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The Parade (part 1)

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The Parade

GreyWolf’s story #19. I just finished this, and would invite everyone to participate. See my follow-on comment for details.

Angela Thorpe had been the office person at this small school for three months now, and very much enjoyed the job — the staff, the students, and even her boss, Principal Beasley. As the only administrative help she kept the records, fielded all the calls from parents, and served as message central for all the staff.

It was late in the day on a Friday, and Angela knew that the bell would ring soon and The Parade would commence. This school still had corporal punishment, and every Friday there would be a set of students parading into the office to atone for various misdeeds during the week. The who and why was one bit of information she did not manage — Mr. Beasley did that himself — but Angela gleaned whatever information she could through observing the parade.

The policy seemed to only apply to 8th grade and above (this was a K-12 school in a rural area). The group of students would arrive shortly after the bell, looking a bit glum, and plop down in a row of six chairs against the wall opposite her desk. Only once could she remember more students than chairs. Mr. Beasley would appear at the door to his inner office with a stitched journal type notebook in his hand, examine the open page, and then the students. She could not remember any indication that one was missing, so she concluded that he had already checked the attendance records for the day.

He would then call on one of the students, who immediately stood and preceded him into his office, with the door then firmly closed behind. There would be a short, muffled conversation, usually ended with a short statement by Mr. Beasley. After a pause came the paddling, which was almost always 6 strokes. She assumed it was a paddle of some kind, though it was never displayed. She’d once overheard two students and one mentioned a paddle, so her suspicions were likely true.

The swats were delivered at a very consistent cadence, as though one were counting 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 with a swat on every 1. She also noticed that if that cadence were to suffer a delay, the next swat was actually a more closely spaced pair of swats. The other thing she noticed was that the sound was not always the same. Often it was a POP, 2, 3, POP, 2, 3 … but sometimes it was CRACK, 2, 3, CRACK, 2, 3 …, a noticeably sharper sound.

When done there was another brief exchange between student and principal, and the student emerged to take their seat again. Only a couple of times did she hear real tears or crying, and then the student was settled down when they emerged. When all students had had their transgressions addressed, Mr. Beasley dismissed them as a group. The entire process was usually done in 15 minutes.

The other pattern she had noticed was the order was generally from the oldest to the youngest. Ruminating on this, she was uncertain which was worse — the anticipation of the younger ones as they hear the older ones getting it, or having to sit in distress waiting for the dismissal. Perhaps the anticipation had more effect on the young ones.

Today was pretty average, with a parade of three. Jack, a senior, was the first. His was pretty quick, with 6 of the POP sound, followed by almost no discussion. He emerged looking only a little perturbed.

Gwen, a sophomore, was next. She strode in rather briskly, and the ensuing conversation sounded heated. There was a curt order from Mr. Beasley, a retort from her, and then after a further pause, six rather loud CRACK sounds. There was a few more elevated comments from Gwen, but nothing from Mr. Beasley. When Gwen emerged, she wore a scowl and showed clear signs of watery eyes. Angela then recalled that Gwen had been in the parade before, either 2 or three weeks prior. Perhaps recidivism was a factor?

The last was James, who after looking at Gwen showed clear alarm on his face. He avoided even looking at Mr. Beasley, head bowed to the floor as he made his way into the office. Their conversation was a bit longer than usual, but was followed by the familiar POP sound, without interruption. Upon emerging, his face was a combination of grimace and relief.

After dismissing the students, Mr. Beasley turned to Angela and said “Ms. Thorpe, please come into my office for a moment, there is something we need to discuss.” He then stood to the side, gesturing for her to lead the way in. Closing the door behind him, he showed her a seat in front of the desk, then took the seat behind it. “Ms. Thorpe,” he continued, “I’m sure that you are aware that this year we have installed a number of cameras around the school to enhance safety and, frankly, to give us some legal protection. I don’t make a regular practice of reviewing the recordings, but do occasionally sample through them. One of these cameras in the outer office, and I need you to have a look at what I saw in one recording.”

He then typed a little at his keyboard, clicked the mouse a couple of times, the moved the monitor on his desk to one side so that they could both view it. Angela saw the outer office with no one there but her. She was leaning back in her chair, with both hands below the desk, while she looked distantly at the ceiling. Her shoulders moved a bit, but otherwise there was no action. This went on for a couple of minutes before Mr. Beasley clicked again and stopped the replay.

Folding his arms on the desk, and looking straight at Angela, and asked “is what I think was going on there correct?” Angela blanched, then feeling her face turn red, stammered “yes.” Continuing, Mr. Beasley asked “do you think any form of sexual activity is appropriate in this school?” Showing clear embarrassment Angela managed a shaky “n-n-n-oo.” He continued with “I don’t have to tell you that what I saw is grounds for immediate dismissal, do I? Even though you were alone at the time, that is a public place. Every place on this campus is public, bar the restroom stalls. Imagine a student bursting into the office while you are immersed in that activity.”

After a pause, continuing to look intently at Angela, he continued, “Ms. Thorpe, do you want to keep this job?” Angela nodded without saying a word. “I need to impress on you the seriousness of this, and get some assurance that nothing like this happens again.” Angela said nothing.

How would you finish this story?

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I'm very curious to know how you would finish this story. It's clear that Mr. Beasley intended to punish Angela as a condition to continued employment.

I've already finished the story, but I thought it would be interesting to see how others think it should conclude. Here are a few questions to get the wheels turning …

  • What specifically was the punishment?
  • How resistant was Angela?
  • How did the story end?
  • Was anyone else involved?
  • Was there a twist, or was it a strait forward transaction?

To this end, if you would like to, please add a comment to this thread, either just a brief summary or even your ending if you would like.

I promise that I will post it in complete form in a week, without altering what I've written. I think it would be fun to see the directions folks might see for an otherwise pretty strait forward plot.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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