A prank and it's aftermath as seen through the eyes of a 15 year-old boy.
|Pandemonium breaks out during first lunch. The trouble starts when a couple of girls each find a frog leg in her lunch. Their screams can be heard throughout the cafeteria as well as out on the quad. A wave of laughter spreads in all directions. The bell ends the merriment, sort of. Laughing and gasping students heading to class are met by the second lunch crowd begging to know what happened and when they find out, laughter reenters the cafeteria. I didn’t see it but I can imagine that everyone is checking their lunch for animal body parts.
Speech class is all a’ buzz about the frog leg incident and who the master minds that are behind the diabolical deed and would they strike again. Mrs. McHenry conducts class as if nothing has happened. But whispers are circulating and stifled giggles can be heard. Finally, Mrs. McHenry slams her roll book down onto her desk. All whispers, giggles and hearts stop. The poor student, who’s giving her speech about where she would like to visit and why, almost cries. Mrs. McHenry comes close to losing her teacher composure. She tells us if this nonsense doesn’t stop, heads might possibly roll. She says this as her eyes fall on me. Damn, what did I do? I haven’t whispered a word or stifled a giggle. All I’m doing is smiling. I guess in Mrs. McHenry’s eyes it’s enough to prove you’re guilty. For the remainder of the period, speech class is speechless except for those unenthusiastic speakers whose turn it is to weave their boring tales into our unwilling minds.
Accusations fly in Biology. Guilty looking students are immediately placed on the suspect list. Sarah, the cute brunette who sits in front of Tommy, twists around and asks him if he knows who did it. A shrug is his only reply. She looks at me. I shrug as well.
Mr. Adams is understandably upset and orders all frog leg talk to cease. It’s believed that he and the other Biology teachers are going to require all Biology students to undergo a lie detector test to find those responsible and bring them swiftly to justice.
Undeterred, Mr. Adams begins a new topic, the reproductive system. Tommy and I start chuckling causing Sarah and the goofy looking girl who’s Sarah’s next door neighbor to turn.
“Well boys, here’s your subject of interest! Enjoy studying about something you’ll never get to use,” Sarah says. The two girls giggle and turn back around.
Tommy is about to say something but I stop him. “Don’t! They’re just waiting for you to say something stupid so they can have a good laugh. Don’t give them the satisfaction.”
“I wasn’t going to say anything stupid. I was just going to ask Sarah if she would like to meet after school and compare reproductive organs.” His grin is so wide that I’m afraid the corners of his mouth might split.
“That’s just what I mean. That’s stupid,” I mutter. Tommy’s grin fades and he mumbles a few inaudible words.
Mr. Adams begins his lecture with a description of the formation of the sex cells and it slides downhill from there. This isn’t the sex talk I expected. I feel cheated. My eyes then begin to wander and finally settle on one of the cheerleaders and I begin having thoughts, thoughts that Mom would say would put me on the fast track to hell. I think them anyway. The bell rings, ripping me from my cheerleader fantasy. Mr. Adams’ parting volley is a warning that the frog leg scoundrels will be found and punished in a most horrible manner. Tommy and I share a smile as we leave the classroom.
My unwillingly feet slowly carry me to English. I believe hell will be a never ending English class with the beautiful Miss Jasper, the devil’s consort, is laughing and assigning the poor damned souls zillions of complicated sentences to diagram.
As soon as I enter the classroom I’m hit in the head with a wad of paper. The entire class erupts into laughter. I immediately look at BG, my redheaded twin sister. Who yells, “Don’t look at me. I didn’t do it.” Again the room is filled with laughter.
I’m pissed. I’m about to tell them how pissed I am when the room suddenly quietens. Oh crap, Miss Jasper must be behind me. I remain motionless, hyperventilating.
Miss Jasper quietly says, “Mr. Dunn will you please pick up the trash around you and place it into the wastebasket then take your seat.”
Take it where Miss Jasper? A question best left unasked. I look at the floor and discover almost a dozen wads of notebook paper scattered about my immediate vicinity. I reckon I wasn’t the only target, good. I slowly gather the spent ammunition, but Miss Jasper’s impatiently tapping foot pushes me to a quicker pace. I throw the gathered collection of desecrated paper into the trashcan and take my seat in my unwanted front row desk directly under Miss Jasper’s evil eyes and ample chest.
Miss Jasper walks to the front of the room. She doesn’t say a word just slowly scans the class with her gorgeous blue eyes. Her dark brown hair is pulled back in its usual ponytail tied with a red ribbon. She’s wearing a black skirt and a buttoned white blouse which I fervently wish would pop open. She always has painted crimson lips which continually beckon me to kiss. She’s my ideal woman. Too bad she’s a demon.
Miss Jasper finally speaks, firmly and quietly. “I will not tolerate any shenanigans about today’s lunch incident.” Immediately, whispers and muffled laughs are unleashed. “Maybe you didn’t hear me. Not a word about that event!” Miss Jasper doesn’t yell but that command is only a few decibels below a shout. There’s a collective gasp then silence. She turns her back to the class causing a quieter continuation of whispers and giggles. Miss Jasper quickly whips back around and glares at her students. A glare that could melt iron and silence again reigns. She returns to the chalkboard and resumes her writing. I’m not paying any attention to what she’s scribbling. I’m focused on her wiggling butt. When she finishes, there are eight sentences beautifully written in yellow chalk on the board. Once again scanning her twenty-eight students, she says, “You are to diagram these sentences. You have thirty minutes to complete the assignment.”
Despite Miss Jasper’s stern warning, a very audible groan fills the air. I drop my head onto my desk. Oh my God, I’m sliding into hell. I quietly utter, “Damn it.”
My heart skips several beats when Miss Jasper whispers, “Mr. Dunn refrain from your profanity and get started with your work.”
I quickly rip out several sheets of paper from my spiral notebook and mutter a barely audible, “Yes ma’am.” as she slithers away. I print the first sentence on my paper. *The kids threw the vegetables in the trash* I hate this crap! I draw lines on my paper and put words on the lines. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
I have only four messy diagrams on my wrinkled paper when Miss Jasper tells us to pass our papers to the front. I collect the papers from the students behind me and hand them to Miss Jasper as she passes by. Thankfully the bell rings ending my torment but before I can escape, Miss Jasper assigns us several more sentences to diagram from the textbook and adds that tomorrow we’ll begin reading Romeo and Juliet. As my world collapses around me, I’m thinking that this woman has no soul.
I meet Tommy at his locker, locker 1379. He’s extracting his English and Math books and stuffing a book titled simply World History into it. “More diagraming crap and tomorrow we’re starting that stupid Romeo and Juliet,” he snarls. He throws his English book onto the ground and shouts, “I hate English.”
“Me too,” I yell in agreement. He picks up the book of a thousand deaths and we head toward locker 2684, which is mine. As we walk, Tommy, for the umpteenth time, talks about how he wishes Miss Jasper was his English teacher instead of the ancient, gray haired and crotchety Mrs. Phillips. I tell him that Miss Jasper may look pretty but her appearance is just a demon’s disguise. He shakes his head and sighs.
Once we reach my locker, I deftly twirl the combination and finish by banging my fist on the door and it pops open. I pull out my Math book and our homeward journey begins and along the way, we talk about girls and bitch about how despicable teachers are. But most of all, we discuss the infamous frog leg caper. We know who did it.
My entry into the apartment is blocked by BG and her boyfriend, Sammy. They’re on the front porch, smooching. They’re so involved in what they’re doing that they fail to notice my presence. I clear my throat loudly and they quickly break their embrace.
Giving me a dirty look, she sighs, “Sammy, my love, I’d better get inside since the dork is home.” Sammy agrees and they have a quick parting kiss. As he passes we exchange greetings.
Waving at the retreating envy of many of the hormone ravaged teenage boys of Hueneme High and not looking where she’s going, BG smacks into the closed front door.
I explode into laughter. “Fruitcake, that’s the most asinine move I’ve ever seen.” Patting her on the head to increase her humiliation, I tell her, “It’ll be alright.”
She swats my hand away and blisters my face with the flames emanating from her eyes. “Lee, why don’t you run out into traffic and throw yourself under a speeding car.”
“That wasn’t a nice thing to say but I still love you.”
“I know,” she says and smiles as she hooks her arm in mine. I open the door and allow her to enter first. As I start to follow, she suddenly shoves me back onto the porch and slams the door in my face. Through the closed door I hear her say clearly, “and I love you too.” Loud laughter follows.
“BG, you jerk!” When I attempt to open the door, I find it locked. No matter how much I rattle the knob, the door doesn’t yield. “Open the door BG!” I scream as I pound on it.
“Who is it?” She asks in a sickeningly sweet voice.
“You know who it is. Open the damn door.”
She continues this through the door conversation, by asking, “Answer me this, did you do it, you and Tommy?”
“Do what? I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“You and Tommy put those frog legs in those girls’ lunches, didn’t you? It’s the kinda stupid prank you two would pull.”
“BG, we didn’t do it. Now let me in.” The door slowly opens and with a shove, I open it fully. BG is standing at the foot of the stairs. Her red hair is braided into two pigtails, each tied with a green ribbon, her favorite color. She’s wearing a light green pull over shirt with short sleeves above a pair of grey pants. I’m warned of eminent danger by her twinkling green eyes and wicked smile. I yell for help, “MOM!”
“Mom isn’t here, sweetheart,” she coos.
“Maybe she’s outside hanging up clothes,” I nervously say.
“She left a note.” She hands it to me. “She and Grandmother went to the Exchange. I know you two twerps did it. If you don’t own up to it I’ll tickle you until you pee your pants.” I make a move to escape but she grabs me and hooks one of her legs behind one of mine and with a push dumps me onto the floor. Once I’m flat on my back, she leaps on top of me and snarls, “TALK!”
Struggling to get her off me, I yell, “Get off me, you cow!”
Then the tickling starts. She tickles my sides, my stomach, and the worst place of all, my arm pits. I’m wiggling like a worm, bucking like a wild horse and all the time giggling uncontrollably and gasping for air. I can’t take this any longer and scream, “OK, OK, We did it. Now let me up.”
She jumps up, offers me a hand and pulls me to my feet. She wraps her arms around me and hugs. “Well done my dear brother. Y’all sure got ole Hueneme High a’ buzzing or should I say a’ hopping. They’re starting to call y’all the hop-a-long froggy gang. That’s so bitch’n,” she giggles. She ends her hug and quickly kisses my cheek which I promptly wipe off.
I have to ask, dreading the answer. ”Are you gonna tell?”
Getting serious, she says, “Hell no! I’m no squealer.” Yes she is and my face shows it. “You don’t believe me, do you? But what if I say, I cross my heart hope to die with a thousand
needles in my eye that I won’t tell anybody including Tommy.” That’s the closest we have to a sacred oath. “Do you believe me now?”
I nod my head. “Yeah, I believe you.”
“Good, in fact when you do it again I want in on it. You’re going to do it again, aren’t you?” I shrug. I honestly don’t know.
Suddenly Mom’s “Who left the door open?” bounces off the walls scaring the crap out of us.
Raising my hand, I confess, “I did. Sorry.” I don’t know why I raised my hand. I guess out of habit.
“Please remember to close it next time.” she says quietly. I give the correct response of yes ma’am. Mom is a very pleasant looking woman with light brown hair and hazel eyes. She’s the primary reason why BG is so pretty. She’s wearing a white polka-dotted blue dress. We’ve never seen her wearing slacks or shorts except in pictures of a younger Mom. BG and I wonder why she doesn’t anymore but we’re too scared to ask. She doesn’t wear jewelry except for her engagement and wedding rings. She has glasses but they’re usually kept perched atop her head unless she wants to scrutinize something or somebody.
Behind her is our white haired grandmother. She’s our dad’s mom and therefore she must be at least one hundred years old. She’s an excellent seamstress. She keeps our clothes mended and even made a couple of dresses for BG. She’s always working on some monumental project. Grandmother has lived with us since we were stationed at the Key West Naval Base. She entertains us with stories about Dad growing up in Mississippi but Dad says she’s making most of it up. He tells, he claims, the true stories. Generally, we believe Grandmother.
The dining room table is our designated homework site which is stupid because we both have a desk in our room. Mom doesn’t trust us, too many distractions. We spread our books and papers all over the table top and in the midst of this chaos, we do our homework. Unlike school time, homework time is at jackrabbit speed. How can I finish this rubbish if after every breath twenty minutes has elapsed? But eventually we finish it. After Mom checks our work and makes a few comments; we’re released to our own devices, the couch and TV for me and the phone for BG
Our supper chitchat is as normal, dull. Dad gives a fascinating description of the fabrication of overlays for the pipefitting overhead transparencies he’s created. I comment that I guess you can see right through Dad’s work. Except for BG, this isn’t well received. During Grandmother’s illuminating explanation of her latest sewing project, BG is simulating hanging herself with her body swaying in the wind. I almost spew my peas across the table. She’s immediately reprimanded by those of our household that are above the age of fifteen. Mom’s day wasn’t very exciting except for a stopped up toilet in the upstairs bathroom. Finally, BG and I are interrogated about our thrilling school adventures. Our main topic is the excitement caused by frog legs in lunches and how funny it was. Dad tsk-tsks but quietly chuckles. Mom is not amused and says that the persons responsible should be punished. Grandmother says that she has eaten frog legs. Gross!
If an assassin wanted to knock off me or BG, the first place to look would be the kitchen sink. It isn’t just the location for doing the dishes but also an excellent environment for conversations of a delicate nature.
“Who hit me in the head with that paper wad?” I inquire.
“Well, Bobby Thomson did most of the throwing but he wasn’t the one that hit you.”
“Well then, who was it? Was it you?”
“It wasn’t me. It was Mindy Sullivan. I think she likes you.”
“Mindy Sullivan? Isn’t she the one that sits in the first row, three seats back?”
BG breaks into a smile. “Look at you; you know exactly where she sits…ohh.”
“So I know where she sits, big deal.”
“I dare you to talk to her tomorrow. I double dare you.”
BG has thrown down the gauntlet. I have to accept the challenge or be branded a chicken. “OK, I’ll talk to her tomorrow.”
“We’ll see,” she giggles.
Lying on my bed, looking up at the ceiling with my arms folded under my head, I’m thinking and waiting for sleep. The trouble with pulling a prank of such magnitude as ours is you can’t take credit for your creativity. Oh how I would love to get on top of the administration building and yell, Tommy Franks and I, Lee Dunn, did it. We’re the hop-a-long froggy gang. But, we don’t dare reveal ourselves. Should our identities become known several events would occur and none of them pleasant. We would be suspended or even expelled. Naturally, we would fail Biology and not be able to get into the college of our choice or any college for that matter. The boyfriends of the unfortunate girls whose lunches received a present would beat the snot out of us with a tire iron. Worst of all, our parents would forbid Tommy and I to remain friends. You better believe it; we’ll keep our mouths shut and pray BG does too.