Safety In Numbers

Entry by: percypop

3rd August 2016

"Stand still,boy!" Jason held out his hand and tried to stop quivering as the cane whistled down on his palm. He tried to pull his hand away just as the stick landed but it did no good. The sting made him wince but he pretended he felt nothing. The second strike hurt less because his hand was already numb, so he squeezed his eyes to stop the tears.

"Now perhaps you'll do your homework like I told you. Now get out!"

The Master pushed him out of the room and called the next boy in. Tubby Foster looked at Jason as they passed, hoping to see a few tears on his face, but Jason wouldn't give him the satisfaction. His face was as wooden as the statue of our Lady which stood in the corridor.

As he walked down the passage, he folded his arms and tucked his hands under his armpits to kill the sting. From beyond the study door he heard the swish of the cane and a squeak from Tubby as each blow landed. It made him feel a little better.

Form Six at the Weeping Heart of Mary Primary School was notorious. It was agreed by all the Staff that they needed discipline.

Mother Superior said,
"Mother of Mercy, haven't I tried? A ruler on the knuckles hasn’t the slightest effect on these little ruffians. They need some real discipline."

She brought in a Mister Rothwell. He was a large man with big hands and a mighty temper. His voice could be heard from any room in the school and when he strode down the main corridor, the boys of the Sixth vanished like smoke.

During lunch break, Tubby sat in the "Lavs" and showed his stripes to the gang.
"I stared at him and he missed my hand cos' he was worried."

"So worried that he wacked your wrist instead?" said Jason," fat lot of good that did!"

"Still, I made 'im blink." Tubby felt the moral victory was his.

The biggest boy in the gang was Peter Hammond and he did the heavy bullying when necessary.

"He never touches me," he said "An' I can't even read proper yet."

The others thought about this for a while. Then Jason piped up,

"Maybe we should get Pete to do something awful and watch what happens?"

"Yeah!" said Tubby, dreaming of some delicious catastrophe in which Rothie would be humiliated.

"But how could we do it?" There was a silence and then the break bell rang and they ran back before Rothie caught them.

Days past and no one came up with an idea. The term was nearly over when Tubby got his birthday present. Lugging it into the playground, he hid it behind the waste bins and called a meeting. The five members of the gang assembled at dinner time and goggled at it.

“He bought it in America," said Tubby, "my Dad says we can have a lot of fun with it."

They shook their heads. Then they got Tubby’s idea.
The noise from the gang nearly gave the game away. Kids from other classes heard it and began to peep round the corner.

"Gerr Off!" Peter Hammond stood in the way and punched one or two smaller brats, "mind your own biz."

The gang formed a huddle and agreed their plan.
“Got to act together,” said Tubby, “or we’ll be nicked.”

The last day of term arrived and all the classes assembled in the Big Hall for the prize giving. On the stage, Mother Superior wore her finest habit, the one with immaculate white hood. The form teachers sat in their order; Infants, First class, Second class and so on.

Mr Rothwell in his academic gown, with the trim of white fur, sat nearest to the edge of the stage. A hum of expectant chatter from the massed parents subsided as the choir of little people from the Infants sang "O! Happy Morn." All eyes focussed on the adorable little people.

From the side of the stage, the curtain bulged as somebody or something was moving towards the stage. Mr Rothwell began to turn to see what was going on.

--Splat! - a gobbet of yellow liquid jetted out of the wings and covered his best suit. Splosh!--a second shot and his face was obliterated in a mask of paint, some of which splattered beyond him onto the habit of Mother Superior.

Screams and pandemonium--curses and stamping--chairs upturned and tables crashing--the whole world turned upside down.

Behind the stage a scurry betrayed the anarchists as they rushed out of the side door and down to the body of the hall where everyone was on their feet. Mingling with the rest of the class, Jason smoothed his rumpled hair and Tubby wiped his hands on the back of his trousers; a faint tinge of yellow remaining. Peter Hammond glared at two of the Fifth who nudged each other and showed them a fist to make them turn away. The rest of the gang melted away among the other Sixth.
Later, Jason said, “My Dad says there’s safety in numbers.”
And there was.