Some people, given a little power, have a tendency to go crazy. I’m pretty sure I’m not one of them, although I doubt I’ll ever have the opportunity to test that particular theory. I’m what you might call an underachiever, an accidental rebel, the quiet kid who found himself at the back of the class, after years of being slowly shuffled further and further from the front.
I wasn’t exactly a troublemaker, I simply leaned more towards peaceful resistance than subservience. Nevertheless, I was sent to the headmaster on many occasions, and each and every time I was caned. I attended a grammar school with an identity complex, the headmaster at the time had obvious aspirations for something private and far more prestigious. As it would turn out, some years after I’d left, when corporal punishment had been outlawed, he went to town on some poor kid and was dragged away by the police.
His name was Bird, a great lanky fellow with a pompous air about him, he and his deputy insisted on always wearing their mortar boards and capes. Of course, both carried their canes wherever they went, should the opportunity for instant reprisal arise. Then again, all of the teachers at my school were screwed up, most of which merely went through the motions, staggering from classroom to classroom like zombies. Those few who still believed in their chosen vocation, who showed the slightest sensitivity to their pupils, suffered the constant backlash of jeers from the crowd.
My French teacher at the time, an overweight, red-faced alcoholic with a love of jazz and red wine, went by the nickname Links, (although I’d never bothered to ask the other kids why). Rather late in my grammar school education, he had me punished for looking at him the wrong way. That’s the exact phrase he used, at first intimating that I, a fourteen year old boy, had the hots for a middle-aged pig in white flannels. Not exactly impressed by the ridiculous insinuation, but getting rather sick of being sent to the headmaster, I decided to double-down and frown. As I glared at the bilious oaf he stuttered in protestation, holding a trembling finger in the air and ordering me out of the classroom.
Soon enough the deputy head swooped down like a vampire and dragged me by the ear to see Bird. The bastard peddled his usual hypocritical drivel, under the delusion that caning me was purely for my own good. I joined the queue, the usual nogoodniks, all smirking and nodding at each other with a subdued mutual admiration. Except for one kid named Brian Loader, almost everyone picked on him, although he never did do himself any favours. He couldn’t help the lisp, and like I, coming from a poor single parent family, his clothes didn’t fit him, his shoes were dirty, but he was just one of those kids who didn’t know when to stop.
He was small and he couldn’t particularly defend himself, but even when a rugby team grunt had him pinned to the ground, with his matted blood and hair in his clenched fists, Brian just wouldn’t back down. That’s why he was always in Bird’s office getting six of the best, at least once a week I’d say. Except for one late Friday afternoon, a week before the Christmas break, when Bird had decided he’d had enough of Brian, and with a wooden yard rule, took a long run up and smacked the kid’s rear with all his might.
It shattered to pieces, the ruler, and as shards and splinters of wood shot in the air, Brian, I, and half a dozen other kids jumped for joy. It felt like time had slowed down, Bird’s hand was bleeding everywhere, it was such a beautiful sight to see, the man who’d made so many suffer, receiving a little of the pain he’d dished out through the years.
Authoritarians should take note, nothing lasts forever, not rulers, nor careers, and most certainly not power. For be it in this world, or the next, a time will come when those who believe they are here to maintain order, may find chaos has come to consume them.