. Together, they hunt and scavenge, carcasses strewn for vast distances. With the tiny but sharp fangs of wit and wisdom, they tear flesh, crunch bones, all the while cackling gleefully. Their laughter is the jagged howls of jungle beasts. They are as dangerous as lions.
Mrs. Hernandez calls it the Pervert Voice. She uses it to mock the deputy, his odd fascinations with young girls, her single colleague, and sex crimes fodder for the ongoing jokes. She takes on the posture of a macho peacock and deepens her voice. “Yes, well, what color were her panties? Can you describe the act? Was there penetration?” Ms. Galindo screams with laughter. Sometimes she uses the Pervert Voice. “Did you miss me? Have you thought about me? Can you describe your thoughts? Were they sexual?” She scores major points the day they take Mrs. Hernandez’s Jaguar into the ghetto to hunt for some kids who left campus without their suspension paperwork. As they drive through the awful neighborhood, Ms. Galindo spots a boy who was expelled for fondling a girl. He is gawky, a beanpole with insect eyes. He walks past two older women and Ms. Galindo speaks in the Pervert Voice, “Ladies! I have magic hands.” Mrs. Hernandez nearly drives onto the curb as they laugh their jackal laughs.
Emmanuel Buenrostro is no stranger to being suspended for blatant defiance. He has learned to tell Ms. Galindo the truth.
“Everything that is written on there is true.”
“You told him you’d break his projector?”
“And then you called him a crazy ass fool?”
“A pussy ass fool.”
When Mrs. Hernandez hears the retelling of the story, she declares, “Emmanuel Buenrostro for President!”
The good doctor is screaming like a banshee, “All I ask for is courtesy!”
The students look at the security guard. Three boys, who stink of drug store cologne, follow him to the office.
The Underwear Caper begins innocently enough. Ms. Galindo walks into Mrs. Hernandez’s office as she does most mornings to catch up on personal updates and make her usual smart-aleck remarks. She notices a plastic bag of laundry on the floor but does not say anything. An hour later, Mrs. Hernandez walks into the lobby.
“All right, which one of you dirtbags is responsible for this nonsense?”
She marches into Ms. Galindo’s office.
“Did you see any of these jerks come into my office?”
“No. What happened?”
“Look at it what they’ve done. They’re going to get it!”
She hands Ms. Galindo a bright pink post-it. In a man’s crooked print, it reads, “Honey, please wash these before I get home. Love, Greg.” Greg is Mrs. Hernandez’s husband.
“Where did you find this?”
“With the bag of laundry.Did you see it here before?” Ms. Galindo follows Mrs. Hernandez back to the office. She points at the bag. It is full of white athletic socks and BVD briefs.
“It was here this morning.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I don’t know. So what are you going to do now?”
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
After hours of interrogation, the two women decide to take revenge. At Ms. Galindo’s prompting, they don latex gloves and open the laundry bag. They scatter briefs and socks all over the security office: a small pile on each chair, one in every cupboard, one on the computer monitor, one on the keyboard,one tangled up with the phone receiver. Their work done, they resume their duties, giggling every so often to themselves.
One of the security guards enters the office. His voice is then transmitted over the walkie-talkies, “We’re going to need a haz mat team in our office. It’s a mess.” He leaves.
Ms. Galindo convinces one of the secretaries to snap pictures of their handiwork with her camera phone. They are giggling when another security guard suddenly jumps up outside the window, “What are you up to?” They scream and run. “I saw you!”
“Shut up, you dirtbag!”
“They’re going to get us back.”
“Let them try.”
“What if they put it on our cars?”
The two women once again put on gloves and quickly gather up the underwear and socks in boxes. Their plan is to target the PE coaches next. They peer out into the hallway and their colleague comes rushing out of the main office.
“You need to check your email. She’s mad.”
“Hurry up and read it. We’re in trouble.”
Ms. Galindo gets back to her computer first. The message reads, “I know about the security office. This unprofessional behavior will not be tolerated. I expect that office to be cleaned immediately.”
The principal bursts in, stomps past them, and walks into the empty security office. She starts to laugh while the two other women look around wide-eyed.
“Did you get my email?”
“We cleaned it before we even read it.”
Later, they decorate the PE coaches’ office. They stuff drawers in every drawer. They pull a pair of underwear over the desk chair and write, “Nice Try,” in black marker.
There are three phrases that work for any situation that may arise:
“You know what?”
“Shoot me now!”
“Why did I ever tell you we eat guinea pig?”