Shielded from the Real World

A word of warning: This is macabre and unsettling. Maybe quite advanced on the madness scale. It’s just me, practicing for something yet to be written, I suppose.


“Mrs. Griffin, may I go to the bathroom?”

“No.”

“But I need to go, Mrs. Griffin.”

“Tough. You had your chance fifteen minutes ago. Wait another fifteen minutes.”

“I can’t, Mrs. Griffin. I need to go bad.”

“Did you need to go fifteen minutes ago?”

“Yes ma’am, but not so bad.”

“Well, then, you’ll just have to wait. And next time, don’t put it off.”

“But Mrs. Griffin, I’m afraid I’ll soil my pants.”

“You better not. If you do, I will tan your hide. Is that clear?”

Tears suddenly flooded the boy’s face as Tanksley Trevemore began to cry, his sobs deep and effusive. A sickening stench flooded the air. The rear of the boy’s khaki trousers darkened from beige to dark brown.

Hope Griffin smelled the mistake and grabbed the wooden paddle hanging from the side of her desk. She marched over to Tanskley, yanked him out of his chair, and bent him over the desk, his face and chest against the desk and his brown butt facing upward.

“Maybe this will teach you a lesson,” she screamed as she slammed the paddle, drilled with dozens of tiny holes, against the brown backside. The instant the wood hit the cloth, brown streams sprayed up from those tiny holes, drenching Hope.

“Goddamn it, Tanksley, you did this on purpose!” The paddle again tore through the air, landing hard on Tanksley’s brown bottom. Another mist of youthful diarrhea engulfed the woman, whose convulsive shrieks caused the other children in the room to wince and turn away.

Cagley Smale, the acting principal, entered the room just before the first paddle hit Tanskley’s behind. He witnessed both the first and the second incidents of hard wood against soft, wet fabric. And he heard Hope’s enraged howls. He had no other choice, he thought, than to put an end to the beating. Raising his 45 calibre pistol in front of him, at eye level, he pulled the trigger. The report was deafening. Little Tanksley’s body went limp.

“Thank you, Mr. Smale! I thought the boy was going to kill me.”

Smale, seeming surprised by the response, tipped his hat at the teacher and spun around toward the door. “It was nothing, ma’am. It was nothing. I’m just sorry I missed.”

He stopped, turned around again, and aimed the pistol at the smiling teacher. The explosive sound of gunfire filled the air as Hope Griffin’s eyes grew wide and she clutched her chest. The bullet entered her chest just below the sternum, missing the heart by only a few inches.

“How could you?” Her words, shallow and weak, barely escaped her mouth.

“It was easy,” Smale replied.

The remaining children in the room looked confused and frightened.  “Children, don’t you fret, that poor boy is no longer suffering the indignities of dealing with Mrs. Griffin. And you won’t have to deal with her anymore, either.” Smale’s toothy smile filled his face with ivory pickets as long as his lips were wide.

The class erupted in spontaneous applause. Karen Clockman, subbing for Eleanor Corely, who Smale had gunned down only a week earlier, peeked in the door. “Is everything all right?”

“Peachy,” Smale replied. “Do you have anything that will remove blood stains from a white shirt?”

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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