Double Negative


You cannot turn your back on this one: never know where he’ll pop up next. I say pop up; it’s not that he’s hyper or anything as dramatically obvious as that, but by the end of the first lesson, you’ll know him.

I first clocked him when he were squinting at me reward chart. Showing an inordinate interest, he was. “What’ve I to do to get a merit round here?” he says, chewing on the inside of a cheek.

“Show willing, is all,” says I. And we sized each other up like prizefighters (albeit me in crocs and socks).

“Apples not enough for you then?” he says as he winds his window up.

Day two and my levelling sheets went missing from me desk. They’d been in a drawer too. Nothing else were taken. Strange because there was a multipack of Chomps in there and a Statue of Liberty keyring. And the best part of a duty-free pack of Lambert & Butler I were planning to chuff through during Big Writing. Nothing else taken – only the levelling sheets.

As I shut the desk, he caught me eye. Ever such an imperious look, he had. Like he’d one over on me.

“Have you been in this drawer?” I said, trying for nonchalant and falling just short of a glassy paranoia.

“Me, sir.” he says, “I’m beyond that.”

We sized each other up again like a pair of clothed Lawrencian wrestlers. “Mind,” he says, “if I had taken them, it’d only be for your own good. Whoever’s taken them’ll probably give them back to you. In some shape or form.”

Another silence, into which our eyes narrow.

“You’ll have them back in a couple of weeks. Better than ever.” He beamed, showing a couple of blackened front teeth.

Day three and I’d set them a small test. They duly sat down to it and, by all accounts, seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. “That were relaxing, sir, that test.” he says, leaning back in his little plastic seat. “Better than inquiry.”

I started at the word ‘inquiry’ – seemingly too old a word for such a young mouth.

“Inquiry.” I say, “What know you of inquiry?”

He scoffs at the question. “You bain’t be wanting to trouble me with inquiry,” he spits the word at me.  “I do all me inquiry at home: of AskJeeves, Yahoo and Friends Reunited.”

There was something off about this lad, right enough.

The test results were good, mind. Everyone passed, flying colours. Funny though: they all seemed to tip a wink to that funny lad at one point or another that day. And they all had exactly the same answers to each and every question in the test. Strange enough, that.

Day four and he’d gone. Vanished sharpish once the Head had cottoned on to him. Turned out that he weren’t a five year old boy called Nick Gibb. Turned out he were a fifty-five year old bloke. I’d thought the little seat looked even smaller with him all bent up in it. And he were balding. And wore a grey suit. And arrived at school each day driving a Fiat 500, which he insisted on parking on the classroom carpet.

He had the neck to come back into me classroom a couple of weeks later, he did, with me levelling sheet and a copy of that test we’d done. He’d scribbled crayon all over the levelling sheet and I could’ve sworn it smelled of poo.

As he handed me the test, he said, “I’ve done nothing to this, just brought it back is all.”

But I could see that he’d written exclamation marks all over it and drawn pictures of businessmen sitting on the ends of sentences. Not modern businessmen, though, like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs, but businessmen in pin-striped suits and bowler hats, like Reginald Perrin. One of them had a speech bubble coming from his mouth: “Super!” it said.

“I’ve not touched it,” he says, eyes flicking left and tongue flicking right. “And no one hasn’t seen it, neither.” With that, he slams his door and winds up his window.

“Double negative”, thinks I, watching the smoke disperse from his departing doughnut and wondering how one gets skid marks out of a carpet.

Then I leaf back through those levelling sheets and I wonder to meself how one gets skid marks, of a different hue, off paper. 

This Gibb lad’s getting no merits from me. Proper shat on me, he has.

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