Mr. Fischer was always a hotheaded one. In a good way, of course. He was one of those teachers that would playfully talk shit to all of the stupid teenagers in the class, getting a good laugh out of all of us. And he was also one of those teachers that were fucking excellent at their job. Fischer's scholastic passion was American Literature, and boy, he knew American Literature. I can't even count the number of times he would rant about J.D. Salinger or Ernest Hemingway relentlessly and then just stop talking and zone out because he would ponder the greatness of their work in his silent bubble. We would just watch him sulk in his episode of awkward silence and fiery admiration for his idols.
Don't get me wrong, unlike most of the teachers in the school that didn't give a flying fuck about our educational progress, he cared excessively. He would go out of his own way to try and legitimately connect with us individually just so he could crack the codes of our developing minds and learn the secrets to how he can get us to pay attention in his class. He was a great teacher, and not to be bold, but I was a great student.
I was his favorite student. Whenever he would ask the class for an answer, and he never saw any hands go up, he would just put me on the hot seat. With no problem at all, I would answer him every time. There were even times when he would walk up to my desk, put his hand on my shoulder, and commemorate me. Right in the middle of the damn class session. Now, at the time, it was a bit much yes, but I wasn't just going to deny his request for a correct answer.
The only thing that I was ever concerned with in his class, was that he made everything super hard. We would have to study things that we never even got close to becoming attached to in the class. The tests were impossible, his homework assignments were too long to the brink of impossibility, and his grading system was complete bullshit.
His fucking grading system.
He would grade all assignments, all quizzes, all tests on an entire class average. So whenever there was a majority of below 50% scores, that's what the entire class as a unit would get. He believed this tactic was brutally fair. He claimed that if we lacked the ability to work with each other as a class and to learn as a class as a whole, then we should all burn for each other's inability to learn.
He wanted all of us to work together, but there was always a barrier between all of the "drama" and all of the awkward teenage communicational blocks that would prevent each and every one of us for clicking with each other.
He had six high school classes in the school year. We were his least successful one. And he was never afraid to announce that. He was always proud to make all of us feel like a waste of his time, and ours.
Okay, now I feel like I'm just rambling. The main points of this story are his grading system, and the day Fischer went bat shit crazy in class.
It was two weeks before the end of the school year. We were all anticipating the changes of the weather and the final day. We were so excited that we even started communicating with each other. All classmates were just clicking. Summer fever was taking the entire student population by storm, and we were loving it.
Mr. Fischer wasn't.
This was the day we were supposed to get our tests on Catcher In The Rye back. And as a "class average" we were expecting to flunk this. We all loved the novel, it was one of those novels where most of the classmates even told Fischer that they can connect to the main protagonist. The story itself was well written and beautifully put together, but that didn't mean Fischer would make the test even remotely easy.
As a class average. Failed. I noticed the pain in Fischer's face as he was handing all of us our papers back, I knew some volcanic eruption of painful lecturing was coming.
I was wrong. I was totally and completely false.
Fischer walked up to the door, and locked it. I noticed this action along with several other puzzled classmates.
He then walked to this desk, pulled out a hammer from a cabinet, and whacked it on the desk.
"All of you stay after class!"
My face got warm and my heart dropped to my fucking groin. I looked at the clock from the corner of my eye and noticed that there were forty minutes in class left.
He walked down each student row, flicked a student's ear and announced their class average grade letter.
He did this until he approached me. He messed up my hair, and softly said.
I started sweating. My teeth were clenched with fear and my hands were shaking underneath my ass (I sit on my hands as a nervous habits).
My desk is right in front of his, so right from my desk he jumped on his and stood up on it. He then shut the blinds on the window next to his desk and flicked the lightswitch. The room was a shade of dark blue now. Only illuminated by his computer screen and the weak ray of sunlight piercing the blind on the window.
"Thirty-six minutes until lunch. One more week until final exams. Two more weeks until Summer."
We were all frozen. He had us in the palm of his hand.
"Lets see what you all know. Final exams start now."
He bellowed the "now" and made it echo and radiate throughout the room. He grabbed the handle of his hammer and walked away from his desk. The blunt side of it scraping against his wooden desk. My fellow classmate Justin from across the room didn't take this body language with peace. He should have just sat there, he should have stayed still. Instead, he spotted the hammer in his hands, and slowly began to rise out of his desk while looking Fischer right in the fucking eyes.
"Justin, take your seat."
"Mr. Fischer, I don't know if I want to do that." He said something along the lines of that, I don't remember. But whatever he said, Fischer would not let that fly past him.
He slowly began to approach him. He taunted him by lightly tapping the hammer against his chalkboard. He did this for several moments until he stopped at the edge of the board, and then drove the hammer into its black surface. Justin literally fucking collapsed into his seat and his hands were shaking all over the place. Mr. Fischer then ran to his desk, whacked the hammer next to his shaking hands. Justin placed his hands on his lap and looked down at the floor.
All of the students started to lose their shit. They all started to get out of their desks and walk towards the door, but Fischer had one thing that could keep all of us in our desks.
That hammer. And he used it on Justin. This is where things get out of hand.
He swung the hammer full force at Justin's head, the force was so powerful that it made Justin fly into the bookshelf on his left. He hit the floor hard afterwards. And I remember seeing his body quiver and shake from the pain. This is where the students stopped what they were doing, and just stayed quiet.
Now, in regards to all of the loud banging from the hammer, you may be wondering why no one heard it.
Well, let's see. His classroom was behind the gymnasium. And the gymnasium was practically near the end of the school building, and Physical Education was not in session. Therefore making the rest of the school faculty completely oblivious to the fact that Fischer was rampant in his classroom with a hammer.
He started smacking the hammer on Justin's desk like a gavel, and then he gestured all of the students to get back in their desks. Despite all of the trauma getting pushed into these kids' brains, they still remained obedient. Despite all of the hysterical students with tears streaming down their faces, they finally gave Fischer what he always wanted. Attention. Obedience. Organization.
"Nancy, start of the semester. What did we read?"
Nancy's posture shot up into defense and fear.
He started raising his voice and stretching out his words to fuck with her head.
"Naaaaancy. Pay attention. What did we read at the start of the semester?"
His head would tilt side by side with each syllable. He was toying with her completely.
And then his face got red. The veins in his neck started bulging. The lack of verbal communication from Nancy made him snap into another episode of violent eruption. He growled, grabbed Nancy by her hair, and threw her at the chalkboard. She kept trying to crawl away from the front of the room, but he kept kicking her back onto the wall. She was bawling her fucking eyes out.
That's when he pointed at me. He picked her up and put her in a headlock. She was struggling but it was pointless. He had her neck in one arm, and the other arm was extended towards me.
"McGrady. What did we read at the start of the semester, eh?"
I was stuttering. I was turning into a broken record. I just couldn't give him an answer. I was panicking and my mind was at a blank. He released her neck, grabbed her by the hair again, and started slamming her face into the board.
"McGrady. What did we read at the start of the fucking semester?"
He wanted me to forget the answer. He wanted to toy with me.
"Save her, McGrady. You can do it."
That's when the lightbulb shot out of my brain. I sprang into action.
"Death of a Pig by E.B. White."
"What was that?"
"Death of a Pig. By E.B. White?"
Fischer began to loosen his grip and the expression on his face was completely blank. Absolutely empty. I had him right where I wanted him.
And then he let out a deep sigh until an evil smirk stretched across his face. And that's when he opened his mouth slowly and said,
"The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne."
My face slowly melted into an emotion of anguish and pain. Fischer pushed her face into the chalkboard with one hand, and then swung the hammer at the back of her skull with the other.
She fell to the floor instantly. You could hear the sound of the skull exploding.
Some kid started vomiting. It was either Lucas or Nicholas.
I know that I may seem like I'm showing no emotion to this situation, but at the time, I was terrified of Fischer. I'm still remotely suffering from the guilt of letting Nancy down.
I couldn't live with myself for the longest time after that.
I looked at the clock, and noticed that there were twenty-four minutes left in class. He had spent a good twenty minutes since the start of his episode antagonizing Justin and Nancy. Getting us to shut the fuck up with a whack of the hammer every now and then.
After he smashed Nancy's head in, he just stared at the aftermath. He looked at Justin, and then Nancy. And then he just started hyperventilating. He dropped the hammer and collapsed onto his office chair.
This is when tears started to come to my eyes. Really, they did. This is when everyone realized his pain- his anger.
I shouldn't have done this, but I did. I got out of my desk, walked up to Fischer, and then knelt down. He looked up at me from the palm of his hands, then he started laughing.
Tears on a red, smiling face, he raised his voice and greeted.
"McGrady! How ya doin'?"
"Mr. Fischer, we can help you."
He chuckled at my response.
"You? Help me? Awh, McGrady, your brilliant mind has been helping me all goddamn school year! But these delinquents in front of me can't do shit for me."
"Mr. Fischer, listen-"
"Shut the fuck up McGrady."
He shoved me into his office chair and then he picked up his hammer.
"Well, class. Eighteen minutes left and look at we've accomplished."
He wiped his hand on the chalkboard until his hand was red and pink with a coagulation of blood and brain matter. He then walked up to some kid in the back, I think his name was Eric, and he grabbed him by the hair, pulled his head back and then smeared the substance on his face. Fischer wasn't angry. This was the most calm I've seen him ever.
"As a class average, you all are fucking failures. Except for McGrady here. Learn from him, because he won't be dying today. Although some more of you will."
He laughed, stopped walking, and then looked to his right.
"How ya doin', Beaker?"
Abruptly, swiftly, and carelessly, he swung the hammer at the back of his skull.
The students were going insane. Literally. Fischer's own insanity was radiating throughout the room and entering the mind of his students. Kids were crying, shaking, and frozen in absolute shock.
But what concerned me is that not a single one of them tried to leave.
I didn't look at his spree of hammer swings. But I could hear it.
I sat there until five minutes remained in class. Throughout a period of thirteen minutes there were six whacks.
I didn't look at who. I didn't want to know who. All I know is that Justin and Nancy didn't make it. Two people died, and I killed one of them.
And yes, I absolutely blame myself for Nancy's fate to this very day.
The bell rang, but all students remained in their seats, staring at Fischer.
And then suddenly, with a perverse smile, he says,
Some students ran and screamed, some students just walked out slowly without complaint. I was one of those people, and I was the last student out. Straying away from my class, Fischer shouts out to me.
A thousand needles shoot up my spine, and then I turn around to listen to Fischer's announcement.
"What I said about you not dying today..."
I remained still. Paralyzed.
"Don't forget about that."
He started laughing like a mad man. I could hear his laugh follow me as I walked down the hall. I could hear his laugh as I took my shortcut through the gymnasium. And I could hear his laugh over the incoming police sirens.