Wow, as I read over this, I realized something. From the reader here’s perspective, it would appear that I am referring to a lot of people here in this story.
But let me just say this- all of the characters in this story are based off of my own school’s populace, celebrities and authors, or no one at all.
This story contains little objectionable material, and what it has is referred to in a way as vague as possible, but would probably be best for those under thirteen not to read.
As you will likely notice, I made up the class names, so any suggestions or real names are welcome.
If you wish to copy this material for any purpose aside from personal use or free distribution, (that’s me dreaming) then please contact me via PM.
Enough of that. If you are from my school, which is unlikely indeed, then you will likely recognize a few of the characters like McClander, or the “incident” with Brad Harris (although I was not involved in the real thing at all). One last note- only a few of the teacher’s names remain the same, with all of the students having changed names.
EDIT: I’m done with chapter two, but haven’t thought of a band name yet. I’ll sleep on it, and hopefully be able to post tomorrow. If I don’t have a name by then, I’ll just put in some kind of working title for the time being.
[b]“Twelfth Grade” [/b]
As the warning bell began to ring, the jocks mobbed by my locker, uttering a few expletives for my being in their way. Brad Harris and David Stamford, a jock and a thug, stomped by me like they owned the place and their gaggle of stuck-up girls sauntered by without a glance, except for Sarah Miller, the one that didn't quite fit into the stereotype. In fact, we had been friends in eighth grade, but four years without a single class together had reverted friends to acquaintances. As they limped into their separate classes, I decided to do the same. First block was AP Biology, which meant few of my underachieving friends were present. However, Mr. Anderson was nice enough (nice may not be the word, as he didn't even know me yet on the first day of school) to let me sit by Daniel Bernstein (whose name, by the way, puzzles me, as he has no connection to the Hebrew people), one of my friends. Also, to my left was Michelle Anderson, a nice girl that I had a crush on in sixth grade, but as you come to know me you will realize that a crush and possibly becoming friends were as far as things ever went. To my relief, I found out that Mr. Anderson was indeed not Michelle's father; in fact she said we were as related as she was to him. Better not to always have eyes on you when you decide that its time to do? anything, really. Mr. Anderson, however, did turn out to be a nice guy. In fact, he matter of factly stated that we could chew gum and listen to music as long as we didn't spit gum out outside of the trash can and that we should not crank music up to ear-busting levels. Behind me, however, sat a row of four morbid-looking boys, decked out in dark, mostly black clothes of poor fit, and wearing grimaces over dejected looking faces. Daniel recalled that they had moved to Madison, Alabama in the middle of the last school year, in a drove. They came adventurously, but soon soured, as most were critical of their values, as supporters of abortion, evolution, and queers. Indeed, they were no longer welcome, judging by the reaction of the jocks, which incessantly made them sore over their values, particularly about queers. I supported those values just as little as the jocks, but I don't completely understand their parasitism that fools them into thinking that they are big and important.
Among them, I recognized Bob Elders, a colossal guy, who at six feet and two inches was as tall as I, but built like my father (that is, like a tank) and could beat the living crap out of any jock that made fun of him. But, alas, not the whole football team of them, as they always stuck in groups around Bob. Even though he didn’t know me, he seemed to exude hostility towards me, just for my being present in the room. Bob wasn’t exactly a nice guy.
As I had always stayed clear of them until that point, they probably didn’t know what to think of me (though Bob seemed like he did). While I listened to their conversation about killing something (I didn’t catch what, but later experience leads me to believe that they spoke of “two-legged game”), Michelle prodded me with her elbow under the desk.
“Teacher!” She hissed through clenched teeth.
Looking up, I saw Mr. Anderson staring at me. “Well, what is procedure number two, Nathan Desola?” He questioned, as he looked at his seating chart.
Not knowing what to say, but wanting to make a good impression, I quoted my ninth-grade Spanish teacher’s procedure for going to the restroom. "Raise three fingers in the air, and wait for the yes or no nod from you, then go to the bathroom or not, according to the nod."
I could hear Daniel laughing to my right, and Michelle to my left, albeit quietly. I knew I had said the wrong thing, when, to my amazement, Mr. Anderson uttered a hearty "correct!"
Daniel suddenly sat bolt upright, and Michelle’s laughter became even softer, and then died.
Class after that consisted of little more than going over the rest of the procedures (both Michelle and Daniel missed their own questions, paying me back in full).
After Biology, I had Spanish 4, along with William Alderman, one of my friends. William looked like an underachiever at first glance, with his shaggy hair, (even longer than mine, most of the time) well-worn clothes, and constant mischievous expression, but he always made B’s at least.
I remember a few occasions in eighth grade, where William, Steve Robinson, and I had engaged in orange (and sometimes apple) fights in English. These fights consisted of one of the three bringing a fruit or two and throwing one at someone while the teacher’s back was turned. Mrs. Harlin always heard the smacking sound of the apple or orange hitting someone or thing, but I don’t think she ever saw us throwing them. After that initial throw, the other fruits in the host’s desk would be put into circulation around the room. It was always hard to stifle the incriminating laughter after a good headshot was made on an unsuspecting victim. These moments were especially rewarding when executed on Steve, who sat behind me, as his position made a surprise shot impossible unless he was leaning down to look into his desk.
On one occasion, I, to my horror, hit a computer screen with a very hard throw, which surprised me in that it didn’t shatter the screen. The substitute teacher, at her larger computer a few feet away, certainly heard the thunk of the impact, and turned, bewildered to see the orange rolling away.
Steve Robinson. He was here too, sitting in the same spot as four years ago, two seats behind and one to the left of me. Steve was a rail-thin guy who, at five feet nine inches, was short compared to my six feet and two inches. Although he looked like a single good punch would render him kaput, Steve was about as strong as I was, and wore fairly long ?Beatle? hair similar to mine, but not as thick.
Mrs. Jones, the Spanish teacher, surprised me in that she could speak Spanish at all. She looked as un-Spanish as I, an Irishman, did- yet she spoke it (though half-Americanized in a few pronunciations) fluently. What further surprised me was that I had to sit by Arthur McClander. I try not to pick on anybody, but McClander just makes it too easy sometimes. What, with his reversed- mullet haircut, thick glasses covered in hair, and sweater-vest preppy clothes, he was a target far too easy.
McClander was a pretty good guy though, and usually was a good sport about his hair and clothes. According to him, his parents made him dress like that. Somehow, however, I think the haircut was his own invention. Back in seventh grade, this sportsmanship was not the case. In response to a jock kidding him about his hair, he femininely (Farrah Rush, the captain of the cheerleaders, sounded more masculine) screamed for him to leave him alone. If you know the jocks (or their stereotype, which the ones at Marble Junior High busied themselves in fitting) then you can easily foresee what happened next. For the next several years, McClander was the butt of the school’s jokes.
Speaking of Farrah, McClander had a crush on her in eighth grade that he could never be allowed to forget. The mere act of being attracted to her was more than reasonable (natural, I’d say), but the comical thing was what he actually did. I’m not one to talk here, but someone must tell the story. McClander would write excruciatingly long love notes to Farrah, and then do nothing besides stare at her (but every guy did plenty of that). When Daniel asked him why he wouldn’t even talk to her, he shouted-
?I’m afraid of rejection!? Even he, na?ve as he was, didn’t need to be told what Daniel told him-
?Well, I guess you have a well-founded fear.?
This caused Arthur to explode. Lucky for Daniel that McClander was weak, for if anyone in decent shape had had his zeal, no one in the school could have stopped him. As it was, Arthur threw a punch at Daniel, which he stopped by grabbing and twisting his arm. From there, Daniel pulled McClander up to him, and held him against the wall by his shirt, asking him if he still wanted to fight.
Daniel wasn’t much taller than McClander, at 5’8" as of eighth grade, when this happened; he was only two inches taller than Arthur. But he actually had muscles.
As the teacher’s footsteps thundered in the hall (we had a certain teacher who had to waddle in order to move himself, producing inordinate amounts of noise) McClander’s feet felt the ground again, and all returned to their desks.
On one occasion, two supposedly (read: supposedly) nice cheerleaders walked by him at his locker at the end of the day. Giggling, they spit out two huge wads of gum which looked like chewing tobacco into his hair.
The next day, McClander was noticed to be missing his characteristic hair and he had learned a new four-letter word.
Mrs. Jones did exactly what Mr. Anderson did on that day, and that was teaching and going over the procedures.
On a whim, Tom Lawson yelled ?Hey, guero!? at the teacher. Luckily for Tom, who was black, Mrs. Jones didn’t know what the word meant, and merely told him to stop making up words. If you ask me, the whole thing was a silly idea. Tom had been listening to a song called Que’ onda guero (a good song, by the way) a lot recently, and wanted to know what ?guero? means. So Jim Sikesler, also without knowing what it meant, urged him to ask.
After class, I told him that it meant ?whitey,? and he sort of shrunk away. Not of fear or anything, Tom was far smaller than me, but we were good friends. He meant harm just as little as when I asked my parents what the n-word meant.
Fourth period- I don’t even know what to call it. It is some form of pre-veterinary class, and I was one of the few smart enough to get in. Present also was Bob’s friend, Randy Hartsock, the most likeable of their bunch, and Michelle. The rest of the room was filled up with snotty no-names that I had no intention of meeting. Actually, I did spy Jake Stanton in the corner.
The ?resident fatty? of our school, Jake definitely had a hard life. What’s more, by twelfth grade, his voice still hadn’t changed. In fact, Rose Talakto had beaten him up after an unscrupulous action on Jake’s part.
I remember one time I did (or rather, was implicated in) such a thing. I can’t remember exactly which jock started the pushing, but in the hallway as we went to lunch, a jock tried to ram his way through. I was holding the jerk back nicely, until another one gave him a hand. I certainly was not the equivalent of two of the punks, and I fell, tumbling into Rose.
Through this, you may be wondering what is so bad. In and of themselves, my actions did no harm. When my fall came to a stop, I was laying on top of Rose in an inappropriate looking way. As I pulled myself up, Brad Harris grabbed my waist, and shoved it repeatedly into Rose, furthering our questionable appearance.
I soon freed myself with as ferocious of a kick as I could muster, straight backwards into Brad’s crotch. An eye for an eye.
To avoid his beating, both from Rose and I, Brad hobbled away as fast as possible. His tactic worked, as Rose never knew who really did it, until she calmed down enough to let me speak to her.
Grinning with my victory, I turned around to see Rose looking at me even in the eyes. Well, as close to even as possible when you are half of a foot shorter than me. As I smiled stupidly, she lashed out for the chink in my armor with a foot, and I was glad that I was quick. As I darted away from the glancing blow, I rounded a corner to see Daniel looking inside an ajar janitorial locker.
The only way that I survived was that Daniel helped me to stuff myself into that same janitorial locker. For the whole of class-change I stayed there, in that musty-smelling shack, as Rose and her friends, male and female, did a clearing search of their respective bathrooms only a few feet away from me. Not one took a look in my direction.
The teacher, Mr. Herriot, wasn?t much of a surprise. Procedures, procedures, and procedures. For forty-five minutes, nothing but it. He seemed like an agreeable enough man, however, and let us out a few minutes early.
As I trotted down the hall to the restroom, I saw Bob Elders and his group exit together, all six of them. Weird, given that the bathroom had two stalls and two urinals.
Inside, a sad sight greeted me. Graffiti was everywhere, and poor aim in evidence. But, these things were to be expected. What wasn?t expected, was the slip of paper that I found, left carelessly impaled by the coat hook on the stall door.
On it was a list of names of jocks, girls, and, finally, Bob?s friends. It didn?t seem to mean much, but I held on to it anyways.
Turns out, I saved quite a few lives by hanging onto it.
Leaving the bathroom, I took little notice of the usual band of cheerleaders in the hall, likely gossiping their heads off. As I passed them, one pretty blonde (as if they all aren?t) - Stephanie Douglas, I think, stepped out and shoved a flyer into my face. ?Hey Nathan, are The going to the fundraiser on the fourteenth?? She beamed a blinding smile at me. Given that I wasn?t even the leader of The , I raised my eyebrows and inquired whether she meant the battle of the bands or not. After a nod from her, I told her that I thought Steven was planning on going. ?Well, I hope you come. You could beat out Nick Five easy!? Stephanie skipped away. Nick Five was the horrible boy band that had been causing me to bring earplugs with me everywhere since ninth grade. Somehow, a few of the teachers got their hands on some of Nick Five?s ?music,? and they spread it like wildfire. Now, one could hear their emo-tastical songs in a fourth of the classrooms of the school. In fact, Steven had formed The to give Nick Five yin to its yang. Consisting of Steven as lead singer and guitarist, Courtney Maxwell as guitarist, Michael Hanson as bassist, Justin Faulkner as drummer, and I as (don?t laugh) harmonica player and pianist, The was just as large, people-wise, as Nick Five. Whenever necessary, others than Steven sang, with Michael and Justin usually singing. It was rare enough for me to sing- actually, I only remember singing, when not in a harmony, as the schoolmaster in Pink Floyd?s ?The Wall,? and Courtney only sang in a handful of songs, such as the la-la?s in Beck?s ?Rental Car.? To many, the harmonica playing role is probably humorous. At first, I had no intentions of being in the band. As The began trying to play Beck?s songs, however, they soon found that they needed a harmonica player and a pianist. And I was just the man for the job. Made up of five guys named Nick (duh), Nick Five was the product of Nick Llasken, singer and guitarist, Nick Johnson, pianist and singer, Nick Whitesford, singer and guitarist, Nick Simpson, the singer that sometimes played drums, and, lastly, the lead singer, only referred to as Nick Five.
Really, though, none of them used their instruments much at all. In fact, I could play Llasken?s guitar better than he could, and I still am awful at it.
While Nick Five idolized bands like 98 Degrees, The Backstreet Boys, and ?N Sync, The tended to mimic bands along the lines of Pink Floyd, Franz Ferdinand, Beck, Led Zeppelin, and whatever else good that we stumbled upon. How Nick Five even survived this long is beyond me, but there was no question who would win the contest- if there was one. I?d have to ask Steven. Throwing a hurriedly look at the clock, I realized that I had less than two minutes to get to the other end of the building for AP English. Why the school board chose to renovate the old ninth grade science lab for the twelfth grade AP English class is beyond me, but they did. Given that Newton High is the largest high school in Alabama, class was literally a fourth of a mile in crowded hallways away from me. After grabbing my English notebook from my locker, I ran to the end of the twelfth grade hallway to the stairs, and then sprinted the whole length of the downstairs hallway to the ninth grade end. Our school was cut into a hill, so that the upper story on the twelfth grade end was at ground level, and the same story on the eleventh grade side was twenty feet above ground. Once I reached this far side, and the lower part of the hill, I slowed to a jog in front of the classroom, and finally walked in, taking a seat by Steven just as the bell rang. Leaning over into his ear, I asked him whether we were going to the battle of the bands. I was fairly sure of the answer, and was not surprised to hear him emphatically issue an affirmative. So it was settled.
As class progressed, we whispered to each other over what songs to perform. The minimum was set at three songs, and the maximum at five, so we decided to play a full five songs, all preferably somewhat long. To my surprise, the whole of The members were lined up in a row in that class, making ample opportunity for conversation.
We all quickly became so busy discussing that none of us caught the teacher?s name nor any of her procedures. As the bell rang, Steven called a meeting at the band headquarters at five that afternoon.
The headquarters was actually an old playground that we found out in the woods behind Steven?s subdivision. It featured a menagerie of rusted-out equipment, such as merry-go-rounds that all five of us couldn?t budge due to their rusted parts (yes, we tried once), swings that had chains so thoroughly rusted through that when Michael put weight on them, they broke- which is almost unimaginable, given that Michael was basically a stick figure.
The real area of interest, however, was a strangely new tree house, made of solid oak- treated oak, no less, and attached to a massive oak tree, the trunk of which was greater in diameter than I am in height. On this tree, hardwood planks were nailed as a ladder, and they were spaced as if not intended for young kids. But this suited us fine.
The tree house was about twenty-five feet off of the ground, and was braced on two limbs each thicker than Jake Stanton?s midsection. The truly impressive part, however, was the thing?s size. It was roughly ten feet by fifteen feet, with a door centrally located on each of the shorter sides. One door was accessed by the aforementioned nailed-on steps, and the other had a new rope ladder attached to it. Well, it was new in eighth grade, when it was discovered. There were two power outlets on each of the longer sides, with each outlet having two plug access points.
From that first discovery onwards, the tree house soon became the place we went to just hang out. When The was formed, I, after being inducted, was the one to suggest the tree house as our base of operations. This was a massive improvement over Michael?s basement, as we didn?t have his mom coming down every other song, yelling at us to turn it down. It was a half mile or so into fairly thick woods, so we were free to be as loud as we wanted.
Once, though, we did manage to get too loud. On Halloween night of ninth grade, we had called all of our friends over to the headquarters, which meant more or less the whole ninth grade.
Justin and I got all the preps to come, Michael the music geeks, and Steven and Courtney everyone in between. Only absent were the emos, jocks (well, considering that Justin was something of one, most of the jocks weren?t there), and Nick Five, but they weren?t missed. That evening, basically our whole grade was converted to fans of The , and subsequently, the artists we covered. After we had exhausted all the songs that we knew, from ?Comfortably Numb? to ?Que? Onda Guero,? a band of jocks burst in, rap music blasting from cars that they weren?t old enough to be driving, uninvited as usual. At their sight, Steven took the whole band behind the area we had performed at, a cleared area in front of a canebrake.
Grinning mischievously, he told us that he and Courtney would distract the jocks by asking what their favorite song was, and performing it for them (assuming that they even agreed on one). In the meantime, the rest of us would retrieve our semiautomatic airsoft pistols from the clubhouse (which was in total darkness), and several rolls of duct tape. To mask our identity, we donned army-issue BDU?s (Battle Dress Uniform), and added balaclavas, gloves, and combat boots. In the low light, it would be impossible for the jocks to pick us out.
From behind several small trees about seventy five yards from the stage, we watched Steven and Courtney address a loosely packed mob of jocks. The crowd had split in half around them, and we were directly behind this split. As our band-mates spoke, we slowly closed to within thirty yards of the thugs.
For this next section to make sense, you?d need to know a little about the tools we used to cause disruption among the jocks. We used KWA Glock 19?s, and USP?s (Universal Self-loading Pistol), equipped with suppressors. From just five yards, the only sound one would hear from firing would be the click-clacking of the slide. These fired semi-automatically, from magazines both holding over twenty 6mm plastic balls.
Hiding in tall brush, I signaled for everyone to pick a target and aim at them. Counting down with my fingers, on zero, we opened fire. Plastic flew in streams upon the hapless jocks, which scattered everywhere. As one dashed by us, I signaled to my team with a sharp whistle to catch him. It was Brad Harris, their ringleader.
Justin stuck his foot out, and caused Brad to crash headlong into the ground. Showering curses everywhere, he tried to pull himself up, but, though we were literally standing five feet from him, he couldn?t see us, nor my boot pinning him down. From behind him, I hoisted him up and pressed him against a large tree, motioning for Michael and Justin to tape him onto it. As we stuck a piece of tape over his mouth, I noticed Jesse Gordon sprinting to his car.
Pointing at the one jock that I disliked above even Brad, all three of us charged. Bellowing war cries and shooting as we ran, Jesse stumbled under our hail of fire, giving time for us to catch him. Michael, being so light, caught him first, and managed to tackle Jesse to the ground. As we circled around him as we had done to Brad, the stage lights shone across our backs, making what must have been three terrifying silhouettes. In fact, it was only a moment before all three of us noticed the piercing smell of urine, and we decided that Jesse had had enough. We melted back into the night, and switched back into regular clothes at the tree house.
By this time, Steven and Courtney were making a mockery of some nameless rap song that the jocks had chosen, and they were doing it loudly. I?m sure we did a good job of spiting the jocks, and they?ve never messed with The since, but the huge amounts of noise at 9:15 at night attracted Officer Davis, the patrolling officer that night.
As he jogged up to our gathering, I hoped that Steven would talk to him. Our whole band was friendly with Mr. Davis, but, given that he and Steven were neighbors, they were that much more affable with each other. As soon as he saw him, Steven headed for Officer Davis, as I thought he would. As Steven explained our plan, Mr. Davis chuckled, ripped Brad Harris down from his tree rather forcefully, and told Brad to stop causing trouble. Then, he trotted away into the night.
We were lucky that is was Mr. Davis patrolling that night, for if it had been anyone else, we really could have been in for it.
For the years after the ?Halloween Jock Shoot,? the Halloween concert became a tradition. Many exploits similar to the one aforementioned occurred, but none quite so great.
On one occasion, the eleventh grade concert, I believe, a member of Nick Five had the nerve to attend. After Michelle pointed him out to us, the band quickly formulated a plan to scare him out of his wits, granted he had any.
According to the arrangements, Michael, Justin and I were to put on black tactical style vests that had ?Emo Police? embroidered on them in white, along with our BDU?s.
The reason that we had these in the first place was from a ninth grade play, a parody of Orwell?s 1984. The play was about the equivalent of the Though Police- the Emo Police, which went from door to door, making sure that absolutely no one wasn?t wallowing in self-pity; also, they were partial to destroying any good music that they found, and imprisoning its owner for ?Not adhering to the principles of crimestop.?
Anyways, we put on these vests, pulling on our signature balaclavas (the fans only suspected that we were the masked pranksters, but Steven kept them at bay with airtight alibis), strapped our airsoft guns onto our thighs, and moved into a crowd of seething high-schoolers, looking for the Nick in the crowd.
As we waded into the mob of teens, Steven?s voice rang out clear over the sound system.
?Attention, concert-goers. A member of Nick Five has been spotted on the premises, and he is not to escape, reason being that the Emo Police need to have a word with him.? As he finished, one could hear him start snickering before the microphone turned off.
Steven?s announcement stirred the crowd to near-lunacy. Within moments, the crowd had expelled a beleaguered Nick Simpson from their midst to the front of the stage.
Closing in on him, Justin, Michael and I stepped into the stage lights. Grasping his fearsome-looking (and brand new) TM M-16A1, which was nearly as big as him, Michael came forward from the center of the crowd. With a hefty thwack, Michael released the bolt carrier, and we simultaneously racked the slides of our pistols.
?Son, do you realize that you?ve been listening to music that?s actually good?? Justin snorted.
?Wouldn?t your presence here mean that you were too?? Nick sneered, wearing an extremely annoying, contorted expression.
Wiping the goofy look off of his face, Michael unloaded a stinging burst into Simpson?s legs.
?Hey, we do the questioning! Not you!? I barked.
At this point, we were all doing our best not to burst out laughing onstage. Justin, the only one among us left with any composure, quickly ushered him away, with a warning not to do it again.
As mean as this act may seem, it would be hard to miss the gigantic sign hanging from the branches over the stage that declared in red ?NO NICK FIVE ALLOWED.? Too bad for Nick that he didn?t listen to our admonition. The sign even had its own spotlight devoted to it.
Snapping out of my recollections of days gone by, Mrs. Windsley, fixed me with a cold stare. Not even knowing what class I was in, much less what she wanted, I simply asked ?Ma?am??
?I?ll take that as a yes.? She signed a detention slip and slammed it onto my desk. ?Get your parent?s signature and you have detention on the fourteenth.?
Which meant that I would miss the battle of the bands. Or, the part where we rehearsed. For doing absolutely nothing, no less. Of course, there was doubtlessly a way to get out of this. Jim Sikesler and I were practically clones physically, and he would likely serve my detention for me. For what price, I don?t know.
On the bus home, I asked Jim about the detention. Suppressing his usual laugh at my misfortunes, he told me that McClander was really bothering Michelle, who he was going out with at the time. Suffice to say that McClander was making grabs.
So, I had to come to Michelle?s pool, hide in her tree in full camouflage, wait for McClander to come, (he thought that he was her best friend) and climb down twenty feet to the lawn, and sneak up behind McClander. Once I closed the distance, I would put him in a headlock, and whisper into his ear to leave Michelle alone. And, given that Jim would be standing there, Arthur wouldn?t suspect him of trying to scare him. After he got the message, I would toss him, fully clothed, into the pool, and hop Michelle?s fence and sprint to the car where Steven would be waiting to make a getaway.
So, not only would I get out of detention, I would also get to help my friends out. It seemed like a sound plan. After all, the teachers wouldn?t draw a line between me both being at detention and the rehearsal.