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Busted Part Two

High school is tough. There's so much to learn, and on top of that, I'm trying to figure out life. On the one hand, everything I want to do seems far-fetched and out of reach. On the other hand, none of the usual career paths remotely interest me. Fantasizing over being a writer or an actor may be unrealistic, but I have hope, and maybe that's enough. If it weren't for my friends, I'm not sure I'd stand a chance my junior year.

Rhonda and Kim give me a reason to smile in my least favorite class, geometry. I love Miss Smithson, and she is probably one of the sweetest people on the planet. Surely she knows the left side of my brain has a permanent out-of-order sign attached, but thankfully, she never judges and shows me nothing but respect. Rhonda and Kim are the only reason I have a shot at squeaking by this year. It pays to surround myself with peers who know the difference between a right triangle and a triangle that's wrong.

Then we have Sheila, who is my rock in Coach Cron's geography class. Sometimes for fun, she'll call me Crest, mimicking the coach's pronunciation of my name. Each day during roll call, I have an overwhelming urge to stand up and scream, "C-H-R-I-S, it's Chris, a pretty common name," but I refrain. Sheila and I discuss the logic behind coloring maps and then rubbing them with Kleenex. It was part of the routine when Coach gave an assignment, and if you didn't follow directions, life could get tricky. Sheila is kind and makes me laugh; it's all I could ask for from a good friend. I never hang out with Rhonda, Kim, or Sheila much outside of school, but we love each other just the same. Thankfully we work together to survive the madness.

Like any other day, I sit at my desk in Mrs. Dinsmore's class, finishing my work. Somehow she's managed to get stuck with me the majority of my middle and high school career. Luckily she likes me because we didn't get off to a great start that first year with the whole bubble gum debacle. Our improved relationship probably started with a short story assignment she gave the class a while back. After staying up the entire night writing the day before it was due, I turned it in without high expectations. The next day Steven and Miller stopped me in the hall and said, "great story," without offering any explanation. It went on all day in between classes and left me more and more confused. Everything made sense when I made it to English, and Mrs. Dinsmore read my work to everyone; she'd been doing it all day. She even submitted it to the Young Tennessee Writers Contest. I can't remember ever feeling that special before.

Class wraps up, and Mike looks back from his seat and gives me the nod. We've perfected operation pizza-break over the past several months. It didn't take long to realize the short time we had for lunch wasn't enough to drive to Pizza Inn. We figured out the perfect plan and executed it flawlessly each Friday. Here is how it works. At the end of the period, we have an extra thirty minutes to play catch up or study. Mike and I would approach Mrs. Dinsmore to request time in the library before lunch. She always said yes, and we'd bypass the library and head straight to the car instead. Everyone assumed we left study hall and went directly to the lunchroom, when in fact, we were enjoying a delicious buffet. It doubled our lunchtime, and we'd easily make it back without getting busted. Genius!

Once we got the okay from our unsuspecting teacher, we walked right out the front door. We sprinted to Mike's car after making it past the gate to the parking lot. As soon as the campus was in the rearview mirror, it was time. The sacred cassette case I hold in my hand contains some of the most glorious music ever created. Carefully I pry open the treasure and slide the gem into the player. The sound of plastic sliding over metal and clicking into place is as comforting as my mother's pot roast. After a few short seconds, Slash's guitar riffs invade the cabin just before Axel warmly welcomes us to the jungle. Life is good.

(Listen to the story here)

The wooden door swings open, and we drown in the delightful smell of deliciousness as the pew-pew sounds of Galaga penetrate the noise of a busy Pizza Inn. It's nice getting a warm hug from my favorite server before she leads us to our regular booth. She takes our paper VIP customer cards, gives me a sly grin, and then punches an extra three holes, playfully saying, "Oh, look, that's five visits! You get a free meal today, congratulations." Mike and I are both in love with this woman. We fill our plates and bellies with way too much food before deciding it's time to return to reality.

Upon arriving back at Montgomery Central, we sense a disturbance in the force. Within two seconds, multiple people approach us with horrifying news. It would seem Mike's mother called the school requesting to speak with her son while we were on our mini-vacation. Over and over, his name echoed through the halls across the intercom, but there was no Mike insight. As luck would have it, Mrs. Dinsmore caught us out of the corner of her eyes and shook her head before saying, "You almost got away with it, fellas. Follow me." We marched to the principal's office to reveal our fate.

My buddy and I were both sentenced to five days of hard labor in ISS. I managed to get off a bit easier than my fellow inmate for one reason, my lack of left-sided brainpower. It turns out the in-school suspension instructor wasn't gifted in the art of geometry either. The help I needed was unavailable in the damp dungeon, so a swift resolution was in order. I was free after two days while Mike sat and rotted in the basement without me. I mean, it was kind of his fault we got busted anyway.

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