Yellow Mama Archives II

Martin Zeigler

Acuff, Gale
Ahern, Edward
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Aronoff, Mikki
Ayers, Tony
Baber, Bill
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Balaz, Joe
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Barker, Tom
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Burke, Wayne F.
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Irwin, Daniel S.
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Johns. Roger
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Myers, Jen
Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
Park, Jon
Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Plath, Rob
Prusky, Steve
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Wilsky, Jim
Wiseman-Rose, Sophia
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zackel, Fred
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zeigler, Martin
Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark

Point Made


by Martin Zeigler



Mr. Nielsen sat in his cubbyhole of an office, just off his classroom. It was late. The hallway outside was dead quiet.

He was at his desk, grading homework. Checkmarks for the right answers, X’s for the wrongs. There were far more checkmarks, which was a good sign, but still too many X’s.

A man appeared at his office door. An older guy, not a student.

"Help you?" Nielsen said.

"1967," the guy said. "This'll be the year. Meadows High will make state for sure."

"And you are?"

"Gary Seltin's my son."

"Ah, okay. Come in. Have a seat."

Seltin stayed where he was. "Coach Aden says Gary is one hell of a player. But he'll need good grades to make the team."

Nielsen shrugged.

"His other teachers will do their part," Seltin said. "And he could sure use a B from you."

"He's at D level right now, I'm afraid."

Seltin stepped into the office, stood at the side of the desk, close to Nielsen. "Doing what? Making circles and lines?"

"There's more to geometry than that."

"Not much more," Seltin said. "I flipped through Gary's textbook. It's all useless, you ask me."

"Learning can often be its own reward."

"They teach you that in teacher school?"

Nielsen shrugged again. "As I told Gary, I can recommend a tutor who'll give him the one-on-one attention he needs."

Seltin snickered. "And I recommend you listen to Coach Aden about what it means to have school spirit."

"It's a matter of being fair to my students."

"So you won't budge? Not even this once?" Seltin said.


Seltin swung his fist, slammed it into Nielsen's face. Nielsen's head lurched sideways, and he grunted. He whisked a hand to his stricken cheekbone and held it there. "What on earth?" he muttered.

"You'll survive."

"I'll press charges, do you hear?"

"Is that so?" Seltin said. "I belong to the Chamber of Commerce. I'm active in Kiwanis, Rotary. The Boosters. I own and run the best trophy shop in the area. I sponsor more games and competitions than you can count with your tiny teaching degree. Good luck trying to make me look bad. And I'll expect that B by tomorrow."




Nielsen, at his office door, called out to Seltin, at the classroom door, "Wait. Don't leave. Please come back in and have a seat. Let's talk."

This time Seltin sat.

Nielsen stood by the chair. "We use a straightedge for the lines," he said.

"So what?"

"And this for the circles."

With an aim straight, true, and swift, Nielsen rammed a leg of a drawing compass up Seltin's right nostril until the sharp end pierced solid tissue and stuck.

Nielsen held tight until Seltin's scream settled into a whimper, then let go of the compass.

It didn't move. It hung sturdily from Seltin's nose, the one leg still lodged in the nostril, the other leg visible and pointing upward, the handle hovering motionless over Seltin's quivering mouth.

"Here's the deal," Nielsen said. "I'll give Gary a B on one condition."

Seltin pawed at the hanging instrument, wincing with each touch. "What," he said finally. "What condition?"

Nielsen rested his hands on the chair arm and leaned forward. "That he do B work. Deal?"

"Like hell."

"Really?" Nielsen said. He reached out toward the compass.

"Okay! Okay!" Seltin said. "Deal! Now get this thing out!"

"I'm going to have to yank it. Really hard."

Sweat streamed down from Seltin's hairline. "Do what you have to do."

"Will do," Nielsen said. "And, oh, one more thing. As one good person to another, can I give you some friendly advice?"


Nielsen tapped his finger on the tip of Seltin's nose. "On your way out, try not to bloody the floor."


Martin Zeigler writes short fiction, primarily mystery, science fiction, and horror. His stories have appeared in Yellow Mama, Mystery Magazine (formerly Mystery Weekly Magazine), the anthology Crimeucopia―As In Funny Ha-Ha or Just Peculiar, and the anthology Die Laughing: An Anthology of Humorous Mysteries. Besides writing, Marty enjoys watching movies, playing the piano, and going for long walks. He makes his home in the Pacific Northwest.

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