کتاب های خیلی ساده

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

Mr Stone

When the school day finished, Paul and I hid behind some bushes and watched the school gate. We saw many classes go home, and some teachers. But we didn’t see Mr Stone. The minutes passed. “Maybe he went home by car,” I said.

At that moment, through the bushes, we saw a man with black hair and very high cheekbones walk past.

“It’s him!” I whispered.

“Wait! He mustn’t suspect that we are following him,” Paul said.

We waited two minutes. “OK. We can go,” I said.

We followed him at a distance and finally we saw him go into a house. It was a pretty, pink, two-story building. There was a lawn in front of it and a big tree on the side.

We crept up to the window and carefully looked inside.

Mr Stone put his briefcase down and opened the refrigerator. He took out another bottle of that horrible green liquid and put it on the table. Then he went upstairs.

“Now what can we do?” Paul whispered.

“No problem! I can climb the tree!” I said.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. Don’t forget I play volleyball!”

“Be careful!”

I went to the tree. It wasn’t very high and it was easy to climb. From my position I could see his room. Mr Stone was there.

“What’s happening?” whispered Paul.

“He’s sitting in front of a mirror,” I said softly. “His hands are on his head… Oh no!!!”

“What? What?” asked Paul.

The teacher was totally bald, and his head was covered with disgusting, brown warts! I felt sick.

Suddenly I noticed my reflection in Mr Stone’s mirror and Mr Stone noticed it, too! He brusquely turned around and stared at me. I was paralyzed with fear. My mouth fell open. I was expecting the worst. Instead, Mr Stone didn’t look angry. He actually seemed very sad. He opened the window.

“You students think I’m weird. Come inside. I want to tell you something.”

“Uh, Mr Stone, I’m terribly sorry…,” I started to say. I was extremely embarrassed.

“Don’t worry. Since you’re here, please come in.”

I climbed down the tree. Paul was very nervous.

“Come on, Jenny, let’s go away before it’s too late!”

“No, Paul. I’m going in.”

“But…,” I went towards Mr Stone’s front door, so Paul followed. The teacher opened the door and made us sit down in his living room.

“Do you want something to drink?” he asked.

“No, nothing, thank you,” I answered.

“W-What are those… warts on your head?” asked Paul, ignoring the look I gave him.

“These warts are the results of a throat tumor. You see, I started smoking as a teenager and I continued until the tumor. Chemotherapy made me lose all of my hair, and I developed these warts.

“You’ve probably noticed my voice.

Unfortunately, the tumor destroyed my vocal chords. So now I speak with a voice implant.

“The tumor has caused very serious changes in my life. I started to suffer from depression and I still see a psychiatrist. I also moved, hoping to start a better life in a new environment. In fact, I’m from Wisconsin. You see, I’m not married, and the illness has made me very lonely. People don’t like illnesses; they stay away from sick people. Sick people bother them.”

“Mr Stone, we really feel terrible about our behaviour,” I said.

“Yes, we really apologise. We hope you can forgive us,” added Paul.

“Don’t worry! In a sense, I’m glad this happened. I haven’t talked like this to anyone for a long time. You see, I want to be friends with my students. That’s why I asked your class so many questions. But it’s very hard for me to smile, or be cheerful. Try to understand, if I’m strict or unpleasant.”

I smiled at Mr Stone. I was very moved.

“We understand,” I said softly.

“May I ask you a question?” said Paul.

“Paul!” I exclaimed.

“It’s OK. Ask me anything you want,” answered Mr Stone.

“What’s that stuff you eat at lunch?”

“Oh… Did that scare you? The green liquid and the black pills are part of my treatment. They include protein and other nutritional substances.”

“And why, excuse my curiosity, were your eyes amber-coloured yesterday?”

“Well, I tried some coloured contact lenses. I wanted to do something different. I thought that a new look could make me feel better, but it didn’t work.”

“Mr Stone?” I began, “I saw you at the park, this morning…”

“Gee, I probably appeared very strange to you, with all those movements!” he said. “My doctor suggested early-morning exercise, in fresh, clean air. You really have watched me these last few days, I must say!”

Paul and I looked at each other. We felt rude and very silly. We were ashamed for being so inconsiderate.

“Well, Mr Stone, we don’t know how to thank you for your hospitality and kindness,” I said. “We really don’t deserve it. Our behaviour…”

“That’s enough, that’s enough, don’t worry. Thank you for your company. I’ll see you tomorrow at school. And remember, if you ever want to come and visit me, you’re always welcome.”

“Thank you very much. We’ll come again,” said Paul.

Paul and I left Mr Stone’s house, and walked home.

“Well, I think we’ve learned a lesson,” Paul said. “We must remember that many people in this world are suffering; many people have problems; and, if they act in strange ways, there are reasons. There isn’t an alien behind every bush. There’s a person, just like you and me. And maybe this person needs friendship and a helping hand.”

I looked at Paul with affection and admiration. His words expressed my own thoughts perfectly. We had let our imagination and superficiality dominate us. This made us forget human feelings and problems. I thought about Mr Adams and his artificial arm. Even in that case I had overreacted with my ridiculous suspicions.

“Hey, Paul,” I said. “I want to celebrate! This adventure is over. I feel relieved. Let’s go to the “Rainbow” and buy an ice-cream.”

“OK, Jenny! Good idea!”

“Let’s call Dana, too!” I added, thinking it was the moment to inform her about everything.

“Sure!”

We stopped at Dana’s house and invited her.

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