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The Dog Ate My Homework

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Jimmy for his favorite part awoke to Sabra’s singing. “Girls,” Jimmy snorted, and headed downstairs of the day: pizza for breakfast.

After that, he did his usual morning routine and boarded the bus, taking a seat next to Todd.

The school bus jolted towards the school at its usual fast pace. “Jeez, Ernie, you’re gonna miss half the stops!” yelled Todd. “Go have your blood pressure checked!”
He sat gazing out the window as he heard Sabra’s voice increase in volume.
“Pricilla! Don’t you have a mouth? You should try using it once and in a while!” Pricilla Jones seemed to bury herself further into her book, not daring to meet Sabra’s narrowed eyes.
“Don’t you have any friends?” she continued.

Pricilla opened her mouth, thought about it, and turned a page instead.

“What a priss! She doesn’t even reply!” Sabra rolled her eyes. Suddenly, an eerie shroud of silence surrounded seat 15 as Sabra began to unbuckle her backpack. The observers grinned. Sabra announced with mock concern, “Oh, dear…I can barely fit my homework in here with this mess! This needs to be cleaned out right away…” chunks of paper began to be fired from seat 15. “Would you mind throwing that all away for me, Pricilla?”

Pricilla tried to ignore the pile of paper as it took flight out of the window.

“What’s with all the white birds?” Ernie yelled.
“Go get your eyes checked, too!” yelled Todd.
Jimmy watched Pricilla keep scanning the pages, but her blue eyes seemed too glassy to do so. It seemed as if a piece of pepperoni was lodged in his throat as he watched her slender fingers close the book. What was wrong with his heart? “Maybe I should exercise more often,” he muttered.
He didn’t even notice that the door had opened until Ernie wheezed, “Away with you!” Jimmy stood, and with force, slammed into Sabra.
“God, go on a diet, seriously! No girl would want to date a hippo!”
“Who cares about girls?” Jimmy muttered, and trudged into school.





***
“Class, I promise you’ll be kept awake today by…” Mrs. Furguson triumphantly waved a paper strewn with equations, “…this pop quiz! Enjoy!” Soon everyone had a quiz in hand and the same frazzled expression on their faces. Jimmy felt eyes upon him as Mrs. Furguson said, “Come on, Jimmy! Make your mother proud! Give her something to hang on the refrigerator!”
Oh heavenly refrigerator, Jimmy did a mental sigh. How I’d like to open your door and….
“Jimmy Harris! I asked you if you had yesterday’s assignment! You know, the one detailed with the pi formula, as in…”
“…blueberry” He was still searching through his imaginary refrigerator.
Mrs. Furguson’s painted lips became tight. “Jimmy Harris, you owe two weeks worth of math assignments. This is not a food fest, it is algebra.” A small, red slip of paper known as the ‘flame’ floated onto his unmarked quiz. “It’s earned you a three hour detention, Mr. Harris.” She smiled as if handing out amusement park tickets. “See you later.”





***
The next class came as quickly as the tortoise to the finish line.
“Harris! Get your head off that desk, pronto!” the booming voice of Mr. Pierce commanded. “We have volcanic regions of the Earth to explore! No halftime!” He gave Jimmy one last chilling glare as he began, “Today we’ll be causing a chemical reaction with …”
A nasal voice chipped in, “…vinegar and baking soda, their acidity causing oxygenated bubbles to rise upon applying force to the bottle.”
Mr. Pierce grinned slightly. “That’s a great hypothesis, Morris.” Mr. Pierce gave further instructions as a fist prodded Jimmy’s arm.
“Got a surprise for Boris Morris over there,” Buzz whispered. “His volcano is really gonna blow.” Jimmy raised his eyebrows. “Okay, hustle, class!” Mr. Pierce commanded. Jimmy watched as Boris walked up to Mr. Pierce and they began having a conversation on dormant volcanoes.
“Great, no distractions needed,” muttered Buzz. They wondered over to the lab tables and found Boris’s volcano. Buzz began pouring vinegar and baking soda into the volcano along with a mini can of Pepsi. “And the last ingredient…what keeps me awake in class...” Buzz pulled out a bag of pop rocks. “Preparation: shake.” Buzz set the bottle back into the volcano.
“Here he comes,” Jimmy warned. They both cleared the area.
“Okay, class, let’s experience the eruptions at the same time.” Mr. Pierce said. Now, on the count of three, take the caps off….one, two, three!”
The liquid burst out onto Boris’s face. “Ohhh, my glasses!” he cried, a sticky coat of pop rocks making it impossible to see. He stumbled backwards into Regina, who knocked over Steve, and then Jason, sending their volcanoes plummeting to the floor. Lava spilled onto the tiles, as Boris gasped, “Sorry, sorry, I….”
“Hold up! Red card, red card!” Mr. Pierce stormed over to Boris, and in the process slipped and fell into a puddle of Pepsi. Jimmy couldn’t control himself, and heard the chains on Buzz’s pants rattle as he joined in the laughter.
“Jimmy and Alexander!” Buzz’s face reddened. “You caused this mess! Clean it up, and don’t expect to go home tonight. Two and a half hour detention, and you better hustle it down to my room!” Jimmy shuddered, as Mr. Pierce flexed both of his bulging biceps. Now he knew what it must have felt like to face Mr. Pierce in a football game. Glad I never played sports, he thought.





***
Jimmy knew lunch was forty-five minutes away, but it seemed like a million years as Jimmy stood in front of the soccer goal. He thought the greatest part of gym was doing nothing, after all. He couldn’t help thinking of Pricilla again…that sad, little face…why couldn’t Sabra leave her alone? Why did she have to…
“Block the ball, Harris!” Jimmy heard the shrill warning as the ball made instant contact with his forehead. He plopped to the ground, feeling his brain slowly go into hibernation as the world turned black around him.





***
In his unconscious mind, he heard the scream of a drill in his ear. “Harris, dude, you just came back from lunch break! You need a nap, too?” He found himself in a very tight space. The voice was strangely familiar…and appearing through a haze was the toothpick proportioned man smiling lopsidedly at him.
“Todd?” Jimmy choked. “Is it….”
“Yeah, meatball, it’s me, quit making excuses! Drill the hole already,” he handed Jimmy the largest power drill he had ever seen. “But this can’t be real…I was just in school…” Todd gave a dry laugh.
“Yeah, it took you six more years than expected, but you finally graduated….funny, us doing construction at this same exact school…well, the elementary school, that is.”
Jimmy moved with effort. “Never went on a diet, either,” Todd shook his head.
“How far down do I have to drill?” Jimmy growled. Enough fat jokes, even if this was a dream.
Uhhh….here are the measurements,” Todd handed him a scrap of paper.
Jimmy’s eyes watered as he tried to process all the numbers. He could barely manage times tables, never mind measurements. He looked down at the floor, which already resembled a gigantic ant colony.
“Didn’t you drill enough?” he asked.
“Well, one more hole wouldn’t hurt….we gotta fill them in with nails too, but I lost those. Some kid on the playground wanted to play a trick on the teacher, so he gave me some gummies in exchange.” His smile hinted either poor oral hygiene or green gummy bears.
Jimmy sprawled out and tuned on the drill. The thing came alive, and the huge drill head plummeted high speed through the metal.
An earsplitting crack was heard as the drill made its way through the entire ceiling.
“Jimmy, turn it off!!” screamed Todd, as the floor began to wobble.

“That’s not good!” Todd wriggled like a worm to the stairs on the side of the crawlspace. Jimmy began the journey on his knees, increasing the instability. When he reached the rail, a gigantic crash was heard from below.

“Sounds like we dislodged the support beam,” Todd said from the safety of the roof. Jimmy hauled himself up the stairs and heard the sounds of water gushing mingled with little girls’ screams.

“I hope we didn’t kill anybody,” Jimmy gasped.

“Correction: you drilled that hole. You are responsible. I’m outta here.”

“What? Todd, wait, I….”

Todd was gone before Jimmy could finish. Where could he go now? Well, how did he usually deal with a crisis? Eat a big bowl of ice cream and watch cartoons. Yes, that sounded good…now, to get home…

He found a construction truck parked outside the school and hopped in. At least he knew how to drive. Where was his home? He noticed his driver’s license sitting on the seat next to him…. the address was practically in the same neighborhood he lived in. He drove, praying (which he never did) that this was just a dream.

He arrived at a normal, white flat that was coincidentally four houses down from his parent’s. He parked, stepped out, and unlocked the door, finding that the outside had been very deceiving. Dirty dishes covered the counter, wrappers and papers strewn everywhere, and the living room was like a laundry hamper. Jimmy shifted through the mess to the refrigerator. He opened the door, and only found a single moldy apple. Oh well….let’s see what’s on television…

As he passed into the living room, he noticed a red twenty one flashing on his answering machine. He pressed the button, which he regretted five seconds later.

“Mr. Harris, this is Pricilla Jones from Jones Construction…I’ve been informed that your construction job just destroyed East Lake Elementary School’s restroom. I’ve also been informed that when the ceiling beam crashed, some ceiling debris hit a little girl in the restroom at the time and….she’s in the hospital with a concussion. You’ll be expected to pay that bill…and, by the way, you are fired. I’m very disappointed; you showed a lot of promise. Good bye.”

Pricilla Jones from the bus just fired him? Well, who cared about working? He did hope the little girl would recover…

The next message began. “Mr. Harris, this is the Aldelphia Cable Company…letting you know that we’ve disconnected you from our channels. You haven’t paid the bill in six months…have a nice day.”
Have a nice day??? Who could have a nice day without Spongebob? Jimmy thought.
He erased the rest of the messages and walked over to the counter. Were all these papers overdue bills? His thoughts were shattered by the telephone. He picked up.
“Jimmmmy….got a favor to ask of you….” a slurred voice said.

“Sabra?” Jimmy exclaimed, “what’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing….I just wanted to drop some stuff off at your place, you know, so my friends wouldn’t break in and steal it…” He heard her take a few gulps of something and hang up…and he thought he was a wreck?
A dangerously thin and crazed eyed woman showed up at the door a few minutes later.
“Jimmmmy…here’s the stash,” she flashed a band of rotten teeth.
Jimmy took a peek inside and found a variety of pills that looked like they hadn’t come from the drugstore, along with a few needles.

“Sabra, are you crazy? I don’t want these…I…”

Sabra stumbled in from the doorway and fell onto the floor.

“Oops,” she hiccupped. Jimmy noticed an electronic band secured to her ankle. He recalled from several cop shows what that meant.

“You’re under house arrest??”

Soon the scream of a siren filled the street as a police car pulled up. A giant man strode to Jimmy’s doorway, and announced himself. “Police, open up!”

Jimmy peeked out as the officer’s muscular frame filled the doorway. He grabbed the bag from Jimmy’s hands and frowned, and then eyed Sabra sprawled on the floor.

“You both are going to have to come with me,” he put a firm hand on Jimmy’s shoulder. Jimmy glanced at his name badge: Sheriff Boris Morris.

Sheriff Morris started the engine and glanced at Jimmy and Sabra, who was passed out next to Jimmy. “Are you Jimmy Harris?” he asked.

“Yes,” mumbled Jimmy, “Sheriff Morris.”

“You haven’t changed much,” chuckled Morris.

Jimmy thought about strangling him, but decided not to when he noticed a stale donut on the floor. Heavenly food! Jimmy reached down and stuffed it into his mouth. He was feeling an intense pain in his chest-and he wasn’t certain if it was because of Boris Morris or Sabra or both.

Soon they pulled up to the station, and were led in with a firm grip on each on them. Jimmy noticed Buzz screaming in the confessional room.

“Officer, how can I help it if my mother had a heart attack because of my rock music? Go arrest Def Leopard, then!” Jimmy stuffed the last of the donut in to his mouth, but the pain was worsening. He gasped for air.

“Can’t…breathe…” he rolled onto the floor and turned as white as the powdered donut he had just eaten. Was he….dying of a heart attack? No more donuts….no more….life.





***

Jimmy awoke and found the school nurse hovering over him.

“Jimmy, you passed out in gym…do you remember it?”

Jimmy sat upright and looked down at himself. He wasn’t three hundred pounds! He hadn’t had a heart attack!

“Oh my God, I’m alive! Pricilla didn’t fire me! I didn’t kill a little girl in the bathroom!” he exclaimed.

The nurse looked at him strangely. “I think you’d better rest at home, Jimmy.”






***
Jimmy fell asleep, concluding the five hour completion of his Algebra homework, until Sabra woke him.




“Jimmy, were you doing…your homework?” Sabra asked, looking shocked.
Jimmy raised his head. “At least I won’t grow up to be a drug addict like you.”
Sabra’s eyes widened. “Loser!” She stormed out.
Jimmy got ready and walked onto the bus, offering a grin to Ernie before he took a seat next to Todd. He didn’t bother saying anything until he heard Sabra sneer,
“Look at Pricilla’s clothing! God, she looks like she’s forty years old!”
Jimmy yelled, “Sabra, leave Pricilla alone!”
“What, you like her or something?” Sabra sneered.
“You should treat people the way that you want to be treated.” he replied.
The ride was spent wordlessly until Ernie opened the door. Jimmy walked out, and found a pair of big blue eyes looking at him.
“Thanks,” Pricilla smiled at him.
Jimmy’s face flushed. “Um, no problem.” He glanced at her, struggling with her overloaded backpack. He took it from her. “Let me help you.”
“That would be great,” her gaze fixed on him. Jimmy felt as if he was having a heart attack all over again. He walked with her in silence until he finally said, “You must have a lot of homework.” She nodded in reply.
“I usually tell the teacher some stupid thing like the dog ate my homework, but now I realize that we get homework for a reason.”
“You’re smarter than you think,” she replied. He looked at her, and knew he would do homework for the rest of his life if it meant hanging out with someone like Pricilla.
I guess girls aren’t so bad after all, he thought.





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