Today Paul has a second chance at beginning the school year. He manages to talk Mom out of going into Tangerine Middle School with him. She worries about the karate-kickers and gangstas gathered in front of the school. But, Paul is persuasive and she drops him off without getting out of the car.
Paul climbs the stairs to the school office, which is on the second floor of the old building. The principal, Dr. Johnson, greets him and introduces him to Theresa Cruz who is to be his escort today, and longer if he wants.
Paul sees that while the schedules and classes at Tangerine Middle School are the same as at Lake Windsor Middle School, the two schools are very different.
Theresa stays with Paul through lunchtime. He tries to get information from her about the teachers, but she says very little. Then, when he asks her about soccer, she has more to say. Her twin brother, Tino, is on the soccer team. However, he is not at school today. He and his friends, Victor and Hernando, are suspended from school for three days because they got into trouble at the carnival. Victor is one of the team's star players. Theresa adds that Maya, a girl, is another star player. Paul asks about the goalie. Theresa tells him that is Shandra Thomas, also a girl. At Tangerine Middle School, boys and girls play on the same team. Theresa proudly tells Paul that last year the soccer team placed second in the county.
One of Paul's teachers is Mrs. Murrow who, Paul is unhappy to learn, is married to Mr. Murrow from Lake Windsor Middle School. Paul plans to avoid drawing attention to himself in that class.
After school, Theresa introduces Paul to the team coach, Ms. Bright. The coach tells him that he can be backup goalie. He agrees. He is confident that he will get some playtime during the season. The scrimmage is hardly serious with Tino and his friends missing. The goalies, Paul and Shandra, both have an easy time.
As practice ends, the same light green classic Ford pickup truck that Paul and his mother noticed after the carnival is waiting to pick up some of the team members. Paul figures that the driver is Theresa's brother, Luis.
After practice, Paul panics when he spots his mother leaving the school office. She had brought his paperwork from Lake Windsor Middle School. But, she tells him that, as she was transporting it, the IEP that he does not want Tangerine Middle School to have disappeared out of his folder somewhere between Lake Windsor Middle School and Tangerine Middle School.
Paul is now happy with his life.
Paul's second day at Tangerine Middle School goes smoothly in the morning. Then, Victor joins Paul and Teresa at lunch. He gives Paul a bad time, but not terribly seriously. When Paul tells Victor that he played on the soccer team yesterday, Victor says that the soccer team was not at school yesterday. Tino explains that they were in the vandalism jail. Paul finally finds out exactly what happened that day at the carnival. Tino karate-kicked one of the displays, the Ax Man display. Paul asks how they got caught. It was because Tino had a soccer ball so someone called Betty Bright, their soccer coach. She knew immediately who was involved. Paul begins to think that it sounds like he got away with telling on the Tangerine Middle School soccer team.
Practice today is different. Victor Guzman is the unchallenged leader of the team. There are about half as many players on the team as there are on Lake Windsor Middle School's team. Toward the end of practice, Paul has an opportunity to face Victor and the rest of the front line. Paul makes a great save, but Victor kicks the ball out of Paul's hands as Paul lies on the ground holding it. He claims that he made a goal, but Tino disputes the claim. They fight over the top of Paul, who is still lying on the ground.
Finally, Betty Bright, who missed Paul's save, pays attention. She follows threats of more suspensions with a command to the team to get to practice early tomorrow because she will have their uniforms for them.
After practice, the green truck picks up the kids who ride in it, including Victor and Tino, who seem to have forgotten their fight.
As Paul walks by Maya and Nita, Maya compliments Paul on his save.
As he is driven away from school Paul feels happy to be a part of Tangerine Middle School.
Johnson, Jane. "TheBestNotes on Tangerine".
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