Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Lavatory, Part 2

Here is second installment of The Lavatory. Go back to the last post if you are just getting to this. Thanks for reading!

Part 2

That November morning I was a little antsy in class. We were doing handwriting, a dull subject to me. Mrs. Albert had beautiful cursive and she was an excellent teacher in this area. I needed a break and asked to go to the lavatory. Mrs. Albert was a pushover for restroom breaks. We could go pretty much when we needed to. Mrs. Albert gave her permission so I walked down the linoleum-tiled floor to the lav.

It was creepy to be alone in the big hallway. It was not well lit. The walls were painted with high-gloss, drab colored paint and I ran my hand across the shiny surface. It always seemed a little sweaty, a little slippery. My dress shoes clicked a lonely echo. I could hear Sister Justin yelling at some poor kid for not having his homework, “But I did have it, Sister. Honest.”

“Don’t you dare talk to ME about honesty!”

When I got to the lav my friend Kevin McDevitt was there. “Hi, Tim. Whatcha doin’?”

“What do you think I’m doing, goofball?” He was sitting on the edge of the sink, legs swinging, a bored satisfied look on his face.

“You’re just taking a break aren’t you?”

“Yeah,” I admitted. “Albert’s doing handwriting.

"Boring!” I sneered. I really did like Mrs. Albert but I was trying to be cool.

“Handwriting,” he answered in disgust. “Who needs that? I knew how to write when I was…”

Suddenly, a black form swooped in from behind us. I felt pain as a steel hand clamped around the back of my neck. My jaw snapped shut and my teeth clicked together hard as I was lifted from the sink. I instinctively grabbed onto the hand holding me up. I was spun around. My face thrust inches from Sister Justin’s. Her eyes behind the steel rimmed glasses were squinched almost shut. Her face was flushed and she was trembling as she spoke. I had never seen her this close before. I had never seen any teacher this close before. She may have been a pretty woman. It was hard to tell because most of her head and face were covered by her habit. But she was frightening at this distance.

“How dare you!?” she screamed. Was this a question, as in How dare you sit on the sink? How dare you be in here? How dare you speak ill of handwriting? She had Kevin by the neck in her other hand. We were standing but she was holding us up on our tiptoes.

“I’m sorry, Sister Justin,” I choked out. I wasn’t sure what I was apologizing for exactly, but I figured an apology would be a good place to begin. She started screaming and shaking us the way a terrier shakes a rat.

"You were talking in here, weren’t you!?” she demanded.

“Yes,” Kevin whispered through clenched teeth.

“Yes, what?” Did she think we were in the next room, the next hall? We could have heard her whisper the words. Our ears were only inches away from her lips but she was hollering.

“Yes, Sister Justin,” Kevin managed.

“You’re an O’Keefe, aren’t you?” She twisted my face so that our noses almost touched. “You look like your brother Patrick. He was a trouble maker as well.” She was furious. Her face was red. I looked away from her. I could not hold her gaze. “What’s the matter, Mr. O’Keefe? Cat got your tongue? You were sure busy chatting a minute ago.”

“Yes, Sister, my name is Tim O’Keefe. I’m in Mrs. Albert’s class.” Her chokehold eased up some. I could stand flat on my feet again.

She turned to my friend Kevin. “And you are a McDevitt.” She said it like he should be ashamed of it.

“Yes, Sister Justin.”

“You look just like the rest of them. I had your brother Matthew. He was a handful just like you.” At that she released us. We put our hands to our necks, red-faced and breathless. I wasn’t really in that much physical pain. We were more embarrassed I think. After all we were in the boys lavatory.

She glared at us and lowered her voice a notch. We cowered together wondering what was coming next. “Talking in the lavatory,” she hissed. “Just like your brothers. Wasting instructional time. Playing around in the filthiest room of the school just like it was the playground.”

It sure didn’t feel like the playground. I remember how glad I was that Kev was with me, how horrible it would have been to face Sister Justin alone. Of course, if Kevin hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have been talking at all.

“Well I know two fresh buttons who will have some sentences to write.”


Chris Hass said...


I remember being afraid of my first grade teacher. She seemed to be about eighty years old and never had a single nice thing to say to any of us. She tired of our having to relieve ourselves so she threatened to swat anyone who dared come in during recess time to use the restroom. She may have been old but she had a good hard back swing with the paddle. I remember once peeing behind a playground door to avoid going inside and getting in trouble. An older kid caught me and spent the next four years teasing me about it every single day. The worst part was that just a few days later I learned first hand just how powerful her back hand was after being caught talking in class. I was asking the chatter box next to leave me alone.

Gloria (The Mamafamilias) said...

Sheesh, where did they FIND these people to teach innocent children? If I were reading your blog written as a grown man, I'd be afraid she had flushed you down the toilet while she was in there!

Gloria (The Mamafamilias) said...

How about, if I WEREN'T reading your blog written as a grown man. (Did I really get an education????)