Tales of Lost Jumpers
The Chosen One
By the arrival of second break Thomas King was a troubled man. Over the last hour he had become increasingly vexed by a growing apprehension that he may be on the verge of making a series of assumptions about young Patrick Thompson. Not that there was anything inherently wrong in making assumptions, he knew. It seemed to Thomas King that much of day-to-day life (containing within that phrase all the dull and deeply uninteresting tasks and obligations of the day), depended on making such assumptions. He preferred to assume that his light switches and kettle would work in the morning, that his car would start and that he wouldn’t get lost on the way into work. To consider the alternative possibilities each time one came to depend on the item or aspect would be far too time consuming and stressful. And Thomas King had now had enough experience of teaching, after 4 years, to also recognise the danger of leaning too heavily on any assumptions that might be made about people. He had already been shocked out of his preconceptions about enough parents and their offspring to be naturally wary of this.
But Thomas King’s worries around Patrick Thompson held a slightly different orbit as they circled his mind, or rather the back of it, tantalisingly refusing to become altogether clear. Being a casual, yet interested student of history, his concerns owed more to the tales of pitfalls and schisms caused, it seemed to him, by those who held steadfastly to their assumptions and didn’t see the new or different approach even though it was right under their noses. Thomas King was determined in his own way not to be among their ranks.
Tracing one’s thoughts seemed to Tom much like attempting to trace a previously drawn line across a sandy beach after it had been swept by the tide. He was still conscious though, that at some point between meeting Ms Prove (pronounced ‘Prove –eh’) at the end of lunch and walking down the corridor to her office, with young Patrick Thompson in tow, he had begun to posit the question “What would Jesus do?” Actually, to retrieve the line a little further across the shifting dunes his thought had actually been more “What would Jesus’ Class teacher at his local Primary school do?”
So had begun the whispering of his mind that perhaps, just perhaps, he was reading this whole situation from the wrong end of the book. Maybe Patrick Thompson was different. What if he did have certain gifts? And if he did, surely they would show at an early age. He wondered at what age the Dali Llama was chosen, or revealed? He thought it was quite young. During the afternoon’s Art lesson Tom had been drawn to observe young Patrick Thompson at work. Was it his imagination playing tricks or did Patrick do an unusually large amount of smiling? Was it usual to fill the water pot for one’s table with such a benign air? Did all the other children make such warm and positive comments about the artistic endeavours of their peers? The final image in Tom’s mind as they neared Ms Prove’s office at second break was Patrick handing out the fruit as the children went out to play. Pat hadn’t said anything but in Tom’s mind each piece of fruit seemed to be accompanied by a silent “Bless you brother…bless you sister…” as he took in Patrick’s simple smile and patient manner.
At last, as he knocked on Ms Prove’s door, Thomas Kings’ fears crystallised around his consideration of what he was to say to the head teacher. He saw a fresh-faced Patrick Thompson, aged in his early thirties, giving an interview on television and kindly smiling at the presenter as he stated “Oh no, my teachers didn’t recognise my gifts. They didn’t know what to do with me. I had such a difficult time.” Thomas King did not want to be numbered among those with a lack of vision. He was probably wrong. No, he was almost certainly wrong but just for this afternoon he would try his best to keep an open mind regarding young Patrick Thompson.
“Right O Pat. I shan’t be long. Then you can get your fruit.”
“O.k. Mr King.” Again that smile.
“Come in!” Answered Ms Prove.
Tom entered and chose a seat quickly from the three bucket style chairs arranged facing Ms Prove’s desk. Behind the nearly bare table stood a large, rather incongruous executive black leather chair. It was definitely past its glory days and the material was worn and flaky in places. Tom also knew that its metal frame was not what it was. Tom had come to the conclusion that either Ms Prove’s familiarity with the nearly defunct chair meant that she no longer heard the strangely contorted squeaks and moans let out by the chair or that she rather enjoyed the discomforting effect such noises had upon others during discussions. This time though, Tom was determined. He was going to get three strikes no matter what fiendish tactics Ms Prove deployed.
The baseball game had been devised by some of the more salty members of staff in response to initial assessments of Ms Prove’s management style. Her key strategy for ‘moving the discussion on’ appeared to be simply to interrupt the speaker with a new question before the previous answer had been completed. In fact, Tom had argued hard for the game to be called ‘interrupting sheep’ after overhearing the Year Three joke when he had been on playground duty.
He had been overruled. Baseball it was. In order to attain a ‘strike’ one had simply to finish one’s sentence uninterrupted. And should anyone ever achieve three strikes, the droll staff had agreed, the teacher must surely be ‘out’ of the office. One way or another.
Ms Prove, who had been putting some papers away in the colour coded folders behind her desk sat down in the large leather chair which emitted a deep groan.
“So Tom, tell me about this morning. How are things with Patrick Thompson?” Thomas King took a deep breath and made his first pitch.
“Well, we had been looking at people of faith this morning in our R.E. session…”
“And where did Patrick get this idea of being the chosen one?” Damn she was good. While smiling across at him Ms Prove crossed her legs to the accompaniment of a strangled springing sound. “From you?”
“Um, I’m not quite sure to be honest. I mean, we discussed how people who, who have a belief…um, think about their ‘chosen one,’” Another smothered spring sound, this time with a worrying clink, came from the chair. “Who may or not…”
“Does Patrick Thompson think he is god or something?” This wasn’t going well. Tom would have to change his tactics if he was going to make a strike at all, let alone persuade Ms Prove to give Patrick Thompson the benefit of the doubt. As if in answer to his musing Ms Prove’s chair gave out a deep uncomfortable grinding noise as she shifted position, waiting for Thomas’s answer.
(apologies for the changes in the font..am investigating how to fix this!)