Reject a day iii
[Edit down conjunctions for narration, rename as School Rebel, or similar]
Jobber never quite worked for me, pared down might be all right, a Bridport fail. Looking now, having eliminated about sixty semi-colons is almost halfways to a story…
‘This most powerful piece of my creative writing is presented to you, sir, in a green ink, sir, and as a piece of art shall stand head, shoulders apart from all the other story entries.’ I say these fine words to our classroom.
And, you, dear students, see here, below, for yourselves, the green ink, a little joke for the English teacher, my pal,
and inspiration. Please, I must now clear my throat, narrate this story for teacher:
when during the middle of the night I creep downstairs:
Father’s jar of pickled walnuts waits in a dark cupboard, and very carefully I raise the jar from the shelf, twist the lid, reveal black walnuts. I arrange walnuts along the kitchen sideboard:
a cold sequence of walnuts. I place every walnut into this mouth, then spit each one back to the vinegar of the jar, I never tell a soul.
‘Thank you, Wolfy,’ says the teacher, and [he]yawns, ‘I’ll read the rest of your story later on,’ he says.
But teacher loses my story, leaves first pot-boiler of mine on the train to work that
very next morning. and I never win the story contest at school, I am never compensated. The same man, later the same day at half–past ten am, composes tired, reckon a quite furious speech, writes all over the end of my Shakespeare essay,
‘Three out of twenty,’ he says with a pen. ‘PS,’ he says, ‘Eradicate your flippancy, decide whether you shall dedicate to studies, or seriously, leave the academy. By the way, that green ink of yours, are you mad?’
Alone in a playground I read his nonsense, breathe bitter air, shall not inhale my master’s message, I feel rather,
‘What fool am I to chase his tail,’ consider that if I have alienated the English teacher, what hope for me? Surely, this is the end of my story, but here now, next lesson is hosted by another pal, history teacher, rotund, and affable slob. We watch him. Thirty-one pupils sit behind thirty-one desks,
our inkwells dry for over thirty-one years.
‘Pay attention,’ teacher says, ‘Any lad wants a good pass on Friday, boys post a twenty pound cheque, address it to the staff room,’ he says.
I extend spine on the chair, stroke my tie. I possess a whole book of these ‘blank cheques:’ my blank cheques come from the new bank account; I brim spirit, fill one out for the said sum, on behalf of, signed supposedly by, I snigger alone, my eyes upon:
‘Quiet chap Tobias sits up the front of the class with his briefcase,’ my actual thoughts.
Next morning I slip the cheque into a borrowed, a scented envelope, slide contents under the door of the staff room and head long fag alley for the lunchtime lean among men. Meanwhile victim, dragged from chess club, faces a corridor quiz with an historian. Imagine the full range of penetrating questions:
‘Problems: the oboe, home tutor, church group, or spectacles?’ says the teacher.
I roll back to the school site for an easy afternoon, only to discover the two of them up ahead. Shadows paired in the hallway’s half-light, man and boy mid-dialogue, stooped. The lad, bound by breath, makes tears, the sound at least. I sense foul, hear the words said,
‘Bribery, public official, totally unacceptable,’ and nibble the inside of my cheek, catch the master’s eye, and whilst you ordinary villains might enjoy the sobs of Toby St John-Staircase, I crackle kindness, and from my heart I confess, take the heat, the rightful limelight is mine, my joke.
Not that day, not the next, but some point of winter I am summoned to the headmaster’s study, thanked for attendance only, he asks me to:
‘Leave school premises on a permanent basis.’ Beaky shakes in his gown, shakes the ends of my fingers, dismisses me, my haircut. The sound of the study door,
and slam is fresh in the ears. I make an heroic display, slow-motion parade a ‘Top Gun,’ an ‘Officer and a Gentleman’ – me – tearing the blazer into tiny strips. I march corridors, juniors lined on either side. Memory lasts a lifetime for them boys, and for me, if only they might wave little union jack flags for me. I pause in the hug goodbyes:
‘Gathered grey-skins, my gremlins,’ I say, caress the toilet block wall. No speeches this one last time, no backward stare. I walk out of the gates of school a free man.
And purchase day-glo John Rotten tribute top, pursue insurrection, provoke the first of many banning orders. Banning order one issued by rower’s mother, stiff lives across our street, boy eats alone, mad mother watches the plate, spouts usual lunatic talk:
‘You must have what I never had, achieve, work hard, play fair, life’s what you make it,I didn’t get where I am today by sniffing glue…’ and such rubbish of the typical general idiot of our town,
our curtain, and harbours deep hostility towards my great intelligence. Adolescence, my mind always, sincerely I say, takes road less travelled, wrong road, quirky, goodness knows why?
[2000 words are deleted]
I kill time in a range of roles, veritable institutions, for example fill the dishwashers for British Aerospace, and, one year later on, bump into an old acquaintance, school friend at the National Physics Laboratories,
‘Toby [St John-Staircase]’ I say, ‘imagine, you too?’ I say.
‘Wolfy, I am a scientist,’ he replies, ‘classified son, sonic research project,’ he says again, barely a translatable sonic squeak, continues, ‘take the plate, thank you I have finished. Would you boys accept a cheque?’