Sunday, 28 February 2010

Magpie Tales 3 - Death by Duster

Number three in the Magpie Tales series. a weekly challenge put out by Willow of Life at Willow Manor. Visit her site or the Magpie Tales site to follow the writers who quest to respond to her prompts.


Death by Duster

Holy shit. That could kill a man.
Suddenly I'm sitting bolt upright in bed. I'm shaking with fear. I can see the dull weapon flying across the room.

My recurring nightmare has struck again. Not the one where I'm constantly trying to repair the huge decaying house I have bought sight unseen on the edge of a cliff with the sea raging far below and washing away the foundatiuons at the same time; not me flying out my window and skidding across the sky under a full moon, soaring and diving and flashing over rooftops; this is the one where I've killed a man, or more to the point a boy.

It's my first year as a teacher. They've given me grade four. I'm in a double classroom with another first year teacher whose classroom management is brutal. He's a bikie with a long ponytail reaching down to his waist. He rides a huge Moto Guzzi, all gleaming metal and growl voiced. I'm riding my motorbike to school too. It's a Czechoslovakian single cylinder Jawa. It goes ping ping. It never growls. I have long hair too but it's ratty and unkempt. I am skinny he is muscled.

His class sit quietly as he teaches maths by the book, from the book. I'm more free flowing. I engage the children in creative play. There are photos to prove it. Images of nine year olds standing on desks, crawling over desks, crawling under desks. At the distance of many years the memory is misty. Could the climbing and crawling have perhaps been chaos, the tyrrany of children over the inexperienced teacher.

'Sir's got a hairy sausage' says Ritchie, my least favourite classmember. I'm rattled. I haven't got a response to that. Could be I am tempted to confirm this but I am a first year teacher and banter about sexual organs is not encouraged. Craig is stabbing the desk with his compass, Madonna is combing her hair, Louise is cuddling her toy pony. I'm trying to teach maths too. Tables to be exact. Ritchie has taken to pinching objects from desks around him and hiding them in his tidy box. His head is buried under his desk for minutes on end. At the end of my tether I respond. Turning from the blackboard I lob the duster in my hand towards Ritchie. The intention is for it to land on his desk and frighten the little bugger so I can get his attention and be one up on him. Instead I have miscalculated my throw. The duster has a thick wooden base. I'm used to the fully felted type. My throw has exceeded its intended trajectory and I watch it sail through the air in slow motion and crack Ritchie on the temple. I hear the noise, like a hammer cracking a macadamia nut. A neat conk followed by a dull thud as the duster finally reaches its preferred destination, the desk.

Ritchie is howling. I can see the lump growing from his skull moment by moment. I am willing it to stop. He already has a big head. He's turning into a monster before my eyes. 'I'm going to tell my mother on you' he screams at me. He will too. 'You go right ahead Ritchie. Tell her I'd love to talk to her about your behaviour'. I'm desperately trying to get the upper hand over this nine year old. I'm shaking. The class is silent save for the sound of sobbing. And the bell rings,

The nightmares begin that night. I can't sleep. I have a mixture of replays and preplays running through my head. The preplay is Mrs Ritchie marching to the headmaster's office demanding I be sacked for maiming her son. The replay gets more and more dramatic, the lump bigger and bigger. Blood gushes.

I'm in the classroom next morning putting the day's maths tables test on the blackboard and I see this woman marching across the playground. I've never met Ritchie's mum but I know it's her. She has his stocky build. She looks fierce. The shaking starts again, deep in my stomach. I feel like dry reeching. I move to greet her at the door, a jumble of possible scripts running through my head. I cut her off before she can enter the battle zone. 'Good morning' I say, smiling with my mouth but fear etched in my eyes. 'Hello' she says. Here it comes. I'm dead I'm sure. The bruising, the bump. there's no way I can explain it as an accident. My career over before it's begun.

'I've come about Ritchie's hat. He seems to have misplaced it'

17 comments:

christine said...

Criky I was sure you were going to kill him with the kilo weight, what a nightmare. As an retired teacher I could feel your anguish..
Christine

Catalyst said...

What a wonderful story! Great work,

Brian Miller said...

great tale...it would give me nightmares as well...taught for a couple years so i felt the angst...great magpie!

The Muse said...

whoa!
good piece...
strong visceral imagery!

http://adivashammer.com/archives/26

chiccoreal said...

Love the compelling angst this story produces. The climatic buildup is magnificently engineered! The Aussie culture has always fascinated me, and you get that with "bikie" etc. Who knew dusters could do that much damage? Sounds "class action" to me! Excellent piece!

willow said...

I thought she was going to give him a whollup with her handbag at the end! Wonderful story. I could feel the emotion here.

spacedlaw said...

Well described anguish.

Vicki Lane said...

Too funny! When my husband was teaching he once lobbed a chalkboard eraser at a boy. Thank goodness there was no bump -- only a big white mark on the boy's forehead. And he did sit down and pay attention!

Good story!

Lyn said...

Now, which one is the nightmare?..Life and dreams escalate to the same conclusion..terror..a new approach, perhaps..less lethal weapons? Writing will save you...

steviewren said...

Like your schoolteacher character, I too replay my actions in my dreams. It gets especially bad whenever I'm having any kind of conflict with someone. So I can really identify with your story.

joanny said...

Your story is hilarious the "'Sir's got a hairy sausage'" and the description of the other teacher and the "bike" comparison-- classic

Love this magpie -- there are some interesting folks out in blogland and you are one of them
do write more
Joanny

Luvvie said...

You're going to hate me for saying this....LOVE the picture and LOVE the clock....story's pretty good too :)

Tom said...

dodged a bullet there, eh? Too bad you can't throttle the little wankers anymore. I kind of thought the mother might show up and thank you for whacking her kid.

Vera said...

Enjoyed the read, and loved the ending. You kept me interested all the way through, which is something many other blogs don't manage to do. Because my time is limited, I don't waste my time by plodding through writing which doesn't engage me. Yours does although I don't always leave a comment. But I liked this piece a lot, so well done.

Peter Goulding said...

God, the horrors of being a teacher, eh?
The humour in the story serves to intensify the fear of reprisal.

joanny said...

Thanks for the nice comment on my blog -- I think most of us gather from our life experiences so there is some truth and some embellishment in these stories..My is part fiction part truth.
The ghost and a similar house was real to the one pictured -- someday I will write a novelette about it all until then . . . just having fun.

I would love to read some of your accounts with your parents house-- objects take on a life of their own -- each one has a story ..as you said so well " a gently profound impact" You have a flair with the words and it would be an interesting read -- Hope you post a few house stories here and there.
Looking forward to some more of your interesting read.
Joanny

Jennifer said...

I really enjoyed your story. (And I stayed awhile and enjoyed more stories. I share your affinity for them.)

The pacing in this one is terrific, I can feel the tension and idealism of the new teacher all rolled together. Oh and we've all known a Ritchie or two.

Looking forward to reading many more of your stories!