RONALD YANG by Andrés Cruciani
YO SO LIKE I’M IN YANG’S office or whatever for cuttin’ fuckin’ Garcia’s class—she’s such a bitch yo I hate that lady. Can’t even teach. She was like, “Take notes,” and I was like, “No that’s stupid I know this already,” and she’s like, “Well you don’t have a choice,” and I’m like, “Fuck you I don’t have a choice,” and walked out cuz fuck her know what I’m sayin’? Hell yeah I walked out! Would’a punched her in her ugly ass head too if she wasn’t a teacher.
So I didn’t go for a month that’s what. So fuckin’ Yang called me in. Nigga’s all high and mighty and shit talkin’ ‘bout responsibility, ‘bout what kind’a job I’ma get, and I’m just sittin’ there like fuck this nigga know what I mean? and he’s gettin’ all red and shit lookin’ like his eyes was gonna explode—seriously—so I’m like, “Yo Yingyang you gotta chill the fuck out ‘fore your head splatters its brain juices at me,” and I swear to God yo I swear on my mother yo I swear on my fucking life this nigga started twitchin’ and shakin’ an’ shit and I got up and that motherfucker grabbed my shirt and pushed me back into the chair. O-M-G I swear to god yo.
So I yelled I was gonna call the cops cuz that’s abuse nigga and then that nigga just looked at me. Like real calm. Like in a movie son when you know this nigga’s ‘bout to unload on somebody, ‘bout to murder somebody, some icecoldbloodedtype shit. Hell you think? I almost peed myself, shit I was about to dribble down my pants when this nigga says real quiet, “I’m gonna tell you a little story. So shut up you little asshole and listen.” Swear to god.
“When I got back from Iraq, I wasn’t well,” and shit at that point I was like oh shit this nigga’s crazy. But so he’s like, “I would get real angry sometimes. Real angry. I wasn’t right. Iraq will fuck you up in the head you know what I’m sayin’?” No that was him talkin’. What I don’t sound like Yingyang? Motherfucker sounds like a terminator yo ‘cept not German or whatever, just real cold, like how’s this: “I wasn’t in the action, but I saw some shit. Some shit you do not forget, son.”
Why would I make this shit up? Yes man fucking word for word. You do not forget when somebody talks to you like that. I was fearin’ for my life nigga! Now shut up and let me finish and fuck you yes I do sound like him:
“But so I got back from Iraq and my daughter”—Emilia or some shit—“came back to my house to live with me because she wasn’t doin’ well in school. Her mother thought it’d be better for her to be in my house, in my home, with me.” And he’s all pokin’ himself in the chest type hard ‘n shit an’ he’s like, “Now I don’t fuck around, so, ‘If you’re gonna live with me,’ I tell her, ‘you better get your shit done.’” That’s what he’s tellin his daughter yo. He’s like, “‘You do your homework, you get good grades, you help clean up and you go to sleep by 9:30. No questions.’”
“‘You wake yourself up in the morning. You make breakfast,’ I told her”—no that’s what he said. Yes for real this motherfucker told his daughter to have breakfast ready every morning now let me finish.
“Don’t tell me, ‘this is not the way it was with mom.’”
I mean Yingyang’s like tellin’ his daughter this shit and he’s tellin’ me: “So I laid down the rules nice and simple know what I’m sayin’? I mean I’m a military man. And in the military we have order. But so Michael,” he says, “Michael, my daughter wasn’t used to this. She didn’t know discipline if it slapped her across the face. Which is bringin’ me to my point.” And then Yang just like leans back in his chair yo, like straight outta Godfather or some shit, just like a cool typa nigga. Like motherfucker’s a G yo. He laces his fingers ‘cross his lap just like: boom you gonna listen to the rest of this shit here cuz I know you see the size of my fuckin’ arms is what I know his crazy ass is thinkin’. But so this nigga’s fuckin’ right. I don’t fuckin’ flinch yo. I do not budge. Then he goes, “But so Emilia she doesn’t understand how serious I am. She’s not used to livin’ with her father. I understand that. I get that. She’s young, she’s a teenager, she wants to push boundaries. I put down the rules and the very next week I get a call from one of her teachers. ‘Mr. Yang, Emilia was not in math class today.’”
“So I go home early that day,” he says. “I sit on the sofa and wait for Emilia. She comes home, sees me, hangs her coat, puts her backpack in her—no, in my room—and then she comes over, tries to give me a kiss on the cheek like I don’t know she wasn’t in school.” Then this nigga looked up at the ceiling, like he was really remembering that shit yo, like he was there. “I turn my face away from her. ‘You weren’t in math today, Emilia,’ I say and she’s just starin’ at me like how did this motherfucker know. And her face goes white and her eyes get big, like real big, and she’s ready to cry but I don’t play that shit. Tears will get you nowhere with me,” and then this nigga just looked straight at me yo. Puts his arms on his desk, rolls up his sleeves so I can see the G-T-H of his strength tattoo peekin’ out from under his shirt. “And WHACK! I slapped her hard, real hard, gave her a real reason to cry. ‘Cept she didn’t. She just looked at me in shock. Like she couldn’t believe her own father had just—But then I stand up and I put my finger in her face. ‘Don’t you ever—ever—break my rules again,’ I tell her,” he says.
“So what happens? She started screamin’ at me! ‘This is abuse! You can’t do this! Abuse! Abuse! I’m going to call ACS!’ and then I get real calm, cool, like back in Iraq, just like the military taught me. I take off my shirt one button at a time.” And this nigga starts actually doin’ this I swear to God. “I fold that shirt. I put it on the coffee table.” Motherfucker starts folding his shirt yo no shit I swear but real fuckin’ cool, real fuckin’ calm, and now I can read his whole tattoo ‘cept it wasn’t G-T-H but A-T-H and it didn’t say STRENGTH but STRENGTH OR DEATH and on his other arm is a skull with a snake comin’ out of a eyeball socket I shit you not. “She’s in front of me, near the couch. ‘The phone’s behind me,’ I tell her.” Nah that’s what he’s sayin’ to Emilia yo. Then he’s like: “‘If you’re gonna call, you better make it to that phone. Because otherwise, I’ma beat the shit out of you. I will go to jail over this, over my own flesh and blood. Do you understand?’ I ask her. ‘You better make it to that phone.’” And of course that’s when I realized his own phone was behind him, that the door to his office was closed, and nigga, it didn’t take a genius.
“That was the last time I had to speak to her about school, about breakfast, about bein’ on time. She only brings home 90s. You see she understood that I was for real, how serious I was.” And then this nigga just sits there with his arms on his desk and he’s like, “So, Michael, I’m tired of you comin’ in here, an I’m tellin’ you the same. The number’s on my desk. On that card right there. Otherwise, I want your promise, now, that you will never cut class again,” and this nigga stuck out his hand, the one with the snake and skull on it. Just held it out there, like waitin’ for me to make my choice.
ANDRÉS CRUCIANI is a former high school math teacher. He left math for writing and received an MFA from The New School where he was an editor for LIT. His writing has appeared in The Green Mountains Review, Welter, Four Chambers Press, and The Sand Hill Review among others. He is currently represented by Lotus Lane Literary. His work was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.