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Rated: 13+ · Novel · Romance/Love · #2283604
Chapter 4 of Valerie's story.
Chapter Four - The Trash

The next morning Valerie hurriedly dialed Mr. Wezell’s phone. It started to ring and she thought it was a desperate long shot that Drew would answer it, as he might not know how to, or he might still be sleeping.

But after two rings she heard him pick it up.

“Drew!” she said.

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” he said cheerfully.

Her jaw dropped at this and she said, “Drew! We’re going to be late!”

“Leave now,” he said.

“Good!” she said. “Please, hurry up.”

“OK,” he said. Then she heard him hang up.

About three minutes later, she saw the pick up bouncing up the dirt road to where she stood by the edge of it. Drew brought it to stop next to her.

She threw open the door, tossed in a bag that had their lunches onto the seat, and then she got in as fast as she could while closing the door behind her.

“Hi,” she said breathlessly as she put on her seatbelt.

“Hey girl!” he said in a ditzy, feminine voice. She froze as he said this. As he started driving up the road, he said, “How you doin’?” in a deep, slick and manly way. Then he took his eyes off the road for a second to look her up and down as he smiled like he liked what he saw.

She blushed at this and she said, “Joey from Friends, that was really good. I mean spooky good. I got it right away. Good Lord, how much TV did you watch last night?”

“A lot,” Drew said while smiling.

“I am going to be super pissed at you if you were up all night doing that,” she said.

“No doing that,” he said. “I go home, get right in snuggly bed, go asleep. Wake later, feel good. Watch TV.”

She looked over at him and the dark circles and bags were gone from his eyes. He looked chipper. She saw that apparently he needed even less sleep than average cheerful, morning people usually need to get their batteries recharged to be disgustingly awake and the ready for action mysteries they were to her.

“I sorry I late,” he said as his smile disappeared.

“Was everything OK this morning?” she asked.

“I go leave get you, I need poop. I go in toilet like you say, but clean messy. So I had shower again,” he said.

She said quietly and in sympathy, “Actually, that’s a relief since that was your first b.m., so now we know you can do it. That was way overdue, and that could have made you sick, so that’s good.”

“I sorry I late,” he said again.

She looked over at him and he was so sweet that suddenly she didn’t care if she was three hours late to school. She chastised herself as she thought, ‘Where are my priorities? I mean really?’ She couldn’t even wrap her mind about what it must be like to be him right now. He’d been thrown into a new world, and he had conducted himself extremely magnificently as far as she was concerned. More so, he had treated everybody else pretty perfectly too. He had done all this bravely, as he himself suffered, which was largely her fault, and he didn’t complain about any of it, not even once.

It was ironic, she thought. He wasn’t human, but from the moment she met him, he was one of the most humane...beings...she had ever met.

She said quietly, “Don’t worry about being late. It wasn’t your fault. Plus, us getting to school late isn’t important at all. I shouldn’t have even mentioned it.”

After a little while he asked, “You like Joey joke?”

She said, “I was too shocked by it to think it was funny when you first said it. But now I’m smiling at it a lot.”

Then she froze and said, “Did you say that to try and make me laugh?”

“Yes,” he said. “But do for me too.”

“Why?” she asked quietly.

“Because I like look all of Valerie,” he said as he hit his turn signal while simultaneously, and smoothly, shifting gears as he made a turn onto another road.

She said in awe, “Congratulations, you are being so smooth. The driving is very smooth. You are way better than me, now. Your talking is getting smoother too, from the syntax and to the vocabulary, not to mention to the smooth compliments for me. Those, by the way, are the smoothest.”

“Thank you,” he said as he smiled.

As she sat next to him she felt so great she thought she was melting into the seat. She said quietly, “Once again, Drew, I ask in disbelief, are you really, really sure that you aren’t extremely blindingly bright in your world.”

He immediately started rolling out a rather rough series of ah-ah-ahs from his mouth. She froze as he did so, for gruff as this sounded, she knew instantly she was hearing him laugh for the first time.

With one hand on the steering wheel, he took a moment to look over at her and then he put his eyes back on the road again. He smiled and said, “That funny. Valerie joke better to TV joke.”

“It’s a gift,” she said almost in a whisper. “I’m very comically entertaining.”

“Hell yeah you are,” he said as he staccatoed more gruff ah, ah, ahs.

Now she couldn’t believe how feminine and wonderful she felt. She thought, get a boy to laugh at one of my dumb jokes - check. She wished, really badly, that Drew would ask her to skip school with him again today. Then she actually wished for the guts to suggest this herself.

“Valerie,” he said a little while later, snapping her out of her blissful reverie.

She looked at him and he had a weird smile on his face. He said,”Drew did poopy in potty.”

“Oh my God, no!” she cried.

“Yes,” he said, smiling like an idiot. “Today morning. Want cookie for it.”

“Please, don’t turn into an idiot frat boy,” she murmured. “Please don’t, don’t turn into an idiot frat boy,” she prayed out loud.

“Like Old School?” he said as his grin grew wider.

“Oh wonderful,” she said. “You saw that classic masterpiece last night too?”

“You’re my boy, Blue. You’re my boy,” Drew said while pretending to get choked up.

“Great,” she said. “And apparently you loved it,” she added as she saw he was smiling like a fool. “Drew, do you know what that means?” she asked.

“No, what that means?” he asked while beaming.

“As far as becoming an idiot frat boy goes, you are already half-way there,” she said.

Drew laughed at this a lot, really hard and guttural.

She smiled and she said, “Hey Drew, wanna hear something funny?”

“Yes, wanna hear,” he said, smiling like crazy.

“Just a little while ago I was daydreaming about skipping school again, to spend another day with you…”

“And?” he said, smiling wider in anticipation.

“Right now that sounds like hell to me,” she said.

He laughed and laughed roughly at this. He said through his laughing, “Valerie stop jokes. Laugh too hard. Make ditch truck!”

She smiled and she loved all this.

And, of course she was lying, because now she wanted to skip school with him today even more.

But they didn’t, and soon enough Drew wheeled into the student parking lot. “Dang it,” she said. He looked at her questioningly. “I forgot you need a student parking pass to park here,” she said.

“In box, I think” he said while pointing to the glove compartment. She opened it, and there was a parking pass in there for one “Andrew Wezell.” There was also about five hundred dollars in there as well.

“Cripes,” she said as she pulled out the parking pass and then she closed the glove box quickly. “Can I borrow those keys for a second?” she asked.

He shut off the engine and handed her the keys. She found a small one that locked the glove box. She locked it, then handed the keys back to him.

“We have to make sure we lock this truck up before we go in,” she said as she affixed the parking pass to the rear view mirror.

She pointed to the pass and asked, “Mr. Wezell’s doing?”

“Yes,” he said. “Uncle Joe Wezell.”

“So that’s the story, got it,” she said. “He must have registered you here at school sometime ago, and that’s why they were all ready for you on your first day. I have no idea how he fooled the admin. about all that. I mean you had to come from somewhere, right?”

“Wezell very bright,” he said.

“Yeah, he must have been working his magic sometime before you arrived, maybe literally,” she said softly.

She grew thoughtful and asked, “How much time did you have with him before he left?”

“Not very,” he said. “Not very we plan. Wezell need go world. Wezell very mad.”

“That explains a lot,” she said.

Drew looked thoughtful and he said, “I pain come here. Make pain come here. I think slow. I scare.”

She whispered, “I’d be terrified.”

Drew said, “Wezell try show. Take to truck, show little. Show drive. Show tag. Show money in box.” Then Drew looked at her and he said, “More money Wezell house. A lot more.”

Her eyes went wide and she said, “That’s good. We’ll need it. I hope it’s well hidden.”

He nodded his head and said, “It hidden. Show Valerie. Then he smiled and said, “Wezell make clothes Drew. No time show Drew refrigerator, switch clothes.”

“Yeah, so he dressed you, but he didn’t show you how to change them,” she said quietly. “I’ll never live that one down too. Your poor care was all my fault.”

“No Wezell fault. No Valerie fault. No time. Wezell show more. Name. How spell Drew. Other show more. He get mad. Very mad. Wezell say go.now. He mad. He mad. Say Drew listen. Only need know one thing. Bright thing,” he said.

“What’s that?” she asked quietly.

“Wezell say, sun see, go road bus stop. Wait Valerie. Drew be good with Valerie. Valerie kind. Valerie help. Valerie Queen. Wezell say best thing know.”

She cringed in guilt at this and she said, “He was wrong. I did a completely shitty job with you.”

He cried, “No! No shitty job! Drew here. We here. Drew eat. Drew clothes. Drew happy! Drew clean! No poopy in butt crack! Valerie show!” Now he was smiling like an idiot frat boy at her.

And despite the fact that she was mad at herself, and didn’t agree with Drew’s assessment of her, she laughed and smiled at this. Not because she was in any way proud of herself, but because Drew was so forgiving and the best.

Then the school bell rang dismissing first period class. Her eyes got big and she said, “Drew! Hop out and let’s lock this truck up quick. If we hustle, maybe we can get inside, blend in, and get to second period without being too late.”

Drew got out and they locked the pick-up. Then they ran into school. She giggled as they did. She didn’t think anybody in authority saw them enter the building.

“You good? You know where you need to go?” she asked Drew in the main hallway as students milled about.

“Yes,” he said. “Retard room.”

“Don’t call it that!” she blurted .

“Students room call room that,” he said.

“Do they really?” she said and this broke her heart a little. “I know where the special ed. room is, but I’ve never been in there. What’s it like in there?”

“First day good,” he said smiling. “Students good, help, no tease. Mrs. Owens queen too.”

“Actually, that sounds great,” she said as everyone around them started going into their second period classes. She looked into Drew’s eyes and they were warm. My God, she thought, here he was again sucking me into him and right in front of everybody, which was going to make me late because I have to practically traverse the school to get to European Studies. No locker stop now, she knew.

“I have to go, I’m going to be late,” she said as she walked up the hallway.

“Valerie be no late,” Drew said. “Run!” he added, as he watched her go.

She called back, “There’s no running in the hallway!”

He called back to her, “So?”

She giggled at this, and then she thought that actually was a good idea. Being late had to be a worse infraction than running in the hall.

And so she ran, and this made her giggle more. Was there even a punishment for running in the hallway? I mean, what would that be? Writing it on the chalkboard fifty times? No, that would be silly! It had to be no recess. These thoughts got her giggling more. And then she thought that anyone thinking her slow-ass, plodding jog could be considered “running” was funny to her as well. Then she couldn’t help it. She ran while giggling the whole way to her class.

She made it to class just as the last bell was ringing.

She got a hold of herself enough to suppress her laughter as she walked in all flushed. She smiled as she took her seat.

Mr. Sanchez said to the class, “Everyone, pass up your weekly assignments.”

Then he walked down the front rows and collected the stacks that were passed up. When he got to her row he counted them, and then he looked at the names on the papers.

“Val, where’s yours?” he asked.

“Sorry,” she said.

“Sorry, that’s it?” Mr. Sanchez said as he looked at her comically over the glasses that hung at the tip of his nose.

“Very sorry?” she offered sheepishly. Some of the students laughed at this.

“Hey, good one!” he said pointing to her. He looked at her some more. He said, “Um, pretell? Where is your textbook?”

“Sorry again,” she said in mortification.

“Are you really?” he said. A bunch more of the students laughed because they were the smart kids, and they could see that Mr. Sanchez was going into his funny routine. A lot of students thought he was pretty hilarious, including Valerie. He was her favorite teacher.

He eyeballed her some more over his glasses and said, “And I take curious note that you seem to have no notebook…”

More students laughed and she blushed. She didn’t even bother to answer this.

“Do you even have a pen?” he asked as he wrote with a fake pen all over the air around him.

He got all the class good and laughing with that. Her face went red cause she didn’t.

“What’s in the bag? I mean besides nothing you need for class,” he said. More students laughed. He was in a zone at her expense now.

“Lunch,” she said idiotically and all the students died at this. Mr Sanchez even laughed too.

“You were out for two days…” he said.

“I was sick,” she lied.

Mr. Sanchez looked at her again and she was all rosy and flush, but not sick-flush, good-flush. He saw her hair was disheveled which made her look cute. It also looked different to him now, prettier, and now wondered if she had gotten a new haircut. He had heard from Lou Horice in the staff room that she had lunch outside with a new boy student a few days ago. He smiled as Lou told him this, because Valerie’s feeling for him was mutual, she was his favorite student.

“Funny, you don’t look sick to me. Maybe you were a different type of sick, as in sick of school, right?” he said.

At this the classroom busted out laughing, and even she couldn’t help herself when she giggled too.

“I want that assignment tomorrow. OK?” he said. She knew he was cutting her some slack because this was a college credit class and homework was supposed to be on the day of, no excuses.

“Yes,” she said, trying to fight a smile.

He said, “All right, everyone, just settle down now. And will someone give that hot mess a pen?”

Then, of course, the students broke out into laughter again.

Mr. Sanchez said, “And she’s going to need one because, because, because...anyone?”

Then they were all quiet, not getting where he was going with this. So Valerie herself said, “Because it’s pop-quiz time?”

“That’s a bingo!” he said as he started to distribute the quiz out.

And this, of course, morphed all of the students’ laughter into groans.

When he got to her desk, Mr. Sanchez paused and said, “Hey!”

She raised her eyes to him.

He said, “Good luck! Because you’re going to need it!” He handed her a quiz.

And she couldn’t help herself as she giggled at this as well.

As she made her way to her locker after European Studies, she crossed paths yet again with her intrepid hero. What was he doing? Just surprising the hell out of her some more, naturally.

She saw Drew talking to Mike in front of her locker. At first she cringed at this, but as she got closer, she saw that Mike was laughing and smiling. And then, just before she reached them, her jaw dropped as Mike gave Drew a fist bump before he walked off.

Drew turned to her and she said, “Everyday is like information overload with you. What are you up to now? And how did you pull that preposterous scene off?”

He said, “I get Mike trade lockers. Now Drew next Valerie.”

She said, “I’m about one hundred percent sure that’s not allowed.”

He said, “So? If that rule, that dumb rule.”

She thought about that and she had to agree with him. Nevertheless, she said, “Drew, I think you are going to have to wrap your mind around the concept that here, the rules don’t have to be smart or make sense all the time in order for them to be followed, or be enforced for that matter. If the brass finds out, they will make you two switch lockers back.”

“Deal that when happen,” he said.

She smiled at him, but then she sighed. She asked Drew wearily, “How much did you pay him?”

“Fifty,” he said.

“No wonder Mike was so ecstatic. You got robbed,” she said as she started to rummage around in her totally legal locker for the stuff she needed for next class.

“Mike got robbed,” Drew said as he watched her.

“Yeah, how do you figure?” she asked.

“My locker next you now, his not,” he said.

She laughed at this a lot. “Drew, later I’m going to have to give you a run down on the economic principle of supply and demand,” she said.

Now she had her stuff out for her next class. So she closed her locker and locked it. She turned to look at him and she said, “I think I forgot to mention how considerate the locker switch was for me. Thank you.”

He smiled and said, “No considerate. Drew want next Valerie,” he said.

She smiled wide at this. “Yeah, so you can protect me from hallway teasing. I mean who are you trying to kid? This is all getting me right here,” she said as she pointed to her heart. “And my lord, you are moving along at warp speed with your speech, soon you’ll be correcting my shitty grammar and the double negatives I slide into when I’m lazy and tired.”

“Help with lock, please?” he asked. She looked down and saw he had a brand new lock in his hand.

“Hey, someone found his way over to the school store! Aren’t you just the adventurous and resourceful one? So independent! So much so that I think you’re lying. You’re just faking not knowing how to work your new lock to get some more of my highly addictive time,” she said, realizing she was going to be late for her next class, and knowing now that she didn’t care.

He smiled and said, “What can Drew say? Drew like to get more Valerie time.”

She froze and she said, “That was scary good.”

“Thank you,” he said.

“Listen,” she said as the hallway was now empty of students. “I hope you’re dialing your progress back in the special ed. room, and everywhere else for that matter. If people, particularly teachers, see that you are advancing so quickly, they are going to become suspicious and this will cause…”

Just then a hall monitor rounded the corner from the other hall. He called out to them as he approached, “Halls should be cleared by now.”

She was just about to say something when Drew said to him, “Sorry, Val-der-e help new lock.”

The hall monitor smiled a little at Valerie and he said, “All right, that’s excusable. I’ll write you both late passes so you won’t get a tardy.” He pulled out his late pass pad and asked her, “Your name’s Valerie?”

She smiled and she told him, “Yes.” He wrote her name on the top of the first slip on his pad.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Advanced Chemistry,” she said.

Then he furiously scribbled some stuff, sighed it, ripped the late pass off the pad and handed it to her.

“What’s your name,’ he said as he turned to Drew.

“Drew,” he said.

“And where are you going?” he asked.

“Retard room,” Drew said, looking vacant eyed while practically drooling.

She almost died laughing at this and she had to cover up her forthcoming giggles by coughing as she turned away.

“Special Ed. room,” said the hall monitor as he wrote this on Drew’s pass. Then he scribbled more. When done, he ripped it off his pad, and as he handed it to Drew. He said, “You shouldn’t call it that, that’s insulting. You should call it the Special Ed. classroom.”

As the hall monitor looked at Drew, Drew’s dull eyes went very wide. He said excitedly, “That what Val-der-e say dis morning!”

At this, Valerie thought she was going to burst at the seams because this was probably the funniest act she had ever seen.

After the hall monitor left the hall, Drew held his late pass up to her and waved it in the air. He did a little dance and said, “No tardy when go retardy room.”

This got her laughing too. She took the lock out of his hand. “No jokes here Drew, you really couldn’t figure out how to open this up?” she asked because she wanted to get a handle on gauging his rapidly snowballing assimilation, progress, and development.

“Instructions written, no read,” he said.

She looked at him and he was looking at her, and the nobody’s home look he faked just a moment ago with the hall monitor was gone. Now he looked warmly at her.

She smiled a little and she said softly, “Yeah, well you shouldn’t have tied my day up here with all this lock nonsense. You should have just waited until tomorrow with this...”

He looked at her in concern like he had done the wrong thing. “Why should have just waited until tomorrow?'' he asked.

She smiled at him and she said, “Because by my figuring, that’s when you’ll be able to read.”

Instantly his worried expression went away and he smiled while laughing. She noticed his laugh was smoothing out, and she thought it was starting to sound a little silly like hers. He might become a giggler too, despite his deep voice and barrel chest.

She said, “Thank you for being you.”

His laughter stopped and his smile went from one of silliness to one of...something else. He said quietly, “Want kiss, grabby Valerie now, here…”

She smiled at him and she said, “Me too. We can’t do that. Someone might see…”

He nodded his head as if he knew this was what she was going to say.

“We'll do that later,” she said.

“Good,” he said, smiling wide. “It’s a date.”

She pulled the combo sticker from off the back of the lock and she showed him how to open it up. She fumbled a little with this herself because his arm was touching her arm, as he was standing right next to her so he could watch her. This was throwing her off, in a good way.

But soon enough she opened it and then she shut it again.

And she was actually relieved when he messed up opening it up, two times in a row!

“What do wrong?” he said more to himself than to her. “32 right, 19 left, 5 back right,” he mumbled. Then he finally cracked the lock open and she smiled

He looked at her and he said, “Now how put on locker?”

“Funny,” she said, smiling at him as he snapped it on correctly.

“I hate to be a worry wart, but will you open it again? Just so I know you got it down,” she said

Before she knew it, he cracked it open again. And then, almost faster than her eyes could follow, he opened and closed it three more times in rapid succession.

Jesus, he was fast. She had no idea. “I think it’s safe to say you got it down,” she whispered

He nodded his head and snapped it shut, locking his locker.

“Hey, again I hate to be more of a worry wart, but put that combination sticker somewhere safe, even the most brilliant people can fog out and forget something like that,” she said.

Drew nodded his head and then he put the sticker on his locker right above his lock.

She burst out laughing. He immediately said, “Joey joke!” as he pulled it off and put the sticker on his forehead as he made a goofy face at her. Next, he took it off his forehead and put it on his crotch. And then he just stood there looking all proud of himself.

She laughed at this too, but when she recovered, she said in awe, “You’re amazing, even your humor is super quick and clever now.”

“Not quick so as think,” he said as he removed the sticker and put it in his jean’s pocket.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Thought joke little while ago, when buy lock, not now, to get Valerie laugh,” he said.

“Aww,” she said. “That’s sweet of you to do that for me, to think up comic bits, to get me laughing.”

He said, “No do for Valerie. Do for me.”

“What do you mean?” she asked

“When laugh, Valerie get me right here, as a man,” he said as he pointed to his heart.

She smiled at him and she practically cooed, “You are the best. I’d like to kiss both you and Mr. Wezell so badly right now.”

“What?!” he said, pretending to get jealous.

“No worries there,” she said softly. “Because I think I’m falling in love with you. So way too soon...”

“No too soon,” he said as he looked her in her eyes. “Because Valerie need catch up.”

“I’ll see you at lunch?” she asked dreamily in near stupidity.

“Yes,” he said

Then they went to their classes.

Drew was already sitting at their table when she sailed into the lunchroom. He saw her instantly because he was watching for her. He smiled at her, but she thought he looked troubled.

“Hi,” she said when she got to their table as she plopped her heavily loaded lunchbag on it to give her arm a rest.

“Hi,” he said.

She said, “I can tell you already have more Drew stories for me. What happened?”

He said, “Mistake up gym class today.”

She said, “I think I have everything we need for the both of us here. I know you are a fan of the outside. Do you want to go there and we can find a nice faraway spot, and you can tell me about it?”

He said, “Yes.”

“Let’s go,” she said.

A few minutes later they were set up in a decently isolated spot on the lawn. They had just begun to eat.

“OK, so what happened?” she asked.

“I sorry, Stand out gym class too big today,” he said.

“I bet you did,” she said. “How bad? What happened?”

“Class outside, run, jump….” he said.

She nodded her head and said, “Track and field stuff, I had to do that the other day too.”

“I go first for run-jump thing. What that call?” he asked.

“The running, long jump, ironically enough. Go on,” she said.

“I jump too far,” he said.

“How far” she asked as she cringed.

“Fartherest,” he said.

“Well, that’s not necessarily too bad, I mean all you did was out jump a bunch of lowly gym class kids,” she said.

“No,” he said. “Fartherest ever.”

“You mean you broke the school’s official track and field record distance?” she asked in fear.

“Yes,” he said sheepishly.

“Drew, what were you thinking?!” she cried in disbelief, particularly dumbfounded as she remembered his great job in fooling the hall monitor just a little while ago.

“Sorry,” he said. “I think you, so I no think good.”

“Aww,” she said, instantly mollified. “Alright, I get it. I have you on the brain all the time too now.”

He continued as he got irritated and almost protested, “I go first, so I not know jump. I not even try! Boys Valerie world no jump very far!”

She smiled and said, “Yes they can. You’re just amazing.”

“Sorry,” he said. “Jump get too much Coach Cahill attention.”

She hummed, “Um hum, I bet it did. He’s the head football coach, as well as your gym teacher. The football team got creamed three days ago. They’re zero and two so far this year. I’m sure after your jump, he was drooling over you.”

“What mean?” asked Drew.

She said, “Let me explain something about this school. Football rules here. Five years ago our football team were conference and division champs. Then they went all the way to the State Championship quarterfinals. They lost in that contest, but since our school is a middling sized school for a size A school, that was still extremely darned impressive. So, after that, Coach Cahill was king around here for a while. I mean you have no idea. Anyway, since then, he hasn’t been able to recapture that magic and the team has gotten progressively worse every year. Some rabid football parents have been grumbling he should be replaced now. I can already see where this is going. So what happened next?”

“He have me run circle track, four times. Compete fastest kid class,” he said.

“You didn’t win, did you?” she asked him in fear.

“No, wise up then. So I think. I come second. But make more mistake. Forget breath hard when done. Coach Cahill say - Son, don’t ever dog it on purpose in front of me like that again.”

“So let me guess, he wants you at football practice for a try out after school today?” she asked.

“Valerie smart. But he say me be at football practice. No ask, ” he said.

“And you said?” she asked.

“I scare you get mad me now. I make more mistake,” he said.

“Oh, boy,” she said. “Here comes the pitch…”

“I no think. I say, maybe see. I say ask you first, instead say I ask Uncle Joe,” he said.

She threw up her hands in exasperation. “Drew! Really!?” she said.

“I told you not stop think on you,” he protested. “Then I say try get fixed up - you my girlfriend.”

At this her exasperation flew away. She didn’t say anything right away as she just let those words wash over her for time like they were a wonderful drug. Eventually she asked quietly, “Did that work as a cover up? What did Coach Cahill say?”

Drew looked troubled and confused. He asked, “Valerie, what pussy-whipped mean?”

She rolled her eyes and said, “I can’t believe that man teaches children. Nevermind what it means. OK Drew, you can definitely stop worrying, all that isn’t that bad at all. It actually might be a good thing. I think you should consider doing just that and go to football practice this afternoon to try and make the team, which you will for sure.”

“Why?” he asked.

As she relaxed and took a bite of her sandwich, she said, “First, get to eating your food. Lunch is half-way done already. You can eat while you listen to me. I’m really good at shoveling food into my mouth while I talk. Like I said, football rules supreme at old Pine Plains High School. So much so, that basketball and baseball, while often really important at other most schools, mean a lot less here. Football is top dog here, that means that the football players are the top dogs too. As such they can bully, tease, harass, menace and threaten other students with near impunity. Detentions are the go to punishments around here for such things, and detentions are done after school. Football games and practices are done after school, so they conflict. So Coach Cahill gets his players out of those. This being the case, the football team knows they can do just about anything they want in school scot free. That’s part of the reason this school has such a bad bullying problem and is even worse than your average under supervised school. It will benefit us both in that regard, you being on the team. Plus, you might like it a lot. You should be doing fun stuff with other students around here besides me, if you want. Are you following me, Drew?”

His forehead was very furrowed by this and he said, “That very wrong. Switch locker rule dumb. No tease, no menace rule important. I mad all that, “ he said.

She nodded her head. “Yeah, it’s wrong. And it’s even worse than you think. Wrestling, lacrosse, and ice hockey are pretty big around here too. Those players tend to be big, strong and douchey too. So you can add them into the harassing mix as well. But all those jocks are all only partially to blame for this mess, because high school kids shouldn’t be given such power. A lot of them can’t handle it.”

“Principal know that?” Drew asked as he looked very upset.

“Mr. Williams isn’t much better than Coach Cahill. Winning games is important to him too, and ethics really aren’t,” she said.

“All you say here, all no what Queen do,” he said.

“Yeah?” she asked softly.

He said almost angrily, “Yes!, Queen stop bully! Queen stop fight, stop anger, meanness, stop menace, all time. Queen big job. Queen most important job.”

“She sounds great,” she whispered.

Drew raised his eyes to her and they warmed. He said, “Yes, Queen kind, beautiful, like you.”

And just then, as if to prove her point about everything she had just explained to Drew, Valerie was hit very hard in the back of her head by a thrown frisbee.

“Dang, Carl I missed that one too,” said Zach as he laughed. Those two had spent about the last five minutes “missing” lots of catches out on the lawn where their frisbee throws whizzed into groups of students who, just so happened, weren’t particularly popular, or big, and definitely weren’t football players.

They, of course, were on the football team, and they were big sized seniors.

As Zach approached to pick up the frisbee, his eyes met with Drew’s. He said, “What the hell are you looking at, Dog-Boy?”

Valerie said, “Tread lightly Zach, because this is super bad timing.”

“What are you talking about, you fuggo?” Zach asked.

Now Carl approached and he said, “Yeah, why don’t you two rejects go back inside. That will clear up ALOT more room out here for us to play. Then your egg-head, and your hollow head, won’t get in the way of our throws no more.”

Zach laughed at this, and now Carl was close enough to give him a fist bump.

Drew got up and stood face to face with them. Valerie shook her head and she said, “I’m sorry guys, but I don’t think I can stop him now.”

They both laughed. Zach said, “Hey, that was actually pretty funny, Beast.”

And just as Drew was about to step to them, she froze him for a second when she said, “Drew!”

He took his very pissed off eyes off Zach and Carl to look at her.

“You have to try really hard not to hurt them. OK?” she said.

Zach and Carl laughed like crazy at this, but she was relieved when she saw Drew nod his head a little to her, before stepping to them.

About a minute later, the outside was a raucous scene of cheers as many groups of students took to their feet to clap, jeer and laugh. Presently a very dirty and head to toe grass stained Zach was picking himself up off the lawn looking shocked and subdued. Valerie didn’t know that someone could be thrown hard enough to slide across dry grass that far, and she looked at Zach to see if he had any red blood mixed in with all that brown and green he wore.

She really couldn’t tell how Carl was doing. All she could see were his legs and feet, because Drew had stuffed him, head first, into a big, old fifty gallon metal drum that served as one of the outside’s garbage cans.

She hoped Carl was all right, and she took a little comfort in knowing that the hard, metal drum had been about halfway full of garbage, so it was probably pretty cushy in there.

Another football player stood up to join Zach, and both now took a few steps toward Drew.

But then they stopped in their tracks because Drew was walking toward them with his hands motioning for them to keep coming toward him. They both started backing away.

Most of the students out there we’re going nuts. Valerie heard stuff like, “What’s the matter Zach?! It’s still two against one!” occasionally rise above the shouts, clapping and laughing. The students were really loud and they wanted to see more street justice served up. More students flew out the lunchroom doors to see what all the yelling was about.

Mr. Thamus pushed his way out the doors past those students and he had to yell very loudly to be heard over them. He bellowed, “You!” as he pointed to Drew. All heads on the lawn swiveled to him. “Principal’s Office! Now!” he shouted.

A lot of the students started booing at this, and very loudly. Valerie was surprised by this, as even she didn’t know there was this resentment pent up in so many regular students from being harassed by the top dogs out here. She saw with shock that some of the relatively popular kids were cheering as well.

When Mr. Thamus said this, Drew turned to him and he boomed back, “Me? Me?!”

Mr. Thamus shouted, “Yeah you! Aren’t you the one who put Carl in the trash?!

Drew shouted very angrily back, “Yeah! What wrong that? That good thing! Just put trash where trash belong! In trash!”

This got gales of laughter from all of the students outside, as more students poured out the lunchroom’s doors.

Now she was running to Drew and she was very afraid. Mr. Thamus was yelling at the kids to go back inside, but they were ignoring him. She realized now that he was just trying to keep an outright riot from happening now.

Meanwhile Carl had extricated himself from the trash drum. He was extremely filthy. And he was unhinged. With a shaking finger, he pointed at Drew and he yelled, “You fucking asshole! You’re fucking dead! I’ll fucking kill you! You’re fucking dead!”

Now Drew was striding toward him. He yelled, “Oh yeah! You and what five man army?! That me hold back! No hold back now...”

This only set off another loud chorus of cheers from the students outside.

Just then she got to him and she put her hands on his chest to stop him. “Drew!” she yelled. “Drew, stop!”

He glanced at her and she saw that his eyes were wild. But when he looked at her, his face almost got an almost pained look, and he stopped immediately.

Mr. Thamus got in front of Carl. As Carl went to say something else to Drew, and make for him, Mr. Thamus yelled really, super loud, “Carl! You are in such big trouble already, but I swear if you try to push your way past me now, I will cloud up and pour rain on you in front of everyone too! Now shut up!”

Now Mr. Cain and Mrs. Dodds hurriedly rushed out the doorway of the cafeteria, as the shouting had been heard all the way into their classes.

Mr. Thamus bellowed, “And all you students that were hooting and hollering out here at this crap, you should be ashamed of yourselves! You should be trying to break this kind of thing up! Not encouraging it! You’re better than that!”

Everyone went quiet at this because Mr. Thamus was pretty nice, and now he was livid. His message, his anger and his volume shocked them into silence. Even Mr. Cain and Mrs Dobbs stopped in midstep, and they were quiet as well.

“Val!” Mr. Thamus shouted to her across the quieted lawn.

“Yeah?” she said back.

“Do you have any control over him now, for God’s sake!?” he yelled to her.

She looked at Drew and she asked him quietly, “Do I? You said that was you holding back, and then you said you weren’t going to hold back anymore.”

The last of Drew’s fury seemed gone and now he looked ashamed. All was hushed. Everyone in the yard was on pins and needles. Finally, Drew himself said to Mr. Thamus, “I do what Valerie tell now.”

“Good!” shouted Mr. Thamus. “Val, tell him to go to the damn office!”

But she didn’t have to because both of them were already walking to the lunchroom’s outside doors to go there.

As they went past where Mr. Thamus stood between them and Carl, Mr. Thamus eyeballed Carl as if daring him to go for Drew. Mr. Thamus was tall and big, so Carl didn’t make a move for Drew, but he did say to him, “You fucking pussy, you do whatever the fuck she tells you to do, Dog-Boy?”

Drew answered as he passed by, “Of course.”

Mr. Thamus shot a look at Mr. Cain and Mrs. Dodds. After a moment he gave them a little smile. That was pretty funny, he thought.

As Valerie walked with Drew through the nearly empty cafeteria, she heard Mr. Thamus yelling super loud, “Now all of you students that were in the cafeteria before this fracas happened, back in! And you Carl! I’m going to take the time to personally escort you to the principal’s office after that. And whatever punishment they give you, I’m going to make sure it sticks, even if I have to…”

And then she and Drew went through the lunchroom’s hallway’s doors and she couldn’t hear him anymore.

“That was wild and frightening, I am super shaken up right now,” she said to Drew.

“You mad me?” he asked quietly.

“I don’t know what I am right now.” she said.

Now, as they could see the main office ahead of them, Drew asked her, “Are you no want to see me anymore again?”

“As far as you go, it’s ride or die for me now,” she said.

“What that mean?” he asked.

“That means I am going to be wanting to see you more, and when you go into the principal’s office, I’m going in too. You are not getting screwed over by all this if I can help it,“ she said as she pulled the main office’s door open for him. She continued as he went through, “And if they won’t let me in to be there with you when you go in, then you’re not going in, and we’ll just ride on out of school.”

Then she shut the main office’s door behind them.

About a half an hour later, Principal Williams walked Valerie and Drew out of his office and told them to sit back down in the main office again.

Mr.Thamus, Mrs. Dodds, Zach, and Carl were out there sitting. Zach looked scared, Carl wouldn’t even look at them, Mr. Thamus looked mad, and Mrs. Dodds looked troubled.

Principal Williams motioned for all four of them to come inside.

She didn’t hear anything for a while. Then she heard Mr. Thamus getting louder and louder. She heard, “Are you kidding?! Are you saying, in any way, that any of this is my fault?! I told you about a dozen times you can’t put one teacher down in that lunchroom to do both outside and inside duty!”

She cringed as Mr. Thamus got louder, “I’m about this close to walking out of here right now and quitting!” First stop for me after I head out, is to see Carmine, the Teacher’s Union Steward! Listen, you know I’m not the only teacher who’s furious with how out of control that whole cafeteria situation has gotten, not to mention the hallways and our classrooms too! Did I mention the buses as well?! I always love it when a shell shocked student enters my first period class because of their bus ride! Anyway, how I digress?! I was talking about us teachers who are fed up over this school’s rampant bullying...”

Then the nervous looking secretary then told her and Drew to go to room 101 and wait there, until Principal Williams sent someone down to call them back in.

She and Drew took the short walk there and the classroom was empty. They sat down in chairs next to each other.

“Mr.Thamus in trouble?” asked Drew as he looked concerned.

“I don’t think so,” she said. “Actually if I had to guess, it might be Mr. Williams who’s in trouble. Although I doubt he’s in any trouble either.”

“We in any trouble?” he asked.

“Oh yeah, lots,” she said. “No punishment yet, but that’s just a matter of time. They’ll hit you with something. We’ll see what it is. But what I’m worried about is them trying to call your home to talk to your Uncle Joe. Cause right now there ain’t no Uncle Joe there to pick up the phone. That could get very sticky.”

Drew said nothing and he looked morose.

“Hey kiddo,” she said. “Brighten up, we aren’t cooked yet. If you want to play football, then making the team has a really good chance of wiping away that phone call, and any other punishments too. We’d just have to figure out a way to get you to your try out in about three hours. And as far as that plan goes we have an ace up our sleeve, being Coach Cahill, cause we both know he is dying to see what you can do.”

“Very sorry on all this, “ he said. “Ashamed look in you eyes after fight, at Drew.”

“What do you mean?’ she asked.

“You look afraid,” he said sheepishly. “I do that.”

She smiled at this, and suddenly she didn’t care much about anything here at school but him. “It OK,” she said, smiling at him

He said sadly, “You make fun.”

She instantly said, “No! No make fun! No lie. Valerie admire Drew! He do right thing! Always! He her hero! No say Valerie make fun Drew!”

He was about to say something, but she said, “We alone,” as she looked around at no one.

He said, “So?”

She said, “Valerie want kiss Drew bad. Valerie want grabby Drew bad.”

Then he smiled at her. He said softly, “Go for it.”

They spent quite a while kissing and holding each other, and just when Drew had started to go up her shirt, Mr. Thamus came into their room.

Drew stepped away from her quickly, as she straightened out her clothes, while blushing beet red.

Mr. Thamus stood in shock for a second and he didn’t say anything. All three were quiet.

He said, “I was coming in here to check your emotional temperatures, to see if you too weren’t too psychologically shaken up by all this trauma.. Apparently you aren’t in the least,” he said as he backed out while starting to close the door.

But before he could leave, Drew said, “Mr. Thamus.”

Mr. Thamus stopped before he closed the door completely.

“Sorry,” Drew said. “More sorry, because Mr. Thamus remind me someone.”

Mr. Thamus was quiet for a time. Then he asked, “Oh yeah, who’s that?”

“Someone Drew admire,” he said. “Someone who friend. Someone who would be mad for today. Someone very bright.”

Mr. Thamos stood still at this. After a while he asked, “And what would your very bright friend say in response to this? If he were me?”

Drew looked confused. Then he looked sad and he said, “No know.”

Mr. Thamos nodded his head. He said, “Yeah, I get it. I’m not the brightest either. But do you think he might have said - apology accepted?”

Drew smiled a little. He said almost in sadness, “That sound like him.”

Mr. Thamos smiled. He looked thoughtful and said, “They may have actually forgotten about you two in here for the moment.”

“Really?!” asked Valerie.

“Really,” said Mr. Thamus. “But they will swing back to you in a while, when they remember where they stuck you. Anyway, I’ll put a sock on the doorknob…as you were.”

Then, as Valerie giggled, Mr. Thamus closed the door behind him.
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