Section 146 is the close of Chapter 6
Free to go, and with a mind to do so, Vernon could not barricade his thinking from the noxious mix of elation and misgiving that seem to accompany most people’s unexpected triumphs. He got ready for work feeling as if he was now free to leave just at the point that there was little need to. Did he really want to forsake ‘Old Blighty’ and travel East?
When he got to the School in the Park he found in his pigeon hole a missive from Dr Gumtree. He was as surprised to find his pigeon hole still in place as he was unsurprised to find a message there. It bore the hallmark brusqueness of the Head’s P.A.. …Vernon- be pleased to attend a meeting in Dr Gumtree’s study at 8.45 am, prompt…
For all his oscillation Vernon felt somehow heady with the hubristic helium of a crisis survived. He knew they’d not found a replacement for him and also knew he had to honour his contract with the Founding Father’s School in Thailand; perhaps he’d saunter in after a coffee, there was hardly much to lose by doing so.
Though tardy, Vernon’s thunder was dulled in its dramatic effect by the fact that both Mrs McGuin and Dr Albright were made late by an intractable parent whose son was to be suspended for concealing drugs in a teacher’s desk. Where the school saw this as a crime compounded by malice, the parent saw it as an outrageous attempt to frame their offspring, or perhaps a marked sign of initiative, whichever would waive the charge of a full terms’ fees that extended beyond the offender’s departure. The Head and Deputy arrived therefore in conversation about a bigger nuisance than Vernon to find that Vernon too had been softened by the sincere charm of Dr Gumtree. All this said, Vernon knew to his cost that Mrs McGuin had the emotional consistency of a stick of rock; neither warmth nor pressure made her conveniently malleable, she remained brittle, only more unpredictably so… and she exuded …a palpable stickiness.
In a tone whose coldness chilled the room she said. “Well then let’s get underway.”
Dr Gumtree shuffled his papers to claim the attention of those present.
“The landscape has changed since we last surveyed it. We have interviewed three candidates for the post of Head of Religious Studies, and found them most noticeable in turn, for being aloof, bizarre and loveable. We could, I think, have got that from the Marx Brothers. And so, I have their C.V.s right here…”
Dr Gumtree raised his hand in mock apology saying “Just a jest, just a jest. Each of the candidates have respectively ruled themselves out by being bland, inept and unfit; at least Vernon cannot be attributed these characteristics.” He smiled around the room amiably, as if attaching his colours to the proverbial mast by doing so. I’ll miss you thought Vernon.
A biting chill blew in from the Northernmost wastes of the room in the words of Mrs McGuin, his nemesis.
“I don’t entirely agree with your simplistic summary. Vernon’s bizarre behaviour bought the school into disrepute after he revealed his inept handling of an initiative he could have taken care of. In addition to this, we are not back to square one in view of the fact that we are rid of him. Though painful, this is progress.” Her words hung in the air like icicles and Vernon, having been referred to in the third person doubted whether his presence was apparent to anyone but himself.
Always ready to be the peacemaker, when he wasn’t blowing up bridges and storming enemy encampments as in a previous incarnation, Dr Albright cleared his throat profoundly. He was still an intelligence officer of a kind
“Ahem. Let’s not be too hasty we don’t want to go beyond the evidence now do we? There have been some developments in the initiative you speak of Mrs McGuin and it doesn’t take a bright spark to see that Vernon may well be in the clear. I wonder in fact Vernon whether you might like to reconsider your resignation in the bright light of these erm… er, new configurations? As a compromise I might be able to offer a sabbatical for one year what do you say?”
Vernon glanced across at the ice maiden, measuring the impact of these words, sad that he might ameliorate her discomfort in replying. He was not sure who he most felt put out by, haughty Mrs McGuin, or smug Arthur S.
“I’m sorry Dr Albright. Your generous suggestion, though very tempting, is one I can’t take up; I have now, a contract with a school in Thailand for two years, and there are penalties in breaking that contract. In addition to this, though I think things might change soon even more dramatically,” Vernon looked pointedly at McGuin, “I am loth to work alongside a colleague who charges me with being inept, without offering professional support, and bizarre, because I said no to a deal with her son.”
Check out the first six chapters of The Nonsense Filter on The Novel page