Fly on the Wall: Mr. Burdock

By: Adam Sutton

Mr. Burdock stands in the middle of his classroom surrounded by students quietly but feverishly marking the text for any numbers or statistics that might tell them about the debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War.  He turns around, scanning the desks.  He looks at Jimmy.  Jimmy always needs help.  Jimmy’s pencil seems to have smoke wafting from its tip.  Jimmy is fine.  Mr. Burdock walks to his desk, takes a drink, scans the room again and decides he doesn’t have anything to do.  He paces to the back of the room. 


“So, what you’re telling me, Mr. Burdock, is that I just have to arrange these pieces of evidence a little differently?” James double checks.

“Yup.”

“Well, that’s easy enough,” he decides and off he goes to his seat. 

Semone approaches just as James leaves and asks, “Mr. Burdock, right here in this document I’m looking at,” she points to a quote from a slave owner, “it says he thinks he does a good job taking care of his slaves.  Am I reading that right?”

“Yup.  That’s exactly what he is saying.”

Semone shakes her head and mutters, “That’s messed up,” and off she goes to her seat. 

No sooner does Semone leave than Jacob starts heading his way.  Mr. Burdock feels butterflies in his stomach, certain he will have to get up and intervene as Jacob is incapable of walking across the room without disrupting at least 10 other students, and, right now, every student is working to their full potential.  Mr. Burdock takes a long blink and a deep breath, saying a quick prayer. 

“Mr. Burdock, can I start outlining.  I think I just finished my last document,” Jacob says in a normal and appropriate manner. 

“Yes, yes you can.”


“Mr. Burdock!  Have a great night!” Allysa yells as she streams out with the other students heading for their busses. 

“You too!” he points back to her. 

Moments later, the hallway is quiet.  Mr. Burdock heads back to his desk.  He sits down, opens his email, and finds none.  Certain the internet must be down he double checks his connectivity.  It’s fine.  He scrolls through his lesson for tomorrow.  All the copies are made.  The work is laid out properly.  He checks the “Too be Graded” bin.  It’s empty.  He thinks to himself, “What should I be doing?  There must be something that needs doing.”

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