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A Good-bye Dinner Means Goodbye to All
by Richard Brown

David was an English teacher at a High School in the west. He had such a good mastery of English that he had won a great reputation for his teaching. He was also ready to do anything for both the school and the headmaster. For example, whenever the headmaster’s bosses asked for an English teacher to help the children with their English, the headmaster would come to him for help. Even if other teachers sometimes joked that David only helped the headmaster to get promoted, David knew deep inside that he didn’t do it for himself.

One evening at half past five whilst David was on his way home from work, his mobile phone rang. He glimpsed at the number. It was Peter, one of his colleagues.

“Hello, David, we have been invited to dinner at The Redbud Hotel.” the voice said. “The other guests are already there, waiting for you! Be quick!”

“How nice!” David replied. “But can you tell me who invited us?”

“Rose’s parents and also Lisa’s parents who drove here this morning specially to thank us.”

Rose and Lisa were cousins who had previously come to David’s school to get better tutors. Rose’s father worked as Mayor in the local government, and so Lisa was asked to accompany Rose even though the cousins lived very far apart. The headmaster assigned four teachers to help them with Maths, Chemistry, Physics and English, so thanks to his reputation, David was in charge of English. The two girls had stayed in the school for almost a month but only David was told that they would return home very soon.

“Very good!” David responded, and then a little hesitant. “I am sorry, Peter, but I am too busy at the moment. Would you please tell them that I can’t come?”

Actually David was not so busy but he would not like to be present in public. He would rather stay quiet and keep himself to himself.

“No! You have to come!” Peter told him. “Our headmaster is waiting for you now!”

“Ok.” David had no choice but to go. He turned and walked back for a while and then crossed the street, as the hotel was situated almost opposite the school. When he entered the hall, he noticed that there were more than ten people sitting around the table, among whom were the three other teachers, and beside Peter was the headmaster. At the sight of David, Rose and Lisa rose from their seats and so did their parents.

“Hi, nice to meet you!” The girls’ parents greeted him. “Please come and sit down!”

“Hello, all of you!” David replied as he made for the table.

“Take this seat, won’t you?” the headmaster said, pointing to the chair on his right near Rose’s father. David believed Rose’s father should be treated as the most revered guest and so he kindly refused to sit next to him, instead requesting that the headmaster move to sit next to Rose’s father as a sign of respect.

“Oh, you want to take my place?” the headmaster said with his face a little red, though smiling.

“Oh, no!” David said nervously. “I didn’t intend to take your seat. I mistook this chair for a normal chair as I’d presumed you were moving.”

Despite the fact that David looked very embarrassed, he took the seat which the headmaster had initially offered him. After that, the two girl’s parents thanked the headmaster and the teachers for their great help. At first the parents toasted the headmaster and the teachers and then the headmaster toasted the parents and the other guests on behalf of the teachers.

“Oh, Headmaster,” said the Mayor, “you must feel very proud to have such excellent teachers.”

“Very true, I am,” the headmaster replied.

“I am truly proud of our excellent teachers,” he added. “David is the best English teacher I know.”

Rose’s father nodded with a smile.

Now David felt slightly uneasy. He lowered his head thinking that the other teachers were also excellent. He gave his thanks to the headmaster. Then they all continued eating and drinking. It seemed that everyone enjoyed the meal.

“Now, I would like to make something known to you all,” slurred the headmaster after he had drunk a lot. “Somebody, I don’t know who, has spread the rumour that I have not visited the teachers’ lessons. I am disgusted at this accusation! They should shut their mouths unless they wish to be severely disciplined.”

His words were unexpected and greatly shocked everyone present at the meeting. A tremendous silence ensued in which the only sound to be heard was the heaving of the headmaster’s breath.

The atmosphere around the table was painfully uncomfortable. “Who said that about the Headmaster?” David asked himself. “...actually, come to think of it, it is the headmaster’s duty to visit the teachers in their classrooms.”

“David,” the headmaster shouted suddenly, turning his face, “during the three days when the school restaurant offered free food, you enjoyed all the free meals and ate to your full, but now, when it is to be paid for, you seldom go there.”

More embarrassed than before, David didn’t know what to do. He wondered why the headmaster would make such a remark. He was sure that something even more uncomfortable would soon happen or be said, therefore, in order to avoid it, he responded by saying that he had been to the restaurant as often as possible.

“I am sorry Headmaster, if my actions have angered you. It seems you have lost your understanding of me. I do not mean to offend. I simply work and live the best I can.”

As he spoke, an idea formed in David’s mind. “Why has this happened? He has changed a lot. Apparently, he no longer appreciates my work. I must be careful not to get myself into trouble.”

Nothing was said about the Headmaster’s outburst and so the eating and drinking continued. Once all food and drink was consumed the headmaster took up his cup unsteadily. “I say, our beloved Mr. Mayor,” he said, completely drunk, “thanks very much for being so generous. I hope that, Rose and Lisa will come to our school again. You are always welcome to our school. ”

“Yup,” David put in, “now you have become students of our school too! Wherever you go, please remember your time here!”

“Ok, we will.” replied the two girls simultaneously almost in one voice, which made the whole table laugh.

“It is a little late.” said the headmaster. “Let’s stop here. Thanks for the feast!”

One by one they left the dining room, the headmaster at the front and David at the very back. The girls’ parents and the other guests said goodbye to the headmaster and then made their way home. However, the headmaster and the four teachers were about to walk across the road when two students passed by.

“Some unbelievable news!” one shouted out.

“What is it?” the other asked.

“The headmaster has been appointed to be head of another high school.”


“Yeah, it’s true. I couldn’t believe it at first either.”

“Why does the headmaster want to leave his job here?”

“He has to go because it is said that in the past few years he has spent all his time and money on the school building and surroundings, and drastically neglected the quality of the students’ education. The dissatisfaction of the school leaders and the public has finally become too much for his reputation to stand.”

“Really? I didn’t know.”

David had drunk very little during the banquet and so caught every word clearly. He was astonished and paused for a moment. Soon it all dawned on him. What the headmaster had said, how he had treated David, all of it was because he had been removed from his job and was taking his anger out on others.

“Goodbye! Good…bye.” the headmaster said brokenly. “It is high time we went back home. Goodbye.”

David knew the time had come for them all to depart and for him to head home. He said goodbye to everyone, shook the headmaster’s hand for the last time and walked through the school gate, relieved and excited at the prospect of a new Headmaster…