Salvatore Difalco — The Black Doctor

Three boys at St. Lawrence’s Elementary were accused of giving a special needs boy a chocolate laxative as a prank. Herded into the Principal’s Office by the red-faced grade six teacher, Sister Michael Anthony, who had been informed of the stunt by the special needs boy’s father, and told of a terrible night endured by the entire boy’s family, the three pranksters could not contain their laughter. Despite rebukes and threats from Mr. Rice, the military-trained principal, who promised to send them to a boot camp for juvenile delinquents, the boys would not or could not stop laughing. When Mr. Rice asserted that the boy could have died, their merriment redoubled, and they stood in his office bent over laughing and wiping tears from their face as though someone shitting themselves to death were the funniest thing imaginable. When Sister Michael Anthony, standing by silent and flushed as Mr. Rice tried to discipline the boys, could at last take no more, she parted the skirts of her habit and pulled out a thick black leather strap. Back in the day, the leather strap, or black doctor, as it was known at St. Lawrence’s Elementary, served as an intimidating deterrent for students who misbehaved or disrespected authority. Several lacerating whacks of the strap across the palms of the hands could humble any student, no matter how insolent or hard-nosed. But that was then. Such instruments had long since been discarded in the name of more progressive and humanitarian educational practices, and to avoid costly lawsuits. Nevertheless, spurred on by the braying laughter of the pranksters, Sister Michael Anthony set upon them with the leather strap, whipping and beating them with such violence Mr. Rice was forced to tackle her to the ground. When later asked, in her jail cell, why she had reacted so violently toward the boys, all she could say was, “Satan is an active presence in the world.”