Once Upon A Time in Gotham City

by John Delach

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead or actual events is purely coincidental.

Gotham City is a metropolis located in the state of New Gotham. With a population of 17 million people, it has the most of everything that a mega city needs to prosper. One of these is its school system.

Long before Covid-19 descended on Gotham City, the city’s leaders faced an enormous crisis. Inspectors discovered that many of Gotham’s public schools had been constructed using liberal amounts of asbestos to insulate pipes, structural steel and other critical elements. Asbestos polluted many spaces, classrooms, kitchens, lunchrooms, and bathrooms. Everybody knew this was a fact of life, but it wasn’t until an investigative reporter for the New York Journal-American made it public in screaming headlines like: Gotham Is Home To  Killer Schools, that this outrage erupted into an instant scandal.

Tessie Apple-Sammy, the City Council chairperson proclaimed, “Heads will roll! Blah, blah, blah…”

Mayor Pissant Parker huffed and puffed, huffed, and puffed and declared: “HOW DARE THEY!”

Governor Sholmo Guano III. inferred that Parker was a, “Small minded, pot smoking jackass of dubious intellect who lacked the ability needed to run Potter’s Field on Heart & Soul Island, never mind, Gotham City.”

Trouble, trouble, trouble. Yes, we have trouble in Gotham City, with a capital T… 

The collective leadership decided to remove all asbestos over the summer and re-open in the fall. We will never know for sure, but meeting this deadline was fixed. Someone in power decided that the schools would re-open after Labor Day regardless of their actual condition. Was it, Apple-Sammy, Parker, or Guano, or was it the school superintendent, T. Ruby Maxwell IV?

MS-33, the Thomas E. Dewey Middle School for the Curious, was one of those schools. MS-33 was considered a magnet school for unique talent and the truly disruptive. The asbestos scandal broke at the worst time for Dewey. Their revered principal, Doctor H. Spencer Hezekiah, had been forced to resign for ritualistic beliefs better left unsaid.

When Chancellor Olympia (Buckwheat) Meade, Jr. confronted Dr. H and barked at him, Dr. H’s only defense was: “It’s coming, it’s coming. Time is short, but if we act now: There is still time brothers.”

Dr. H’s removal left Dewey in the hands of a crazy person who had managed to walk the line, avoid the mine field and work the system. Let us call her Peterette Paul otherwise known as Fishy.

The District Superintendent, Jackie D’Ripper, hated MS Paul and considered her to be a fool who tried to oppose her. It was not a good idea to cross Superintendent D’Ripper nor try to arm wrestle her.

By the middle of August, the lack of progress to remove the asbestos was becoming serious. Principle Paul turned out to be a paper bully. She could intimidate weak people, but MS Paul couldn’t make a hard call even if her life depended on it. She refused to make the call to re-open Dewey.

D’Ripper had had enough of this lack of willpower. On short notice, just before the school was scheduled to open, she arrived to inspect MS-33. The first classroom she inspected was sealed with plastic sheets taped across the open door, “Take down the plastic,” she demanded.

The workers did as told. D’Ripper looked inside and pronounced: “Open the fucking school.”

Where is D’Ripper when we need her now?