I stared at the wall, tilting my head to the side a bit so I could read the graffitti on the panels.
Nate was here, 04-24
Boring. There’s nothing worse than boring graffitti; I mean, if you’re going to take the time to write something down, at least make it so that other people don’t mind reading it later on.
Somebody kill me now!
Better, but still pretty prosaic. At least, for detention.
Ducks taste like burritos.
Huh. Now that one was interesting. I considered it for a moment, then discarded it. Duck had more of a tang to it. Sighing, I dangled my pen between my fingers, trying to balance it on the knuckles of my hand. It fell.
Leaning down to pick it up, I took a moment to admire Jackie Perkins’ legs on the way up. My eyes drifted up and I found myself staring straight into her glare. I flashed my most charming grin, but she raised her hand anyway.
“Mr. Warren!” Oh, she wouldn’t. Not sweet Jackie… please, don’t– “Bo threw something at me!”
“I did not!” I yelped indignantly. It was no secret that Mr. Warren hated me, so I didn’t really expect him to believe me. But a man has to defend his honor, after all.
“Mr. Duke,” the man circles my desk menacingly. He was a tall man, almost taller than me, with piercing eyes that reminded me of an owl, and a really awful combover. Just seeing it made me want to run my fingers through my hair. The man had been out to get me since the first day of school when I accidentally dumped my lunch tray on his shirt. Daisy said he oughta thanked me; the shirt was hideous to begin with.
I glanced up at him, trying my best to look innocent.
“Sir, she’s just tryin’ to get me in trouble–”
“Mr. Duke.” I hate it when he calls me that. “Please refrain from throwing anything at these studious workers. Not all of them are as troublesome as you are.”
I heard Luke snicker a few desks away and made a mental note to hit him later.
“Yes, sir,” I said. With a suspicious nod, Mr. Warren was gone again, pacing between the rows like a watchdog. I sighed.
A white piece of paper, neatly folded into a square, went sliding across the floor and hit my shoe. I looked around, but Mr. Warren was bent over, reading something Charlene had written in her spiral. The note had Luke’s neat handwriting scrawled on it.
Nice going, cousin.
I glared at him from across the seats, but he remained steadfastly facing straight ahead; I could practically see the halo glowing over his dark curls. Jerk.
Scribbling back on the note, I creased it again and threw it back. Luke opened it and read what I wrote with a grin. He scratched something else onto it again, then slid teh note back over.
I didn’t do a dang thing and you know it! Jackie’s just trying to get me in trouble.
You’re just mad because she won’t go out with you.
I scowled, Luke laughing silently behind his hand. I had just gotten to the second word of my retort when a withered hand swooped down and picked up the paper.
“What’s this? What’s this?” Mr. Warren said, holding the note out like it was physically distasteful to him. “Mr. Duke, passing notes? I warn you, one more instance like this, young man, and it’s another three hours of detention for you.”
“Yes, sir,” I said. Behind the broad frame of Mr. Warren, I could see Luke giving me a sympathetic grin.
“As for you, Lucas Duke,” Mr. Warren continued without turning, “I would have thought a senior would know better.”
The grin ran away from his face and a look of surprise came over it. “Uh, yes, sir,” he echoed in an incredulous voice.
The note landed in the trash with a whisper, and I let out another loud sigh. The clock on the wall said 3:10. I fought the urge to groan, deciding it would be better to bury my head in my arms instead.
Dang. I never understood how people could fall asleep like this–the desktops were too low for you to lay your head comfortably on, and your arms started to fall asleep anyhow.
I turned my head, going back to reading the words markered on the chair in front of me.
Cooter was here–for something he didn’t do!
How about that? I’ll have to tell Luke about that later. After we get out of here. I wonder what our friendly neighborhood mechanic “didn’t do” that got him in here. I’ll have to ask him sometime.
The room was small, with a few desks filled here and there, mostly with kids I knew pretty well–Casey and John sat in the back, sleeping and working on math homework. Steve was in front of me, and Luke beside him, two desks up. Directly beside me, of course, was Jackie and her crew, all fixing their make-up and adjusting their skirts, which had ridden up while sitting–oh boy. This isn’t helping.
The A/C broke a while ago (try years) and so I peeled off my overshirt for some respite from the thick Georgia heat. It’s almost the end of school–few more days left–and the sun is shining through the windows and dancing on the floor. A bird lands on a branch outside and begins whistling some happy melody, fluttering its wings brightly.
If I see butterflies, I may just shoot myself.
I glance at the clock on the wall again, willing the hands to move faster. Seven minutes to go. Mr. Warren has been staring at me the past two and a half hours, daring me to move a muscle or make a sound louder than a cough. I kept looking back at him, smiling widely and pretending that I wasn’t imagining all the things I could be doing instead of sitting in a sweltering little building with two guys and three girls, one of whom had gotten me into trouble before. Six more minutes.
I fidget, gathering my books and homework together on my desk, neatly squaring it off into a pile.
Five more minutes.
Luke only had two hours, so he was long gone–he slapped me on the shoulder and promised to come pick me up after I had served my sentence, but I knew he would probably forget and was almost undoubtedly down at the Boar’s Nest trying to get Cooter to buy him a beer.
Four more minutes.
I drummed my fingers nervously on the desk, shifting again in my seat. From the corner of my eyes, I saw Mr. Warren straighten, looking at me sharply.
Freedom! Sweet, sweet freedom! I jump out of my seat, racing for the door, and I can’t quite contain the loud whoop of joy that fills me.
“Mr. Duke,” Mr. Warren says in a slow, oily voice that makes me think he’s related to Boss somewhere down along the line. I stop and turn to face him.
“No shouting in the halls–please report to me for two more hours of detention tomorrow afternoon.” A quick glance at me, then he adds, “And try and restrain yourself next time, please.”
Somedays, it just ain’t worth it–tomorrow, I think I’ll go fishing.