The perfect scheme


Caught again.

I hate it when vice principal Coleman gets that look in his eyes.

It is like he waits for me to screw up and takes bloody pleasure in taking me to task.

This is the fifth time heís caught me cutting this month, and itís not yet the 15th of the month.

I have to eat crap every time.

I know the only way to get away with cutting class is to not show up for the first period, and get marked out as absent for the day.

But then, I got to worry about the call home from the office checking to see if Iím really ill.

One day after school for a cut. Three days for faking an illness. Itís just not fair.

To make matters worse, my best friend, Dave, just found out heís failed for another year. And heís as moody as an old toad, sulking in the outer office as I get my punishment.

If I was him I would have quite after failing the second time. But for some reason, he keeps coming back.

But I have my own problems.

If only I could avoid that phone call home I could cut all I wanted and not worry, just as long as I cut the first period first.

Then, I see Rita.

Sweet innocent Rita.

Student assistant Rita.

The girl in charge of calling home.

Thatís when the light bulb goes off in my brain and I thin, if I could only get her sweet on me, I could coast through cutting classes.

I pull Dave out into the hall and tell him I got a plan.

Heís so despondent he might as well go home but wonít.

He just stares into the office as if he likes it there.

So I tell him to wait

When that old Grinch Coleman goes back into the wolf den he calls his inner office, I ease back into where Rita sits in the outer office.

I ask her how she would like to come with me to the sweet shop after school for a coke.

She looks at me as if she thinks Iím out of my mind.

Itís not lack of interest. Iíve seen her eyeing me from time to time.

Itís my timing thatís off.

Iím making my move too soon after my dealing with Coleman. So she knows exactly what Iím up to and isnít going to play with me Ė not unless I offer her more than a coke.

And it would be crazy for me to go THAT far.

Especially with Colemanís girl Friday.

So out in the hall, me and Dave lean against the wall of lockers, him moping about spending yet one more year trapped in Christopher Columbus Junior High School, while I mope about spending every day of the rest of my life in after school classes.

Eventually Rita wanders out of the office and I latch onto her arm, telling her how much my pal, Dave, loves here and how if she wonít go out with me she ought to give him a chance.

Never have I been so mistaken about anything than I am about this, and I catch on when I see Dave blush and I realize he really does love her, and Rita, seeing this, too, is mortified by the prospect and tells us both to get lost.

Then she storms off.

Only then do I understand why Dave never quits after school quits on him.

As long as he has hope she might like him, he isnít going to leave this place.

I promise Dave Iíll help, then I run after and catch up with Rita, begging her on Daveís behalf.

She glares at me, and then she smiles cruelly.

She says she wants me, not Dave.

And if I expect her to cover for my cuts, she gets me in exchange.

Iím in an even harder place now.

I have to choose between my best friend and the perfect scheme.

But I know what I have to do.

Best friends come and go, but a perfect scheme comes once in a life time.



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