A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "Opinions Sought, and Opinions Unwelcome"
You're going to be late, dammit, if you don't get a move on, and you need something now for the time capsule. You bought that dumb book for a reason, so you might as well make use of it.
But you're not happy with your decision. Maybe it's because you're practically stealing the book off your dad's desk, and interfering with his shit always terrifies you. Maybe it's because you know it's a shitty choice for the time capsule. And maybe you're just pissed at yourself for waiting so long to find a thing for class that you've basically cornered yourself.
Whatever. On the drive up to school you choose to get mad at your teacher. Fucking Walberg. The capsule isn't even supposed to be buried until Friday, but he's making you bring the stuff in on Monday? That doesn't even fucking make sense!
* * * * *
"Fuck, Prescott, you shot in here like you wanted to run someone over!"
You wheel at the words, then relax when you see that it's only Carson Ioeger, sauntering toward you through the student parking lot. He peers down his nose at you. "What were you driving mad for?"
"I wasn't driving mad, I was just worried I was gonna be late."
"Bullshit. You got fifteen minutes to the bell."
You roll your eyes. "Alright, fine, I'm just ticked off. Okay?" You turn toward the school.
"You're allowed," Carson drawls as he steps up beside you. "It's Monday, anyone who isn't pissed off on a Monday is— What's that?" He chucks his chin at you.
It takes you a moment to realize he's asking about that crazy book, which you're clutching in your left hand. "Oh. Thing for Walberg."
"No, for the time capsule."
"What is it, a copy of The Wizard of Oz?"
"What?" The specificity of the question stops you in your tracks. "No, it's— Why do you think it's a copy of—?"
"I don't think anything about it, Prescott," he sniffs, and starts walking again.
Fucking Ioeger. Always acting like he's smarter than everyone else. Always acting like he's smarter than you!
Which he is. But that still doesn't give him a right to act like it.
So why are you always trying to impress him instead of telling him to fuck off? You hurry after him.
"I found it in the used book store," you say. "You know, Arnholm's? Anyway, it's a funky thing—"
You look over. Two kids are getting out of a nearby car. The short, blonde one has his hand up to hail your friend, while the other—a much taller Asian-American kid—flashes a very white grin in your direction. You recognize them from Saturday, when you and Carson ran into them at the tennis courts.
A light sweat breaks out all over you. It will be very embarrassing if you can't remember their names.
And while you're struggling to place them, they saunter up and inquire as to how Carson's morning is going.
"Suckitude risesth like thunder with the Monday dawn," he informs them. This reply—where does he get them from?—is only the start of your confusion as you all walk and talk toward the school building.
Blonde kid: "So I noticed you sneaked off with Genesis the other night."
Carson: "I didn't sneak off."
Asian-American kid: "Brazen!"
Carson: "Fuck you, I was sick of the scene. Where does Colson find that kind of shit like he was playing?"
Blonde: "You didn't go off with her?"
Carson: "No, I was—"
Asian: "She was into you, man, she was, like, hanging on everything you said."
Carson: "Yeah, I'm a fascinating guy."
Blonde: "So why didn't you go off with—?"
Carson: "'Cos I wasn't into her!"
Asian: "Don't be an asshole, man."
Carson: "How am I being an asshole if—?"
Blonde: "What's wrong with Genesis?"
Carson: "Nothing's wrong with Genesis! Look, shut up! I'm just not into girls who subsist on marshmallows."
Asian: "When was she eating marshmallows?"
Carson: "Only like every day, five meals a day, she looks like."
Asian: "Fuck you, Ioeger, Genesis is one of my best friends."
Carson: "Pfah! Anyway, if you douchebags wanna set me up with someone, why didn't you have my back when I was putting the moves on Sophie?"
Asian: "'Cos she's with Terry, man. Didn't you get that?"
Carson stops in his tracks. "It looked to me like they went all night without even glancing at each other."
The blonde kid shrugs and says, "Yeah, well," and the Asian kid sniffs, "Hurt feelings. Which doesn't excuse you from trying to get between them."
"Christ, how was I getting fucking in between them if they weren't even looking at each other?"
Then he gives you a glowering double-take. "What are you still doing here, Prescott?" he honks.
"Oh, leave Will alone," says the Asian kid. He turns a smile on you that's halfway between a grin and smirk. "Why weren't you at Terry's party Saturday night? Lotta girls could'a been into you."
Girls? Into you? At a party that no one invited you to? "I, uh, didn't know there was, uh—" You glare at Carson.
He glowers back, then grabs that book from your hand. "What's this thing you had such a boner about showing me, Prescott?"
The Asian kid laughs. "I'll catch you around later, man," he tells the red-faced Carson. "Text me if you wanna do a set after school some time." He winks at you—what the hell?—and saunters off. The blonde kid gives you and Carson an amused look, then wanders off after his friend.
Carson ignores them as he examines the book. "The fuck is wrong with this thing?" he mutters as he tries opening it.
"What do you fucking care?" You grab at it, but he yanks it away.
"You wanted to tell me about it, so fucking tell me about it!"
"You tell me about this fucking party the other night and how come I wasn't there!"
"You weren't there 'cos—!" He catches himself.
"It was just a bullshit party, Will," he says. "Just a lot of frustration. And I didn't tell you 'cos I didn't know I was going until after we dropped you back off at your house. Sean texted me about it."
Sean! That's the name of the blonde kid, you now remember. And ... Jack! Jack Li, you remember that much because you thought "Bruce Lee" after the introductions.
Jesus, you must have a bad memory for names if you can't remember "Chinese-American --> Bruce Lee --> Jack Li." And you can't even remember Sean's last name, or if he even gave it to you.
And while you're reflecting on all this, Carson is still examining that book. "What's the deal here?"
"Huh? Oh, it's a fake book. That's what my dad says. He says there's a spring lock or something, and if you press it it'll open up a secret compartment."
"Sounds cool, where's the button?" He fiddles with the book, turning it over and over.
"We don't know."
"Then why are you bringing it in? For show and tell or something?"
"For Walberg's class, for the time capsule. Our items are due today." You tell him about finding the book at Arnholm's, and how it was originally two hundred dollars but you got it for two.
As you speak, Carson starts to frown in a way that you recognize. He's getting an idea. After chewing his lip for a solid minute, he says, "How'd you like to make twenty bucks off this thing and get Seth Javits in a shitload of trouble?"
Seth Javits is a basketball player, and one of Westside High's many—many!—swaggering bullies. He particularly has it in for Keith Tilley, one of your best friends. But he and the other basketball players—Gordon Black and Steve Patterson, particularly—have a special enmity going with Carson and his friend James, who regularly come up with schemes to torment them. "What's the plan?" you ask.
"Ain't got time to explain now," he says. "But I'd buy it off you. Or rent it, give it back. For twenty bucks."
It's almost time for the bell, and you have Mr. Walberg first period, so you temporize. "I'd have to think about it," you say as you pluck the book back from him. "I gotta get to my locker before the bell rings."
Carson only grunts in reply, so maybe he's not that invested in his own idea.
* * * * *
Your friend Caleb has Walberg too, and he eyes the book as you slide into the desk next to him. "What's that?"
"For the time capsule."
"Huh. At least you remembered to bring something."
Your jaw drops. "You didn't? I thought you were bringing in—"
"Oh, I brought it." He grins. "But Dorothy forgot hers." He looks past you toward the front of the room. You turn around to see what he's looking at.
Dorothy Harmon is slumped in her desk with her arms crossed. She looks like she's about to burst into tears.
You've never really dealt with Dorothy, and you don't know why you have the sudden inspiration to act chivalrously with her. Maybe you're still thinking of Jack's (sincere?) jibe: Lotta girls could'a been into you."
* To give the book to Carson for his scheme: "The Prank Pals"
* To hang onto the book for the moment: "Bids for Attention"