Jenny joked that Annie Lubbock would eat so much that one day she’d be big enough to wear the art block roof as a hat. Annie beat her with a broom in the gym until her arms looked like blue cheese, which made everybody feel sick. The broom belonged to Evans, the janitor, although it wasn’t technically his broom but the school’s, which made it our broom, if you think about it. That worked out all right for the proletariat. We were keen on that sort of thing back then. Lenin and that. I vote Conservative now, though
(Actually, it might have been a mop. The memory plays tricks. A mop would have been funnier. Probably it was a mop)
When she was thirty-four – Annie, I mean – with two kids and a husband with a wooden leg – she fell into a river and drowned. The whale jokes of our youth seem less hilarious once you’ve see pictures of a fat woman you knew many years ago actually beached, lifeless, by the waterside. They were funny at the time, but we all grow up, I guess.
My favourite teacher was Mr. Jonas. I sucked him off once, but I didn’t pass his course. I didn’t do it to pass the course.
Jonas jumped off the art block roof in my final year. He went through a tree and hit the top of the bike shed. It was made of corrugated iron sheets, and by the time the ambulance arrived something like twenty pints of blood had travelled down the length of the shed and dripped and pooled at the end. Simone Trammel screamed at the sight of Jonas – his head hung over the other end of the shed, and his neck had snapped – grabbed her bike and rode away, still screaming. She rode through the puddle of blood and left tracks of it all the way out of the gate and halfway down the street. Just making a bad situation worse, really. She nearly got hit by the ambulance on Lancaster Street, apparently, where she jumped the red light at the junction. Jenny says she heard from people who were there that Simone was still screaming at the time. Maybe she had sucked Mr. Jonas off too.
So, it was in one of Jonas’s classes that Annie wrote on the window.
Jonas was a replacement teacher, standing in for Mrs. (or was it Miss?) Winterstone, who had totally lost it the term before. She kept seeing people walking into the classroom late – she’d turn and snap at them, only to find that there weren’t there at all – until eventually she spent more time looking frantically around the room than doing almost anything else. One day she was just gone.
Jonas seemed okay – apart from the corduroy – but after a few weeks he’d set us an assignment and then zone out at his desk. If anyone asked a question he’d look up dreamily and say, “Half past ten,” always the same reply, and then he’d click back on and carry on as if nothing had happened. Obviously, I had sucked him off before all this nonsense began.
We all thought Annie had a crush on him; Monica had found a book where Annie had written that she saw what Jonas saw, and she understood him, and all that sort of rubbish – which all looked like typical crush stuff, especially if you were a case like Lunchbox was – so it was only a matter of time before someone used it against her.
It wasn’t me, though, I’m happy to say. I was trying to think of something really spectacular, and Jenny got there before me. Anyway, the day after, and Annie – who always sat on her own at the back of the class, right by the window – had written HELP! in totally retarded capitals in the condensation on the window. Exclamation mark and everything. I was surprised she spelt it correctly, more than anything else.
The bitching had already started by the time I turned around, but the upshot was that Annie’s cry for help was assumed to be for someone outside of the classroom – given that everyone inside couldn’t give a fuck for Annie on the best day of her life – and that she should therefore have written it backwards. The backwards jibes that followed were what alerted me to the fracas.
When Annie stood up and called Jenny a cunt, the whole room went silent.
“And you’ll be a cunt every day for the rest of your life!” Annie screamed in her face, “And do you know why?”
“Oh, please do tell me.”
“BECAUSE YOU’RE A CUNT!”
It was the cleverest thing I’d ever heard anyone say. If Annie had said something that brilliant in the first year, we’d have been best friends, no matter how fat she was (within reason). It was much more adult than hitting someone with a broom.
Jonas tried to break it all up, but Annie was barging out of the room. No one stood in her way because she was, you know, fucking huge. Jonas hummed and hawed a bit, then looked at his watch – I swear I thought he was going to tell us it was half past ten – and then he asked everyone to go. He gave us some revision to do – something or other, I don’t remember – and then he went back to his desk and flaked out again. He doodled tiny and intricate patterns all over his planner. I wanted to keep one when I left, but I could never find where they put them. He might have been buried with them, I suppose.
Years later, at the reunion – this was before Annie drowned, but she wasn’t there – we all passed around the other stories we’d heard over the years, about how that room made people do things and see things that weren’t there. When the block caught fire, it was the only room completely untouched, not even smoke damaged. Late at night, when the place was closed and empty, lights were seen in that room. The goth club used it as a meeting room for their Dungeons & Dragons games, and they drank blood. Workmen took up all the floor tiles, looking for chemicals or asbestos or something, and they found pages of runes, apparently. And every year, at least one pupil from that class killed themselves, or dropped out of college. At last I was able to understand why I had inexplicably sucked Jonas’s cock that day, and why he had let me.
It was Room 17A. People just went a bit spare in there.