Someone cleared their throat off to Cassandra’s right. After, loose change clanked together.
Cassandra swung her head in the direction of the noise. A man stood in the doorway to the classroom, peering over his black rimmed glasses. They had slid halfway down his nose. She hadn’t met him before. The day her and her mom came for open house, the home room teacher was out sick. It had to be him. He looked more like a military man though. His pure white shirt and black trousers had absolutely no wrinkles.
The rowdy teens suddenly went silent and plopped in the desks around her and her BFF. All went sullen-faced.
“Good morning, class,” the man said, strutting to the podium in front of the desk. “I see we’re up to our same antics, Mr. Gruber.” He cast a gaze over his shoulder and grabbed onto each side of the lectern.
The greasy-haired boy at the chalkboard lowered his head and rushed around the teacher’s giant desk to the one directly behind Cassandra. He plopped loudly into the seat.
“Miss Wadsworth, please go to your desk before I decide to write you a warning.” He smoothed back his grey clipper cut. The short hairs on the top of his head stood straight up.
The girl standing in front of Ronald tugged at her skirt and hurried to the back of the room.
“I see we haven’t grown up much over the summer.” His dark, beady eyes went from left to right stopping at Cassandra. He tapped his chin and then glanced down. “You are new. Miss̶̶ .”
“Cassandra Berg. My friends call me Sassie.”
The girls behind her, snickered.
The teacher’s lips flat-lined, and he cocked his left bushy brow as he shot a look passed Cassandra. “One more time, ladies, and you can visit Mr. Ray today. I’m sure he would be pleased to see all of you.” He let go of the stand and straightened, shifting his glance back on Cassandra. “Miss Berg.” He nodded and shifted his eyes toward Ronald. “And you, sir?”
“Ronald Fisher, sir.”
“In my class, you will be known and called by your last name. I am not your friend. I am your instructor.” Saliva webbed around the corners of his mouth as he spoke.
The kid behind Cassandra tapped her shoulder and whispered, “That’s why we call him the hangman.”
“Mr. Gruber, do you have something to share with the class?” the teacher said.
“Um, no, sir.”
“Good. Then let’s get on with me introducing myself.” He made his way around the desk toward the blackboard and picked up a felt eraser. There, he stood with his back to the class as he studied the hangman before erasing it. “My name is Haggerman.” He plucked a piece of chalk from the board's silver tray and scribbled out M-r-.-H-a-g-g-e-r-m-a-n. After, he faced the class.
An intercom hanging on the wall above Ronald buzzed. “Mr. Haggerman?” a woman’s voice said.
“You’re wanted in Mr. Ray’s office immediately.”
“Let me get my students squared away first.”
“Okay. I’ll let him know.”
Mr. Haggerman set his gaze on Cassandra. “Ms. Berg, I have job for you.”
Cassandra rolled her shoulders back. She couldn’t imagine what he wanted.
He marched toward her with a legal pad and pen in hand. “I’m making you the class monitor. I want you to write down the names of those who talk and get out of their seats.” He handed her the items.
She took them reluctantly. This wasn’t going to be good. Why couldn’t he have picked Ronnie? Or someone else? Why me?
“Can you handle this, Miss Berg?”
“Yes, sir.” She didn’t have the guts to tell him otherwise.
“Good. I know you won’t disappoint me. You have an honest face,” he said, lifting his chin. He slid his right hand into his pant pocket and jingled his loose change again. “And for the rest of you, I want you to take out your Bibles and hand copy Psalm twenty-three, three times over. That should keep you busy until I return.” After, he spun on his heels and hurried out of the classroom door hooking to the right down the hallway.
One of the girls in the back let out a loud cackle, “Hangman’s got a pet piggy!”
Shelly Arkon © 2015