Kale's Sketches

by Chris Castle

He turned back to his beloved blackboard. His fingers moved up and down, the chalk his conductor, or so he imagined. He was the leader the pupils; the lumps and mouths, his audience. As he finished, he tapped the board two, three times on the full stop, so that dust smoked up and around him. He turned dramatically and imagined that the puff of smoke was thick enough to conceal him, and then he would burst through it, an academic illusionist, set to dazzle. The illustrious Mr. Jenkins!

“Kale, I want you to write these lines out a hundred times before you leave your desk. I know, seeing as you practically are deaf and dumb, you won’t read the lines before we start, so I will do so for you. It says: ‘I will not sit with my head in the clouds when Mr. Jenkins is kindly trying to explain the wonders of geography.” Mr. Jenkins stopped and looked at the board, almost sprinted back to it. “And, comma, ‘especially on his last day.’”

He walked back over to the boy and stood over his desk. Such a meek child. Pasty faced, always hunched over his notebook, like a prisoner squatting over his food. Like somebody permanently about to be beaten. Oh well, best not disappoint, and he firmly cuffed the boy round the ear. He waited. He waited for the delicious sound of whimpering, or the truly magical sight of a boy’s fresh tear. But again, like everything else with the wretched thing, nothing.

“Yes, Kale, today is my last day at this useless lump of a school. Onwards and upwards. You should see it, my own work room, lush fields, food you can eat rather than the filth you find here. And between you and me,” he leaned in close to the boy’s tiny, perfect ear, “The boys want to learn. Really! And if boys want to learn, Kale, well, I’ve got so much to teach.” He stayed by the boy’s ear, breathing, then quick as a flash, he licked the boy’s inner lobe, then rose up to his original spot. Nothing. The boy was astonishing in his aloofness. Jenkins thought for a long second what he could do to garner a response from the thing. But he shook himself out of it. Too close to freedom to get involved in any more silly business, he thought.

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