by David Allen
It was a beautiful day in Salinas, California. The air was cool but not cold. Red and gold leaves, at the peak of their color, still clung to their branches, and he could smell the freshly harvested vegetables as he passed the market. The school principal started the day in an appropriately cheerful mood. Entering his office, he hung his hat, cracked the window and turned on the radio, whistling along with Glenn Miller as he planned the day ahead.
His secretary walked carrying a sheet of paper. “Sorry to bother you. The hospital’s expecting the… the patients… by ten.”
“Is that the list?”
She walked over and handed the list to him. “This is all of our students. I marked off the ones going. There’s three this year.”
“A good start,” he said, still smiling. “God bless eugenics. Better breeding for a better America. Snip ‘em when they’re young.” She turned around and started to walk out.
“Hold on a minute.” She came back and stood by the desk while the principal scrolled down the list. “Donner. Mary Donner. She’s an imbecile, right?”
“Yes. I.Q.’s sixty-eight, two points under the cutoff. Same with Charlie Johnson.”
“What about Luther Simms?”
“Seventy-two. Just missed.”
“Good for him.” He continued scrolling. “Willie Hawthorn? Who’s he?”
“Social worker added him. He’s a troublemaker. Been caught stealing and starting fights left and right. Ran away from home last year.”
“Good call. Well, that’s it then.” He began to lay down the paper, but stopped. The smile left his face. He laid a finger on a name at the bottom of the list. “Salvatore Viggato… Isn’t that the young dago who’s been sniffing around my daughter?
“Yes, sir. You had to chase him out of your front yard last week. If you don’t mind my saying so, I think she’s kind of taken a shine to him too.”
The principal looked out the window for several seconds, slowly tapping his pencil on the desk. He turned back around and stared at the paper, then drew a check mark next to the name Viggato and handed the sheet back to the secretary. “There you go – round ‘em up.” She opened her mouth as if to say something but stopped, turned and walked out.
After she left, the principal leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Benny Goodman’s clarinet floated from the radio. He smiled and whistled along.