After school, I usually take the bus. But today I ditch the bus full of screams and B.O. and decide to walk. It's a somewhat long travel from school to home, but I need to see what happened to Kevin today. It's unlike him to miss a day of school. Even on sick days, appointments, whatever, nothing would allow him to break his perfect attendance. So today, I decide to walk by his house to see why he was gone today.
His house is about four blocks away from the school house. I go around the back so I can view in through the backyard, where sure enough, that's just where he is. Kevin's is fairly big, at least compared to most of the dirt boxes around this town. Two stories and a lush, green, fenced in backyard with trimmed hedges, almost Home & Gardens Magazine-worthy.
Kevin is sitting on the edge of the hammock stuck in the ground about a yard away from the patio with the lawn chairs and a barbecue grill, his feet planted in the grass. He sits hunched over with his head held and a glum look over his face.
I toss my backpack over the chain link fence before hopping over myself. Kevin's yapping Yorkie puppy comes charging towards me upon landing finally alerts him to my presence. His head raises to look in my direction as I'm scratching the curly-haired little pup's head. I smile back at him, but he only responds with a meaningless half-smile and a slight wave. He looks uncharacteristically bummed. What's wrong with him?
I abandon the pup and walk across the yard towards Kevin, the dog following at my heel.
"Hey," I say to him once I reach him. "Why the long face?" I ask.
His head drops back down, his eyes gazing vacantly down in his lap. "Guess you didn't hear the big news, huh?" he says, his voice as low as he looks.
"Um, no," I answer. I drop down to sit Indian-style on the grass as I ask, "What news?"
Kevin raises his head and exhales, "I've been suspended from school."
"WHAT?" I explode, "How the fuck did you suspended?"
"Bradley," he answered in a somber mumble, "According to him, I'm the one who knocked him down and made him break his ribs. That's what he told the principal anyway."
I rise back up to my feet, my hands balling into fists at my sides. My foot raises and kicks up a fistful of grass and dirt out from the ground as I roar, "That son of a BITCH!" After a few furious pants, I ask, "The principal actually bought that crock of shit?"
Kevin cracks a smirk. "Heh, yeah. Well why wouldn't he? Who's he more likely to believe: the football superstar, or the class geek?" His hands are raised palm facing up, raising and lowering like a scale weighing the options he just verbalized.
"This is bullshit," I hiss, pacing back and forth across the grass. The puppy follows my movements, dashing back and forth, tongue hanging out and tail wagging like he thinks I'm wanting to play with him or something. "What do your parents think?"
"I swore that I didn't do a thing, and they know I wouldn't do something like that, so they're on my side on this, thank God. They tried to convince the school of my innocence, but, my word against Bradley's."
"There's no way he can get away with this."
Kevin's shoulders shrug, defeated. "What can you do?"
"He's not getting away with this," I growl under my breath, the hair on the back of my neck raising like porcupine needles.
All of a sudden, Kevin's puppy growls and barks like mad at the air above my head, the hair along his spine raised in a feral mohawk. Kevin calls his dog to him and pulls him up into his lap, petting his head, trying to calm him, but he still stares above my head, growling under his breath, an enraged look in his eyes. Stupid dog.
After I leave Kevin's, I walk the rest of the way home in a fury. I slam the front door so hard I thought it would've exploded into splinters and stormed into the comfort of my own room. I could not believe that bastard Bradley! How dare he get Kevin in trouble for his own clumsiness! What kind of sadist does something like that? Bradley, apparently. Though I shouldn't be too surprised; this kind of sleazy underhandedness is right up his alley. Spreading rumors, calling names, knocking books out of his hands, pushing and shoving him were bad enough, but this was too much. There's no way he's getting away with this.
A 'clunk' sounds from within my closet, like something inside just fell. I groan, "Aw crap." and slide open my sliding closet door, looking amongst the inside for whatever may have just fallen. Laying face-up on the floor is Kevin's ouija board, the pointer laying on top of the board. How could that have fallen? Shit, I hope we don't have rats again. We used to have rats crawling around in the walls, scratching up the wood and making noise. I really hope they're not back; that would not be good.
I bend down to put the board back up, when the pointer glides across the board on its own. The sudden movement makes me gasp and jump back a step. The pointer continues to move, spelling out: L-U-K-A-S. Lukas. Me?
"Okay Luke," I whisper reassuringly to myself, "It's just another hallucination. It isn't real. Just pop your pill and everything will be just fine."
The pointer still continues to spell: P-I-L-L-S-B-L-O-C-K-I-N-G-U-S. In a final act of impatience, I yank the board and its pointer off the floor, and toss back into my closet, slamming the door back shut on it. When the door is shoved back into its frame, I hear the board hit against the door with a rough bang. But I refuse to acknowledge it. Instead I get out my bottle and swallow my pill. After a few seconds, the clouds roll in over my brain. I slide the door back open, and I see the board and pointer sitting on the top shelf on the inside of my closet, just as I had left it on Halloween night.