Nobody said a word.
Mrs. Gorf laughed and placed the three apples on her desk.
Stephen started to cry. He couldn’t help it. He was scared.
Todd really tried to be good. He knew that if he talked one more time, Mrs. Jewls would circle his name. Then he’d have to go home early, at twelve o’clock, on the kindergarten bus, just as he had the day before and the day before that. In fact, there hadn’t been a day that Todd didn’t get sent home early.
Todd wasn’t really bad. He just always got caught.
Dr. Pickle was a psychiatrist. He had thick eyebrows and wore tiny glasses. He had a small beard on the tip of his pointed chin.
A psychiatrist is a doctor who doesn’t cure people with sick bodies. He cures people with sick minds.
Although Dr. Pickle had a pretty sick mind himself…
Eventually Dr. Pickle was caught, and he was no longer allowed to practice psychiatry. So he had to find another job.
He became a counselor at an elementary school.
“If I was married to Mrs. Gorf,” said Jason, “I’d be glad she never came home. He should thank us.”
“Hello, Mommy,” Mr. Gorf said into the phone, using Rondi’s voice. “No, nothing’s wrong. I just called to say I hate you! You’re the worst mother in the whole world. You’re ugly and you smell bad! It’s not fair: out of all the mommies in the world, I got stuck with you!”
He hung up the phone.
Rondi sat crying in her chair.
Mr. Gorf touched his nose. “Isn’t this a good game?” he asked. “Rondi is crying. And at home, her mother is crying too.” He laughed. “Too bad you won’t ever be able to tell her you’re sorry.”
She hated children the most. Every time she passed a playground, she heard them laughing and having fun.
So she became a substitute teacher.
Mrs. Jewls held her nose, walked up to Sammy, and removed his raincoat. She threw it out the window. But he had on still another one.
Sammy hissed. “Hey, old windbag, watch where you throw my good clothes!”
Mrs. Jewls put a check next to Sammy’s name on the blackboard. Then she took off another raincoat and threw it out the window. The smell got worse, for he had on still another one.
Sammy began to laugh. His horrible laugh was even worse than his horrible voice.
When Sammy first came into the room, he was four feet tall. But after Mrs. Jewls removed six of his raincoats, he was only three feet tall. And there were still more raincoats to go.
Mrs. Jewls circled his name and removed another coat. She threw it out the window. Then she put a triangle around the circle and threw another one of his coats outside. She kept doing this until Sammy was only one-and-a-half feet high. With every coat she took off, Sammy’s laugh got louder and the smell got worse.
Some of the children held their ears. Others could hold only one ear because they were holding their nose with the other hand. It was hard to say which was worse, the laugh or the smell.
Sammy stopped laughing and said, “Hey, old windbag, if you take off one more of my coats and throw it out the window, I’ll bite your head off.”
“They smell too bad for me to allow them in my classroom,” said Mrs. Jewls. “You can pick them up when you leave.”
“They smell better than you do, Pighead!” Sammy shouted.
Mrs. Jewls didn’t stop. She took off another one of his coats, then another, and another. Sammy was only four inches tall, three inches tall, two inches tall. At last she removed the final coat.
All that was there was a dead rat.
“Well, I don’t allow dead rats in my classroom,” said Mrs. Jewls. She picked it up by the tail, put it in a plastic bag, and threw it away.
Mrs. Jewls didn’t allow dead rats in her class. Todd once brought in a dead rat for show-and-tell, and Mrs. Jewls made him throw that one away, too.
“I’m glad Sammy isn’t allowed in our classroom,” said Rondi. “I didn’t like him very much.”
“Yes,” said Mrs. Jewls, “we caught another one.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.