Day 20: He Teaches the Science of Cool

James R McFrank­lin took a step back­wards and the table leg struck the ground, wreck­ing the tiled floor and throw­ing up dust and chips of cement.

Ow! Ow! Fuck! I got some in my eye!” said the student.

Don’t swear, John­son,” said James R McFrank­lin, flick­ing a chip of floor from the shoulder of his jacket. “Go to the nurse.” The stu­dent limped off.

The other pupils were now crowded around the base of the fort­ress, star­ing at James R McFrank­lin. “Take it down and put everything away. If the cafet­eria isn’t ready for lunch then all of you will be in deten­tion held per­son­ally by me. Now, do I have to stay and watch you move every table or are you able to act respons­ibly about it all?”

Noth­ing was said.

Good. I’ll be back every half hour and any­body mess­ing around will get to report per­son­ally to my office. Understood?”

Silence again.

Good.” He smirked, turned on his heel and walked to the kit­chen. The lunch lady was next on his list.

The double doors swung inwards and James R McFrank­lin walked into the kit­chen. Doris looked up and saw him. “Thank God you’re here!” she said, “The meat deliv­ery hasn’t come in and those chil­dren go crazy if they don’t get their meat!”

James R McFrank­lin sauntered over to the stove she was hunched by. “Doris,” he said, “have I ever let you down before?”

No, Mr McFrank­lin, you haven’t.”

Then why would I this time? I don’t know why you ever thought I would. What are you cooking?”

A tikka masala.”

Push it up to vin­da­loo levels. We’ll need some­thing to dis­guise the taste.”

Won’t the kids find it too hot?”

You’d be sur­prised what these kids can handle.”

Then I can push it up to vin­da­loo levels.”

Good. Then open up the air vent above the oven and put a big pot there.”

I don’t know what you’re up to, Mr McFrank­lin, but I’ll trust you on it.”

James R McFrank­lin left the kit­chen and went to the main­ten­ance rooms. The door was locked, but he kicked it in, read­just­ing his sunglasses afterwards.

Step­ping down the stairs into the school’s base­ment, he made his way to the fur­nace, switched off for the sum­mer, and began dis­as­sembling pipes. The school’s vent­il­a­tion sys­tem was also man­aged from down here, and he diver­ted the fur­nace into there, then switched the whole thing on, leav­ing the igni­tion switch for the moment.

Gas flowed out into the vents, he coun­ted under his breath, hit the igni­tion and listened to the roar that came from the walls and ceil­ing. They shook around him as he coun­ted down once again, then shut down the fur­nace. He wiped his hands on a towel and headed back up. As he reached the kit­chen he could hear Doris hard at work. He pushed through the double doors.

Rats!” she cried, beam­ing at him, “and pre-cooked! You’re a genius, Mr McFrank­lin. A real life genius.”

James R McFrank­lin grinned at her, looked at the clock and walked back into the cafet­eria. The tower was half dis­mantled. He nod­ded and headed back out. Prin­cipal Part­ridge was stand­ing in the hall­way, wringing his hands. “Oh man oh man oh man!” he said, “the inspector will be here in no time at all! You’ve got everything sor­ted out but the school isn’t in a fit state to be examined! He’ll shut us down for sure!”

Leave it to me, Part­ridge,” said James R McFranklin.

Fif­teen minutes later, Dis­trict Inspector Townslow got out of his car in front of the school and walked down the the path to the entrance. The sun was shin­ing, the birds were singing and he had two weeks of hol­i­day booked, start­ing tomor­row. He was going to spend the time fish­ing, he’d decided, up in the lakes to the north.

The front of the school was look­ing good, he thought, lots of green­ery and plenty of space for the kids to play too. A good look­ing school is def­in­itely a good sign, he thought. If they could afford to spend time on appear­ances then they prob­ably didn’t have much else to worry about, which made his job easier. It wasn’t always true, of course, but gen­er­ally his hypo­thesis bore out.

The school had received plenty of good reports in pre­vi­ous years, the only thing he wor­ried about was the principal’s per­son­al­ity; he was quite impres­sion­able and Townslow thought that the right teacher could prob­ably walk all over him without him realising.

As he neared the doors, he thought he saw some­thing shin­ing on the roof. He paused for a moment and looked up at it, shield­ing his eyes against the sun. It looked like there was some­body up there. Weird, he thought, but prob­ably just main­ten­ance. He’d ask the prin­cipal about it.

At that moment, James R McFrank­lin, the coolest teacher, perched on the roof with his sunglasses pushed up on his fore­head and his eye to the lens of a high-powered sniper rifle, decided he had the per­fect shot.

Eat shit, mother­fucker,” he whispered, then pulled the trigger.

The shot echoed off the nearby build­ings and Dis­trict Inspector Townslow slumped over, a small hole between his eyes and a large cav­ity in the back of his head. Brain, skull and blood were sprayed over the steps.

After two days, James R McFrank­lin was killed by a police sniper and the host­ages were res­cued. The school’s lunch lady had lost it and attacked police with knives as they stormed the build­ing; she was brought down too. Prin­cipal Part­ridge had shot him­self in his office.

Over the next few days, more details emerged about James R McFrank­lin, the coolest teacher. He wasn’t qual­i­fied and had talked his way into the post. He’d abused dozens of the chil­dren dur­ing his time there, endangered count­less lives and stolen enough from the school to flee the coun­try and retire forever. He had a stash of illegal fire­arms, child por­no­graphy and sun glasses at his house.

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