Saturday, 12 December 2020

In The Picture

Multiple paths opened before me. As so often there was not an infinity of directions, only a few very clearly laid out before me. Step by step stages. Possibilities which could stem from them, based on probabilities. 

Probabilities based on known factors. The range of known factors based on experience. Analytical Virgoan in action, streamlined. 

A tree structure formed. I was given choice of which path to follow by enacting it, should I choose to act in any way at all. As usual the number of possibilities based on probabilities was limited to a small handful of options. I used intuition to guide me through it. 

The Headmaster was announcing in a surprise assembly that a most hideous crime had occurred. His wisdom in not allowing any student to use the newly refurbished school toilets was being proved. People, especially young people, cannot be trusted. Thus only visitors to the school, dignitaries above our station who the headmaster seeks to impress, were given a guided tour of the pristine and unused toilets. 

The headmaster had the only key. If students need to toilet they must put up with a soaking from the perpetual rain and miss half their lesson to visit a grotty demountable toilet building, a so-called ‘temporary’ shack in its second or third decade of use with green growing up the outside and the smell of pure evil itself emanating from within. 

“The betrayal to myself personally and breach of trust to the school is the worst offence I have encountered in over a hundred years of my teaching in this school.” Mr Grief was livid. His grey skin was a slightly less pale than usual shade of grey, borderline military grey.

Nobody dared to mention how the funds used to refurbish the nations most elite school toilets had come directly from the budget for textbooks and paper to write on. We had been unofficially requested to bring our own paper into lessons. Some of the better teachers were handing out sheets of lined paper from notepads they had paid for themselves, expecting the kids to keep their work in pristine condition despite it being stuffed loose into schoolbags along with mouldy sports kits and whatever else the kids might happen to be carrying. 

“Pst!” Hissed Chris who was sitting cross legged on the floor next to me. I hadn’t seen Chris for awhile. He usually avoided everyone because he was one of the favourite victims of Jerkoff and Asshole, the school bullies and general social dissidents. Their schoolbags were usually full of metal jaguar sculptures pulled off from jaguar cars in their competition to collect the most trophies. 

Asshole’s dad was rich and Jerkoff’s mum was shagging someone rich, possibly Asshole’s dad, most kids didn’t bother to get close enough to the pair to find out. Most students dedicated more effort to avoiding them, with the exception of a couple of the girls who could often be overheard in their huddle in the corridor, excitedly discussing how allowing those specific boys to discretely fiddle with the girls bodies was the only way anybody could hope to keep control over the lads behaviour. 

Asshole and Jerkoff were the school rich kids, made sure everyone knew about it. As a result they continuously got away with everything, crimes unimaginable to the majority of us. Anyone who dared stand up against them usually received the experience of being pinned up against a wall by the school tie and punched in the guts as a warning. 

I looked over to Chris. For some strange reason the two of us were sitting in the exact centre of the school hall. We had all filed in lines, a class at a time. The teachers were standing around the edges of the room. I had been marvelling at the fates having put me in exactly that spot while the Headmaster had been waffling on about the latest tragedy to afflict the normal daily running of his empire.

“Hi Chris.” I whispered. He appeared stressed. I liked Chris, he was usually optimistic despite regularly being targeted by the school thugs. We shared some classes together. 

Mr Grief stood on the stage at the front of the hall which did little to emphasise his lack of height. He continued his seething oration. “Somebody, I believe it to be a student form this school, has broken into the Newly Refurbished School Toilets! A facility which is absolutely out of bounds to everybody! (Except for important dignitaries visiting the school who I want to impress).” Shrieked the Headmaster.  

There was the pause, a momentary stillness comparable with a tide receding, the moment before its waves crash forward again. The wind stopped. Several hundred children and members of staff inhaled sharply in unison, followed immediately by the uncomfortable sensation of several hundred children and members of staff trying not to laugh loudly, which would incur the targeted wrath of the headmaster. Nobody in the room looked at each others eyes for fear of the collective  yet unspoken agreement overwhelming the senses. Nobody wanted to start the riot. The sound of several hundred lips being bitten to stifle laughter is barely audible. Chests were exploding with a need to release the tension. 

Somehow the school collectively managed to do it, united in the strangest of mutual understanding. We bit our lips and held our breathes with adept skill. The Headmaster continued his monologue. Several hundred minds had begun working on the problem, imagining some insidious person with lock-picking skills to have gained entry to the sacred toilets without consent. 

A hand went up. It was bloody Hermione Granger. “Perhaps someone needed the toilet, sir.” She said out loud. This was the tension release needed. Several hundred people including most members of staff laughed out loud. 

The Headmaster was not impressed. He was so unimpressed he ignored the question. By now he was building up steam. His rant must continue its course uninterrupted for the peak effect to be achieved. This assembly was not over yet.

Next to me, Chris was discretely unzipping his schoolbag.

“Somebody!!!” Exclaimed the Headmaster, his voice rising a whole octave in pitch. For a short man his voice carried power. Windows rattled. 

The opening on Chris’ school bag was several inches wide, enough for me to see inside. 

“Somebody from the school has. stolen. one. of. the. pictures. from. a. wall!” He stabbed the air with his words for maximum impact. Everybody in the room felt each word as if the headmaster was personally prodding them repeatedly in the chest with his finger. The hate, the anger, was solid in the air. 

None of the students had any idea there were any pictures on the walls of the golden throne room. None of us had been in there to find out. 

In Chris’ schoolbag, only two feet away from me, was a red plastic A5 picture frame containing a photograph of a classic red sports car. 

I looked at Chris. 
Chris looked at me. 

“Asshole and Jerkoff put it there.” Said Chris quickly. “Just before we came in (to the assembly).” 

I looked around the room. There was no sign of Asshole and Jerkoff at all. Neither was there any sign of their female fanclub. 

It was at this moment, several possibilities flooded through my head. Multiple paths opened up before me. 

First of all; was Chris lying? 

My feelings and my calculations connected with the same answer: If Chris was lying, he would not have showed me the picture in his bag in the first place. Chris is a nice guy, he wouldn’t have done this. Asshole and Jerkoff do things like this all the time. I decided 100% to back Chris to the best of my ability. 

Possibility number one: I could grab the picture, stand up, holding it aloft above my head, and say “It is here, sir, and the culprits are not!” 

Hoped for outcome: I would be regarded as the schools Golden Child by the Headmaster. I would be a hero to his mind. He might even trust me and grant me permission to use the holy toilet. Every other person in the school would assume I’d stolen the picture myself and was trying to return it while gaining favour to get myself out of trouble. 

Probable outcome: The Headmaster would incorrectly identify myself as the thief and believe I was trying to pass the blame onto other people namely Chris, given that Asshole and Jerkoff had for our entire school life been exempt from any punishment at all. 

Possibility number two: I could discretely explain the situation to a trusted teacher and hope for the best. 

Hoped for outcome: I would be regarded as the schools Golden Child by the Headmaster. I would be a hero to his mind. He might even trust me and grant me permission to use the holy toilet. Nobody else need know about it. 

Probable outcome: The Headmaster would incorrectly identify myself as the thief and believe I was trying to pass the blame onto other people namely Chris, given that Asshole and Jerkoff had for our entire school life been exempt from any punishment at all. 

Probability number three: I could remain quiet and console myself in much amusement about how the desecration of the Headmasters shitty show-room was desecration deserved, given how the consequences of banning pupils from using the school toilets had resulted in much misery and chaos. For example, being bullied by Asshole and Jerkoff as they hid in the only available toilet to smoke cigarettes, stroke girls and beat kids up.  

“Zip your bag.” I whispered.

The Headmaster scrutinised the assembled school. Everybody looked bored. He ranted about  coming forward with information leading to catching the criminals and this being a classic example of why the toilets must remain locked at all times until further notice forever so help me god. 

During the noise made by several hundred people standing up to leave the assembly, I whispered to Chris 

“Get rid of it.” We were both going back to different classrooms and it was the most help I was able to give him. I didn’t see him again after this. It is possible he was caught in possession and discretely expelled. It is also possible he was afraid of me because I had something on him, was avoiding me too. 

I didn’t report it. Chris was my friend and innocent in the situation. Also directly in the firing line of being blamed for theft simply because he was in possession of the cheap and nasty picture, albeit against his will. I knew this from the education the school had given me in how authorities work. 

But that’s another story.

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