Mrs. Gunthers Mood
It was a small country school, and the winter winds were blowing hard outside. The faces of the children were bright red from the cold as they entered the class. They had marched back into class, from their morning recess, in a perfect line, and now they stripped off their layers of coats, snow-pants, thick gloves, and stocking caps.
They returned to their hard wood seats, embracing the warmth emanating from the classroom’s single heating vent. Their hands felt wet from snow that had seeped through their gloves and now melted into fluid and evaporated away.
The rowdiness and excitement of the kids after recess was dying away. They grew silent as they waited for her to return.
The person who the students waited for was Mrs. Gunther, the fourth grade teacher.
She was a member of the apostolic church, and her hair was always kept in the required bun. She wore a dress that nearly reached down to the floor. She was married to her husband Paul. She had tried for five years to have children of her own, but could not.
So, instead of being the “stay-at-home” mom she intended to be all her life, she was teaching fourth grade. Paul took care of his dairy cows, plowed the fields, and sometimes even set up a roadside stand along the gravel drive during the summer.
The young woman, now married five years, walked down the hall frustrated. She thought about Paul. Paul was most likely at home now, with his feet up. He would have would have finished the six o’clock milking hours ago, and he now had another twelve hours until he had to do it again. He could even be sleeping under the covers, in the bedroom with the space heater.
The teacher was jealous of him, and it angered her. While he was relaxing, she was in the cold school with the children.
During the morning recess, she had been sitting in the Teacher’s lounge. She had sat, as she always did, in a corner. She kept herself hidden from the other teachers, who talked, smoked cigarettes, and drank coffee. She kept herself isolated in the little corner with anger and loneliness as the only company she would allow.
She leafed her way through the newspaper, as it was good excuse not to interact with anyone on this particularly grumpy morning. She read about the Russians and their news bombs. She read about how a new singer named “Elvis Presley” was controversial for his extremely carnal dance style.
She smirked at this. What kind of parents would allow their children to go to something like that? The picture she saw of crowds of teenagers watching Presley in a convulsed, photographed pose disturbed her.
She saw that a group of students at a nearby college had held a “walkout” for “civil rights.” At this she was disgusted, and nearly spit out her coffee in rage.
The brats! She thought. What ever happened to following the rules? She wonder to herself, as her face melted itself into a rigid grim frown.
These kids were in college to learn, not to “walk out” because they were mad. If they were mad, they could vote for the candidate of their choice and shut up.
Mrs. Gunther thought about how much “the kids” annoyed her. The fourth graders she had who occasionally talked back and even chewed gum in class, despite the rules, would grow up. They would grow into teens with slicked back hair and short skirts, and eventually into college students who “walk out” under the guise of a political cause.
She threw her newspaper down, as she heard the bell ring. She was ready to return to her class, of course, filled with anger at what she had read, and the generation she had read it about.
As she walked into her class, the students were chattering among themselves a bit. She walked in, and a hush of silence went over them. They could see the look on her face, and sense the mood she was in. They knew what she often did in moods like this, and all wanted to make sure that they did not become the victims of her easily released sadness and anger.
However, two of the fourth graders had no choice. They knew they had to give Mrs. Gunther something she would not like. The two boys nervously stood up. Both Jimmy and Vinnie’s knees were knocking. They were two friends who had thrown a couple snow balls at recess. This was not allowed, for safety reasons, of course.
Jimmy and Vinnie had decided to have the snowball fight anyhow. Jimmy had rushed into the snow, see how it was perfect packing snow. Vinnie had been nervous at first, but Jimmy had assured him they would not be caught.
“The teachers never come over here.” He had told Vinnie.
Jimmy had been wrong. The recess monitor had caught them, and written them both little yellow notes to bring to their teachers. The notes said “Threw Snowballs on Playground” and had the signature of the recess monitor.
The notes were what Jimmy and Vinnie nervously held in their palms as they stood up.
In the past, when Mrs. Gunther had come into class in one of her depressed, angry, morning moods, she had found an excuse to punish a student. One student had lost his place in the text they were reading, a few weeks prior. Another student had opened his desk to get a new pencil and dropped his book to make a loud thud.
These offenses usually merited no response. But on a morning like this, Mrs. Gunther was ripe to punish, and all the students knew it.
Of course, she didn’t need an excuse today. Jimmy and Vinnie had a ripe one for her. When they both nervously walked up to her, with her grim face and long dress, holding the notes she smiled inside, while letting her anger come bursting out above.
“Hallway! Now!” she bellowed. She did the loudest yell she could muster, and it made her feel a little bit better.
Jimmy and Vinnie walked out in the hallway. Their fates were sealed.
“I will not tolerate any of you kids breaking the rules at Recess! We didn’t even have recess when I was in school! Do you know how much those jungle gyms cost? Do you think that we teachers monitor you kids out there for fun!”
The students all looked down, hoping not to catch her attention.
“I am going to deal with Jimmy and Vinnie the same way I deal with anybody who thinks they can just break the rules,” she said.
After finishing her sentence, she pulled the wooden paddle from inside her desk out, and dropped it on the top of her dusk as hard as she could. It made a loud thud as it clattered against her large, teacher desk. The students jumped back, scared, knowing that Mrs. Gunther was in one of her moods, a scary mood, where the slightest thing could result in getting spanked.
The students held their breath as she walked outside of the classroom, and slammed the door, with yet another loud boom.
Outside in the hall, though the entire school could hear, the halls were empty and silent. Jimmy and Vinnie, not daring to speak, just stood, waiting for her to emerge from the classroom, as soon as she was done berating the class for their crime.
She did emerge.
“Drop your pants boys, I want you to really feel this!”
Never before had Jimmy or Vinnie ever heard of bare-bottom spankings in school, but it didn’t seem to out of place. Their parents often bared them for a spanking, but never a teacher.
They dropped their pants, and both had on white underpants. To their relief, she did not make them remove these.
“Bend over and touch the wall!” She yelled.
Both of the boys did, as quickly as they could, like soldiers jumping to attention. They presented their white underpants to her. The fabric stretched over their buttocks. Both boys could feel the nervous tingle in their rear ends, knowing that massive pain was on its way.
And then with all her might, she swung the board. A loud pop echoed through the entire school, following by a few seconds of dead silence. Then three more, extremely quickly.
She then switched to Vinnie, and delivered the four whacks very quickly, though making sure to put as much force as possible into each one.
Mrs. Gunther then opened the door. The two boys pulled up their pants and walked in. When they saw their classmates all silent, terrified, some of the girls with frightened tears, they began to cry. They had tried to hold in the pain of the paddle and be “real men” but now the stress was too much. Tears flowed, to match the rush of pain on their behinds.
Mrs. Gunther couldn’t help but smile. She was victorious. In her mind this was a victory over the Elvis concerts, civil rights walkouts, and everything else. She was in charge, not them. If she had nothing else to give her value, she was older than these children, and she could swing a paddle.
As he had sat in the class waiting for class to begin, he couldn’t help but think about how much he had to pee. His bladder seemed to be exploding. He had held it in for the entire half hour recess because she did not allow restroom breaks at recess. But now he could not hold it in any longer.
He couldn’t wait for the paddling to end. He needed to get a hall pass as soon as possible. Unlike his classmates, Richie wasn’t thinking about the terrifying sounds in the hallway. He was thinking of the pain in abdomen. He had to go, very, very badly.
When Mrs. Gunther walked in, with two sobbing boys behind her she began yelling. Richie couldn’t make out the words, but as soon as he could he shot his hand in the air.
The class laughed hilariously at this.
Why, he wondered, were they laughing?
“Okay, Richie, out in the hall.”
What Richie didn’t realize was that as she had stormed into the room Mrs. Gunther had thundered “Who wants to be next?”
Richie had been to focused on his bladder to hear her.
“I just had a question…” he said, in desperation.
“Too late!” Mrs. Gunther screamed. “Out in the hall. You can ask after you get what you volunteered for.”
Richie seemed to be in a nightmare.
He walked out in the hall, and just like Jimmy and Vinnie before him, he dropped his underwear. He was given only three swats.
“Always listen when your teacher is talking!” screamed Mrs. Gunther.
“I will ma’am! I promise,” said the teary eyed boy.
“Good,” said Mrs. Gunther, now, finally after three paddlings, her cheery, happy, self again. “What was your question?”
“Can I go to the restroom?” said the pathetic, recently beaten, child.
“Of course, Richie,” she said with a calm, condescending smile. “All you need to do is ask.”