Langton High baked in a blazing Indian summer, which wasn’t all that unusual given the small town’s location in the central part of the state more or less on the edge of the desert. The economy was crap and had been even before the recession so jobs in town were hard to come by and the local dirt farmers spent a lot of time shaking collective heads and spitting in dusty furrows. Classroom air conditioning was tuned to a minimum due to some bureaucratic notion that the season warranted it, but really because city hall was chronically short of funds, and that meant that most of the students endured a muggy hell of sweltering indoor heat; sticky and glassy eyed, paying far more attention to the ticking clock than whatever drivel issued from the mouths of their demoralised teachers.
Todd Sanders showed up on one of those typical days, three weeks after the start of the academic year and caused an immediate stir. For one thing, he was…old. That’s right, well past his nineteenth birthday, actually just a couple of months short of twenty in a classroom full of secondary school seniors. Todd should have seen the back end of Langton High ages ago but, never that bright and most likely dyslexic to boot, he had been held back twice in his lacklustre academic career. Of course, he could have been out working as there was no law that said a nineteen year old had to be in school, but the economy sucked and there were no jobs out there. Todd, who was still living at home, was told one day by his daddy to get the fuck out or get back to school for his diploma…and he reluctantly chose Langton High.
The second reason Todd caused a stir was because of the way he looked. Rugged, even for a nineteen year old, with broad muscular shoulders, massive biceps, deep chest, narrow waist and long, rangy legs that all added up to something like 6 foot 2, weighing in at 220…in a classroom full of skinny geeks, fat game nerds, pimply wannabe jocks, and a few regular guys who, nevertheless, thought they were tall if they cracked 5 foot 10. His athletic build coupled with corn husk-blond good looks and eyes the deep blue of the sky at sunset had all the girls wet between the legs, but what really set him apart was his hairy virility. The boys noticed it first in the showers after PE, and after that it soon became common knowledge. At Langton High if a guy had a treasure trail running from navel to belt buckle he swaggered around like a farking gorilla on steroids. Todd Sanders strolled in with broad chest and belly dusted with fine golden hair, a dark bronze jungle at his groin, silky version in his deep pits, glinting teaser dusting his legs and forearms, and he even shaved most mornings before coming to school. The guy just exuded sex appeal…no, make that just plain sex, but, really, no one really knew that much about him. The big stud mainly kept to himself, made few friends, and quietly swaggered through a few hundred mundane lives like a blazing meteor of sensual fantasy gone rogue and heading straight for civilization. When impact eventually came it was bound to be a show worth waiting for.
The trigger, of course, was Todd’s attitude. That wasn’t one of the things that set him apart or made any particular stir- at least in the minds of his fellow students- lots of the inmates at Langton High had attitude to spare. Trouble was, Todd was so much larger than life in the small confines of the crap high school that his attitude, well, just seemed to keep pace. This was especially true in Mr. Brewster’s algebra class. It didn’t help that Todd hated math with a passion or that Mr. Brewster secretly had the hots for the unsuspecting stud. The math teacher’s fantasies were carefully guarded private affairs, nurtured in secret places at all hours of the day and night, rapidly becoming something of an obsession…and usually involving creative use of whips, chains and other specialty toys. He had fallen for the blond buck that first sweat drenched day and the temperature had since risen steadily.
‘Todd, kindly step up to the blackboard.’ Brewster had planned the scenario with meticulous care and, fingers crossed surreptitiously behind his back, waited impatiently for the tall stud to shamble from his desk to the front of the classroom and face the other students. Todd did as he was told, looking faintly nonplussed as if he had been caught out in some minor infraction…but wasn’t quite sure what it might be. Oh, if you only knew! Brewster, his excitement rising rapidly, imagined one or two of the suddenly alert students looking at him strangely. He cleared his throat, ‘Yes, very good. Now, Todd, please complete the equation I have partially written on the board.’ The algebra teacher and some of the brighter students knew perfectly well that the equation was difficult and (by observation and deduction) that there was simply no way that Todd Sanders would ever be able to complete it. Todd stared dumbly at the blackboard for half a minute before turning toward his teacher and mumbling, ‘I…I don’t really get it, uh, Mr. Brewster. Maybe one of the other students can help me out a little?’ He scuffed a desert boot against the floor, examining the linoleum, clearly embarrassed by his ignorance. Brewster, expecting the gambit, turned the screw. Affecting a patronising voice with more than a little sarcasm, he sneered, ‘Do I understand that you expect another student to do for you what you clearly should be able to do for yourself?’ ‘No, I…I…’ Todd stammered, deeply uncomfortable. ‘I really must insist; you will complete the equation before you are allowed to take your seat…even if it takes all day! Laziness is one thing, inexcusable ignorance, perhaps, another (the classroom had suddenly become tensely quiet), but expropriating other students’ work is, well, simply inexcusable and deeply…dishonest.’ That did the trick and Brewster had to stifle a smile as he watched the gathering storm suddenly break. ‘I ain’t stupid…Mr. Brewster…and I never did a dishonest thing in my life!’ Red in the face and breathing hard, the shamed nineteen year old took a few tentative steps away from the blackboard. ‘Don’t you take that tone with me, Sanders!’ Brewster’s voice cut like one of the whips locked securely in a cabinet in his basement, ‘And you WILL work the equation before taking your seat…is that understood?!’ And then, at last and as planned, Todd stumbled blindly into the trap, ‘Fuck you and you can’t make me,’ before strolling over to his desk and taking a seat. Both expletive and defiance had been uttered in a low hoarse tone that expected no contradiction; the big jock had simply had enough. He hated the course anyway, hated Mr. Brewster and Langton High and the whole goddam fly infested town and now all Todd Sanders wanted was to be left alone. That was the last thing on Mr. Brewster’s agenda.
Summoning all of his thespian skills, Brewster kept his cool and, nodding a silent message that ‘all would be well’ toward the gape-mouthed students in his Beginning Algebra course, crossed the narrow space to where Todd Sanders sat sullenly waiting, all unknowing, for his fate to be sealed. ‘I think there has been a misunderstanding, Sanders, and for that I am truly sorry…’ Motioning toward the door, ‘Would you please step into the corridor?’ Though he put up a fearless front, deep down Todd was nervous as hell. It had never been his intention to defy Mr. Brewster; not openly, not in front of the whole class. It was just that…well, a guy could only take so much bullshit… ‘Yeah, OK,’ he muttered and, for the second time, shambled to his desert booted feet.
Can you believe he said the ‘F’ word in front of Brewster???!!!! The whispered refrain echoed softly around the classroom (Todd had ascended to the status of hero in a matter of minutes) as the algebra teacher and his handsome victim shut the door and entered the corridor. ‘I’m, uh, sorry Mr. Brewster…it’s just that…’ Todd struck a conciliatory note, as much from fear as from remorse. Brewster wasn’t interested. ‘I’m afraid the example you just set in my classroom- one of open defiance, coupled with use of foul language- cannot go unaddressed.’ ‘Yeah, I guess so. Like I said, Mr. Brewster, I’m sorry it all sort of got out of hand…I swear it won’t happen again.’ Todd squared his broad shoulders, having sussed the probable punishment; a couple of hours after school in detention and an apology in front of the class. The apology would be by far the hardest to endure, but he would ‘suck it up’ for the sake of peace and a chance to let the whole thing blow over. Brewster merely shook his balding head with an inscrutable look on his puffy face. ‘Good, I’m glad you agree, Todd…’ he let the sentence trail off before resuming, ‘Oh…and there’s another thing that’s come up.’
In the next few moments Carl Brewster had the crazy notion that, if it were only possible, it would have been heaven to have slowed everything down in order to savour each ticking second as Todd Sanders began to sense the fate that awaited him. ‘You see,’ Brewster tried, really tried, to keep the glee from his voice, ‘it seems there is some footage, actually quite a bit of footage, recorded on CCTV- you know, the one out near the handball courts (Oh! You mean you didn’t realize one of the cameras was out there, Todd???!!!)- in the late afternoon, hmmm, Tuesday I think.’ The stricken look of pure shock followed by the bright red of embarrassment that animated Todd Sander’s handsome face as fast and furious as a springtime shower was priceless. Brewster continued relentlessly, ‘Good thing the VP, Mr. Stevens, is a good friend of mine…I mean really, Todd, what were you thinking???’ ‘Please, Mr. Brewster, it’s not what you think…’ Todd stammered, seeming out of breath as if he had been running laps. The math teacher cut him off, ‘No, it’s what’s recorded for a good ten minutes on CCTV. Sheesh, Todd, you’re quite the romantic- no slam bam thank you ma’m, oh no…what we have is just about every contortion invented by man…and woman…or should I say girl?’ And there it was; the rub (if one can excuse the pun) for all- especially a court of law- to see. Diane Kessler- randy vixen, bored and blow dried foxy babe and Barbie wannabe extraordinaire- was still a month shy of her seventeenth birthday. Brewster put a proprietary (and slightly trembling) hand on his brawny victim’s warm tee-shirted shoulder. The touch electrified him and, swallowing hard to control his quavering voice, the older man delivered the coup d’état, ‘I really hate to be the one to point this out Todd- especially because I know how young bucks like you got strong urges and all that are hard to control- but, well, Debbie’s underage and, um, that makes what you did…statutory rape.’ ‘But she wanted to!’ Todd shook his blond head in frantic denial, ‘Been hitting on me for ages every chance she got…’ ‘That doesn’t matter at all, Todd,’ Brewster hammered on, all business now, ‘Debbie won’t be the one pressing the charges, it’ll be her daddy and…I reckon, you could land twenty years or more. How old would that make you when you saw the light of day, thirty nine, maybe early forties, or something like that?’ Todd’s face had gone from bright red to chalk white, blue eyes wide with unfeigned horror. ‘Yeah, well, I guess that really isn’t all that old- you’d still have most of your life ahead of you.’ And then, the moment Brewster had been waiting for, ‘Please, sir, you and Mr. Stevens don’t have to show anyone what’s in that camera, do you?’ Brewster remained silent as if deep in thought, delicately sipping Todd’s desperation. ‘I mean, I could do something to maybe make amends, change my ways, work it off, anything, sir…’ The tall buck swallowed hard and, blushing once again, stammered, ‘I’m begging you, Mr. Brewster, please don’t make it so I have to go to jail…’ And turning to one side in burning humiliation, Todd Sanders angrily brushed a coursing tear from the stubble of his chiselled jaw.
The thirty or so students who had remained in the classroom during the short exchange between Todd Sanders and Mr. Brewster were freshly stunned when the two returned; Mr. Brewster incongruously guiding a shaken-looking six foot two inch jock with one hand planted firmly on his shoulder. Bypassing Todd’s desk, the two of them resumed their places in front, Brewster seated in his chair and Todd standing, once again, before the blackboard facing his fellow students. Addressing the shamed stud, Brewster demanded that Todd apologize to the class for his behaviour, which was ritually accomplished with a few muttered words. Todd knew perfectly well that more was on the way and waited passively for the sadistic teacher to announce his intentions. Surveying the group of students gazing raptly at the unfolding drama, Brewster continued, ‘One of life’s great lessons is that of consequences; every action begets another, every cause has its effect…’ Sounding more like a fucking math teacher every minute. Bobby Hodgkins cracked a noisy yawn, but slammed his mouth shut, suddenly all riveted attention, at Brewster’s next remark. ‘Todd, you are young and physically strong and so it seems suitable that your punishment for today’s (he and his victim exchanged a slow secret glance) misbehaviour should be, ah, of the corporal nature.’ Bobby knew exactly what that meant and executed a little squirm of pure excitement. He had come across the term in some of the novels found squirreled away in his parents’ bedroom, but Cathy Anderson’s hand immediately shot up, ‘What’s that mean, Mr. Brewster?’ ‘It means, Cathy, that young Sanders’ punishment will be of a physical nature. Yes, mere detention after school is really no hardship for the likes of him and, thus, of no consequence…’ he paused for effect, ‘but a taste of the cane, strap, and paddle may be a different matter.’ For the first time in his long career Carl Brewster had the undivided attention of every student in his class. He won their fickle hearts and minds forever with his next remark, ‘And since Todd’s transgression was committed here, in front of all of you, it seems fitting that his punishment should be as well.’ Todd Sanders heaved a huge sigh, visibly clenched his jaw, and stared at the floor.
‘Todd,’ Brewster purred, as cool as the air conditioning would have been if it had worked, ‘remove your shirt.’