I’d been drawing a picture of a cock on the misty window, but when Miss Gresham shouted ‘bugger’ I, like everyone else, looked round to find out what was going on. She looked embarrassed, which wasn’t surprising really given that teachers aren’t supposed to swear in front of pupils, but to be honest it was nothing compared to the kind of stuff we shout on the playground every day. That wouldn’t stop some of the geekier kids from dobbing her in when we got back to school, but I didn’t think that would include any of the boys because Miss Gresham was a favourite with all of us. If it had been that nob-end Williams, our metalwork teacher, we would all have dobbed him in.
‘What’s the matter, Miss?’ I asked. I was just a couple of seats in front of her on the opposite side of the coach, so I only had to swivel round. She was sitting with Mrs Pettigrew, one of the teaching assistants, who’s at least twice Miss Gresham’s age but follows her around like a lost sheep. I think she hopes some of Miss Gresham’s popularity will rub off on her, but there’s no chance of that: she’s a right munter and must weigh at least 18 stone. There was a rumour going round that Mr William’s was sniffing around her, but then there were always rumours going round about Mr Williams. Last year he had supposedly been spotted in a gay bar in Brighton, and there was another story that he’d nearly been suspended for rubbing himself up against Mary Martin at the sixth formers’ leaving do while they were queuing for vol-au-vents, so really you could take your pick.
If Miss Gresham had heard me she wasn’t acknowledging it, so I asked again: ‘What’s up, Miss?’
She was shoving her hands down the sides of her seat and shifting from side to side. Mrs Pettigrew was doing the same now, and you could almost feel the coach rocking as she wiggled her fat arse about.
‘Don’t you worry, Simon,’ said Mrs Pettigrew, ‘Just wipe that artwork off the window and mind your own business.’
I ignored the silly cow. ‘Have you lost something, Miss?’ I asked.
Miss Gresham flashed me a quick smile. Her blonde hair was hanging down over her big blue eyes and she looked up from under her fringe. She looked gorgeous, and I felt myself start to blush. ‘It’s my phone, Simon – I think I must have left it back in school and I’m supposed to check in with it at lunch time.’
‘What, to make sure you haven’t lost us, Miss?’ someone shouted from the back seat.
There was some laughter, and then Miss Gresham said, ‘If I can lose you, Gary Barnett, I get a bonus in my wages at the end of the week.’
Everyone laughed then, even Gary, but I laughed loudest of all because Dan – Dan the man, my best mate – who was sitting next to me had whispered, ‘Christ, I’ve got a bonus I’d love to give her and I wouldn’t wait until the end of the week.’
Dan’s a genius when it comes to double entendre – I think it’s ‘cos he spends most nights watching DVD’s of the Inbetweeners and Family Guy, but it might just be because he’s a filthy sod and he’s got four older brothers he has to compete with.
Miss Gresham was standing up now and poking down the sides of the seat. If I’d been dreaming she would have been wearing a miniskirt and suspenders when she bent over to look underneath it, but I wasn’t and she wasn’t. She was wearing very tight black trousers, though, which showed her arse to stunning effect, and the back of her jumper had pulled up to reveal a tribal tattoo on her lower back that I couldn’t wait to tell the others about. Danny saw it too, and whispered ‘boiiiiing’ in my ear. I laughed so hard that snot came out of my nose.
‘What’s so funny, Simon?’ Miss Gresham asked.
‘Nothing, Miss. Just Danny being an idiot.’
‘Nothing new there then,’ she said, and everyone laughed again. She’s got a great sense of humour, Miss Gresham; we’d like her even if she wasn’t the fittest looking teacher in the school.
Danny swivelled round in his seat and looked over the back of it. ‘Is your phone switched on, Miss? If it is one of us can call you and we’ll hear it ringing if you’ve dropped it on the bus,’ he said.
‘Yes – can I have your number too, Miss,’ shouted Gary Barnett, setting off a chorus of and me’s from the rest of the boys on the bus. I saw Danny’s mouth open to add something else but he was cut off by a shout from the front of the bus. It was Williams, and he was walking up the central aisle towards where we were sitting.
‘Alright, boys, calm down, eh?’ he said, ‘I don’t think Miss Gresham would be daft enough to volunteer her number to any of you ugly little bleeders, do you?’
I dug Danny in the ribs before he said anything stupid – he can be really funny but doesn’t know when to stop. He’s always getting detentions and stuff but just takes them in his stride. Usually that’s fine but I didn’t want him embarrassing Miss Gresham ‘cos it could put the mockers on the whole day.
Williams had reached our seat now, and was taking his own phone out of his pocket. ‘Do you know if yours is switched on?’ he asked, offering it across to Miss Gresham.
‘I don’t think it is,’ she said, ‘I forgot to charge it last night so had turned it off to preserve the battery for later.’ While she spoke, she pressed the keypad on Williams’ phone and held it to her ear. After a few seconds she said ‘No, it’s gone straight to voice mail, but thanks anyway’. She pressed another couple of buttons and handed the phone back to Mr Williams, who said she was welcome to borrow it later to check in with the school.
Miss Gresham was quiet for the rest of the journey. She looked really worried, and after a few minutes borrowed Mrs Pettigrew’s crappy Nokia to ring the school secretary, asking her to check the staff room and classroom for the missing phone. Mrs Pettigrew’s Nokia rang about ten minutes later, but Miss Gresham didn’t look any happier after answering it.
When we got to the theatre we filed off the coach, collecting our coats and bags from the small luggage rack by the door. As I lifted my coat I saw a small rectangle of plastic and metal slide off of the sleeve onto the coat below. I knew it was a phone as soon as I saw it, and almost shouted for Miss Gresham. I’m not sure why, but as I picked it up I slipped it into the pocket of my jacket instead and stepped off the coach without saying a word. I didn’t even tell Danny I’d found it; I just snuck off to the bogs while the director of the workshop we’d been invited to attend introduced the cast to the teaching staff.
In the bogs I found a cubicle and fished the phone out. It had a black front and screen but the slipcover on the back was etched with silver and there was a little diamond thing in the corner. It was girly, but not in a hideous way. I turned it over and flicked it on, nearly crapping myself as it started playing music. There was no one else in the bogs to hear, though, and it stopped after a couple of seconds. It was just a ‘missed call’ alarm, and a banner appeared along the top of the screen with details of the call. The phone was locked, so I couldn’t see what else was on it, but that single banner was enough to stop me in my tracks. There was a picture of Mr Williams, shirtless and pouting at the camera, and a small heart symbol with the words ‘Papa Bear’ beside it.
I felt shocked and a bit sick, and for a moment I thought about keeping the phone and showing it around to Danny and everyone. If it had been any of the other teachers I probably would have, but somehow it didn’t seem right with Miss Gresham. I put it on the floor instead, and stamped on it as hard as I could. Bits of plastic and silver metal ricocheted around the cubicle, bouncing off the walls and the pedestal of the crapper. I scooped up all the bits and flushed them, then gave the cubicle door a bloody good kicking.
I was shaking when I got back to the hall, but I told Danny I was feeling sick from the coach and nobody else even noticed. Miss Gresham was sitting next to Mr Williams.