DEATH IN THE FACULTY ROOM- CHAPTER VIII

The spring of 1965 was a complete blur. Having moved into our new home, we spent most of our time fixing up the things that were wrong with house. One of the rooms was painted completely black and had the outline of a swastika on the wall. We asked our new neighbors about it and they said that one of the former owner’s sons was a real weirdo. He had swastikas tattooed on his forearm and made no secret that he hated all kinds of minorities. That was a surprise to us and we painted the room at least twice to get the color not to bleach through to the egg shell blue that we painted it.
We got some rugs put down on the floors in the living room and the dining room. The three bedrooms were o.k. We also had to buy an air conditioner because we knew that the summer would be intolerable if we did not have some cooling upstairs. The rest of the fixing up went rather smoothly. I had never lived in a house before, only apartments. I was not used to mowing lawns or trimming trees or replacing light switches, but I sure did learn fast.
Once again the Driggs death faded from my purview. The faculty room was sometimes the only place where anything was discussed. We all wondered about the result of the autopsy and why it was not made public yet. Most poo-pooed the need to know these kinds of things. No matter what happened to Mr. Driggs, it was not our business to get involved. I agreed wholeheartedly. I did not ask if anyone else had been visited upon by the FBI.
The only person who disagreed with the rest of us was Mama Pags. She would be quiet during our conversations and then blurt out that there was something going on with all of this. She declared that Mr. Driggs was not what we thought he was. Why was his death not yet explained ? He certainly did not die of natural causes. Why did they delay the funeral? Why haven’t we hear about the autopsy and why were there people snooping around our school asking questions about Mr. Driggs. Why is it that none of us seem to know anything about him or Anastasia? Were any of us ever invited into their home? Did he ever come to your house for dinner? Did you ever ask him and he turned you down?
“Many of you knew him for twenty five year. Didn’t it surprise you to learn that he was so much of loaner that we did not even know what college he went to” asked Mama Pags. There was complete silence at the end of her diatribe. Sleepy James kind of opened his eyes and uttered a guttural sound that sounded like “Urps.” He further expounded that he never thought of such things and wasn’t really interested. His job was mostly what he thought of. He planned his lessons, taught them, gave tests, marked them and then went home to his wife and family. Anything else was none of his business.
I could not fathom what James was saying. Yes, there are people like that in education and I feel sorry for them and for their students. What prompts someone like that to even go into teaching? That’s how teaching gets a bad name and gets criticized. There are always a few of those people in any endeavor. James just happens to be our example here at Fleming.
Mama Pags had not finished. She lit into James and pummeled him verbally for the next five minutes. The rest of us kept our mouths shut and looked away as she removed James’ gonads one by one. It was a horrific sight to see. After the five minutes, Mama Pags went on to eat her salad.
Miss Reinhold sat aghast at this war of words. I am sure that none of this was explained to her in her methods of instruction classes. Frankly, it had not been in mine either. I could see her face contorting at each blast from Mama Pags. I thought that at one point she would jump in. She evidently thought better of it. At the end of the lunch period, Miss Reinhold asked if she could speak to me some time after school. At that moment I thought that she was hitting on me. I told her that I was happily married and could not get involved. She looked at me as if I were speaking Martian. She said that this had to do with Mr. Driggs and some things that she had found in his desk when she replaced him.
I wondered why she chose me and not Mr. Ryerson or some other member of the staff. Maybe it was that I was closer to her age than anyone else on the staff. I also was the one who found the body and set everything else in motion. She had heard the story from others in the building. I agreed to speak with her after school on the next day. I was busy on that day.
I told Daphne about the discussion in the faculty room. She said that even some of the teachers in her school had heard about Mr. Driggs and been surprised that the funeral had taken so long. Her reaction to Miss Reinhold was the same as mine. She thought that my age was the key variable in her desire to speak with me. I agreed that she was probably correct. We went to sleep that night never expecting the next day to bring us even further into the Driggs’ death.
The next morning I got up and drove Daphne to her school and went to Fleming. When I got there, I was not the first one in the building. The custodians opened the building and had it ready for the daily tramping of the kids. One of the custodians, Louie Rookstool, also a former student at Fleming, accosted me in the hallway. He asked me if I heard the news. I looked at him strangely. He said, “I read in the Inquirer this morning that the nice lady music teacher, Miss Reinhold was killed in an auto accident on her way home last night. Some guy must have run her off the road on route 309 and her car burst into flames. She never had a chance.”

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3 thoughts on “DEATH IN THE FACULTY ROOM- CHAPTER VIII

  1. YOu killed off Ms. Reinhold? Just when we were about to discover what she found in Driggs’ desk? Poor bady, she was so young and full of life!

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