Tuesday, 30 March 2010
MISCREANTS By Julia Madeleine
We tried to warn them, but they didn’t believe us. It was because of the recent pranks that our credibility was in the toilet.
The pranks were actually Matthew’s idea. Because we liked him, just as every other girl in the entire school did, Stacey and I went along with it. The first one was innocent enough. Our school library had little metal strips in the books that sound the alarm if someone tried to steal one. As a joke, we removed some of the strips and, when heads were turned, we placed them on other student’s backpacks, shoes, purses; anywhere we could hide them. Then we sat back and watched the fun begin. But apparently, we were the only ones who thought this was funny.Then for kicks, Matthew decided it would be a good idea to substitute the icing inside of our teacher, Miss Patterson’s, Oreo cookies with toothpaste. Somehow, probably because we were the ones laughing the loudest, Stacey and I got the blame for it.
In the office we stood before the principal, Mr. Barclay, looking up at his grim face. He churned out his reprimand like rocks he’d been chewing, spit from his mouth, his cigarette breath filling my nose. I watched spellbound as a fly buzzed around his sweaty head. I tuned out his words and observed the fly’s volatile flight. And then, of all the perfect timing, as if that fly was our conspirator in silent collusion, it chose to land right on the tip of Mr. Barclay’s fat nose. I burst out laughing, holding my stomach, afraid I would pee my pants. Mr. Barclay’s face turned an alarming shade of red. It looked as if his head might split wide open and volcanic lava would spurt forth and melt the flesh from our bones. How could I not laugh? I wasn’t trying to be an insolent little fool. Which is exactly what Mr. Barclay called me.
On this particular day, however, almost a week following the library and cookie capers, Stacy and I stood in Mr. Barclay’s office, and we were not laughing. We were not joking either. But I was suddenly untrustworthy. And Stacy was no better. We were both liars, at least in the eyes of our principal and the teachers who had drawn the dividing lines between themselves and their students long ago, as if we were the enemy.
Mr. Barclay wore a shit-eating look, probably remembering how disempowered that fly had made him feel last week. I was certain he wanted to get even. I, of course, being his target of spite, to help him take back his sense of dominion, the lame-brained stooge that he was. I wondered if he had been picked on as a child.
“We’ve got to do something,” I said.
“The only thing you’re going to do young lady is go outside for recess.” He latched onto my arm and I actually felt his fingernails dig into my flesh.
“Mr. Barclay, we’re not making this up--” Stacy said. There was genuine fear in her blue eyes.
“We’re not indulging you’re miscreant schemes around here any longer.”
“But Mr. Barclay--”
He pushed us out of his office and shut the door in our faces. I looked over at the secretary. She turned away, shaking her head, her foolish 1950s blond beehive giving her a bobble-head look. I felt defeated as I left the office with Stacy.
“What are we going to do?”
“Maybe Matthew isn’t serious.”
“You think he’s not going to go through with it?”
“Matthew likes to talk a big game,” she said. “But I think on the inside, he’s chicken shit.”
Stacey’s eyes were round and staring. As much as she was trying to convince me that Matthew was only pulling another prank, I could see she doubted her own words.
It was cold outside; the Canadian winter at it’s finest. A nasty February wind tore at our coats and lifted out hair into the air. I zipped up my ski jack, pulling my chin to my chest to breath in the warmth of my body heat. The snow squeaked under our boots as we headed toward our portable.
“They’re going to be pissed at us for being late,” Stacey said.
“What are we going to tell them?”
“I don’t know. Let’s just find out what’s going on, how far they’re going to take this thing.”
I stepped up to the door, trying to be quiet on the stairs. Stacey was on my heels. I turned the handle of the door and held my breath as it opened.
All of them were in there. An eerie silence occupied the classroom. It gave me a strange feeling like being submerged in icy water. Miss Patterson sat slumped in a chair at the front of the class like some horrific show-and-tell exhibit. Her eyes were closed, her arms behind her, duct tape wrapped around her middle. Her blouse was soaked dark red down the front. There was a puddle of red on the floor at her feet. Across the room Matthew stood glaring at Stacey and I. His lips were contorted into a terrifying grin as he wiped blood with a cloth from the hunting knife in his hands.
All this for a failing grade on a history test. It defied reason. Sure we all hated Miss Patterson for being the most severe humourless bitch our school had ever seen, but she didn’t deserve to die. Not like this. Not at the hands of some sixth grade psychopath who had his narcissistic shorts in a knot over a measly test.
I felt all the organs inside my body shift. A dull heaviness pulled at my limbs. And then a scream split the air in the room and I realized suddenly that it had issued from my own throat.
We had tried to warn them. We had tried to tell someone. But they wouldn’t listen. We were, after all, insolent little fools. We were untrustworthy. Liars. And we were miscreants.
Julia Madeleine works as a tattoo artist in Mississauga, on the outskirts of Toronto. When she's not busy hurting people, she spends her time writing nasty little tales of mayhem and suspense. Her fiction has appeared in A Twist of Noir, Pulp Metal Fiction and is scheduled for upcoming issues of Crime Factory and Powder Burn Flash.