A Novel by Jeff Vrolyks
Copyright 2013 Jeff Vrolyks
Mr. Thompson locked the classroom door behind him with Mrs. Cuthbert standing at his back with an appraising stare. She wondered what a young Mrs. Thompson might look like, then wondered if Freddy Thompson did the same to her. Granted, she was on the wrong side of her twenties and he probably still wore the same clothes as he did at his alma mater, Cal State Sacramento, but she liked to think she was still in his league. Freddy pocketed his keys, turned to a warm grin from the neighboring Jameson grade-school teacher. With only three months employment under his belt, Freddy still marveled that the school grounds could be as desolate and muted as they were at the quitting time of 3:30, just thirty quiet and sacred minutes after the bell rang and two dozen knee-highs shrieked and wailed their exuberance, egressed through the door to become ghosts of Freddy’s imagination for the next sixteen hours.
They coursed the covered walkway side by side through the tightly knit complex of classroom units toward the parking lot.
“What’s the good word, Beth?”
“Oh, you know: another day of washing paste out of a child’s hair. The usual.”
“Jacob again?” Freddy asked.
“Surprisingly, no. Not this time. A little booger named Wilhelm. Regal name, hell-on-wheels boy. His parents probably adore the hours he’s my ward.”
They passed the admin office. Up ahead was the final cluster of buildings. A grassy field (a popular recess destination) lay ahead. Before it stood a double-row of orange fiberglass bench-tables with a line of maple trees shading them. Blocked from sight behind Mrs. Edward’s classroom was another popular recess destination: a sand box. A playground. It was a smaller, secondary playground, only ten yards by ten yards, with two sets of two swings and a teeter-totter, enclosed by railroad ties infamous for giving kids splinters.