It was 10.30 on Monday morning as I sat in the heating duct over looking the staff room. As usual, it was full at break time. A lot of coffee was drunk and there were the normal dreary discussions about timetables and exams. Mr Riley, the permanently angry head of Maths approached Mr Burns.
“What do you call this?” He threw a folder on the table, very nearly spilling Miss Lynn’s tea all over her.
Mr Burns looked disinterested.
“These are the results for your third year class and they are an absolute, bloody disgrace.”
“They are a waste of space,” said Burns, “none of them are interested.”
“It’s your job to make them interested.”
The rest of the room had now fallen silent; newspapers had been folded and placed back in briefcases. Mr Burns stood up and stared Riley in the eyes.
“You’re not kidding anyone. You are here for exactly the same reasons as me. Long holidays and a decent pay cheque at the end of the month, anything else is irrelevant. It’s a long time since anybody has cared for the kids. They are a just a small irritation that we have to put up with. If you want high achievers go and teach at Eton. Until then just accept that you are teaching a bunch of no-hopers in Southwick and get used to it.”
Burns was now face to face with Riley. I was trying to record as much of this as I could in my diary.
“Whilst I may not be at Eton,” argued Riley, “I am still accountable for the results. If I get a rollicking then by God you are going to get one as well. This is an official warning. If your results don’t improve you are out of a job. So get used to that.”
He emptied his coffee down the sink and rinsed out his cup. “Not much to say for yourself now, have you?”
Riley walked past the now seated Burns as he left the staff room missing the two raised fingers behind him.
One by one the teachers left for their lessons. Mr Burns was always the last to leave and today was no exception. He headed for the door but instead of leaving, he locked the door and came back into the staff room.
He looked out of the window into the yard to where the fifth form were having a games lesson. The boy’s playing football on the field opposite and the girls playing netball in the yard below. He started to rub his crotch against the windowsill then went to sit down in one of the armchairs. Removing his penis from his pants, he started masturbating furiously and ejaculated into his handkerchief within seconds. If anybody found out what he was doing he would be in serious trouble but how could I tell anyone? He did up his fly and headed over to the sink where the teacher’s coffee mugs were lying on the draining board. He picked up Mr Riley’s mug and rubbed the rim with his sperm covered handkerchief. I forced down the bile as I nearly threw up.
He tucked the handkerchief into his pocket, unlocked the door and left the staff room, locking the door behind him. I sat back against the metal wall trying to take in what I had seen. I nearly forgot why I was there. I gave it a couple of minutes in case Mr Burns came back. When he didn’t, I went to work.
Blue flashing lights surrounded the house. Red and white plastic tape keeping the crowds back.
“Has there been an accident?”
There were always boy racers flying up and down the seafront. It was one of the few disadvantages of living there. Normally there would be Fire Engines. Where were the cars? And then she saw the guns. Claire jumped out of the taxi.
“What the Fuck are the armed Police doing here?” she cried as she rushed towards her home, towards the gunmen. It wasn’t as if she was scared of guns anymore. They had threatened her plenty of times. She made her way through the crowds, through the vultures that always seem to gather at any horrific incident.
“Drug pushing scum,” said an overweight woman in her thirties, still in her slippers despite the rain.
“He had it coming,” agreed her friend, nursing a half smoked cigarette.
Who do they mean? Has somebody been knocked over? What do they mean drug pushing scum?
Then she caught on.
She pushed at the crowds.
“Get back,” said the obese woman. “We were here first.” Her arms folded in an act of defiance.
Claire summoned up all the strength she had inside her and landed a right hook on the chin of the woman who was easily twice her weight.
“Get out of my fucking way.”
Her friend stepped back without resistance.
As Claire ducked under the tape an armed policeman grabbed her. “Where do you think you’re going?” he said with an air of smugness only the Police possess.
“That’s my house so let go of my arm before I take that gun and shove it straight up your arse.”
Years of ridicule and oppression and finally boiled over and Claire was at breaking point. The Policeman was shocked and temporarily loosened his grip. Claire darted for the gate but he suddenly lunged for her and grabbed her round the waist.
“You don’t want to go in there love.” The smugness now replaced by a look of panic, “I’ll get the Sergeant.”
Claire slumped to the floor.
I removed the grill from the heating duct and lowered myself into the staff room. Wasting no time I headed for the coat rack. As I suspected nearly all of the teachers had left their wallets in their jackets. I removed them quickly and put them in my bag, checking a couple to make sure that, as expected, teachers earned far more than they would ever let on. A lot of the female teachers had left their handbags lying around the room also. I emptied them quickly and climbed back into the heating duct, replacing the grill.
I scurried along the heating duct until I came to Mr Burns’ form room; my old form room before I was excluded.
I had checked my timetable carefully and knew it would be empty. I crawled out of the vent and along the floor, being careful not to be spotted by the girls playing netball outside. I got to the desk and placed the bag inside. I had to get back quickly before anybody noticed I was missing.
There were armed police everywhere.
“Jesus Pete, what’s going on?” Karen stared at the crowds. “I’ll get an ambulance.”
She made to run for the house, eventually remembering the weight she was carrying. Unbalanced she stumbled and lost her footing on the grass, sending me tumbling to the floor. The grass was wet and cool. I was comfortable, resting my face in the moist, damp soil. The blue flashing lights, the orange glow, they all mixed to give a hallucinatory effect. Then the pain came back in my side and I vomited on the grass.
Karen pushed her way through the crowds. The fat ladies moved aside not wanting a repeat of their run in with Claire. She tried to attract the attention of the ambulance driver. He eventually looked up as she got through the cordon.
Somebody grabbed her arm.
“Where are you going, love? There’s nothing to see here.”
“It’s Pete, he need’s an ambulance.”
“Who’s Pete?” the Sergeant was confused. A well built man in his late forties, looking as if he had seen one dead body too many. He looked towards Claire “Is there someone else in there? Who was with Davison?”
“Not in the house. He’s on the grass, bleeding. You have to help him, quickly.”
Claire looked towards Karen. “Pete’s hurt?”
The Sergeant pushed past the crowd and headed for the grass, Claire and Karen followed. There was nobody there. As they headed back through the crowds Claire started crying. She didn’t know if the tears were for Pete or her late husband.
Another installment of Leg It by Alan Parkinson to follow same time next week.
If this has whetted your appetitie and you would like to buy the book for a bargain £1.99 on Kindle please click here.