Mr Campbell was hardly Batman but they still gave him the superhero treatment.
‘The Protractor!’ screamed the front page of The Northern Courier. Followed by: ‘Masked crusader foils cafe intruder with maths instrument.’
It was true. He had used a protractor. Another option might have been a pair of compasses but you could take someone’s eye out with those. Plus it would involve combat at close quarters.
Whereas Mr Campbell had pretty much mastered the art of throwing a protractor. Catch someone on the head with a metal one and chances are they’re going down.
That burglar didn’t know what hit him when he broke into the Covesea Cafe at two in the morning only to be clipped by Mr Campbell’s weapon of choice.
While the stricken culprit lay groaning and clutching his head next to the ice cream cabinet, Mr Campbell darted over and dragged him across the floor before hauling him to his feet and pinning him against the jukebox.
Keeping one hand on his captive’s throat, Mr Campbell fished ten pence from his pocket and put it in the coin slot. Choices, choices. It was a toss up between New Order and Roxette. World in Motion was a top tune but the Swedish duo won the day.
‘What the hell do you think you’re playing at?’ asked Mr Campbell as the song kicked in. ‘You should be ashamed of yourself.’
I hit the road out of nowhere…
‘It’s a good job I happened to be walking by or you might have got away with this.’
‘I-I’m sorry,’ gasped the burglar.
‘So you bloody well should be,’ said Mr Campbell as it struck him that this trembling figure in his grasp looked familiar. He was one of his former pupils.
And it all begins where it ends…
‘You’re Billy McPherson, Daniel McPherson’s boy aren’t you?’
‘Um, might be.’
‘Well, Billy, you’re a bloody idiot.’
Mr Campbell didn’t like the sound of that. Perhaps in the classroom but not here.
She says hello, you fool, I love you…
‘Now let this be a lesson to you, Billy,’ said Mr Campbell as Roxette hit their stride.
‘Wh-who are you?’
Mr Campbell thought for a moment.
Come on, join the joyride…
‘I’m your worst nightmare. Got it?’
The boy seemed to have absorbed the message. Mr Campbell felt the mask helped. It lent him an air of menace while keeping him incognito. He had never enjoyed either advantage in the classroom.
The mask was a modified kipper tie from his early teaching days. Dark burgundy, it clashed with his purple shell-suit. As for a cape, Mr Campbell saw no need for one. It’s not as if he was about to take to the skies over Covesea. Mask, shell-suit, cutting-edge weaponry. What more could a novice crime fighter need?
Mr Campbell thought his first intervention hadn’t gone too badly. There was using a protractor to measure angles and there was using one to bring down criminals. And he had just succeeded in stopping a burglar in his tracks whilst scaring the living daylights out of him.
Now he was going to leave the quivering wreck in the hands of the police.
‘Okay, Billy, sit tight.’
Mr Campbell produced a length of rope from a plastic bag and set about strapping Billy McPherson to the jukebox while Roxette played out.
With his gift to the authorities wrapped up, Mr Campbell exited the cafe through the smashed front door, his new Hi-Tec trainers crunching on broken glass. In his hand, he held a piece of chalk.
10 Degrees (Jukebox jury) is the opening chapter of the soon to be released Classroom Superheroes