DEATH IN THE FACULTY ROOM- CHAPTER IV

When I arrived at school the next morning, I was greeted by two police cars parked in front of the school. This was about 7:50. Soon the buses would be coming and the police would really be in the way. I thought that this was Mr. Ryerson’s job, but knew he would never do it. I walked up to the first police car and told the officer of my concern. He would gladly move he said, but wasn’t I the teacher who found Mr. Driggs in the faculty room. I told him that I was and that I still had not gotten over the sight of Mr. Driggs just lying there, as still as he was. The officer nodded and told me that he had been involved in discovering a number of dead people in his years on the force. He said that it never really left his mind, even after a number of years.
He also told me that he had gone to the Fleming Elementary School and that Mr. Driggs was indeed his music teacher. He asked if Mr. Driggs came in early each day like he used to. I thought for a moment and realized that Driggs was always there when I got into school in the morning. He was either in the faculty room, if it was open, or wandering the halls just in front of the main office. I had assumed that he was waiting for Mr. Ryerson to come in and open the faculty room door. He seemed to be anxious to get into the faculty room and begin the coffee pot, so that he could have a cup of coffee to start the day. As I was thinking these thoughts, it dawned on me that I did not see a coffee cup on the table in the faculty room. Maybe I had not noticed it in all of the trauma of seeing Mr. Driggs just lying there.
Upon further thought, I had kind of kept guard at the door and peeked in once in a while until the police arrived. I do not remember seeing a coffee cup anywhere. I was not sure if Driggs had his own coffee cup or used the paper cups that were usually kept by the coffee pot. Seemed to me that Driggs actually had his own coffee cup that had some sort of insignia on it.
After leaving the two police to their moving of the cars, I quickly walked over to the faculty room to look for the coffee cup. When I got there, most of the people who usually holed up in the faculty before school were there. I looked around and must have looked peculiar to those assembled, because Sleepy James asked me what I was looking for. I told him that I was looking for Mr. Driggs coffee cup. Did anyone remember what cup it was? Mama Pags said that she remembered that it was a blue cup with some sort of military insignia on it. I told her that I agreed and where was it.
We all looked and no one could find it. “Do you think that the police took it when they were here yesterday?” Rolf Werthless intoned. No one could answer and neither could I. It was at that moment when I realized that I was asking too many questions. There was something about Mr. Driggs death that did not sit well with me. I guessed, at the time, that it was just the act of finding the body (it was not a body when I first saw him) and rushing around to get the police involved.
When I got home that evening I discussed my feelings with Daphne. She had been having a terrible time with her co-worker in the third grade. The woman had been deliberately sabotaging her lessons, would not cooperate in any 3rd grade activity and was trying to isolate Daphne from the rest of the faculty. What her co-worker did not know, was that Daphne is the most determined person that I know and she was not going to win this battle. Daphne was going to cream her.
Daphne asked me what was bothering me. I told her of my feelings of finding Mr. Driggs just lying there and being shocked when he slipped off his chair onto the floor. I wondered what was wrong with him. Did he have a heart attack, a stroke an aneurysm or what? Since I had been a medic in the service, I had seen a number of instant deaths. Sometimes the healthiest of people just fall away and no one knows why. There weren’t the sophisticated machines in those days to see and prevent these things from happening to people.
I spread my lesson plans out on the kitchen table and began to organize them for the next week. I was going to begin, what was then called, the circular curriculum for geography, social studies and government. We were going to begin with the home, the street, the neighborhood, the county, the state, the country, the continent, the Western Hemisphere and then the world.
Within those topics you could teach just about everything and the kids would love it. Your first began with the family and then community helpers like police, firefighters, dentists and doctors, crossing guards and so on. By the time you reached the world, the kids had some idea of who they were and what their place was in the universe. If things went well, the next grade teacher would take it from there to the stars. It was concomitant with Mr. Kennedy’s view that we would land in the moon by 1969.

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