The earth shattering pounding on the back wall of the fifth grade Social Studies room was deafening. So much so that it was drowning out the substitute teacher’s voice. “What in the hell is that?” Mr. Riley asked. The classroom gave him a dumbfounded look. The pounding stopped. “Oh well, let’s get back to it,” Riley said as he continued his discourse. The pounding started again. “Something paranormal is going on here and I’m going to get to the bottom of it.”
Riley ended class and went to the boiler room to find the custodian. “Hey Frank,” he said, “I think the pipes in the back of my room are about to explode.” The slothful janitor had his feet up on his desk and a Chicago Tribune masking his face. “What’s that you say?” Frank asked as the newspaper lowered and his eyes peered over the top. “I said the damn back wall of the room is getting ready to detonate─you think you can come take a look?”
“I’m pretty busy right now but I’ll find the time,” he said as he sipped his coffee.
“Thanks, I would appreciate it,” Riley said while turning around and hurriedly departing the dingy dungeon.
Frank opened the sports page and read about the Cubs 15 to 3 loss to the Reds. This is depressing, he thought to himself; maybe I should do some work. Taking his feet off the old wooden desk, he finished up his coffee and picked up his big load. He slowly lumbered his way down the hallway of Mary Jane Kennedy Elementary headed to Riley’s room. Class had been dismissed so Frank went to the back wall and began to knock on the plaster wall as if he might discover a secret passage. He examined the wall for any signs of water stains but found nothing. Exiting the room Frank went into the bathroom that was juxtaposed directly behind the wall. The commode was connected directly to the wall but he did not discover any damage. Pressing down on the handle, he flushed the toilet several times but once again he could not determine any malfunction. “I think it’s time for a coffee break,” Frank said to himself.
The next day class resumed and Riley returned for one more day of substitution. Ten minutes later I raised my hand. “What is it Gary?” he asked.
“I need to go to the bathroom.”
“Why didn’t you go before class started?”
“I didn’t have to go then.”
“Well then go ahead and go.”
I got up and shuffled out the door with my legs crossed pretending that I needed to pee. Locking the bathroom door behind me I waited a few minutes and then decided it was time to execute. I stood up on the toilet seat with my back to the wall. Raising my right foot, I began methodically slamming the flush handle until I was out of breath.
Riley was standing in front of the class discussing current affairs when it began: Thump, Thump, Thump, Bang!
“What the f…?” Riley slipped. “Sorry class. Please read chapters two and three for tomorrow─I’m going to dismiss class early. Good day.”
Riley hustled down the hallway to the boiler room and found Frank in his usual pose: Feet up, Tribune, coffee mug. “Hey Frank, what’s the deal? The back of that room is going to come down if something isn’t done.”
“I checked the wall on both sides: Nothing. Maybe you have a ghost or something.”
“That’s real funny; it will be on your head if someone gets hurt.”
Riley left in a huff, “Lazy son of a bitch─Screw it! Today is my last day in there; tomorrow it’s Casey’s problem.”
The next day class resumed with our regular teacher, Mr. Casey. He was a big bear of an Irishman with somewhat of a temper. He had heard the pounding before, but couldn’t figure it out. About ten minutes into class my partner in crime, Rich, decided it was time to hit the head. “I need to use the restroom, Mr. Casey,” Rich said.
“Go ahead,” Casey said, “Hurry up.”
Rich went into bathroom and began the routine: wait a few minutes, stand on toilet seat, and begin pounding. This time he overdid it. The pounding not only drowned Casey’s voice out, but also knocked books off the back wall during a ten minute barage of commode crashing.
Rich returned, sat at his desk, and the pounding stopped.
Casey thought to himself: no pounding, student leaves, pounding begins, student returns, pounding ends. His face turned red with rage.
Approaching Rich’s desk in a nonchalant manner he suddenly grabbed the desk and lifted it, with Rich in it. What in the hell are doing in that bathroom? you littlebastard!
To this day, I can remember Mr. Casey, lifting Rich up in the air and carrying the whole package (desk and all) down the hall to see Principle Albert.
Whew; sure glad that wasn’t me!