Two boys and the 'Best Idea Ever'
|BEST IDEA EVER
By Jeff Dosser
Jerry didn’t like being the smallest kid in 7th grade, and no assurances from his mother would change that undeniable fact. Sometimes, on the way to school, she’d point out the benefits of his height.
“You’ll never conk yourself on the head,” she told him, “and it’s ever so much easier to work your way through a crowd. Oh, and you can fit into very tiny places.”
“Like gym lockers and bathroom toilets”, Jerry offered, but she’d only pursed her lips as she pulled into the school and dropped him at the curb.
Jerry’s best friend was Connor Bates, but everyone at school just called him ‘The Stick’. The Stick had thin brown hair, almost blonde in the summers, loved Minecraft, pistachio almond ice-cream, and was as thin as a boy could be.
He was tall for his age, or so the teachers said, though Jerry found Stick to be tall for any age since he stood a full head higher than Mrs. Jones, and could look the gym teacher, Mr. Howard, square in the eye.
Mr. Howard, besides an annoying obsession with dodgeball, was also saddled with the ugly habits of scratching himself in public, picking his nose, and recruiting anyone over 5’4 onto the Sophomore basketball team.
For over a week, Mr. Howard hounded the Stick until the boy was compelled to attend a meeting for everyone interested in the upcoming season.
The Stick didn’t really care much for sports.
“I don’t really care much for sports,” he told Mr. Howard.
“Pshah,“ Mr. Howard told him. “What young person doesn’t want to play b-ball?” He smiled a damp, crooked smile. “Why you’ll learn the value of teamwork, sacrifice, and hard work.” He slapped the Stick on the back. “I was no older than you when I began playing, but all that blood, sweat, and tears have made me the man I am today.”
The Stick studied Mr. Howard and decided the prospects of becoming a balding, overweight, sometimes smelly, High School coach weren’t in his plans.
“There’s a special assembly for everyone interested in joining the team,” he told the Stick. “2:30 tomorrow.” He lifted a finger. “Oh, and don’t forget your tennis shoes and shorts, we’ll have a quick workout after the meeting.”
When the Stick saw Jerry in the hall, he explained how Mr. Howard was forcing him onto the team: “Mr. Howard is forcing me onto the team!” he exclaimed.
Of course, Jerry couldn’t allow such a travesty so he sat down to think.
“When’s the assembly going to be called?” Jerry asked.
“Final period,” the Stick said. “Mrs. William’s Science.”
“Well, just skip.” Jerry was quite proud of this stroke of genius.
“I can’t,” the Stick said. “One more tardy, and I’ll get detention.”
“So!” The Stick stared in disbelief. “So, if I get another detention, Mom said I couldn’t go to space camp this summer.” He raised his thin brows and turned up his palms. “Can you believe it?”
Such a dilemma forced Jerry into even deeper levels of contemplation until at last an idea struck him. The idea was quite similar to the pieces of gravel at the Stick’s feet only it traveled much faster and left a tiny bump on his forehead where it hit.
“I’ve got The Best Idea Ever,” Jerry said.
Although the Stick’s confidence in Jerry’s plan was less than whole-hearted, he agreed it was the only way.
The next day, as the air in science class grew sleepy, the dreaded announcement blared over the speakers: “All 8th graders interested in joining the Freshman basketball team are to meet in the locker room outside Coach Howard’s office. That is all.”
The Stick gathered his belongings and stalked to his doom behind the chatter of eager voices echoing along the hall. He strolled into the locker room where the aroma of teamwork, sacrifice, and hard work stung his sinuses and caused his eyes to water.
Before the Stick could find a seat, Coach Howard marched in and smacked his palms together with a pop. “I hope everyone’s as eager for the upcoming season as I am and ready to get to work.”
The Stick was getting a sinking feeling about the prospects of his year when his phone buzzed with Jerry’s text:
When it starts sneak out the back. I’ll meet you at the bridge.
The Stick barely had time to register his friend’s cryptic text when a faint voice wormed its way into the coach’s speech.
At first, only the kids on the opposite side of the room seemed to notice, turning their heads and looking about. Then the Stick heard it too; a thin, tinny, echoey call for, “Help.”
Mr. Howard cocked his head. “Did anyone hear that?”
Soon, the entire team was on their feet, banging open lockers and peering beneath mud-crusted cleats, or stiff, crusty towels until the metallic clatter completely drowned out the pleas.
Mr. Howard lifted the whistle from his neck and gave such a prolonged, shrill tweet, that the following silence echoed in Stick’s ears.
The Stick backed into the hall but couldn’t tear his eyes from the scene; Mr. Howard, with the whole team behind him, stalked towards an eighteen-inch metal panel mounted on the wall.
When he opened it up, they discovered Jerry inside.
“What in God’s name are you doing in there?” Mr. Howard asked.
“I think someone stuffed me in here,” Jerry said.
Jerry looked up at Mr. Howard and shrugged. “Pretty sure.”
Mr. Howard crossed his hairy arms and scowled. “Why are you here anyway?”
Jerry held up a sheet of paper. “I’m here to join the team.”
“Has your dad signed that?” Mr. Howard squinted at the sheet. “You can’t play until your parents sign the waiver.”
The Stick took that as his cue and slunk from the room. He’d been at the bridge less than five minutes when he spotted Jerry crossing the campus towards him. He wore a very big smile.
“So, whadda we do now?” The Stick asked.
“I don’t know, whadda you wanna do?” Jerry replied.
The Stick found an idea laying on the sidewalk and flicked it at his friend. It bounced off Jerry’s head and landed in the stream with a ‘plunk’.
‘I’ve got The Best Idea Ever,” Jerry said. “We can go under the bridge and build a dam.”
The Stick nodded because, of course, it was, The Best Idea Ever.