Chapter 1 : No Me!
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A piece of chalk suddenly struck the wall of the room causing a small but noticeable disturbance in the otherwise silent classroom. Eyes lifted from the grammar lesson in search of the source of the interruption and children flinched as the tall teacher stalked up from the back of the room to stop and look down at the now inert missile.
Towering over his eleven year old students, the thin and balding teacher examined the mark of the impact on the wall and then bent down to pick up the offending object. Clearly it had come from the tray that lined the bottom of the blackboard at the front of the room as one of the three carefully spaced pieces of chalk was now missing. He turned to cast a disapproving glare at the children under his charge.
“Who took this piece of chalk from the tray and threw it?”
When no response came, he stepped to the front of the room to open a desk drawer and retrieve a wooden ruler. Laying the damaged piece of chalk aside he grasped the ruler firmly with one hand while using it to slap the palm of his other hand.
“I shall ask you all one more time. Who took this chalk and then threw it?”
Once again there was no response and students cringed as they watched the teacher’s normally pale complexion gradually become ruddy as his anger grew.
“This is the last time that I am going to ask and this time I expect an answer. Who took that piece of chalk from the chalk tray and then threw it?”
Phillip Murphy looked around the room and then his eyes fell upon a large boy who sat in one of the desks at the front of the room. Surely he was the culprit as he had performed such acts in the past and had felt more than one slaps across the palm of his hand from the ruler. The teacher crossed the room to stand in front of the desk of the child and then looked down at him.
“Alfred Kinkade, did you take the chalk and then throw it at the wall? Tell me the truth and it will go easier on you.”
“No, sir, Mister Murphy, I did not throw it.”
“Did you take it?”
“No, sir, I did not.”
The teacher, angry beyond belief at the insolence of the boy, bent down to look into the eyes of the normally defiant child. He was about to pull the boy from his seat to deliver punishment when a second piece of chalk hit the blackboard.
Enraged by this apparent conspiracy, Phillip Murphy straightened to glare at his class.
“Who is responsible for this outrage?”
“No me!” came a nearly silent but quite distinct response.
All eyes turned in the direction of the voice, but their owners were startled to see nothing visible.
“I have had enough of these games! Tell me who is responsible for this disobedience or you shall all be punished!”
Once again the tiny voice had responded to the query of the thoroughly angry adult, but this time it had come from a different location.
“No me! No me! No me!”
Confused, and becoming alarmed by the voices that seemed to come from different places in the room, Phillip Murphy turned just as a large globe flew through the air. Just managing to dodge the object, the teacher could only watch in disbelief as it slammed against the wall.
“No me! No me! No me!”
Abruptly items began to fly off of desks and children began to scream as they were showered with ink from shattered wells and thrown books. Rising as one, the frightened students rushed for the classroom door that had begun to swing open and shut by itself as pandemonium filled the room. Over the screams of the panicked children and teacher one voice; or maybe it was many, boomed for all to hear.
“No me! No me! No me! NO ME!”
As they managed to get clear of the room and the mayhem within, the children from Phillip Murphy’s class hurried out into a suddenly busy corridor. There they joined the occupants of other rooms who were also fleeing their unseen tormentors.
Above the terrified children, lights swung madly as if they were playground swings being ridden by wanton occupants. The crowd of nearly crazed children and adults rushed out of the building, all pretense of discipline gone, as they scattered to run as far away from the structure as they could.
In the now deserted building abandoned classrooms were littered with forgotten books and pieces of paper. Ink slowly dripped off of the surfaces that it had landed on to create a strange sort of artwork on the walls and floors.
With all of the normal occupants gone, there was very little noise in the building after the last door had swung shut, but throughout the forlorn structure a sound began to build until it had reached a crescendo.
“No me! No me! No me! NO ME! NO ME!”
Not far from the school an old man ignored the sudden rush of children as they ran past him. The fact that it was not yet time for school to be dismissed never registered in his mind, he was more interested in the building that he was approaching. A hand-painted sign that had hung for years and was in need of repainting read simply “Mick’s.” He pulled the door open and then shuffled into the dim interior of the structure.
Safe from the mid-day sun, his aged eyes took in the familiar scene before him. A blue haze drifted in the air as he made his way to the bar and waited for the barkeep to approach.
The portly figure that moved towards him frowned as he remembered that the old man had a sizable tab that was owed. He stopped before the codger and then looked him up and down before speaking.
“What do ye want?”
“Whiskey,” the old man grumbled. What else did the man expect him to order in a tavern, flowers?
“Whiskey I can do, but not before ye settle yer tab.”
“Tab? What tab do I owe ye, Mick?”
“Ye owe me two dollars and I will take not one cent less!”
Grumbling, the old man plunged his hand into the pocket of his worn jacket and pulled out some crumpled notes. The eyes of the barkeep widened as he realized that the old man had revealed over ten dollars. That amount constituted a kingly sum in this part of Brooklyn, which had not shared in the good times that the rest of the borough had.
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” Mick exclaimed. “What are ye doing with all o that?”
“I finally got me pay! The old tightwad finally came across with it this morning after I threatened to take my pay out in trade. Well, ye can imagine how that went over and the old coot was more than willing to part with the cash.”
“I would not be flashing that bit about. There are plenty that would cut your throat for less than that in this town.”
William nodded as he pulled the bills from the wad and then pushed them across the counter to the waiting hand of Mick.
A moment later, William was shuffling from the bar towards his favorite table with a glass filled with dark amber liquid in his hand.
As he took his seat, he paused to look around the room. In the corner of the crowded room a group of young ruffians was involved in a game of cards and, from the sound of it, things were getting volatile. An abrupt noise as a winning hand was slammed down onto the table was answered by curses from losing players. Then there was the sound of coins being raked across the worn wood that announced the fact that the victor was collecting his bounty. More muffled curses came from the losers, but these were largely drowned out by a call from the winner for more whiskey.
Abruptly a glass flew through the air to shatter against several bottles on the shelves behind the bar. This single action brought a roar of outrage from Mick as he watched liquid income begin to fall to the floor without chance of compensation.
“Who threw that damned glass? Speak now and then leave before I start bustin heads! Ye can stop and pay the five dollars that ye owe me before the sunlight hits yer arse! Now, who threw that damned glass?”
Instead of the rude remark that he expected in response Mick was stunned to see all of his patrons staring at one of the battered tables. The table was vacant and normally would have been ignored, but the fact that it was hovering nearly five feet above the floor brought the scene away from the normal.
William watched with incredulous eyes as glasses and bottles began to lift from their resting places as if by invisible hands. All of this was frightening enough to the old man, who rapidly found long forgotten religion as he crossed himself, but when the glass items began to hurtle across the room he decided that perhaps he needed protection of a different source. Downing his drink with one gulp he rose and hurried for the door just as the glass that he had emptied rose from the table and crashed into the wall beside him. The noise of this punctuation brought the other occupants of the tavern out of their state and they began to rush for the door that William had just used to escape.
As they ran through for the door bottles, glasses, chairs and other items pelted them and only William would escape unscathed. As they ran for their lives all were aware of a voice that chanted the same thing over and over again.
“No Me! No Me! No Me! NO ME! NO ME! NO ME!”
Mick’s tavern was soon just as deserted as the school was and also just as devastated. As its former occupants ran from the scene many decided that perhaps it was time to stop drinking and frequenting places such as Mick’s.
Far from the scene, in the Ministry’s Department For the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, the word went out that help was needed in Brooklyn.
“Let Scamander know that his work is not done in America.”
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