The (Usually) Unsinkable Sub (Part 4)
by Margy Ferguson
Continued from May Gazette
The Case Of The Missing Spidey
Don't Try Barkin' With The Big Dogs Unless You're A Big Dog, Too
(This is a true story. The names have been changed to protect my rear-end.)
SCENE 1: THE CRIME IS COMMITTED.....
Stan Elmworth, the principal at Riverview Elementary, is a Spiderman nut. He owns Spiderman stuff you would not believe. Hundreds of things, on his desk, on shelves, in milk crates, hanging from the ceiling--his office at school is a veritable Spidey-web of items. Even the wallpaper border has Spiderman on it. His pride-and-joy, however, is a life-size, full-color cardboard Spiderman, which he keeps in the hall, just outside his ofice.
One day, Harry, one of the fourth-grade teachers, was taking entirely too much pleasure in harrassing a poor, innocent, hard-working substitute who had worked in the building many times, and was there that day for the librarian. This loyal, devoted, dedicated woman was being accused of having swiped Harry's mail tub from the office! (The mail tubs are blue plastic dish pans.)
As she stood there in the work room, trying to defend herself, the principal came striding through, on his way from Somewhere to Somewhere Else.
"O, kind sir, and Fearless Leader," entreated the sub, "this teacher is launching a most vicious attack on my honesty, won't you please come to my assistance?"
Hearing this heartfelt plea, the principal stopped in his tracks, turned to the woebegone sub, and, with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, replied, "Hey, if you can't take it.....", which caused Harry to begin to roar with laughter!!! The principal was gone in an instant and the poor substitute was left in nearly total shock.
She was Stunned, she was Crushed, she began to think about Getting Even...........
Later in the day, after almost everyone had left the building, the substitute snuck down the hallway, picked up Spidey, carefully folded him into the fetal position he had been in when he left the factory, and slid him behind the bookcase in the teacher's room.
She then went home and asked her husband to print a ransome note (so as to disguise the handwriting), had her supper and enjoyed a quiet evening.
Little did she know that she had bitten of more than she could chew....
SCENE 2: THE ARREST.....
The day after the Crime, our devoted substitute was working again in the building from whence Spidey had been abducted. She had arrived early so as to plant the ransome note in the Principal's mail tub. An hour or so into the day, Fearless Leader's deep, always-controlled voice came over the all-school intercom, as he intoned that he had, indeed, received the ransom note, but refused to cooperate with kinappers, and that he had no choice but to inform the local authorities....
Our fool-hardy sub listened intently for sounds of worry in the Voice, but heard none, and thus concluded that the principal, far from being concerned enough to follow the directions on the ransom note, was now, instead, completely in charge of the whole situation, which put a new light on the matter.
At lunch time, several of the teachers were heard to accuse the sub of having something to do with the abduction of Spiderman's disappearance, which caused her no end of worry! Attempting to look totally innocent, she repeatedly replied, "But why do you think that I am involved in this dastardly deed???"
This question brought scoffs and jeers from the faculty, and one or two of the teachers actually laughed out loud!
Retreating to the relative safety of the classroom, the sub got the students herded out the door and down to music. As they walked down the hallway, the calm, God-like Voice came over the intercom once more: "I have called the police regarding the kidnapping, and an officer will be here shortly."
Hearing this, the poor sub began to quake in her sneakers. Her plan had, most certainly, gone completely awry, the situation was completely out of her hands now, and she was completely nervous.
Her conscience getting the best of her, she gathered up her courage and went to make amends. Her heart pounding like an acid-rock drummer, she timidly stood at The Entrance to The Principal's Office and hesitantly knocked on the door frame...***knock, knock, knock***
Stan Elmworth looked up from his work and, seeing who it was, motioned the sub to come in. She steped inside the Spidey-filled office and immediately (albeit clumsily, due to arthritis) sank to her knees, blurting out her confession and begging for mercy. The principal listened, a smirk on his face.....and her heart sank when he said, "I have already called the police. An officer will be here soon."
"O, WOE IS ME!" wailed the sub, "If I return Spidey right now, will you call off the cops?"
"Has he been harmed?" asked Fearless Leader, carelessly twidding a pencil between his fingers.
"Oh, NO, I was VERY careful, he's been in a safe place.....didn't you figure out where he was from the clues in the ransom note?" A look of surprise crossed her face--surely this administrator was clever enough to have deduced the hiding place!
Elmworth leaned back in his chair, his fingers laced together across his chest, the ankle of one leg resting on the knee of the other, and a smug expression o his face. His next words struck the sub right in the gut and caused her to ***gasp!*** as she took in their meaning:
"I don't have to," he replied, "the police will handle that."
Pulling herself up off the floor, knees crackling like a box of Rice Krispies, the substitute realized that her goose was cooked, and, wailing like a banshee, she staggered back down the hall to the classroom to await her fate. LeAnne Potter, one of the primary teachers, stepped out into the hall and handed her a note. Written in pencil in large block letters, it read: "You are going to jail! Bad girl! Bad girl!"
"I saw a policeman coming up the sidewalk, "sneered the teacher, "he should be coming in the building any moment now."
Cringing against the wall, the sub looked sorrowfully at the teacher and whispered, "I thought you were my friend?"
"HA!" laughed the teacher, "ME, friends with a CRIMINAL? I don't think so!"
And at that very moment, the Policeman walked into the building and headed straight for the principal's office!!! The substitute, sure now that she was doomed, slunk on down the hall and back to the classroom to await her fate. Minutes later, as the students entered the room from the outside doow (having come from a special), the principal and the policemen entered the room from the hall door.....
SHE WAS TRAPPED!! THERE WAS NO ESCAPE!!!
As the police officer and the principal entered the classroom, the students (sixth-graders, who thought they knew eerything, the little boogers) gasped as one, and their beady little eyes bulged out of their hormone-crazed heads. Not a creature was stirring, not even the class hamster. Hear beating like a Sioux drum at a war dance, our frightened, contrite sub walked slowly towards the two men, both of whom towered over her likd a couple of King Kongs.
The officer, an ex-Marine easily 10 feet tall, asked a few brief, pertinant questions, in a clipped tone that indicated he was a no-nonsense kind of a guy. The sub answered meekly, truthfully, and stole a look at the principal, who was standing perfectly still, grim-faced and determined. Still not a sound from the students.
She was read her Moranda rights. She chose to answer more questions, admitted her guilt, and was immediately placed in handcuffs! Just as she thought her life was over, the principal asked the policeman what would happen if he did NOT press charges. The officer stated the consequences, the principal said that, at this time he would not press charges after all, the handcuffs were released, and the sub was free to go!
"But," cautioned the policeman, "I must have a written note of apology on my desk no later than 3 days from now, and a copy goes to Mr. Elmworth."
Nodding like the village idiot, the sub agreed, thanking both men profusely, and adding that she was willing to drop to her knees again, but she wasn't sure she could get up. (To her great relief, both men said that gesture wasn't necessary.)
SCENE 3: THE END.....
At this point the principal turned to the class and revealed that the whole thing had been a set-up to demonstrate what really happens if someone takes someone elses' property! Some of the students, annoyed that the sub had not really been arrested, began to moan and groan as the two men turned and left the room. An interesting discussion followed, lasting until the bell rang, signalling the end of school.
With a three-day weekend to look forward to, the teachers almost beat the kids out of the building. The substitute stopped at the corner grocery store for milk before continuing on home.
That evening, as she sat in the rocking chair with the cat on her lap, she wondered, probably for the zillionth time, why she was so 'wierd' as Harry always put it.
"I do not even march to the sound of a different drummer," she mused to herself as a "Golden Girls" rerun began. " I think I march to a bagpipe."