55 – School Stories (glass houses)

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Lady Mary Ann Hulett leaned back in her old comfortable leather

 armchair. With a silent ghostly sigh she tilted her head back to rest against the high headrest.

Looking up, she allowed her gaze to drift across the cobwebs festooning the recesses between the gnarly beams

supporting the steep roof of the old Rob Roy hotel’s turret. It had obviously been a long time since any living person had been up here. If they had it would only have been to pile another box of archived records on top of the growing heap at the back of the space.

Being a ghost spiders no longer bothered her. She could drift through the cobwebs as easily as the cold winters air outside sank down the one thousand wrinkled slopes of the Valley’s hills. SHifting her gaze to flick through the walls of the turret she could see how, like magic, the chill air squeezed its invisible ether into the fog forming in the valleys creases., where it abetted the light of the moonn painting the scene in monochrome shades of silver.

Lady H looked around at her fellow members of the local chapter of our ethereal ladies of the Valley, and wondered who would be the best temporary replacement during her upcoming trip.

Maybe Stella? But she didn’t command enough charismatic sparkle amongst the others of the group. Pixi?, she would probably be the most efficient and businesslike of any of them. She would certainly be able to make better judgment calls than the others if anything came up needing a decision. She had proven her worth during her days as schools secretary.

But Lady H knew she would most probably have to go with Val, otherwise there would be too many hurt feelings and repercussions. Val had been the headmaster’s wife, and some of her husbands street creds were still attached to her aura and ego.

“Well ladies.” She said, “as we all know there is the upcoming emergency meeting of the Pan Regional representatives.” She paused for effect. “It has been announced that it will be held at Senga Bay on the edge of Lake Malawi.”

A round of surprised “Oooh’s”could be heard from each attendee  as Lady H announced the venue.

“That should be nice.” Pixi exclaimed, she had been the most adventuresome of them all, and a done quite a bit of hiking in the national parks all across the subcontinent in her day.

“Yes” said Lady H, “the reason the directorate has decided to hold it in such a unusual spot is because it will be close to the genesis of the crisis  issue, as we formulate a response position. Witnesses can easily be summoned.”

Lady H looked around before continuing. “I assume most of you have been checking the news and know what I’m talking about. Rea shrugged and pursed her lips as she gave a little dismissive not of her head. “Actually I haven’t been paying much attention lately, so I wouldn’t mind if you fill me in on the details.”

LadyH nodded an OK.

“Well as you know the Catholic Church has been having some problems with priests. Up in Malawi the scandal has a slightly different flavor to most other places, there it is not young boys, it is with priests and young nuns.

All of the gathered ladies made wry faces.

“Yes ,” said Stella, “I read that a priest is being accused of raping at least a hundred young nuns across the decades of his service.”

“Outrageous!” Val quipped.

But the upshot of all this scandalous commotion is that Yahweh himself has decided to come down from heaven to find out firsthand about the problems besetting the catholic church.

Lady H paused and took a sip of her cup of tea and a nibble on a spirit wafer.

“As we all know, Yahwah leads a very busy schedule. He has to ensure that his whole overall creation operates the way it was designed, and that some of the more dangerous bits of the machinery don’t get in the way of his special ‘projects’, like life on earth.

Yahweh has to deal with the big picture stuff, black holes, orderly universe expansion, pulsars and of course he needs to make sure that the quasars with their obliterating gamma beams are pointing away from the little jewels of his creation, such as our own little Milky way with our little earth.”

“This time, Lady H emphasized, “Yahweh is going to talk directly with the Pope about his priest problems.

A wide smirk slipped over Stella’s face. She chimed in. “It seems to me that as our school is based on Methodist protestant principles, they preclude the sort of problems found amongst those papist types.”.

The ladies nodded an agreement.

With a frown Lady H  rose  and moved across to the little window that looked down across the valley. She stood in silence quite a while. In fact she stood there long enough for the rest of the group to realize that something was vexing her.

“What is the matter?” Pixi asked, “are you okay?”

Lady H turned back to face them, and with a tired look on her face gave a small sigh.

“Well ladies it is all good and well for us to point our fingers at the Catholic Church, but those that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

“What do you mean?” they clamored in unison.

LadyH looked at each of them in turn, Stella, Rea, Pixi, Val.

“It goes back a long time, before any of you became part of this group. It was 1968 if I remember correctly.”

“I happened to be floating along the corridors outside the class room block, when I overheard a conversation between two boys. One of them was a sturdy lad, dark haired, with a quick smile, and even at the age of fifteen it was clear he had begun to shave. The other was a more delicately refined young boy, clearly not nearly as physically mature as the first. In fact he was almost a beautiful boy, thin, fair headed and shy.

LadyH stopped speacking for a moment as they all looked through the south wall to watch a barn owl as it floated past on its silent lightly loaded wings.

Then she picked up where she had left off.

“I heard the sturdy boy say that one of the English teachers, Bov, wanted to speakk to the fair headed boy in his apartment. That he wanted to ask some questions!

I could see that the delicate boy, Dave M, was immediately uneasy. He asked, “Why does he want to see me?”

“You’ll find out soon enough, the other boy Charlie A replied, “his apartment is on the ground level in Pembroke opposite fittingly.”

Gliding over, Lady H  sat back in her big leather chair where she picked up her cup of tea, and after a few more sips continued.

“Ladies, I assume now that each of us has experienced long lives, we no longer have delicate constitutions, and as ghosts we are able to see most of what goes on in the messy livves of people.B

Hopefully  by now we should have lost any remaining prissiness we once possessed. What I’m going to relate are issues that even now in our current roles we seldom discuss. They were certainly not discussed back in the late ssixtieds, neither by those in the flesh nor the spirit world.”

“Something about the way Charlie A told Dave M that ‘he would find out soon enough’ piqued my curiosity. I followed along behind him.

“Upon reaching the teachers apartment Dave M knocked nervously on the door. He was immediately ushered in by an expansively smiling Bov, who began to make friendly and disarming small talk about the weather and how Dave M was doing at sports and in general. Of course I use the name Bov, because it was his nickname amongst the boys. “

“I had seen Bob in action as an English teacher many times. He was a good teacher. I knew that both of these boys were in his class.

“However, the small talk didn’t last long. Bov became more serious as he told Dave M that he was doing research into boys sexual behavior and he would like to ask some questions.”

Lady H frowned and looked down at her hands.

“At this stage I could see how rigid the young boy became. The nervousness showed all over his face, and in the body language of his folded arms and tightly crossed legs, and his silent shrug of acknowledgment.

“Do you have a girlfriend? Asked the teacher.

‘No’ said the boy.

Have you ever had a girlfriend?

‘No’ was the boys answer.

‘Would you like to have a girlfriend?’

The boy shrugged noncommittally.

Do you masturbate? Asked the teacher.

Once again a noncommittal anser came from the boy.

‘Oh, come on’, said the teacher, ‘all boys like to masturbate, if they like girls are not.’

Lady H paused in her narrative.

“At this stage I could see that the boy was clearly upset and had turned slightly white as he once again shrugged.”

‘Did you like that poem that we read in class recently.. Didn’t it excite you? The teacher looked quizzically at the boy opposite him.

Once again Dave M shrugged noncommittally and murmured ‘Yes sir.’

Lady H rolled her eyes back and raised her head as she recalled the details. “At this stage the teacher became frustrated with the subject of his interrogation, with his short ‘no’ answers being given in response to most of the questions, as well as the boys noncommittal shrugs and his shrinking away body language.

So who do you think has the biggest penis of all the boys you know?’ The teacher asked. ‘Remember we talked about this in class and everybody said it was BJ’s. So is that true?’

A quiet I’ don’t know’ came from the boy.

The school master clearly felt that the conversation was not going in the direction he had hoped. Thus after a few more questions and quips about aspects of the poem and boys in the class he thanked Dave M for his help and cooperation in his research, and the boy was dismissed.”

The other ladies of the group were listening riveted to Lady H’s words.

“At that stage I could see how DaveM rushed out of the tteachers apartment and hurried back towards the classrooms where he searched for the first boy.

Finding him, Dave M asked Charlie A ‘Did Bob ask you all those questions about sex and jacking off and girlfriends and stuff?’

‘Yes!’ said Charlie

‘What did you say?’

”I told him I had plenty of girlfriends, that I had already boinked a few of them. That I love boinking and I love jacking off. That I even wanked thinking of Lady Godiva almost every day. And I got turned on by sexy poetry.’

Charlie laughed. ‘I figured out he was a perv right from the beginning. I decided to lay out a hyper hetero ‘Outlook’.

Both of the boys laughed. “Shit,” Dave said, I took the exact opposite tactic. I just made out that I was completely asexual. That I wasn’t interested in sex in any way and fashion at all’.

Lady H stopped her narration and looked around at the ladies and said. “So you see ladies that’s why we shouldn’t throw stones, because even here there are glass houses, and messy things hidden away amongst the solid brick work of the protestant principles of the school.”

With a sudden clap of her hands Lady H dismissed the subject.

“Now let’s get down to business and decide who amongst you is going to lead our discussion groups for the next week or so. Actually it may be even longer if I’m chosen to represent the whole sub continent at the Rome Indaba.”

“I would like to propose,” Lady H said, “That Val lead the meetings.

“If you’re in favor, raise your hand.”

Everyone did.

“Well that’s settled then.”

Whereupon the group drifted into informality.

But ReaR raise her voice above the hubub and asked, actually I like poetry. Does anybody know what poem that teacher was referring to.

“Yes”, said Lady H, “It was a poem that was in the schoolpoetry books, even in my day.”

“I can recite it,” she said, “because my husband, Sir Leige, would recite it to me. It is called ‘ To His Coy Mistress ‘ and it is by

Andrew Marvell.”

Had we but world enough and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down, and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love’s day.

Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side

Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the flood,

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversion of the Jews.

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires and more slow;

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;

Two hundred to adore each breast,

But thirty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart.

For, lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate.

  But at my back I always hear

Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found;

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long-preserved virginity,

And your quaint honour turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust;

The grave’s a fine and private place,

But none, I think, do there embrace.

  Now therefore, while the youthful hue

Sits on thy skin like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may,

And now, like amorous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour

Than languish in his slow-chapped power.

Let us roll all our strength and all

Our sweetness up into one ball,

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Through the iron gates of life:

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.