Mr. Pinsler pressed the chalk down on the blackboard’s lip holding it with two fingers in such a way that it didn’t make a sound. In the moment he turned to face the class, a ray of light passed across his cheeks revealing his doughy complexion. He slid his high backed wooden teacher’s chair definitively into position and sat then lay both palms flat on the desk either side the stack of papers he had, before class began, aligned with considerable care.
While standing in front of the blackboard, Mr. Pinsler completed another near perfect circle using one of his precisely pre-cut pieces of chalk. He had gone about its labelling while discussing the assigned definitions in a voice not loud but sufficiently audible to not strain the ears of those children in attendance. He employed a neutral tone without over emphasizing any one aspect of his exposition. Students were required to commit all mentioned terms to memory, regardless of their relative importance. This was the way he had been taught.
Every Sunday evening, Mr. Pinsler opened a new box of chalk seated at his dining room table. Using a sturdy vice, a precision rule, and a fine toothed jig saw, he cleaved each piece to measure two inches in length within a sixteenth. Having placed a tea towel between the table top and his vice’s jaw the table surface remained unmarred while making for less wobble. On Monday morning, after commanding the class to silence, Mr. Pinsler, in always the same order, unsnapped his briefcase, transferred the ten freshly hewn pieces of chalk into his desk drawer, aligned first his pencils, then pens, then papers. After securing his briefcase, he lowered it to the floor one side of his left foot and nudged it forward until it became flush with the desk leg on that side.
Mr. Pinsler consistently drew near perfect circles on the blackboard, creating the first one no later, in the course of each week, than class’s end on Tuesday; although more often right after first bell Monday morning.
His near perfect circle demonstrations served to emphasize perseverance in practice and reminded students of his prowess as master and that one day, providing considerable effort had been exercised over time, they too might approximate that level of skill, or not. The students remained still as a church congregation whenever Mr. Pinsler turned his back on them to complete the motion in his way; even the class bully Pratt became poised. The mathematics instructor’s arm appeared to disarticulate at the elbow in the course of its travel, mimicking a compass motion imbued with an additional cavalier or aggressive aspect.
On one occasion, over a glass of sherry, Mr. Pinsler shared with Ms. Poisson, the French instructess: “As Evil Kineval soars his motorcycle over a line of schoolbuses, remaining poised mid-flight within his near perfect trajectory, I too feel, Ms. Poisson, I am asserting myself in the drawing of a near perfect circle, and thereby setting a powerful example.”
“Oh, indeed you are, Monsieur Pinsler.” They had touched glasses. Mr. Pinsler, a man of apparent high propriety, took their relationship no farther,despite the face Ms. Poisson had applied a false mole to one cheek for the occasion.
As Mr. Pinsler sat in front of the class on this morning, a fly alighted on the rim of his spectacles and crawled onto the inner surface of one lens. Reaching the center, it began cleaning itself. After a few moments, the fly began scurrying back and forth, all the while capturing the breathless attention of each and every student. Its wings nearly brushed Mr. Pinsler’s corneal surface several times as it jmade several direction changes. In conclusion, the fly walked confidently over to the edge of the frame, around and across the outer lens surface, coming to its opposite edge whereupon it stopped, cleaned itself once more and scampered back onto the inner surface. Mr. Pinsler observed the insect’s activity, unbliking, with eyes turned inward.
Mr. Pinsler wore, as he normally did, a meticulously buttoned sweater, brown as a paper bag, a jacket, hue of corrugated cardboard and his walnut brown slacks, under which he had strapped his chesnut brown support hose. A pair of beaver brown shoes had been polished to a uniform luster. Their color, in particular, had been carefully sought through review of numerous department store catalogues: Mr. Pinsler was acutely aware that Beaver and brown were related etymologically, or nearly so.
After the fly departed, the students slumped back into their seats with a general release of tension. The Brownian motion of student activity, which Mr. Pinsler was acutely aware, recommenced.
“Weltzein,” Pratt hissed and yanked the hair of the boy seated to his front.
“Pratt!” Weltzein jolted backward and spoke, inhaling through gritted teeth.
“Weltzein to the front,” Mr. Pinsler stated flatly and stood. In that posture, the frays of his sweater became apparent, shone upon by that same single beam of morning light which had captured his unreal countenance. He had worn these same articles of clothing since attending his English boarding school in capacity of both student and Master, the latter position he had accepted immediately upon University graduation. Mr. Pinsler ultimately relocated to the States due to some vague issue and assumed his present stewardship.
As Weiltzein walked down the classroom aisle, all heads turned to follow him, as if all were coupled to a mechanical actuator. Mr. Pinsler gripped Weltzein’s hair and lifted him into the air. The boy grimaced, his shoulders rising as he attempted to maintain contact with the floor.
“No talking!” Mr. Pinsler shouted into Weltzein’s ear and lowered him just as the bell rang. Pinsler removed his briefcase from under the desk, unsnapped the locks, placed papers in the front-most compartment, pens in the middle, and pencils in the rear. He pressed the briefcase closed, tapped it twice, locked his desk drawer and walked from the classroom, already one minute late for his library proctorship, a responsibility which would last the entire next hour.
Due to scheduling oversight, no instructor would arrive in the home room for another fifteen minutes. The children arose and began flinging themselves around like autumn leaves buffeted by sudden gusts of wind; all of them, that is, except for Weltzein, who continued to rub his head still standing beside Mr. Pinsler’s desk. Jiminez was hit on the side of his head with a spit ball. He, in turn, punched Luchars in the upper arm as hard as he could. O’Connor crept around the corner into the teacher’s alcove, entered the bathroom, unrolled a measure of toilet paper, ran the wad under the faucet, reimerged and pelted the transfixed Weltzein on the side of his neck.
The bully Pratt observed O Connor do this and ran around the corner as well, intending to repeat the same only he slowed, noticing the padlock of Mr. Pinsler’s locker to have been left unfastened in the professor’s hurry to leave. Pratt jumped into the air and kicked the handle upward, sending the padlock clattering across the floor. The locker door careened against the adjacent steel cabinet causing a jarring vibration.
“Pinsler.” Pratt snorted, studying the two glass quart-sized orange juice jars sitting side by side on the locker floor. Their labels had been removed yet both were sealed with their original Tropicana lids. Each jar was filled to the top with brown liquid. Pratt brought both jars into the classroom, placed them on the floor in front of the blackboard and unscrewed the top of one. Pratt scowled, waved his hand in front of his face, and shrieked:
“Ewww! Pinsler’s dook jars!”
The children gathered around the two jars as Pratt began chanting: “Dook jar. Dook jar. Dook Jar.” The rest flinched and gyrated uncontrollably as the discover was beyond comprehension yet appealed to a fourth grader’s sesne of whimsey when it came to bathroom issues. With everyone’s attention fixated on the two unusual jars, Weltzein wandered into the teacher’s alcove and stood in front of Mr. Pinsler’s open locker. He examined the plywood board at the rear, displaced slightly to one side. Darkness was visible beyond the gap between the wood’s edge and the locker’s metal sidewall. Weltzein glanced over the locker’s top at the thin plaster wall, painted dour green, a wall which separated the staff alcove from the classroom. The darkness in the gap appeared to recede much farther than the few inch thickness of the wall. Weltzein moved his hand forward to insert his fingers into the space beyond. He wiggled them. Satisfied, Weltzein pushed his hand inward a little farther, then farther still until his whole arm had been immersed up to his shoulder, in the space beyond the locker.
No one observed Weltzein do this as all attention was still focussed upon the two glass jars. As it happened, Mr. Pinsler had been collecting his feces in glass orange juice jars since he was a boy at boarding school and had even joined societies of like minded individuals.
With his arm fully extended, Weltzein felt it would be well within the classroom space next door yet he saw no light not desks nor students within the gap bewteen wood and metal, only a vague twinlking of light, like stars in the night sky. As he felt no resistance and idn’t perceive any real danger, Weltzein yanked the plywood board aside, turned sideways, and stepped through Mr. Pinsler’s locker into the dark space beyond. Weltzein disappeared completely. A moment later, he stepped back into the alcove.
Mr. Pinsler rushed into the classroom, having remembered as soon as he arrived at his library post he had not secured the locker padlock. He pulled up abruptly, staring at the two jars around which the tornado of children was careeniing. He noted his wide open locker door and clapped both hands loudly.
“Seats! Every child in their assigned seat!”
Weltzein had already been seated, staring straight ahead.
Like a mother hen, Mr. Pinsler recapped both jars and carried them gently into the alcove. “There will be sereious repercussions,” he called over his shoulder as he replaced them on the floor of the locker.
As Pinsler was occupied, Pratt yanked the back of Weltzein’s hair again and hissed, “Weltzein.” Welztzein remained still this time, staring ahead at Mr. Pinsler’s circle on the blackboard.
Pinsler stood in front of his locker and stared at the sheet of plywood laying to one side. Darkness was no longer present, only the locker’s scuffed rear steel panel, where a large fold out magazine photograph had been taped. The image showed a man standing over a glass jar releasing a torrent of stool from his rectum. The photo was of Mr. Pinsler himself, taken some years previously. Pinsler fumbled with the plywood and hammered it in place with his fist. He adjusted the two orange juice jars to their previous orientation, closed the door, and snapped the padlock into its secure position. He strode back into the classroom and in a rumbling voice asked,
“Who has been in my locker?”
Pratt called out: “Weltzein. Weltzein found your jars, Mr. Pinsler, and opened them up in front of the class.”
“Is this true? Weltzein?”
The students looked at one another and a few wagged their heads up and down.
“I saw Weltzein holding your dook jar, Mr. Pinsler.” Jiminez said.
“Weltzein,” Pratt hissed.
“What you saw was NOT. . . a dook jar,” Mr. Pinsler spoke with his jaws tense. In the flourescent lighteing at classroom’s edge, his complexion appeared even more doughier. He spoke more quietly: “You were mistaken.”
The students remained silent.
“Weltzein. Were you in my locker?”
Weltzein arose and walked down the aisle yet did not stop and turn as had been customary but proceeded straight to the board and picked up Mr. Pinsler’s pre-cut piece of chalk.
“Weltzein? I did not specify the black board nor did I instruct you to touch the chalk.” Pinsler turned toward the class. “Did I specify the blackboard or instruct Weltzein to touch the chalk?”
“No, Mr. Pinsler,” half the class replied.
“Weltzein, you aree already facing near certain expulsion.” Mr. Pinsler spoke with a near monotone.
Weltzein drew a perfect circle just underneath Mr. Pinsler’s near perfect circle. The class could clearly see the difference: Mr. Pinsler’s circle was askew compared to Weltzein’s.
“Weltzein, what are you doing?”
Weltzein drew andother perfect circle, then another then another, all without any effort whatsoever. He turned and addressed the class: “Mr. Pinsler keeps jars of his own shit in his school locker because he is obsessively compelled to do so. He allows Pratt to get away with his bullying because Pratt’s father went to the same boarding school as he and shares his fetish for shitting into jars.”
At that moment, the principle of the school burst into the classroom accompanied by a police officer.
“Mr. Prinsler, we need you to open your locker. Atop my desk a few minuites ago was placed an envelope containind several highly disturbing photographs. Several parents have apparently received the same packet of images and are congregating in the school lobby as we speak.”
There was a burst of walkie talkie static as Weltzein placed the chalk back onto the blackboard’s lip.
“Weltzein,” Pratt breathed from the back row.