Darren Deene - The Naughtiest Boy in School

Jason Hepple, 2013. Darren Deene - The Naughtiest Boy in School. Reformulation, Winter, p.20.


The headmistress Mrs. Skinner announced to the whole school,
the teachers in upright chairs and the cross-legged
inquisition, that Darren Deene, the naughtiest boy in school,
would not be joining them again this term.

The fate of Mr. Bubbles at the hands of this monster
was spoken of in whispers in playground clusters.
Parents gave unanimous support for the necessary
measures to exclude this demon from class.

A betrayal of trust, at the very least, an act of
evil to some; a boy without hope or future.
Entrusted with the care of a treasured guinea-pig he had
‘failed us all’ in the most ghastly of ways.

Children woke screaming at night with the haunting image of
Mr. Bubbles’ last choking breath. The final squeak
of the rodent could be heard across the catchment area.
Some parents recalled the days of the birch.

Mothers rolled their eyes at cheese-and-wine charity functions.
Fathers spoke with governors to gain assurance
that Darren Deene, the naughtiest boy in school, would be given
‘suitable care’ in someone else’s school.

Mr. Bubbles received a full faith-school memorial.
Small pieces of carrot and apple filled the grave.
Mr. Savage, the art teacher, kilned a ceramic headstone:
‘Mr. Bubbles - Much loved by all the school.’

Darren’s mother threw her cup of tea at Mrs. Skinner,
which was seen as no more than could be expected.
Mr. Deene was not available as he was doing his
time, on an indeterminate sentence.

Darren, in his hand-me-down, massive, home-knitted jumper
in just the wrong shade of St. Brendan’s Bristol blue,
stood outside Mrs. Skinner’s door praying to his silent god
that his mother had not been on the wine.

As they left the school, like the Israelites fleeing Egypt,
every small face was pressed to a classroom window.
Teachers did not intervene in this most public of shamings.
Darren looked down. His mother mouthed ‘Fuck You’.

Darren had no words to explain how, on that hot August
afternoon, in a desperate act of kindness,
he had tried to revive the quite stiff Mr. Bubbles in a
bucket of rain-water and his own tears.

Full Reference

Jason Hepple, 2013. Darren Deene - The Naughtiest Boy in School. Reformulation, Winter, p.20.

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