The Superintendent of Badger Creek ISD

Deborah Hendrick on Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Orlando Bara was tired and getting impatient, waiting on the wooden bench outside the superintendent’s office. He stood up and walked around a bit, looking at the school photos on the walls and watching the secretary, as she watched him back. On the counter he saw a newspaper. “Can I see this?” he asked.

“You surely may.”

So Lando sat, like he’d seen the men do, with his elbows on his knees, and held The Mesquite Country Shopper between his outstretched hands, and slowly turned the pages.

It didn’t have stories or funnies, just things for sale. Useful stuff like tractors and irrigation equipment. Bales of hay and firewood. Roasted and Salted Goobers, said one ad. Mr. Wilson’s Finest Valencia Peanuts. Lando wondered how much it would cost to send a 20 lb. bag of peanuts to his brother Leonardo, a soldier in Iraq. More than he had saved up, probably. He laughed out loud, picturing the image of Nardo sharing a big o’ sack of peanuts with his buddies.

In a small boxed advertisement, Lando’s eye fell on the word

Started 5 month old
Pointer bird dog, too
many dogs and not
enough Quail.
912 Addison St.
Griven TX

Lando said, Oh Boy!” and jumped up. “Tell Captain Marcinkiewicz I gotta go. He can punish me double tomorrow. But I can’t wait.” He took off and was almost out of the school building when an ear-piercing whistle rent the air and stopped him in his tracks. Busted.

“Captain, I can’t wait. I gotta go. I’ll come see you first thing in the morning.”

“You will wait, Orlando Bara, and tell me what’s going on.

“Here,” Lando said, showing the Superintendent of Badger Creek ISD the ad in the paper. “I want that dog. It’s free, so I gotta move fast, Captain.”

“Son, that dog is twenty-five miles away in Griven. How are you going to get there?”

Lando stuck out both his thumbs, pointed up, and gave the Captain a raised-eyebrows look that said, “See!”

“Oh no—you are not hitch-hiking to Griven. Do you have any idea how dangerous that it?”

“Yes Sir, I do know. And begging your pardon Captain, you were an astronaut. You should understand why this chance means I have to take the risk.”

The Captain looked at Lando, then looked at his watch. “You go wait for me in my pickup. I need to find someone to take my bus route this afternoon. But I’ll drive you to Griven to see about the dog.

They rode for a few miles without speaking, then the Captain looked across at his young rider, and asked him why he’d been sent to the office, for the second time in a month.

“Pat Hicks said something wrong,” said Lando, “and I asked him to take it back.”


“It don’t matter, but to me and him, Sir. You gotta believe me. I know since the teacher sent me to the office, you have to do something about it. I don’t mind.”

“Why do you want this dog so badly—that you’d risk even more trouble by ditching school?”

Lando stared straight ahead, and the late afternoon sun hit him from the side, lighting his head so that his white-blond hair glowed like a halo.

“My brother Nardo had a bird dog, but the dog was old, and died after Nardo went to Iraq. He’ll be home by February. That leaves me the rest of December and all of January to get this pup ready for when Nardo gets home, so we can hunt together again.

“Do you know how to train a bird dog?”

“Nardo says the dog wants to please the man. Says you train the dog to trust you, to use lots of love and firm discipline. That the dog does best when you make it mind.”

“Is that so?” asked the Captain.

“Yes, Sir,” said the boy, “Lots of love and a firm hand.

Soon they were in Griven, and found the house they were looking for. The owner of the dog was surprised to meet the Superintendent of Badger Creek ISD and his student Orlando Bara, but he knew of the Bara boy’s family and knew Captain Marcinkiewicz by reputation.

The dog, a sweet-tempered and lively lemon pointer, squirmed and wriggled and headed right to Lando.

“What’s her name Mister,” he asked.

“Topaz,” he said. “My wife named her Topaz because she has golden eyes.”

On the ride home, Topaz quickly settled down, and laid her head across Lando’s thigh. He stroked her back and head, and called her a good girl.

“We need to talk about what you did wrong, Lando. You can’t go around punching people you disagree with.”

“No Captain. Yes Sir, I mean.”

“So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to check out three books from the library on training dogs. If we don’t have the ones you need then you ask the librarian to get some through inter-library loan. I want you to write me a paper on training bird dogs. Not a book report, but a scholarly paper. At least two pages. You’re eleven now, that’s old enough to read the books, form an outline of ideas, and put it down on paper. I want it one month from today. Do you understand?”

“Yes Sir.”

“And when your brother comes home, I’d appreciate an invitation to go hunting with you and him.

“Yes Sir. I think he’d like that.”

“Now you and Topaz wait for me here in the pickup, while I go talk to your parents.”

“Yes, Captain. I think that’s a good idea too.”

Topics: Badger Creek

One Response to “The Superintendent of Badger Creek ISD”

Linda Says:
December 6th, 2006 at 4:56 pm

YOU do great work. I like to think there is still a school super out there that is like your Captian. Topaz is a great name. You have such a great way with the story. Love You, Linda


Leave a Comment