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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chapter 17 - Bad Boys, Bad Boys

It was another typical day in Biology; Mrs. Walker was lecturing us about the details of mitochondrial DNA. It was an interesting subject, but I was tired. The parasitic pace of the lecture didn't help either. On the plus side, this was my last class and freedom was only a bells toll away. Everyone at my table was silent and busy taking notes. I looked down at my notebook and saw a few misspelled Latin words and a sketch of the starship Enterprise. She was busy battling the doomsday machine. I've been working on the drawing since class started; though it was drawn proportionally correct, the perspective seemed a bit wrong. Hmmm, I need to work on that aspect.

"Mike, do you understand this stuff?" whispered Alison.

"What?" I replied.

"The DNA stuff that Ms. Walker is talking about." said Alison.

"Oh that stuff, sure. I haven't read the chapters, but it seems straight forward." I whispered.

"I'm usually good at Biology but this time, she lost me. Let's compare notes later." she replied.

"Well I don't take good notes" I said as I showed her my art work. She seemed surprised, but she did return a smile.

Normally, I would have felt like a real dork showing my drawings to a girl, but then again she wasn't any girl. She was Alison, and somewhere inside of me I was hoping she would learn to appreciate me more through my artwork. The odds were one in a billion, but I thought it was worth the risk.

"But if want me to explain it to you, let's do it after class." I added.

Seemingly out of nowhere, something struck our table. It came down mostly silent as it bounced around in front of me. It was round and I knew immediately what it was. It was the Raven, the messenger of bad news. The paper ball sat there, so I picked up and frowned. I looked at Alison, she seemed a bit shocked, but my other table mates started to laugh. I guess it was our turn to join the pranksters. From the corner of my eye, I noticed Mrs. Walker turning around so I quickly rolled the evidence off the table, away from her view.

Mrs. Walker continued to speak about how mitochondrial DNA was inherited from your mother and then she began to write the details on the blackboard. The instant she turned around, another messenger appeared. And once again it sat in front of me, but this time, I could hear the twin coconspirators laughing. I quickly picked it up and crushed it in my fist. Now what should I do? If I threw it back and get caught, I'll be in trouble. If I threw it back, I'll look just at guilty as those jokers to the rest of the class. Hmmm, what to do? What to do? If Ms. Walker caught me, I'll be listed as a trouble maker for sure. I've never been a trouble maker; however, my muscles ached. They were ready to take action; throwing a ball was innate to me. I have played baseball every year of my life since I was five. If I threw this ball, hitting my mark should be an easy task. OK, I decided what to do, I needed to find a target.

As I looked up, I ran into Alison's eyes. She was shaking her head, but didn't say a word. I could tell she thought it was a bad idea to retaliate, so I hesitated. Then it happened, I got struck. The paper ball bounced of my head and landed on the table. In stunned silence, I sat there and watched its final act. I became it's balletomane and watched it mock me until the final turn of its pirouette. Everyone at the table began to laugh, my face turned red, and I started to feel really embarrassed. Witnesses of the crime around the classroom started to snicker and then I got mad. I grabbed the ball and held it in my hand. I sensed a swell of rage building inside of me. I felt the ball growing ever so small as I crushed it in my hand, but then I saw it, the thing that made my anger vanish. Alison was smiling and she started to laugh. I can't explain it, but my anger was gone and I started to laugh with her as well. I suddenly I knew what I had to do. I looked towards the instigators and spotted my target, Joe.

I stood up, turned, and threw a fastball. Though he was two tables away, it hit Joe right in the chest. He frowned, looked me right in the eye and silently mouthed "what the f...".

“Oh shit,” I thought! Now I gonna get my ass kicked. Still shocked by my actions, I quickly sat down. I turned around to see my carnage and I saw a Joe that didn't look very happy. Once he noticed that I was looking towards his table he made a fist, pointed one finger in the air and rotated his hand to the left. His index finger pointed to his coconspirator. I couldn't hear what he was whispering, but I knew what he said. "He did it, dumbass."

I was at a loss for words. "Oh crap," I had hit the wrong target! I'm a dead man now, I thought. And then, both of them started to laugh; louder than before with no signs of anger anywhere. For a moment I didn't understand it, but then I realized what happened. They were too overjoyed that they got another person to join the madness. Panic subsided; maybe I wasn't dead after all.

I turned around to looked at Alison. She still had that surprised look, but her smile made me know that she was OK with my actions.

"Joe!" yelled Mrs. Walker "What are you doing?"

Instinctively I turned and saw it, Joe was standing up with a paper ball in his hand. Looking at his body position, I knew the target was me.

"Oh nothing Mrs. Walker, I was just stretching." replied Joe as his pitching stance turned into a stretch motion.

"Go to the corner!" said Mrs. Walker. "You are being a bad boy. Sit in the corner until class is over."

It felt like elementary school and everyone in the class started to laugh out loud; it was a very funny moment. Even Joe was laughing, he knew he was caught red handed. As he walked by my table towards the stool that sat in to the corner of the classroom, he mouthed. "I'll get you next time" and smiled.

I returned the smile and responded with a silent "OK".

Class returned to normal for a minute until another paper ball landed on our table. I turned to see the instigator...

"Chad, go to the corner!" yelled Mrs. Walker. "You're being bad as well. Bad boys, bad boys both of you."

By the look on his face, he was surprised that he had been caught. Chad smiled and started to walk towards the corner where Joe sat.

"No, not that corner, the other one." said Mrs. Walker as she pointed to the other side of the room.

Chad changed directions and walked towards the other corner. I could tell he could barely control his laughter.

As I looked away from Chad, I noticed that Mrs. Walker was glaring at me. I sensed that her trust for me had disappeared. I knew she thought I was just another bad apple was waiting to be caught. Without saying a word, she said, "You behave now!"

Perhaps if she had more stools in the corner I would be joining Joe and Chad. But luckily there were only two troublemaker stools in the classroom. She never planned for three troublemakers at once. Three troublemakers, I thought. Hmmm, I never saw myself as one. "Interesting," I started to grin.


Class continued once again and this time all went well. At the end of class I reviewed the discussion with Alison and then she was off. I collected my things and began to leave.

As I was leaving the classroom I heard a voice, "Mike, Right?"

"Yeah that's my name." I turned around to see who it was.

"We'll I'm Chad. Nice to meet you." he said. Then we shook hands.

"It was you. Wasn't it?" I asked.

"Yup, Joe didn't hit you with the ball."

"Is Joe going to kick my ass for what I did?" I asked nervously. "I didn't mean for you guys to get in trouble."

"Ah, don't worry about it. We actually had a great time. I think Joe enjoyed scaring the crap out of you the most though. But don't sweat it, he's a great guy. You'll get to know him soon enough. By the way, you know Renno right? Renno, the big Filipino guy. You hang around him right?"

"Renno? Renno the tyrant, my overbearing nemesis,” impulsively, I began to nod.

"I've known him for quite a while," added Chad. "We are good friends."

Renno! Now it makes sense. He's the source of all of this mayhem. "Renno, yeah I know him." I replied with a smile. "Did he put you up to this?"

Chad smiled, but didn't answer my question. We left the classroom together and began to talk about Kadena, our common interests, and our common friends. Thus began a friendship that would never end.

Sometimes trouble and friendship come hand in hand and sometimes order comes out of chaos. Today seemed like one of those moments. I could have tried to avoid the trouble, but something inside of me told me not too. Luckily, I joined the mayhem and managed to come out unscathed. More importantly I came out with a new friend, and a life long one at that. I escaped being sent to the corner that day, but my luck would soon run out. A few weeks later my turn in the corner would come. Triggered by good fun, a spinning Petri dish, and like always in that class, chaos initiated by the two jokers in the back of the classroom.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chapter 16 - Doughnuts

My heart was beating so fast that I couldn't hear what Johnny was saying. My hands were clammy, my eyes were closed, and I could feel the sweat tingling on my skin. Like a baby in the womb, I nestled down near the floor as tight as I could get. I felt like I just ran five miles with a panther on my tail, but I wasn’t exhausted. I was still tense, still nervous. Everyone else in the car was breathing hard as well. Body heat filled the air and the windows started to fog up the windows. The radio was off and so were any lights. Other than our heartbeats, the car had been silent for a few minutes.

"I think we made it," said Johnny. He was in the driver’s seat; his white knuckles still gripped the steering wheel. "Let's go look for the others."

"I wonder if they got away?" I said.

"I think so. We had a few hundred yards between us and the MPs when we booked it. I think we should go back and see if everyone got away." Johnny seemed more relaxed now, but barely.

"Why do we need to go back there?" asked Brain. "Aren't the cops going to be there?" He was still nervous, but then again, so was I.

"I don't think so. But there's only one way to know for sure." replied Johnny.

"But..." is all I could muster. Exhaustion has caught up and my adrenaline subsided, being chased by the police was new to me. And I kept on thinking, if I get caught and my parents find out, my Dad’s gonna kill me. How the hell can Johnny keep his smile and be so calm.

Johnny rolled down his window and pushed aside the bushes that hid his car. "I don't see anyone, do you?" he asked.

I collected myself and looked around. "Looks all clear to me."

"Looks good." echoed Brian.

Johnny started the car and we slowly pulled out of the bushes. The landscape was green, but there was no way you could tell. The night sky hid most things and the man on the moon was sleeping tonight. Johnny turned on the lights and blindness took our sight. Moments later, a black road and patches of greenery filled our view. The cut grass was familiar as the 8th hole lay to our left. It seemed safe so we started our move.

We quietly drove for a minute to reach the mounds. But this time, we drove to a spot across the road to cliff high above. Johnny's headlights flooded the area and towers of gray rocks came into view. The mounds were easily eight feet tall and it was composed of the kind of gravel used for construction. As I looked closer, I could see our swirls on the ground below. The car was our paintbrush and the gravel our canvas. A portrait of interwoven circles was strewn across the grounds. The pattern was a thing of beauty. All were bound to a common thought, doughnuts! Pollock would be proud.

We opened the doors and got out of the car. We stood and stretched. The air was cold, but I didn’t wear my jacket. Small chills began to run up my spine and I shivered for a moment.

"We made lots of doughnuts down there; that was fun." remarked Brain.

"Yeah." added Johnny.

I nodded; I felt relieved. I let out a smile and began to relax, but that was short lived.

Suddenly, we saw another set of lights coming our way. The head lights weren't far apart, so I knew it wasn’t an American car. I looked at Johnny and we instantly knew who it was.

It was a silver 4-door car full of people, it drove by a mound and stopped. "That was awesome, want to do it again?" yelled Joe.

"Are you crazy? We just ran out of here when the MPs showed up." I yelled. "We barely got away."

"So what?" said Joe with a big smile. He got into his car and I could hear the shouting of the voices within.

"Doughnuts! Doughnuts!" shouted the people in the car.

Joe's lights turned on and the engine started to rev. A loud squealing sound screamed out of the tires as it began to peel away at the gravel below. The car started to make tight circles on the ground; over and over it spun and the circles came. The occupants in the car could be heard laughing and cheering, "DOUGHNUTS!"

"They are crazy." remarked Brian.

"Yep. I can't believe Joe found this place. You would think coming here after school would be enough, but for all of us to come back at night...we are all crazy." I replied.

"Mike, so I heard you have a girlfriend now." said Johnny.

"What? She's not my girlfriend, we just had one date. But I've been walking with her to class everyday this week, that's about it. She is a really nice girl. Plus she's cute, has wonderful smile, and I did make out with her on our first date." I replied with a big grin.

"You what!" spoke Brian. He was shocked. "On your first date. NO way!"

"The timing was right so what the hell else was I supposed to do. I didn't' want to look like an idiot. Dating is new to me, I just went with the flow."

Suddenly everything froze. I could barely hear it coming. But I knew what it was; the sounds, the sounds of trouble. It was the second time tonight, but this time we weren't ready. We were all going to get caught now. They were coming and nobody seemed to notice except me.

"Johnny we need to bail, now!" I yelled.

"Why" asked Johnny? Brian looked puzzled as well.

Suddenly the approaching sirens could be heard by all of us. Johnny fumbled his keys as he opened the door; Brian jumped into the back seat. I got in and Johnny tried to start the car. He turned the key but nothing happened. He turned again and it still didn’t start.

“Don’t do it again or it will flood.” I said. “But if you flood the carb Joe showed me how to fix it.”

“I won’t. It will work this time, trust me. I know my car,” replied Johnny. He turned the key and the green machine awoke.

But it was too late, I could see the red and blue lights streak across the windshield. The sirens were too close.

Joe's car must have noticed it as well, as they stopped making doughnuts and backed up behind one of the mounds. We were all dead, there was nothing we could do. It was too late to run.

But before the colorful lights arrived, a car streaked down the road right past our eyes. It was going really fast and it was followed closely by a police car; lights and sirens blaring. Then a second police car followed suit, but as it drove off I could hear the loud speaker yell, "You punks stay right there! We’re coming back for you!"

Still in shock, no body made a move.

"Is that who I think it is?" I asked Johnny.

Johnny returned a big smile.

"Oh shit! That was Ricardo's car." yelled Brian.

We all started to laugh. Even though I could barely see it, I could swear I heard laughter falling out of Joe's car as well.

"Let's get the hell out of here." yelled Johnny. "No need to wait around to get a ticket!"

"Hit it!" yelled Brian.

I didn't say anything since I was too busy laughing. Seeing Ricardo being chased by the police made my day.

As we drove off, I could see flashes of red and blue shine on the rear window. They must have caught Ricardo, and the second car was coming back for us. I guess it was our turn to run, I hope Johnny was a good driver.


We rolled in to the parking lot next to the softball fields across the street from the Olympic shoppette. The lights from the field were off and there were still a few cars parked in the lot, so we didn't stick out.

"Get down." yelled Johnny.

We all hunkered down and Brian said, "Don't step on the brake, it will give us away. Ricardo said to use the hand brake in situations like this."

Johnny’s hand was already on the brake and it was wrenched. The car settled and we waited. I slowly slouched down to the floor and began my hibernation.

"So what's her name?" asked Johnny.

What the hell? "I don't think now is the appropriate time for us to talk about my love life." I replied in an irritated voice.

"Seems like a good time to me. We don't have much else to do." said Johnny with a smile. "Is she..."

"Hot?" injected Brian. "or is she a butter face."

"Shut up!" I replied, "I already said she was cute, so can we drop this right now."

Everything became silent as we all saw the flashes of white light reflect on the windshield. We all held our breath as the police car rolled slowly by. It seemed to last forever, but eventually the lights went away. The police car was gone, we were spared.

"I can't believe we got away." I said.

"We made it. See I'm a good driver, you can always count on me." replied Johnny.

I smiled and since everything was clear I began to return to myself. With my wits back, I decided to turn the tables on him.

"By the way Johnny, you joined the bet too, how did your date with Trisha go?" I asked.

He thought about it, looked at me, and gave me a big smile. Then he said, "I think that's it for tonight, let's go home."

I guess he didn’t want to tango. But it was alright, I was too tired to dig it out of him anyways.

Johnny started the car and turned on the music.

On our way home Brian asked, "What bet? What are you two talking about? Why do you all have girls? What the hell is going on?"

Johnny and I smiled and decided not to tell him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Chapter 15 - Risk

8pm Saturday Night, Fall Sophomore Year

"Well this sucks. I'm out." said Ricardo.

"When you start on Asia as your base on a six player game, you're usually the first one out." I responded. "Don't worry, we got all night, there's always another game."

"How is it that Armand is still alive?" asked Ricardo. "He just stared playing this board game tonight!"

"Luck" I added.

"No Mikey, it's skill." voiced Armand with a big smile.

We all let out a chuckle. It turned out to be a fun hour and so far it was turning out to be a great day.

"I'm still sore from playing football this afternoon, but at least I threw a few touchdowns today." said Ricardo.

"Yeah that was fun." responded Tony. “I especially like those 80 yard bombs that you threw.”

"I juked like this and juked like that..." answered Bill while performing the "I'm too good for you" two-step.

"Ricardo, you might as well wait on the sofa and watch a movie, but don't worry. I'll send the others there is shortly." I said crassly.

"Mike, save your self a seat. You are going down." added Bill.

"Nope, the only person that has beaten me since the 6th grade is my brother. So I don't think so." I replied.

"I'm still in it." smiled Tony.

“Ha Mike. You speak too soon. With these cards, I will smite you.” relished Chad. He was definitely having a good time.

This game was getting fun the serious players were definitely ready.

"Bill, do you have Commando or Rambo in your movie collection?" asked Ricardo.

"Yeah, just look over there in the cabinet”

"Well it's my turn now. Sorry Armand you are going down. Brazil to North Africa, let's roll some dice.” I picked up the dice and let it roll.


10 pm, Saturday Night

"Finally, I’m out of this game. I thought you guys said playing a game of Risk would only take two hours finish." said Armand. "Not two hours just for me to lose."

"Sometimes when you’re doing something good, it takes longer then you think to finish it. When things get fun, it's easy to lose track of time." I said.

"Well I'm done Bill and since you took my territories, where can I find your food? This game will take forever." added Armand.

"There are plenty of chips over there." pointed Bill. "And the cokes are on the counter."

"At the rate we are going, we should be done by midnight." I explained.

"Well if that's the case, then I'm out. Because if you say midnight, then it will be dawn before you’re done. Time to go home now, I'll see you guys tomorrow." said Armand as he continued to raid our undefended refreshments before he left for home.


1 am, Sunday Morning

“Mike you are not going to win this territory,” said Chad as he rolled the dice in his hands.

“Hey Tony what happened to the cute girl that made you go with her to church?” I asked.

“You mean Audrey? Well let’s just say that after they started speaking in tongues, I decided that scene wasn’t for me. It’s totally different then mass on Sunday,” responded Tony.

“Long curly hair and knockers right? Mike isn’t she in your grade?” asked Bill.

“Yeah, but she’s not my type.” I replied. “Pass me the dice, it’s my roll now.”

“Too cute for you right? Or did you mean because she’s not a seventh grader,” laughed Bill.

“Shut up Bill. But I’m sure you’d date one.” I retorted.

I picked up the dice and rolled. Bingo! All hits, I won the territory.

"Damn it, I lost. Mike you got too many lucky rolls. Otherwise I would have beaten you." said Chad.

"It's called skill. Feel free to join Ricardo in the loser…ummm” I faked a cough. “…movie room"

“Mike grow up” yelled Ricardo from yonder.

"Well I’m beat, Ricardo let's get outta here." said Chad. "It's a long walk, but it should only take us about an hour to get from su-na-be to Lester."

We all said "good night" as Chad and Ricardo started their voyage back to Camp Lester.


2 am, Sunday Morning

"OK, it's late, why don't we finish this later? Everyone else is probably sleeping and playing football this afternoon is finally catching up with me."

"Nope. We stay until someone wins" replied Bill. "Do you want to give up?"

"I don't want to quit, but I'm too tired to stay awake long enough to win. This game seems endless."

"Hold on Mike, I'm going to attack South America." said Tony. "Maybe you can go to sleep real soon."

"Feel free, I want to sleep." I replied.


3:30 am, Sunday Morning

"Thank God I'm out. This game is getting way too long. Bill do you have Sixteen Candles? I feel like watching something fun."

"I thought you were tired. Or was that an excuse to lose." he said with a smile.

"Nope, I'm really tired, but I think I'm past the point of no return. I'm awake now." I replied as I walked towards the movie cabinet.


3:41 am, Sunday Morning

I could barely see the movie on the TV. My eyes could barely stay open. But I could hear parts of a conversation in the distance.

"The game seems even. By the way Tony, you seem to hanging around Hillary a lot this morning during bowling. What's up?" asked Bill.

"What do you think about Hillary? She's been flirting with me..." said Tony.

"Like with all my girls. You have to see how far you can go." replied Bill. "Now where are those dice, let's finish this game."


7:30 am, Sunday Morning

My dream-world turned into an earthquake as the world around me started to shake violently. I felt my shoulders tighten and I sensed a familiar voice in the distance.

"O-hi-o" said Tony as I awoke, he was shaking my shoulders. "Time to go home, the game is over."

I looked at him with eyes half open and asked, "Who won?"

"Bill. He's pretty good at Risk. He’s always willing to take chances. You should watch him and you might learn something." Tony replied.

"From Bill?" I responded half-heatedly. That's the best sarcasm I could muster this early in the morning.

"See Mike, I'm the best player when it comes to risk." said Bill "You need to use more round about attacks so your opponent doesn't see it coming."

"I guess you are the best at Risk tonight." I replied. "I think I could have won, but I was too tired to play an all night game."

"Then that's something you need to work on, if you can't stick to it, you can't win." answered Bill.

"All right Bill, next time I’ll win for sure. By the way good night...ummm...Good Morning. By the way Bill, do you have any o-cha-zu-ke?”

“What the heck is that?” replied Bill.

Tony just started to laugh.

I have no idea why I remember this fragment, since these mundane moments aren't very exciting. Maybe I remembered it because these are how things used to be before girls, alcohol, and Joe would change our world forever. I'm not saying that the keeping the original ways was good for the gang, but I do remember it as a very fun and simple time. If anything, those ordinary days were the last signs of our innocence. Bill and I never had a chance to play another board game of Risk, since our lifestyles were about to take us down two different paths. What I didn't realize at the time, was that the real game of Risk between Bill and I had just begun. I didn’t know it consciously, but it was a game that would take more than a night to finish; a game without borders, a game without rules, a game that would last years, and a game that would put our friendship at risk. It was a game that neither of us should win. Well at least I didn't want too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chapter 14 - Mystery Bag

It was Tuesday morning and Mr. Larson began to talk about the experiment that the class would do tomorrow. He wanted us to separate hydrogen atoms from water; it sounded a bit dangerous, but it also sounded really fun. High school students, Chemistry, and fire always seemed like a bad combination to me, but I guess we all have to learn about it sometime. Unfortunately that wasn't the only thing on my mind this morning. Britney sat at the octagon two tables away. She sat there with her cohort, Shelly. What a dangerous pair, I thought. Both were cute, attractive, and extremely smart; a tough to beat package on any scale.

Suddenly something slid across the table and stopped right in front of me. I looked and saw a cassette case, on the cover was a 50's convertible with two teenagers riding in it; a guy and a girl. The car was parked downtown and scenery was slightly orange. I picked it up and looked closer; printed on the lower edge of the case was the label Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.

"Sorry Mike" whispered P.J. "I was trying to get that Becca, but it bounced of the Bunsen burner valve and went right to you."

"That's OK," I mouthed silently as I started to slide the cassette back to P.J. "Is it any good?"

"Yes" he whispered. "You should give it a try."

"Sure, let me borrow it sometime." I whispered.

P.J. nodded.

"Pass it along Mike." whispered an anxious voice.

It was the voice of our long haired table-mate, Becca. I could tell she was getting impatient with our small talk, so I passed her the tape. Satisfied, she let out a grin.

Mr. Larson noticed our dialog and glared at our table. We quickly sat up straight, smiled at him, and tried our best to look attentive. He resumed his lecture.

I could tell Mr. Larson was determined to teach us something new today. This was good, since I actually enjoyed Chemistry. It was definitely an interesting subject to me. But that wasn't the best thing about Chemistry class; the best part about it was Mr. Larson teaching Chemistry. He usually gave us an impromptu performance of Chaplin's "Modern Times" during the demonstration of most experiments. Mr. Larson wanted us to believe that he kept in control of the experiments, but he usually didn't; in most cases we all had an unexpected laughing session that usually ended with Mr. Larson mumbling something to himself. I assumed tomorrow would be no different, but today I was different. I wasn't interested in classical Chemistry, I was more concerned about the immeasurable type; she sat only a few tables away.

What to do, I thought. Was she the right girl? I’ll probably go down in flames, but Joe did say that if I was going to ask out anyone in my grade, it should be Britney. He thought she was the hottest, so he said if you’re gonna get shot down anyways, it might as well be with her. Damn it Joe, I wish I had your confidence; everything seemed too easy for you.

When should I approach her? Perhaps after this class? Perhaps after school? I wonder if I can meet her without Shelly around. That was the tough part; those two were super glued together like hydrogen atoms in a water molecule. What to do? What to do? I began to get consumed by my own insecurities and I was starting to drive myself crazy.

Out of nowhere something pricked my arm. I looked and saw a set of shiny pink finger nails next to the pain.

"You're staring at them." she said with ominous smile.

My face turned white, my heart froze and my eyes balls just about fell out of my head. How long did Becca notice? How long was I staring at Britney? How long was I daydreaming? How long, how long? Thinking quickly, I thought of a cover story.

"Thanks, I was just daydreaming" I whispered. "Not enough sleep last night."

She winked and turned back to look at Mr. Larson. But I got the feeling that she didn't believe me.

"Whew that was close," I said to myself. Then I turned to look at Mr. Larson; however before my eyes fell on blackboard, a commotion two tables away caught my eye. Shelly had brought out a bag from her purse and seemed to be giggling about it. Britney was giggling too. Then unexpectedly Shelly opened it ever so slightly and began to drink something out of it. I could see that inside the bag was a slightly orange drink container; the kind you'd use with your lunch box in middle school. After she took her sip she gave it to Britney. After Britney finished both girls giggled. They did this exchange about 3 times before putting it away. I began to wonder what was in that container.

10 minutes later, they were at it again. But this time, they were both smiling and giggling a bit louder; almost to the point that Mr. Larson would hear them. I was sure he noticed them, but he continued with the lecture anyways.

I whispered to P.J. "Did you see that?"

"Yes" he responded.

"What is that?" I asked.

"They are just being stupid." he responded and then he mouthed the word "beer".

No way! That's not possible. Who would be dumb enough to drink liquor in class? Those two were two of the nicest and smartest girls in my grade. I couldn't believe it. But after putting their actions together, P.J. seemed right; all signs pointed to alcohol. I had to believe P.J.; he was the Mr. Popular for the juniors, so if anyone would know about this kind of behavior, it would be him.

Damn. No matter how much of a crush I had on Britney; this behavior was unacceptable for any student. I shook my head in disbelief. But oddly, I suddenly felt liberated. Britney didn't seem like the girl I knew. Correction, what I thought I knew. The Britney I liked was in my mind; I didn't know the real Britney at all. My crush had given me rose colored glasses, but now I saw the truth. I looked at P.J. and gave him unspoken thanks of appreciation. The left side of my brain seemed to celebrate too, as logic had finally won the day.

Now I understood my choice. It was easy; there was only one name left on my list and there was no turning back now. I knew Marielle was truly a nice girl and would never pull off an unflattering stunt like Britney's. Now I started to think about when and how. And once again, the flower fields were in full bloom and the butterflies came flying back.


Class just ended and most of the students were already out of the classroom. Mr. Larson was erasing the blackboard and I was still thinking about what happened. As we stood up from our table, I turned to P.J. and asked, "Are you serious, was there beer in there."

"The way they were acting, I'm sure of it was some kind of alcohol" he said as he shook his head.

We headed towards the door and I asked him "About that cassette, what's the name of the group?"

"It's O.M.D. Didn't you see it on the cover?" he replied.

"Yeah, but I thought that was the name of the album."

"Oh no, the name of the album is Crush", he replied.

Surprised, I snickered.

"What's so funny?" asked P.J.

"Nothing" I replied. But I said to myself, "How ironic." How ironic indeed.

Then we parted and left for our next class.

I never found out what was in that bag since it really didn't matter. Seeing a different side of Britney wasn't the most important lesson in the classroom either. The real lesson was learning more about myself, and it was a real eye opener for me. I thought I never judged a book by its cover, which I usually didn't do. What I didn't realize, was that I ignored that rule when my crushes came into view. After that day, I decided that level of stupidity was never going to happen again. However, that wasn't the only thing I learned. As an added bonus, I discovered the band O.M.D. If it wasn't for the hand of fate, I would have never listened to that band, especially since it wasn't my kind of music at the time. So when I listen to O.M.D these days, I always remember the lesson, the car on the cover, and the mystery bag. I might have lost a crush, but I gained one too.

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