The contrast between the boss and Mr. Nishimura’s homeroom was too jarring; it was frightening. To start off with, all the students in homeroom 10-4 immediately went quiet and straightened their posture when the teacher entered.
For the first two minutes after he reached the teacher’s desk, these kids stared at him in total silence. In the same token, he stared back at them, surprised by just how obedient they were. Maybe if he waited long enough, something would happen. He gave it another three minutes to make it an even five minute. Nothing happened at all. They were simply waiting to receive his guidance.
Somehow this level of discipline made him unease. They did not even bat an eyelash to the megaphone or the katana he brought with him. They did not even ask about the lack of teaching materials or why he had blood splatters on his shirt. They looked; he could tell they were scrutinizing him but no question, no sound at all.
Most unnerving of all was perhaps the fact that one of the Jjangs was here in this class and her desk was right in front of the teacher’s desk. Noticing he was looking at her, she gave him a polite nod and that was all.
“Okay, this is awkward…” he muttered to himself and tapped the katana on the teacher’s desk twice.
It seemed that off-handed comment got a response out of them. They began glancing at one another; possibly wondering to themselves which sinful soul among them had made the teacher uncomfortable.
“Alright, kids! My name is Shinoda. I teach general sciences: biology, chemistry, physics, and other stuff. I love swords and as you can see, I have a sword with me today,” the boss introduced himself and unsheathed the sword.
No discussion at all, they all just scribbled something into their notes and then looked at him with eyes full of expectations. This class was going to be much more difficult to deal with than he thought simply because they actually wanted him to teach them something and he was no real teacher.
“Let’s start with some general questions…what happened to your last biology teacher?”
One of them, a boy on the front row, second from the window, raised his hand.
“Please just answer…” the boss said, rolling his eyes in disbelief.
“We don’t know what happened to him, Mr. Shinoda. He just stopped going to school.”
“What do you mean—Ah, right, Ishii…that boy. Well, okay, I thought you guys got rid of him or something. Have you gotten rid of any teacher?”
A hand rose right in front of him. It was Sayaka.
He merely acknowledged with a nod.
“I have, Mr. Shinoda. She wasn’t teaching us anything useful so I have her…removed. Please teach us something useful, Mr. Shinoda.”
The boss raised an eyebrow. That was a scary thought, a thinly veiled threat if he had ever seen one. But fair enough, he supposed he should start off by giving them what they wanted.
“And what would you consider “useful”? Something that will let you earn a lot of money or something that will let you finish someone off?” he asked.
“Something that will let us graduate.”
That request got his sweats pouring for sure.
“Okay, lend me your textbook for a moment…”
Sayaka gave him her so-called textbook, which was a handwritten copy of a science textbook in a worn-out stack of papers barely held together by a few paperclips. This sorry sight stank poverty to him and, now that he thought about it, she probably wore those oversized clothes not out of rebellion but because she got them from an older sibling or something.
Observations aside, as he gently flipped the “textbook”, he stumbled upon a topic he could talk about. He took out his phone and made some notes on what he was about to say, as well as looking up a few formulas and such, for another five minutes.
“Alright, class! The topic today is “Pressure”. When you press two objects together, they come into contact with each other in a surface area. For example, when I clap my hands like this—he clapped his hands to demonstrate—the surface area of contact is my palm, this part here—he showed them his palm—not this part—he showed them the back of his hand—Raise your hands when you have finished noting this down…”
He waited for a bit and only when the last student had raised her hand did he continue. He was not at all being considerate; he just wanted to buy as much time as possible.
“Pressure is the force applied to a surface area. Let’s say…pressure is the cutting power of one object against another object. For dealing pain and cutting stuff up, the larger the pressure, the better…”
Again, he paused here and waited.
“Pressure is proportional to the force and inversely proportional to the surface area. This means, say, you caught your husband in bed with another girl and now you want to teach the poor sob a lesson, you don’t slap him like this—he lightly slapped the air with his palm—you slap him like this—he made a big swing with his palm—More force, more pain, less cheating…”
That got a stifled chuckle from a few girls. Alas, he was glad this class had some sense of humor.
“Or if you’re smart and know how pressure works, you can just apply the same force to a smaller surface area…say…this sword here. See? The surface area of this edge is tiny and so the pressure is extreme. So, instead of this—he once again lightly slapped the air with his palm—you gently…do this…—he slowly slides the katana through the air—and that will produce even more pain and possibly no more cheating ever. You don’t have to write down the examples. Those are just for your understanding.”
The one thing he quickly noticed was that Sayaka was consistently among the last students who finished writing their notes.
No question whatsoever. Yet another pin-dropping silence befell upon this classroom. The passiveness of this bunch was killing him.
“No? Well then, here’s an exercise that may or may not appear in the final. Each of you will give me an example…an application of pressure in your daily life. Let’s start with…Eeny, meeny, miny, moe…you in the corner over there, three minutes!”
This went on for a while until one of the students ran out of good ideas and blurted out this: “Eek, eh…uhm…an example…like if we focus our forces on fighting a few people at a time, we can beat eight people with five?”
The girl in front of the boss flinched, halted her note-taking, snapped around and shouted at the boy.
“Haruki! That’s my idea! Ya dead meat stole my idea!”
The boy clasped his hands and bowed his head apologetically.
“I’m sorry, big sis Sayaka, I’m sorry!”
The girl behind Sayaka patted her shoulders with a smile and offered:
“Now, now, you can have my idea. I found two!”
And the girl whispered into Sayaka’s ear the new idea. Looking satisfied and smug, this incredibly awkward Jjang turned around to face the teacher again. She smiled and bowed her head at him before resuming her note-taking. The boss was sure she wanted to apologize for that bit of commotion but he somehow felt like she was telling him to just forget about what he had just witnessed or she would get rid of him too.
This girl’s leadership style and how all these kids were interacting with one another made his stomach churn by how much innocence and childishness they were exposing him to. He must remind himself constantly that she had already admitted to getting rid of a teacher she did not like before.
Ah yes, he could see it now, this was the same conflicting feeling when he heard news about a child stabbing her abusive parents in their sleep. This was, to put it simply, fighting evil with more evil.
And he did not hate that.
“Hmph! That’s not a good example of pressure. That’s what we call in military tactics: “defeat in detail” or “divide and conquer”. But, I can see how young Daisuke and his jolly lot got their ass handed to them now. Young Sayaka, I’d love to hear more about your other ideas. Meet me in the teacher’s lounge after school. I promise you, I’ll make it worth your while.”