Twenty-First Century Mr Chips

by Michael Bloor

(first published in The Fiction Pool, Sept 19th 2017)

Hello. You have eight messages. First message, received Friday, May 20th at 6.30 pm…’

‘You dirty nonce! Messin’ with kids’ lives. I know where you live, you shit! I’ll be round to see you wi’ a pair o’ garden shears. Guess what for?’

Second message, received Friday, May 20th at 7.10 pm…’

‘Hello love. Where are you? Don’t tell me you’ve forgot again. I think those sleeping pills are making you a bit dopey. The meat’s spoiling. Lucky we both like it well done! Hoping to see you soon. I mean VERY soon. Lots of love, Lucy.’

Third message, received Friday, May 20th at 8.45 pm…’

‘Andy, it’s me. Your meal’s in the bin. Again. We can’t go on like this. I mean it.’

Fourth message, received Friday, May 20th at 11.52 pm…’

‘Still not pickin’ up, you nonce? We wuz discussin’ you in the pub. Someone suggested some petrol through the letter box. But I say: why spoil a perfeckly good ‘ouse? So we’ll still be bringin’ the garden shears. Thought you’d like to know.’

Fifth message, received Saturday, May 21st at 9.30 am…’

‘Andy, it’s Jonathan here. So sorry to call you on the weekend. But I wanted you to know that we had a school governors’ meeting last night. You’ll understand that I had to make the governors aware of the allegations against you. They agreed with me that we have only one possible course of action. I’m afraid that, in view of the seriousness of the allegations, you’ll be on gardening leave for the present. So please don’t show up on Monday. If you need to get in touch, it’s best that you do it through the Foundation’s solicitors. Sorry about that, but I’m sure you understand that the school’s good name has to be my first concern.’

Sixth message, received Saturday, May 21st at 7.20 pm…’

‘Well, I did think you’d at least have the decency to ring and apologise. I think, under the circumstances, we should cancel that holiday in Crete: you’ll probably forget to come to the airport.’

Seventh message, received Sunday, May 22nd at 2.15 pm…’

‘Andy, it’s Lucy. Are you alright? Came past and saw the curtains drawn. When you get this, please call back to let me know you’re OK.’

Eighth message, received Monday, May 23rd at 10.00 am…’

‘Mr Robertson, this is Detective Constable Brailsford here. I’m ringing on behalf of Detective Chief Inspector Williams. We wanted you to know that, following investigation, we believe the allegations that have been made against you are unfounded. The child who made the allegations has withdrawn them – they appear to have been malicious in intent. Off the record, I’d like to say that both my boys were previously pupils at the school and hold you in high regard. I’m sorry for the trouble that has been caused, but you’ll understand that, in the present climate, every such allegation or complaint has to be thoroughly investigated. If you’d like any further information, please feel free to ring me back.

You have no further messages.’

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