I’m not one of these guys who worries about leaving a legacy behind. I haven’t thought about it much at all. Maybe it’s my Christian outlook – I know I’ll keep going on the other side. Maybe it’s because two permutations of my own genes are already walking around on the planet, so I know I’ll be remembered for at least a few years after I’ve departed. I never really worried about my books being around forever, which is a good thing, since I’ve seen things like Ferman’s Devils being taken out of print before Boddekker’s Demons hit the book stores.
Still, I found out a short time ago that I do have an odd legacy floating around out there.
It seems that sometime during the late 80’s or early 90’s, there was a student who hated a teacher. Pretty typical story so far. We all have them.
Only this student decided to lash out. He remembered reading about a technique of harassment in a book, and after an afternoon at the library, carried out his plan. Soon the teacher was getting so many magazine subscriptions that the post office refused to deliver them – he had to come and pick them up.
The only flaw in this student’s plan was that he had an accomplice. Now, my father taught me early on that two men can keep a secret if one of them is dead. But this student did not know that. His accomplice got a little bit too self-congratulatory, and pretty soon the cover was blown. The student and his accomplice were caught and almost – but not quite – suspended from school.
Apparently, this little trick became the stuff of legend at the student’s school, because a few years later, after the student had departed, the same thing happened again – to the same teacher. And who knows – maybe every few years at this school a teacher of wrath becomes buried in periodicals.
By the way, the book in which this very clever student read about the harassment technique was called… The Company Man, by yours truly.
The reason I know about this is that the student recently emailed me and ratted himself out. I’m still trying to decide if I’m outraged or delighted. Call me bemused. And grateful that Andy Birch wasn’t a serial killer.
Meantime, this student has become very successful with his own business… delivering pizzas. If you haven’t read it, yes, delivering pizzas is an important thing in the Company Man universe. Although I know I can’t take credit for his career choice, the irony is certainly not lost on me.
As for me, I’ve found out that time is the best avenger. No, I’m not talking about foes getting old and dottery. For some reason, the kind of people that really rouse my ire are the kind that self-destruct. A boss who was less than ethical and treated me less than fairly and ended up firing me (although I might have deserved it – might have) later had his life uprooted when he was arrested for shoplifting something really, really stupid. And many years after I left town, my Teacher of Wrath spectacularly flamed out when he was caught in a compromising position with the teacher wife of another teacher – in a camper at the local fairgrounds.
Honestly. This is great stuff. If I wrote it into a novel, the editor would make me change it to something more believable.
The lesson? There are three. Time wounds all heels. Don’t get on my bad side. And Karma is a bad, bad mistress.