Kindergarten lockdown: a terrifying tale that could happen
I wrote this fictional account in 2003 as a response to a tragic incident where a high school student was shot and killed while fleeing by an outraged homeowner in Missoula Montana. WARNING: This story contains strong language, unlike most of my other hubs. The protagonist is based loosely on myself, and yes, I did work for some time in the Missoula County public schools as a substitute music teacher. The school in the story is loosely based on the tiny Mount Jumbo K-3 School in the shadow of the "L" mountain. (They alphabetize the mountains for your convenience in Montana.) Interestingly enough Mount Jumbo school seems not to be listed on the MPCS website any more so it may have ceased operations. I hope you appreciate the irony of the Ebay ads. Having them in this article is deliberate and highly tongue-in-cheek. I don't really expect this article to generate any revenue in gun sales. This hub is in two pieces. It didn't start as a calculated ploy to double the readers. I wrote the first part and really couldn't think up an ending for it until over a year later. It does make a good cliffhanger done this way, though, I'll have to admit. If you would like to be notified when the conclusion is published, you know what to do!
How Lee came to be a substitute teacher
Things were bad everywhere. Of course the rich guys never missed a beat--they just passed the buck on down the food chain. The buck has to stop somewhere. It always seemed to stop in the small rural communities, because where else can it go? The signs were there: the empty shops, fewer people out and about, less trendy new clothes on the young people, and packed bars.
Lee Drucker had, in fatter times, been employed as a network administrator for LumCo, a local lumber company, and also put in some time doing pro bono IT for a local nonprofit.
Somewhere around the time of the dot bomb of 2000 Lee had been let go while LumCo kept Nic Casado (a much less experienced guy) on the payroll.
Lee speculated that she had probably appeared too blase the day the main corporate server had been hosed. Lee always been pretty cool in a crisis, and she had been through a few true crises in her life. She didn't consider anything connected with money a true crisis. She had not bothered with any hysterical hand wringing. While Nic pulled dire faces and predicted huge monetary losses for LumCo, all the while documenting how the crash couldn't possibly be his fault (called CYA in the business), Lee had just quietly restored the server. The true downtime was only two hours.
Nevertheless, shortly after that incident she had gotten her pink slip. Too blase, she thought... Either that, or they just thought a twenty something male "seemed" more appropriate than a forty something female if someone had to go... Or maybe it was the certs. Owing to Nic's rainbow collection of IT certifications he had been earning more than Lee when they let her go. Lee had exactly two of the toughest ones in the biz, and she had gotten them just for fun.
Lee gave it about ten minutes thought, then promptly relegated the whole thing to her history file. Having grown up one of seven, daughter of an auto mechanic, Lee well knew how to tighten her belt. She scraped by for a while on her savings, by singing weddings here and there, accompanying high school soloists on piano, and doing the odd consulting gig for ungrateful and impecunious clients. But months went by, unemployement ran out, the calendar kept moving right along, and the bills were beginning to pile up.
One January weekend Lee escaped for some cross country skiing with her friend Leslie and a bunch of Leslie's work friends. Leslie happened to mention to her friends that Lee was unemployed.
"Well you could always substitute in the public schools, Lee," said Dana, a public school psychologist.
"You must be joking," replied Lee, laughing as she imagined herself in front of a class.
"No, I'm serious," said Dana. "I just met you this weekend and you'd be great in front of a class. Lee, you're a born entertainer."
"Christ, Dana," sighed Lee, "don't you have to have some goddamn certification for that -- that costs thousands of dollars to get?"
"Not in Montana," said Dana, "just a bachelor's degree."
When Lee got back to her austere unemployed weekday life, she thought "oh why the fuck not" so she applied for a substitute teacher position.
When she turned in her chubby application packet to the secretary at the district office she was greeted with yawning indifference. But Lee had done enough social engineering in her day to know that secretaries are often incredible sources of information. So she turned on the charm, slathered on the butter, and got the secretary engaged in a little chat about how things really are. No one knows that better than secretaries.
"It's a two month wait for an interview," said the secretary, "unless, of course, you happen to do music."
Lee is working again
"Well, I just happen to do music," said Lee, without missing a beat.
POOF! Her interview was the next day, and even though her first fingerprints were rejected by the FBI (too smeary); her first gig was the following day (sans fingerprints and and with letters of recommendation "in the mail") showing the Stomp video over and over to unreceptive middle schoolers at the toughest middle school in town. There was minimal blood her first day.
Ugh, that was bad, thought Lee. If I'm gonna do music, I'm gonna fucking do music. No more fucking videos. So she made it a point from then on to phone the absent teacher and express her desire to not show videos. Word got around quick that Lee Drucker, the new music sub, hated videos. Most of the teachers were flabbergasted that someone would prefer to actually work than to hypnotize the children with the flicker tube. Lee started shaking sticks at kids all over the district.
"Shit, I'm good at this," said Lee to herself one day while she was shaking the stick at the best high school orchestra in town.
Within weeks, Lee became very much in demand. She was averaging four or five days a week. Of course the pay was crap, but Lee was enjoying herself. The best thing was she didn't have to go to any stupid meetings. Her favorite part was the kids. She could just go in and do whatever music the real teacher was doing. If there were attitude problems, she could always send them to "the room." Then she could go home and forget it, it wasn't REALLY her problem.
Then came the long-term gigs -- the absences of of five or more days in a row. These were nice. You could actually learn a few kids' names and maybe make a tiny difference. Lee was sucking up ALL the music ones.
"The other music subs must hate me," she thought. "Too fucking bad."
It was on day five of such a gig that it happened.
Lee knew immediately how the gunman had gotten into her music room. Security at the small rural Montana elementary school was nonexistent. The wacko simply walked in the front door, took the first right and burst through the doorway of the music room, which happened to be full of kindergarteners playing a music game called "Mousie." The guy appeared to be on something.
"Hey kiddies," he leered, waving the gun at them, "just keep playing. Only the next one that loses DIES!" He lost himself in a peal of diabolical laughter. The children were screaming, and most of them were scrambling for the far corner of the room
"Shut the fuck UP!" yelled the intruder. "The next one who makes a peep GETS IT!" The children instantly fell silent. They weren't stupid.
Lee envisioned those precious babies' little corpses riddled with bullets. Something deep in her entrails was so offended by that vision that she was filled, for the first time in her life, with white-hot hate. She hated every pus filled pore on that piece of filth's body.
Cursing the lax Montana gun control laws Lee forced herself to think. She was thinking about how much slack was in her jeans and thanking God that she had worn the baggy ones today. Lee knew that her legs were much stronger than her arms. She was also thinking about what was the heaviest object in the music room that she could lift easily.
After that, Lee seemed to depart from her body and watch what happened in the next 120 seconds from a detached viewpoint.
"On your tummies, everyone, and stay behind those chairs!" she heard her own voice say.
"Not cool, teach," said the sleazebag, pointing a gun directly at the head of the nearest child: Jessica, a hyperactive kindergartener who had required considerable discipline during the past week."
"Bob, NOW!" said Lee firmly, fixing her gaze squarely on the supply closet door behind the AV cart.
The bozo fell for the ruse, and turned to look around. That's what Lee had hoped for. She made her move and delivered a fierce donkey kick to his right shoulder and neck. The gun went flying and clattered on the floor across the room. It slid under a bunch of chairs which the kids had shoved aside to make a space on the floor. The shitbag reeled and crashed into the AV cart. Lee chose the heavy blunt object rather than try to get the gun. She picked up the AV box that had fallen to the floor, lifted it, and brought it down hard on that piece of shit's head, over and over again. He stopped moving.
"Andrea, get me that guitar from the closet," barked Lee hoarsely.
Andrea was a trustworthy kindergartner and proud member of the confederated Salish tribe. She delivered the guitar with her face completely drained of its normal healthy color. Lee stripped the guitar of its strings and used them to bind the hands and feet of the gunman.
Tight enough to cut off your circulation, I hope, you piece of shit, thought Lee, pulling as hard as she could.
When Lee was done, she was surprised to see her kindergartners lined up on the blue line. Yep, it was time to dismiss this class, alright.
"Can we kick him, Ms. D.?" asked Riley, a feisty little guy who (Lee had found out) lived in a very tough trailer park.
"Anybody who wants to kick him, take turns, stay in line," said Lee, "Start back here, run, and give him the hardest kick you can. IN THE FACE. Then RUN as fast as you can back to your class. The rest of you just go now. Don't scream and stay in line!!!!" (thinking, oh well, if they fire me for this, it was bloody well worth it.)
While Lee phoned the office to get the police and lock down the school (after the fun is all over, of course,) most of the kindergartners lined up for turns to kick the mangled face of the unconscious gunman with all their tiny might before departing to safety.
When the last one in the line departed, Lee repossessed her body.
"Oh shit, the gun!" she suddenly remembered.
Just then, Lee was aware of a slight rustle in the corner of the room. Russ, a very strange and disturbed little boy, had grabbed the gun and pointed it directly at Lee's heart...
TO BE CONTINUED
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