The Cost of Change 2 D.I. Jolly

Frank stood waiting in the headmaster’s office, feeling the impatient pull of wasted time and frustration. Eventually, the door opened and a slightly overweight man walked in, well dress and the scowl of an opinionated man in authority.

“Thank you so much for coming, I’m sorry I had to keep you waiting, but no matter what is going on in a school there is always something else happening. Please take a seat.”

Frank did and waited for the man to do the same. Outside the office, like a naughty child sat another man named George, who had earlier that day stormed into the school screaming and shouting about the children invading his home, trying to drive him crazy and kill him. Luckily, one of the teachers knew about him and instead of calling the police or a hospital called Frank.

“So you see Frank, may I call you Frank, we just can’t have this sort of disturbance in the school, some of these children are very sensitive to this sort of thing and it can have long-lasting effects to their lives.”

Frank nodded along to the whole story, trying to gather as much information as possible without having to hear it multiple times. However, when his phone had rung that morning, the school had not been his first stop. He was himself a detective and liked to know a story from as many angles as possible, with as much evidence as possible before voicing his opinion. A trait he didn’t recognise in the headmaster.

“But we are very grateful that you could come down at such short notice. I’m just not sure what kind of solution we can come too, if it’s even possible to move him away or if perhaps it wouldn’t be best for him to be put in a home. You’re obviously a busy man and maybe he needs a higher level of care than you can provide. No offence.”

For the first time since that morning, Frank smiled and it made the headmaster a little uncomfortable.

“Tell me sir, did you at any point investigate Georges claims?”

“What?”

“Well, he came in saying that children had been invading his home. His back garden connects to the bottom of the school, did you not look into any of this?”

The headmaster pulled himself up looking vaguely offended at the accusation but also a little worried, which told a much more interesting story to Frank.

“Ah, I see. So you just saw him as a crazy person and immediately discounted everything he was saying.”

“Now see here, just what are you trying to say!”

“Well, I’ve been to Georges house to look over the surveillance tapes. Obviously, a man in his condition needs a higher level of care than most people and sometimes he needs proof of things that have happened or not happened. What I found was someone has cut a hole in the bottom of the fence between his house and the school. I also found a number of cigarette butts in a darker corner of the garden. Now I know for a fact George doesn’t smoke so that tells me something. Unfortunately, there weren’t cameras the pointed that way, but I did manage to see a few people in ties and jackets matching that of the schools uniform skulking around the back door of his house. It looked to me like they were knocking on the glass and then running off to hide. I don’t know what your curriculum is like here about mental health, but perhaps your children need a higher level of care to understand the real world and the consequences of their actions. Some offence intended.”

Again, the headmaster opened and closed his mouth without saying anything. As a man who took himself very seriously, he was unaccustomed to being spoken to in that manner or being told that he was wrong. Frank’s smile only broadened for a second then quickly turned into a dark scowl.

“So, if there is nothing more, I’m going to take George home, I’m going to fix the hole in his fence and talk to him about calling me before invading the school. I’m not going to tell you how to do your job, but I’d recommend that instead of discounting the crazy and trying to lock them away from your precious and sensitive students. You embrace the world as it is and educate them properly. That way they’ll know better than banging on the doors and windows of a man who will get away with murdering them.”

With that, he rose and extended his hand. It took a moment for the headmaster to fully understand what had just happened and more out of reflex than anything else he stood and shook the hand presented. Frank then turned and left, collected George on his way out and drove them both to get coffee and waffles.

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