They all thought Harry was crazy, except for Terrence and myself of course. And so what, you might think. So what if the entire staff of Rutherford Bacon Elementary school believed that Harry the janitor, the weird guy with the mop, was crazy. He was just a custodial worker. Did it really matter all that much if he went around talking to his mop or himself, depending on who was observing him.
A Taste of Wool Part 3
But the problem wasn’t the observation of the teachers or even the students. Rather, it was the gossiping of prospective parents eager to send their children to a top notch elementary school. Once these parents got a glimpse of Harry the janitor bantering with his soapy friend on a stick, most parents were quickly deterred from looking into this fine elementary institution any further.
Rumor spread fast around town, and soon Rutherford Bacon’s tour population dwindled significantly. This concerned Mz. Sweeny, the PTA president and the unofficial public relations queen of R.B. The few parents that continued to tour the school were forewarned of the eccentric janitor that came with the school like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box. Parents did not shy away from asking questions about Harry and his potential absence of sanity. Naturally, this was all related to the safety and well-being of their offspring.
Well folks, the feces hit the propeller one day on a routine tour of R.B. A father and his buck toothed daughter, a prospective Rutherford Bacon student, were touring the school when the daughter caught sight of Harry talking quite excitedly to his sud-filled friend. The tour proceeded onward down the hall, but the girl decided to stop and examine what was going on.
Being a bit of a know-it-all, the girl thought the she was going to clue Harry into something he had failed to realize.
“Hey mister?” She said insistently tugging on Harry’s sleeve.
Harry abruptly turned to face buck tooth as if an electric shock had risen up through his body.
” You know you’re talking to yourself?”
Harry’s eyes open so wide that it looked as if they might fall out of their sockets. His lips parted and he released a sound that could only be replicated if a lion were mated with a crow. Buck tooth was terrified. Her little mouth opened a peep in comparison to Harry’s gaping hole of a mouth, and she went running crying and screaming to her father. Dad decided to take the matter directly to Mz. Sweeny.
“Please,” Mz. Sweeny said as she held out her hand. “I prefer to be called Mzzz. Sweeny, like the soft buzzing…”
“Mz. Sweeny, What the hell kind of school is this?! How can you live with yourself when you know that you’re paying an insane man to scare the bejesus out of innocent children?! You do realize that this man is completely out of his mind?!
“Well Mr. Barns,” Mz. Sweeny said with a saccharine smile, “I’m terribly sorry that our janitor scared your little girl. I can assure you that this is not a regular occurence in the Rutherford Bacon community!”
“Well I’ll tell you, that man ought to be put away! He’s not right in the head, I tell you! He’s not right!”
And with that, buck tooth’s father slammed the door behind him leaving Mz. Sweeny with those words ringing in her ears, “he’s not right!”
During this exchange, Harry was waiting outside of Mz. Sweeny’s office whistling Zippity Do Dah and stroking the mop’s wooden handle as if he were petting a loyal sheepdog. Occasionally he would put his finger to his lips in a gentle quieting motion, as if he were calming the mop from talking excitedly. Mz. Sweeny opened her office door, took one look at Harry, and thought: he’s not right.
**This is part three of my short story, A Taste of Wool, as a part of Wool Wednesdays. I will be revealing a new part each week! Read part two here.
Some questions for you:
1. What will happen next?
2. Who is Terrence?
3. Who’s the narrator?