THWACK! "Ah holy hell, that hurt," I blurted out after the surprise attack courtesy of Fred in the seat in front of me. I can't even begin to describe how much assigned seats suck. If you're surrounded by kids who sleep the entire time, it's a pretty sweet setup. As luck would have it, I'm stuck with a chronic puncher five days a week. Most of my trip consisted of staring at the back of Fred's head, awaiting the attack. Billy, who sat beside me, knew better than to chuckle because Hulk would say, "What you laughing at," then smash him too. At least my daily abuse is over early in the morning before school, so the rest of the day is smooth sailing.
The school bus makes the familiar "phhsst" sound and comes to a halt in front of MCHS. A cluster of students filters through giant doors while half of us break to the right up the steps toward lockers around the gym. Sneaker squeaks and the echoes of a large crowd signal the day has begun. After grabbing my English book, I bump into Chastity, who offers me a piece of Freshen-up. Gladly I accept the gift and head toward class.
All the early birds mingle for a bit before the bell rings. Jennifer makes eye contact and stops to talk. It's an awkward situation because cheerleaders are a species I have yet to figure out. It's not that I don't want to have a conversation with a gorgeous girl in a sweater and short skirt, but my experience is limited, and as far as I can tell, the library has zero self-help books on the subject; I've looked.
"You smell good; what are you wearing?" Jennifer asked, waiting on a reply. My mind went blank as I tried desperately to decipher the 'popular girl code.' "Should I tell her my shirt is a Kmart Hawaiian print or thank her first for telling me I smell good?" I thought. "The cologne, what kind is it?" she insisted as she threw a smile my way. "Oh, oh that, it's Drakkar," I spurted out two octaves higher than usual. She told me she liked it and took her seat. After thanking her, I made a mental note to remind Mike to ask his mom for more free samples. She works at the PX at Fort Campbell and gets them all day long.
The bell rings, and Mrs. Dinsmore uses her desk as a seat while she addresses the students, "Alright, class, you know how I feel about gum." Oh crap, she despises chewing gum, and here I sit trying to figure out if she's talking to me or not. There was no look my way, so I should be safe. About half of the room walked by, throwing the contents of their mouth into the trash can held by Mrs. Dinsmore herself. Yeah, she never saw me, so I'll tuck it away to the side of my cheek until class is over, and she'll never know.
Halfway through the pop quiz, she says once again, "This is your final warning, throw the gum away now, or there will be consequences." Not a soul budged, "Was she addressing me?" Impossible, I thought as I used my tongue to secure my hidden cargo. Obviously, someone in here is careless because I've exercised a great deal of caution, so she has no reason to suspect me. Her glasses slid down the bridge of her nose as she scanned the class waiting for the guilty party to approach. I should be in the clear; I'll continue to work like nothing is wrong.
(Listen to the story here)
As the first period wrapped up, it was time for our irritated teacher to confront the bubble gum bandit. I felt sick as she cleared her throat, ready to unmask the fugitive. "Brian, I need to see you after class," she demanded as I took a giant sigh of relief. Evidently, Brian needs to work on his stealth skills, and maybe he'll luck out like me next time. Thankfully the bell sounded, and I heard, "Mr.Sherron, I need to see you as well," as I attempted to make my exit. It looks like the jig is up; I'm busted.
We passed Coach Cron in the hall as Mrs. Dinsmore marched us to the principal's office. "What's up, Crest? You in trouble?" he said, knowing good and well Brian and I were about to get the paddle. Wondering why he calls me Crest instead of Chris has been a mystery since the first time he made me do push-ups. Brian and I both gave him a half-smile and nodded as we got closer to our demise. She gave us instructions to wait outside for a moment while she had a word with her boss. My fellow delinquent and I discussed how Mrs. Dinsmore could have possibly known we were guilty. Neither of us gave any indication that we were smuggling illegal contraband, so we concluded she must have some sort of superpower. Then the door opened.
Brian went in first, and within moments I heard it. The sound was deafening, and I could feel the vibrations under my feet. My friend stepped from the office, shaking his head, and mumbled, "she hits a lot harder than you'd think." My superiors never asked me to come in or anything; they only stared through me as if to say, "it's your turn." The instrument of pain was almost as big as Mrs. Dinsmore, but she handled it as though it was as light as a feather. I assumed the position, and without warning, I heard a SWISH and then a THWACK! "Ah holy hell, that hurt!" I cried out for the second time today.