The nervous teacher

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young supply teacher has a very rough first day at his new assignment

Submitted: August 18, 2016

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Submitted: August 18, 2016

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The young supply teacher Mr Lawrence Tuft had heard the harrowing tale of his predecessor, Mr Gippy. It had been made known to him, prior to taking this assignment, that Mr Gippy had quite suddenly thrown himself out of the classroom window to his death in a state of extreme embarrassment and humiliation. It had also been clarified by witnesses that just prior to this incident the entire classroom had been laughing at and mocking Mr Gippy partly due to his timid nature and inability to keep control. Lawrence had let this story get under his skin in a bad way. 

He had been assigned to work with the same classroom, after several supply teachers had been and gone. Most likely due to the stress of dealing with such an unruly class of pupils, Lawrence thought. His assignment began this very morning. Lawrence had arrived early this morning, way before the students arrived, to settle himself and try and get a feel for the place. Meeting the other teachers wasn't too painful, however his hand literally shook during the handshakes and his eyes rarely left the floor. He now sat quietly in the staff room, alone, listening to the sounds of pupils come in through the school gates and move along the maze of corridors within the inner-city school. Alot of the students were shouting and he heard swearing and curses, both male and female. His stomach tightened again as he feared that afew of these loud students could be in his very class. Obviously the responsibility for keeping control of the students would fall to him. He now had a very good idea of how Cuthbert had felt that dreadful day. He continued to sit still, his hands shaking in his lap, his stomach in knots, his forehead and armpits sweating . The came what he had been dreading; the bell which signaled the start of the morning's lessons. 

Lawrence stood up slowly and gathered the subject books he had been given. He almost dropped them due to how nervous he was. Lawrence opened the door which adjoined the school corridor. He stepped out and made his way toward his assigned classroom. Around fifteen or so students were still milling around in the corridor, taking their time about going to their lessons. Lawrence knew that he should really have said something to get them moving, however he kept his mouth shut to avoid any potential confrontation. The students ignored him as he walked past. This was the first sign that he was neither in control nor doing his job properly. As he neared the classroom he had been assigned, he heard a din  of shouting and screaming. The din was so much so, that several others teachers were poking their heads out of their doors in alarm. One large teacher looked at Lawrence and promptly said "get in there and shut them up sharpish please!". Lawrence nodded nervously, however the large teacher stood his ground. Another teacher, a female in her late 40s made a similar comment and put her hands on her hips. Lawrence knew that the pressure was on, however he could not walk into that room. He excused himself in a flustered and shaky voice then turned and slow jogged back to the staff room. By now he was damp with sweat and trembling with fear. It was his plan to gather up his things and run out of the room. His heart stopped when he grabbed the handle and tried to turn. The door was locked. Lawrence paused by the door, several teachers looking on in concern.

"What are you doing?!" demanded the large man in a stern voice.

"Get in that room now please and keep those kids quiet!" almost shouted the female teacher.

Lawrence turned and began walking toward the classroom, as if a child in disgrace. He felt the heat rise in his cheeks and feel another wave of hot sweat come seeping through his damp shirt. He did not look at any of the teachers or say anything. Any words would have stuck in his mouth. Lawrence turned into the classroom in a state of fear and desperate nerves. He saw a heaving mass of youngsters through his left field of vision, yet dare not look at them. He stood by the board with his back to the class and said nothing. In his head he was trying to formulate an opening sentence in his head, however he could not bring himself to actually turn and speak to the class aloud. He did not dare to draw that level of attention to himself. Lawrence found himself turning toward the door and walking back out again on shaky legs. As he left the room, he heard a small chorus of laughter as well as several loud comments "who the hell was that?" "did you see how much he was sweating?"

Now outside in the corridor, Lawrence did not even dare to turn and see if the two teachers were still standing there. He knew he had already wrecked his chance of being taken seriously and was halfway to becoming the joke he feared he would become. He simply carried on walking toward down the corridor toward the secretary's office, where he hoped he'd find a key for the staff room. With that key, he could simply access his belongings and dash straight out of the school, never to be seen again. He tapped sharply on the door, then tapped 10 seconds later. The lack of response greatly unnerved Lawrence. Without her help, he would be unable to leave. It did cross his mind to just walk out and try and return after school, however too many questions would be asked and he would be expected to answer for his actions upon returning. No, he had to leave and never return.

Lawrence knew he had to try the Headmaster's office, so that was his next port of call. The head's office was in the same little corridor as his secretarys. Lawrence knocked on the door and awaited a response.

"Come in" a stern voice said

Lawrence gingerly opened the door and stepped inside. The Headmaster was a tall, imposing looking man with a cold glare and no time for nonsense. He eyed Lawrence as he walked afew steps into the room. The Headmaster, Mr Steel, remained seated behind his desk.

"You ought to be teaching your students Mr Tuft. Please explain why you are in my office at 10 minutes past 9?" asked Mr Steel without breaking his expression.

"I..I need to get into the staffroom, to get something f..f.ffrom my bag, but its locked" came Lawrence's shaky response. Delivered directly to the floor.

"Exactly what do you need to get Mr Tuft?"

"Eerrmmm...some papers."

"Fine. Return to your classroom and I will send my secretary to bring your bag to you."

There was a short silence as Lawrence tried to work his way around this command. He could of course, leave as soon as he had possession of his car keys. However, he could not tell how long he would be in that room with those loud children for. 10 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour? It was a heavy gamble and he would rather just be able to access his bag immediately. Lawrence vocalised this.

"I'm afraid I need access to the papers immediately. Can someone unlock the room for me now?" Lawrence asked rather quickly. His urge to just get in his car and drive far away was getting stronger.

"No, Mr Tuft. You will have to make do until the papers are brought to you, find a topic to make up the time. I'm sure a professional like yourself doesn't need to refer to papers to teach GCSE Science."

Lawrence's heart sank. His only real option to getting his car keys had failed. Mr Steel was not buying into his excuses and was not about to change his mind. 

"The clock's ticking Mr Tuft, please get back to your classroom" Mr Steel made clear that the conversation was over by shuffling some papers on his desk and breaking eye contact.

Lawrence however, was not going anywhere near that classroom. He knew he had to push for access to that room.

"Mr Steel, I'm sorry but my medication is in that bag. I am overdue to take it."

"Can't it wait until break-time?"

"No Sir. I need to take it now"

Mr Steel sat silently for a moment, before reluctantly pulling open a desk drawer and bringing out a set of keys on a large fob. Mr Steel then stood up and moved around the desk so that he was standing beside Lawrence. The Headmaster looked irritated, yet still kept his composure.

"Okay Mr Tuft. Lets get you your medication."

The two walked in silence back up to the locked staff room. Once the headmaster had unlocked the door, Lawrence quickly went to his bag. Luckily it was right where he had left it. He pretended to rummage through to look for his fictitious medicine, as he was fully aware that Mr Steel was looking on with utmost attention. Lawrence finished his act with several energetic shakes of the bag and an audible huffing sound. Lawrence turned and spoke to his Headmaster.

"My medication isn't here. I left it at home"

Mr Steel stood unmoved for a moment. He fixed Lawrence with a stern glare, still not saying a word.

"Mr Tuft, the teaching agency which assigned you to this position made clear that you had no medical conditions and were not taking any medication. They made it clear to us because YOU made it clear to them. Now, seeing as there has been some error, a misunderstanding along the line, I will ask you to clarify firstly, what condition you are suffering from, and secondly the medication you are on"

Lawrence's only retort would have to be refusal, he knew he could not fight this argument on a level playing field. Without much hesitation, he answered.

"The nature of the medication I am on is none of your concern. I need it now, I am quickly going home to get it"

Mr Steel was almost instinctive with his response.

"If you really must. However, I will assign a member of my staff to accompany you and ensure that you return immediately after you have taken this mysterious medication of yours. On this, I insist."

Lawrence could not continue this charade any further. He took a deep breath and found some fire.

"Mr Steel, I wish to discontinue my position with immediate affect. You will need to find somebody else"

With those words, Lawrence gripped his bag and made for the doorway, which was still being blocked by Mr Steel. When Lawrence made clear that he was trying to get past and leave, Mr Steel still gave no ground and held firm. At this point he was looking at the floor with his arms folded.

"You will stay and finish out the day, of course?"

"No, I'm leaving now. Stand aside please" replied Lawrence in a surprisingly stern voice.

Mr Steel spoke, but not to Lawrence.

"Mr Gardener, please escort Mr Tuft to his classroom and introduce him to his new class"

Mr Steel did then stand aside and let room for Lawrence, or so Lawrence thought. The room had actually been let for Mr Gardener, a powerful man not much shy of 7 foot. Mr Gardener got hold of Lawrence in a firm shoulder grip an led him out of the staffroom and toward the classroom he was so desperate to escape. Lawrence still wanted to escape, however the force driving him forward was so strong that he felt he would only make a fool of himself in trying to struggle away. He knew had mere seconds to react and do something or else he was stuck. He still had his bag in his hands with his keys in. As soon as he was alone, he could escape. He decided on this in those few frantic moments before he was lead into the class.

Lawrence had hoped that Gardener would let go of him before they walked in as to let him retain what little dignity he had left. Mr Gardener had no such intention. When the 30-strong room full of students saw big Mr Gardener with his arm around a smaller, nervous looking substitute, they burst out laughing and many of them pointed at the source of the laughter. Mr Gardener did little to calm the ruckus, in fact he appeared to be enjoying it. Lawrence had of course gone beetroot red during this first true instance of humiliation. He could feel his lower lip quivering and his face seemed to be on fire. A fresh layer of sweat burst through all over his body. Once the laughter had finally died down, Mr Gardener released his grip on Lawrence and to one side.

"Year 10A, may I introduce your gallant teacher, Mr Tuft." This line alone caused another small outburst of sniggers.

"Now I'm sure none of you will step out of line, otherwise you'll face Mr Tuft's wrath. Isn't that right?" That last question was directed at Lawrence.

"Y...y..yes" Lawrence answered back in a choked, tembling voice.

Lawrence was not surprised at the further wave of hurtful laughter this prompted. He found himself afraid of what would happen when Mr Gardener stepped out of the room. These students had already seen him humiliated and knew that he was a weakling who could be insulted at will. However, that moment was about to begin when Gardener walked out of the room and shut the door behind him. Lawrence now stood alone at the front of the classroom, all eyes on him. He was aware that he still had his bag clutched in one sweaty hand. The bag with his keys inside. He looked through the small square classroom door window and saw nothing. He hoped that Mr Gardener was not waiting outside in case he tried to just run out again. This seemed likely however. Gardener had been very close by when Mr Steel has called for him. For all he knew, he was just out of view, waiting for Lawrence to do something foolish. He thought it worth the risk and made his move. Without another word, Lawrence walked toward the door with his bag and opened it swiftly. His adrenaline was pumping now, he had to escape! He made the turn toward the main door, however was only semi-surprised to find strong hands picking him off the ground and lifting him onto a broad shoulder. Lawrence barely had time to struggle before he was carried right back into that awful classroom. Mr Gardener now literally carrying their scared, pathetic substitute teacher on his shoulder like a child caused a wave of pure hysterics. Students almost fell off their chairs laughing, most were recording the spectacle on their phones, others pointing. Some were doing all three of these things.

"Do I have to tie you to that desk?" asked Gardener in a loud, mocking voice.

Lawrence was alone again with the screaming mob of students as Gardener marched outside. Lawrence knew that another escape attempt through the same door would not work. Gardener would not give him a chance. He could not stay within this classroom though, that was certain. Lawrence found himself shutting out the chorus of mocking laughter as he looked toward the window. He thought then of Mr Gippy in such a similar situation, throwing himself from the window to his death on the tarmac below just to escape the humiliation and pain. No, he thought, no now.

Not now.

Mr Gippy reached into his bag and brought out a long, heavy rolling pin, which he had bought afew weeks back but never unloaded from his bag. The classroom quietened as he did this in full sight of them. The laughter died down. Lawrence found himself picking up a nearby staple gun off the teacher's desk and firing several staples into the pin. He knew that if he had to face off Gardener, he would need a trick; this basic cosh would be it.

"What are you gonna do with that tool?" asked a male student

"I'll tell you what I going to..."

Lawrence's rather laughable and impromptu tough guy act was cut short when Gardener barged in through the door and simply grabbed the cosh out of Lawrence's sweaty, shaking hand in one swift movement. Gardener shook his head in dismay and walked back out again holding the cosh. Lawrence turned helpless and hopeless toward the class and awaited the howling insane laughter he had become so used to hearing. This wave though was penetrating, vicious, relentless. Lawrence felt his head and vision swim as the students closed in on him, a gloating mass of foul detractors. With every avenue now exhausted, Lawrence felt the sky calling to him. He turned and ran toward the window, before bursting through and down, onto the hard tarmac below. Everything went black.

Lawrence slowly opened his heavy eyes and surveyed the world around him. He heard beeping, the sound of voices, somewhere, someone called for a nurse. He was lying in a bed. He had curtains drawn partly around his bed. He had several body parts wrapped in a clean white bandage. Despite his grogginess, he noticed a man standing by his bedside. The man stepped forward and spoke quite clearly.

"Lawrence Tuft?"

"Y.yy.ess...where am I?"

"Hospital, it will come back to you shortly."

"Who..who are you?"

The man paused briefly before answering.

"My Name's Vincent Griffin, please, call me Vince"


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