A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
|Previously: "Wild Things"
"Okay, so me and Will brought shovels," Caleb says.
"I brought a shovel too," says Leah.
Jack says, "I didn't know we were supposed to bring a shovel."
"No, but you brought a couple of friends," Caleb retorts.
"We were supposed to bring shovels?" asks one of the friends that Jack brought.
"I didn't ask any of you to even show up!"
"They're here for moral support," says Jack.
"We can all take turns shoveling," you suggest.
"Fuck that," says another of Jack's friends. "What are even doing here?"
It's ten o'clock on a Saturday night, and you and Caleb are up at Westside High, huddling on a patch of ground by the music wing, to dig up the time capsule so Caleb can swap out thumb drives. Leah is here because you figured she wouldn't mind tagging along if there was mischief to be done. Jack is here because Leah invited him along, and Jack's friends are here because Jack trails people wherever he goes.
Leah's explanation is more pithy. "We're here to help out Caleb," she says.
"Who wants to take the third shovel?" Caleb asks. Leah brandishes her shovel. "Fine," he says. "The three of us will start shoveling out the dirt. The rest of you can, I dunno, stand over there next to the wall and shovel good wishes at us or whatever." He adjusts the electric lantern he brought, shining its beam onto the low pile of bare earth that marks where the time capsule was buried two days ago.
While he and you and Leah start stabbing at the earth, the others shuffle off, murmuring. At least Jack says, "Lemme know when you get worn out and want someone to take over for you." You're pretty sure he's talking to Leah, but Caleb says, "Thanks, I will."
"So we're still after that thumb drive, huh?" Leah says as you scoop out the earth. "Who gets the porn when we've got it out?"
"What's this about porn?" someone asks.
"Caleb's digging up—"
"There's nothing about porn!" Caleb yells back. "We're swapping out some things in the school's time capsule."
"Come on, man," you chide him as the muttering from the others turns dark and angry. "They're here to help. Be nice."
"They can't have my porn."
"Don't you have copies of it?" Leah asks. "You didn't copy it onto the thumb drive and delete it from your hard drive, did you?"
"What are you doing burying porn for?" someone calls out.
"We're digging it up!" Leah shouts back.
"Okay, then it's my turn to help," says the troublemaker. He marches up to wrestle the shovel from her, and there's a momentary struggle before she relinquishes it to him. "How far down to we have to dig?" he asks as he throws himself into the work. Caleb doesn't favor him with an answer.
You don't understand why he's so grumpy. You're here and you brought help. It should make the job go faster—and it better go fast, because although your dad didn't punish you for breaking curfew last night, he told you tonight not to let it happen two nights in a row—so why is he acting like a grizzly bear with a toothache?
You dig in silence and leave the talking to the others. Leah explains that Caleb is swapping out some items for a class assignment. The others ask some pointed questions that you wish you had asked Caleb—like, why doesn't he just pretend it's something other than porn on the thumb drive when he goes to write his paper for Mr. Walberg—that Leah doesn't know how to answer. Caleb just digs while you feel more and more embarrassed on his behalf. The guy helping you dig, though, just throws himself harder into it like it's a pot of leprechaun gold that you're chasing.
With the three of you concentrating, though, it only takes about ten minutes before your shovel blades strike something solid, and the others huddle around to watch as you widen the hole and bring the capsule to the surface. Not until you've busted it open and Caleb has searched out the contents for his thumb drive, do you look around and discover that your expeditionary party seems to have gotten larger.
And Caleb doesn't notice until you've filled in most of the hole again, when he straightens up and says, in a strangled voice, "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
You glance over and do a double-take. Someone has their cell phone out and is recording the scene. "What the fuck?" Caleb demands again.
"Just makin' a video," the guy says. "You know, for posting."
Caleb hurls his shovel away and lunges for the phone. "Give me that!"
"Hey, ge'back! Watch it!"
A babble of voices breaks out. You jump in to pull Caleb off the guy. "What are you doing?" Caleb hollers. "The fuck are you—?"
"Hey, look, just everybody calm down!" Jack roars out. "What's the deal?"
"Yeah, what's your deal, Jojo?" another voice jeers.
"What's the deal?" Caleb yells back. "We're busting into school property, and one of you dipshits is recording it and going to fucking post it, and you ask me what the deal is?"
"Hey man, you weren't really gonna post it online, were you?" Jack asks the guy who was wielding the phone.
"I dunno, maybe" he says. "What are you guys doing?"
"Just hand your phone over, we'll get it sorted out later," Jack says. "That okay with you?" he asks Caleb.
"Long as he deletes the file," Caleb says.
"Shit, you really busting into school property?" that jeering voice sounds again. "Pretty ballsy of you, Jojo."
"Hey, everyone just back up and give the guys some room. Here, I'll take that." Jack takes the shovel from the guy who was helping you dig. "Everyone just back up. In fact, just go back out to the parking lot, wait for us there."
The others just mill about, then with murmurs and snorts the crowd shuffles off. Jack sighs, then starts shoveling dirt back into the hole.
"Sorry about that, man," he tells Caleb. "I didn't know Christian and them were doing that."
"Who was that?" you ask. "Where did they come from?"
"I guess you didn't see 'em, huh? They were hanging out behind the Music wing, saw us, came over to see what was up."
"Fucking Osbourne," Caleb mutters.
"What were they doing back there?" you ask.
"Just hanging out, I guess. Personally, I don't get it." He falls silent for a bit as he shovels the dirt in. "I'm sorry, man, I shouldn'a brought anyone else along. I thought we were just gonna be goofing off around here, maybe getting in a little trouble. I didn't know you had actual work you were doing."
* * * * *
After you finish filling up the hole and patting down the dirt, you carry the gear back out front to where the others are waiting. It's like they've started a party, for a bottle of liquor is being passed around, cigarettes (or joints) are being smoked, and the air is loud with laughter. Leah beckons you over and pulls you close.
"Sorry about the mess," she says. "Did Jack delete the video?"
"It was supposed to be fun," she says. "I thought it would be fun."
"I had fun," says the guy with the sneering voice. By the light of the parking lot, you can now make him out. It's Spencer Osbourne, one of the shabby lowlifes who spends most of his school day skipping classes and hanging out at the portables. His eye falls on you. "It's your friend Jojo who needs to learn how to have fun."
You'd retort, but your voice dies when you see Jamie Rennerhoff grinning at you from over Spencer's shoulder. Jamie—a sociopath who hangs out with the worst elements in the school—is even worse news than Spencer.
"What are you doing now?" Leah asks you.
"I have to get home."
Spencer snorts. "It's not even eleven!"
"Yeah, come on, you can stay out later," Leah urges you. She plucks and pulls at your t-shirt.
You'd love to, but your dad is waiting. You counter with, "We could do something tomorrow."
"I'm supposed to do something with Brianna and Genesis. Like, maybe talk about you behind your back." She pokes you in the stomach. "Have lunch with me Monday."
You look around for Caleb, and try to ignore the grins and nudges that Osbourne and Rennerhoff are exchanging. You find him off in conference with Jack and the guy with the phone. They're just wrapping things up with some grudging handshakes, so when you jab Caleb in the side and ask if he's ready to go, he nods.
"What a clusterfuck," he growls when you're in your truck and buckling up.
"Hey, we got your dingus out and replaced, that's what matters, right?"
"We could'a done it without your girlfriend and her friends along."
"She's not my girlfriend!"
"Then why did you drag her out here?"
"She wanted to help!"
"You wanted her to help. Listen, man, I'm glad you've got a girlfriend and I'm glad she's cool and is up for shenanigans, and maybe we can do some cool shenanigans sometime that don't involve a major part of my grade and breaking into school property. Until then, can you try not tossing her into my life for shits and grins?"
You grumble something about she's not the one that was going to film and post the night's adventure online.
"Damn straight. Good thing your boy Jack was there to get it straightened out with Padilla."
"Christian Padilla. The guy with the phone. He promised to delete the footage."
Christian Padilla? Wasn't that the prop guy that Jack sold that crazy book of yours to?
Next: "Lost and Foundering"