One Bad Decision

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The events that occurred in this room would greatly effect his future in life. His foot was nervously tapping up and down, and his eyes were darting around the room as if that would somehow provide an answer. The palms of his hands were so sweaty he could barely grip the pencil. He knew that he wasn’t prepared, not even close. Without some form of help he knew he was going to bomb it. And this was monumental. Joe Shmo had been in this position before, but not as serious as this. He is known by his classmates to be a pretty smart kid, but also very deceiving and mischievous. There was no doubt he was as sly as a fox or quick as a cat, and everyone knew he was very well capable. Either way, it isn't doing it that’s the problem; it’s much more complicated than that. He needed to do it, not get caught, and be able to put his head on his pillow at night. Not only was his stealth helpful, but his looks. The nerdy looking scrawny kid that was nothing but skin and bones and a pair of glasses wasn’t the type of kid you expect to do this. He looked like a kid that should still be down with the junior high, never mind driving a car in a few months. Moments before the test was passed out, he decided to have a few words with the kid sitting next to him, Billy. Billy was number one in the class, and it was no coincidence Joe ended up next to him.

"Hey Billy, you ready?"
"I'm ready, but I can tell you can’t say the same about yourself." Billy has one of those smiles where it’s a friendly one but you know what he said obnoxious, and you just wanted to pop him.

"I don’t need to be ready."
"And why is that?"
"I have everything that I need."
"Okay then. Good luck." Billy shot a last smile, this one being openly showing his sarcasm. The tests were passed out, and unfortunately for Joe, the teacher was a guy by the name of Mr. Smith. Joe and Mr. Smith had a long history, as Joe had had him for an algebra II class the previous year. The year was filled with sarcastic remarks, outbursts, and suspicions of cheating. Joe had quickly found his bad side. Although this didn’t help Joe’s cause, it didn’t really hurt it. Mr. Smith was an awful teacher. He could care less about his job, and wasn’t too thrilled about having to sit there for hours on end. His plan was to maybe open a soda and read some magazines. The first few minutes were a little rough, but Joe eventually got into a groove. He was working faster and his confidence grew. Every so often he would smile to himself or mutter something like, "Too easy." Billy, being the smart kid that he is, eventually caught on to the movement of Joe's eyes and the sound of his own pencil quickly followed by Joe’s. "I'm gonna take down that cheating slug." Billy was pleased at the thought of this, but like any other hard working student, he was angry. "I prepared for months to be ready for this test, and he doesn't even have to take it? Hopefully I won’t be seeing him for a very, very long time. The hours dragged on, and the test was finally finished. As they were passed in to Mr. Smith (who might have dozed off a few times,) typical post-test chatter and gossip began to start up. Billy nonchalantly turned to Joe and said, “How was it?”
“Oh I think that I did very well. Didn’t even break a sweat.” Joe cracked a smile of his own; his confidence was growing into arrogance. He didn’t know what was happening.
Billy knew that he didn’t know, and was having a great deal of fun. “I have a good feeling that you did very well also. The tables can turn very quickly, can’t they?” Joe wasn’t sure whether Billy was getting at how he was confident he did well on the exam, even though he didn’t have the greatest amount of intelligence, or something else. He decided to just brush it off and return yet another smile. “Yes, they can turn very quickly.”
Mr. Smith had finally gathered the strength to lift up his head from this month’s Sports Illustrated and see the stack of papers that had accumulated on his desk as the students had brought them up. “Ummm yeah you guys can go now.” The students filed out of the classroom, eager to stretch their legs, and move on with their lives. Joe appeared to be as happy as ever. He didn’t just feel good about cheating, he was ecstatic. From his walk from the classroom down to his locker room, he was talking to his friend, Evan, but his mind was in another place. He was barely listening and just occasionally nodded his head when he didn’t hear the sound of his friend’s voice; he threw in a “yeah” or “I know.” Instead of contributing to the conversation, he was focused on what just happened. Speeding down the staircase, he was muttering to himself: “Wow that was so easy! That bum didn’t even look up from his magazine once! I didn’t even have to be cautious, that geek Billy could have handed me his test and this guy wouldn’t have known. Either way it worked out perfectly. And since all of the tests are graded by a computer, there’s no way that anyone will ever know. I get half decent grades the rest of the way and I’m golden. Good college and hopefully from there a good job and life. If I did this really easily, I could probably do the same thing in college.” Joe was glowing at his intelligence and cleverness.

Unfortunately for him, he was unaware of what Billy had been doing. While everyone else was running out of the classroom, he bought time by fiddling with his stuff and taking a long time to put them away. Mr. Smith was as eager as the kids to get out of the stuffy classroom. He packed up his bag and was scurrying out of the classroom when Billy spoke up from the corner of the room. “Excuse me, Mr. Smith.” Mr. Smith stopped in his tracks, slugged his shoulders, and turned to face Billy.” It was no secret he didn’t want to deal with this, and he was so close to getting out of this dungeon. He tried his best to act remotely interested with his tone. “Yes, Billy?”
“I think that I needed to talk to you about something.” He sat down into a seat, and Mr. Smith suddenly turned very curious. He could tell that this was serious.
“What do you need to talk about?”
“Something happened, during the test. It concerns the young man sitting next to me, Joe.” Mr. Smith’s eyes lit up.
“I’m listening.”

The following morning after a good night sleep, Joe returned to school. He couldn’t have been happier at the moment. With junior year closing down, this was going to be a breeze from here on out. He was sitting in homeroom as usual. The announcements came on, and he heard the list of people being called to the office.
“Jax Domonte, Tyler Calabro, Billy Johnston, and Joe Shmo. Please report to the office immediately after morning announcements.” Joe’s heart skipped a beat. He could hear it pounding in his head. Suddenly, his breathing got very loud and his stomach turned inside out. Worries and crazy explanations started flying through his head. “What could I have done? There’s no way that someone could have found out. I’m the only one who could possibly know. Or am I? Maybe Smith saw me and decided not to say anything until now. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid. There’s a good chance I just forgot my lunch, or won student of the month, or something stupid like that. I’ll just have to wait and see.”

Announcements ended, and he walked out of homeroom. His vision was blurry. He arrived at the office and the only person left there was Billy. His heart sank. This was bad news. Billy looked happy to see him. The lady behind the desk, and she said, “Billy and Joe?” They both nodded. “The principal would like to see you two in his office as soon as possible. The two boys walked down the hall to the principal’s office. Billy stepped ahead of Joe and opened the door for him, whispering “good luck” into his ear. This sent shivers down Joe’s spine. He knew that he was done for. This is it, it was over. He opened the door to see the principal, Mr. Skitt, and Mr. Smith, sitting in the only two chairs in the office. Joe could have sworn he saw Mr. Smith throw a smirk in his direction.

“Take a seat boys.” The two boys took there seats, and the principal let out a long sigh. His face was grim and there was no sign that a student of the month notification was coming to either of these boys. From a drawer in his desk, Mr. Skitt removed to packets of paper. Joe’s test and Billy’s test. Billy had to fight back expressing his delight, but Joe had no trouble showing his fear. “Look over those tests boys and tell me what you see.” They looked, even though they already knew what they would see. Every answer was identical. Thank you Billy and Mr. Smith. He nodded towards the door and the two men left. Around half an hour later, Billy emerged from the office. He had known that the consequences were going to be bad, but he had no idea it was this terrible. He met up with Evan in the locker room who happened to have a free period.

“Dude what happened?” There was a look of concern on his face.
“I’m out of here.”
“You got expelled?”
“Yeah. I have to go back to my public school and retake the test, but it’ll be useless because it goes on my record what happened.” Evan was in disbelief. He and Joe had been best friends since kindergarten.
“My mom is coming to pick me up now. I’m cleaning my locker and then I’m never coming back.”
“Dude I can’t believe it.”
“Yeah I know. I’m not in the mood; I’ll talk to you about it later.”
“Okay. Call me later.” Evan walked away. He still couldn’t believe that his best friend had been expelled. As Evan disappeared into the distance, Joe just stood there. He didn’t know what to do. After he finally finished packing up his stuff and was walking out of the school, his awful decision finally hit him.

“That was the worst decision of my life. I just ruined everything. I thought that I was better than everyone and could do whatever I wanted, but that came back to bite me in the behind. If I just did the work and was ready for the test myself, I wouldn’t have to go through this crap. I’m never cheating on any test or homework again.” Just then, his mom pulled up and he silently got into the car. It was going to be a long ride home.





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