The call came from my ex, Linda Loring. It seemed she had a kid sister who was in a red hot physics department. Suddenly, a month from the exam, the head had found enough money to take them all off timetable for development work.
They had protested but he had been insistent. The school brought in supply teachers.
"It's bizarre," said Linda. "Have you heard of the Men In Black?" "There was talk of an outfit south of the border who were going to protect the consumer from the scum of the teaching profession," I replied.
"It's not them. They do absence cover in black suits, black ties, black shoes and black shades. My sister is sure they're feeding the kids false information."
I said I'd look into it for old time's sake.
I made a plan. I drove the Herald to the Museum of Education before the place opened. My faithful Skoda Black Rapid, now part of an exhibition on the role of transport in education, was coming out to play. "Daddy's back," I whispered as we joined the main road.
The Man In Black came to work along a country route. I tailed his black Ford for a couple of miles, then drew ahead of him. A few well thrown stingers shredded his tyres. He'd be going nowhere for an hour or two.
I floored the throttle, intent on doing some supply work of my own.
Dressed in my own Man In Black outfit, I stood with the other Men In Black in the head's office.
"Remember, men," he said, "we are aiming to take each pupil down point five of a grade per subject. Our S grade courses have been too damned effective 'til now and it would scupper our chances of a good 'added value' rating if this continued. There's no way they can possibly do as well at Higher."
I pulled out my dick licence. "The game's up, Bub," I said. "You can't use kids' educations to inflate your statistical football."
"And how do you suggest I deal with moving goal posts?" the head asked.
"Why don't you ask them?" I suggested. I turned to indicate the Men In Black but they had gone. Figuring I should leave too, I headed off through the corridors.
A broad stepped out of a classroom into my path. She could only be Linda's sister. We got talking. I fixed up a date.
That night Linda herself called. She thanked me for my help and let slip she was on her own again.
"Hell," I sighed to no one in particular, putting down the telephone, "remember when life used to be straightforward?"