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Quote of the Week: "History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives." - Abba Eban, Israeli statesman (1915-2002)


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 Post subject: Fast Times at SD.Net High PostPosted: 2004-07-14 11:13am
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Bile-Driven Hate Machine
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Joined: 2002-07-03 06:26pm
Posts: 17927
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
And now, the season premier. Characters were based loosely (I can't stress that word enough) on the members they're named after. Physical descriptions, when available, were based on images available in the "What Do You Look Like?" threads, the members' avatars, and/or the writers' imaginations. This work is copyright blah blah blah.

----------------------

Principal Stravo slouched just a little further in his chair. What is this now, 10 times he's been in here? In two days? He asked himself. Sometimes he loved his job; other times he hated it. The kids saw him as some Orwellian nightmare figure. He could goose-step around the halls with a swastika on his right arm and one of those lens-on-a-string things that only evil Nazi guys in the movies ever wore without damaging his reputation.

Kids need to understand authority. That's why I'm doing this. To mold them into productive citizens. He pondered his own thoughts for a moment. Yeah, that should keep me sleeping at night.

"Are you stoned or something?" Stravo's head tilted slightly up, more as a attentive reflex than a result of actually caring about what the student on the business-end of his ornate, wooden desk had asked. The student in question, Walter, had to have possessed a brain. Stravo could simply not find a way around that simple necessity. Locked away, underneath the round cranium and face that looked like a pepperoni pizza that had been sitting under a sunlamp for the past 10 hours, there had to be a brain.

Mmm ... pizza. Stravo made a mental note to start having the cafeteria serve pepperoni pizza on ... What day is it today? Oh right, Tuesday.

"Listen Walter, I know that students often like to nickname other students, but that doesn't mean that--" Walter cut him off.

"My name is TRANSCEND!" He exclaimed.

"But that doesn't mean that teachers have to respect those nicknames in class during roll-call," Stravo finished, ignoring Wally's outburst. In the frequent times Wally had been in his office, Stravo had learned that it was best to speak in compound sentences. Wally had a propensity of cutting him off, so he figured that he'd like to at least get one, complete thought out of his mouth before the 15 year-old sophomore forcibly injected his conversational equivalent of epinephrine into the still-beating heart of a hapless sentence.

Wally, or Transcend, as he insisted on being called, had a problem with authority, specifically any authority which did not address him as "Transcend" or instead addressed him as "Tranny," "Wally" or "Dumb-ass." To this end, he often disrupted classes by yelling at his teacher for having the temerity to use his real name.

"Why is it so fucking hard to just fucking call me by my REAL NAME?" Wally asked. Stravo was beyond the point of caring about some foul language. Technically, it was against the rules, but a foul mouth was the least of this kid's problems.

Stravo sighed, exasperated.

"Just get out of here and stop harassing your teachers," he said. He wished he could get a button installed under his desk, one of the cool ones in the movies. A button that would activate the spring-loaded ejector plate underneath the chair opposite him. A spring-loaded ejector plate powerful enough to propel a student into low orbit. He'd even settle for a trap door leading to a fire-pit, like Dr. Evil had.

He was fairly certain that the board would shout down that budget proposal fairly quickly, though. Those were the types of hunches he usually followed.

Wally removed his ass from the chair which regrettably had no ejector plate underneath it. Stravo noticed a slight aberration in the boy's uniform as he was leaving the office. His navy-blue button-up shirt was defiantly untucked in the back. This was probably no fault of Wally. The kid had no relaxed state of being, so he was always leaning forward whenever he sat in a chair, pulling his shirt out of its housing in his khakis.

Nevertheless, it annoyed Stravo. The longer he spent at this school, the more little things began to annoy him. He was about to reprimand Wally for his dress-code impudence, but he figured it'd be best left to one of the student hall monitors, whose job it was to spot uniform violations and report roving students.

Who watches the office floor at eleven? Stravo asked himself. Ah yes, Spanky. Spanky was about as straight-arrow as students came these days. Though Stravo thought that he took his "power" as a hall monitor a little too seriously, at times.

Ah well. He'll give ole Wally Hell, Stravo thought to himself, satisfied at Wally's fate upon attempting to return to class while in violation of the school's dress code.

Stravo checked the time. Oh right ... eleven. 4 hours still until dismissal. Those 9 to 5 fuckers have it easy. His eyes wandered down from the clock to the second drawer on the right of his desk. He pulled it open, revealing the usual host of office crap that he didn't use. This drawer's sole purpose in life was to be filled with shit ... and a flask, which was in turn, filled with Captain Morgan's spiced rum. He lifted it from the desk drawer, holding it aloft like a prize and examining it as if he hadn't had it for decades.

It was quite a beautiful flask, all black with a silver etching that read "Class of 1969 Official Teller of Tales" in a pompously ornate font, with a quill pen and ink behind the text.

Aah, those were the days, he reminisced about his days at old Sunnyvale Central High, back when Sunnyvale only had one high school. The place had never been "new." It had been shitty and run-down as long as anyone could remember. The computer labs received an upgrade to 1997 technology around 2004, and the science labs were wonders of modern science in that they had managed never to kill a single student, despite numerous gas leaks and a 65% smoking rate among the student population.

But with the influx of soccer moms equipped with their fertile wombs and child-bearing hips, Sunnyvale, 10 years ago, decided that it was time for another high school. So was built Sunnyvale East, which quickly became the arch-rival of Sunnyvale Central. The Sunnyvale Central kids hated the Sunnyvale East kids because they were richer than a Corvette's exhaust, and the East kids hated the Central kids because the Central kids could kick their rich, pansy asses. Also, the East kids didn't like paying the Central kids' 50% markups on seedy dank. In fact, Central pretty much had a monopoly on supplying marijuana to the rich, white suburban kids, so the kids at Sunnyvale East began calling Central "Sunnyvale Dank," or "SD" for short.

They'd thought themselves terribly clever, but the Central kids had taken a liking to the nickname, much like early Americans had adopted the derisive term "Yankees." Despite their fondness for the nickname, they retaliated anyway by calling the East kids the "Sunnyvale Bitches," or "SB" for short.

Then the town decided it was time for Sunnyvale Central to go. Well, not so much "go" as "evolve into a parking lot," specifically a parking lot for a new high school. That school's name was Sunnyvale West High School. Brand new with state-of-the-art, spiffy-ass stuff. And it was all for the kids on the wrong side of town. Especially the metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs.

This naturally infuriated the East kids, and thus did Sunnyvale West inherit the spot of Sunnyvale Central in Sunnyvale East's "People we fucking hate" book.

And now, Stravo was the head honcho of this institution. This institution, which admitted a kid who insisted on being called "Transcend." He eyed his flask again. Okay, you win.

He unscrewed the cap and brought the flask to his lips, slowly tipping back in his chair rather than tilt his head back to start the flow of liquor to his stomach. The alcohol hit his tongue like liquid flame, if there was such a thing. He inhaled the cleansing aroma and let himself forget about the bloody place for a few seconds. He imagined himself in a court room, arguing an epic legal battle about something important and awing the audience and jurors with his insight and powerful voice. Man ... why didn't I go to law school?

Mid-gulp, his intercomm buzzed, wrenching him back to reality. His eyes lazily rolled to where the obscene creation sat on his desk, partially obscured by the flask still held to his face. "Mr. Stravo, two students were just caught having sex in the janitor's closet. They're on their way down to your office right now," it squawked, ever the bearer of bad news. Stravo paused to consider this. A wave of apathy washed over him, and if he could've resigned himself any more to the bottle, he would have.

He tipped the flask again. God damn first week of school.

***************************************
Fast Times at SD High
*
* Starring
*
*The Kernel
*Joe
*Iceberg
*The Duchess of Zeon
*Innerbrat
*
* Also Starring
*
* Stravo
*
*
* Featuring
*
* Transcend, Spanky the Dolphin, Aerius,
* JMac, RedImperator, Durandal, Dalton,
* Patrick Degan, Dark Hellion, David,
* Bored Shirtless, Col. Crackpot
* Vympel, and MKSheppard
*
*
* Written by
*
* Damien Sorresso and Matthew Lineberger
*
* Executive Producers
*
* Damien Sorresso and Matthew Lineberger
*********************************************

*********************************************
*Episode 101: The Kernel Comes to SD, Pt. 1 *
*********************************************

Fourth period ... do I have anything fourth period? Dalton mused to himself. The surrounding chaos of the class-changing period in the halls of Sunnyvale West High School didn't do wonders for his mental faculties. All the bustling and noise made it hard to think. He weaved his way through the swarm of students, twisting and turning his body to avoid bumping into the other bodies in the hall.

Oh yeah ... my fourth period art class, with me being the art teacher. Now where do I have my fourth period art class ... Dalton presented his brain with its next challenge. The synapses fired up, seeking this crucial bit of information. North Wing, room 424. Dalton smiled. Well done, brain. Well done, indeed.

He began planning his route. His somewhat twisted sense of humor began placing targeting boxes around the impediments in his path, walls, doors, students. If I had a rocket launcher, I'd make somebody pay. Alas, he could not simply obliterate the obstacles presented to him, for he had no rocket launcher. And it was probably illegal, anyway.

--

Spanky was ever-watchful from his perch on the wall of the office floor's hallway. He'd let that deviant Wally off with a warning about his shirt being untucked just before the ever-present bell rang out the signal that second-period was over. Next time, he wouldn't be so forgiving.

His eyes drifted across the masses. Like a choppy stream, they ran from right-to-left and left-to-right, all under his vigil. Many girls had their skirts rolled up at least half-an-inch too high. It was an unfortunate reality that he could not accost them all and doll out punishment. No, he thought. Let the little fish go. Look for the big ones; make a name for yourself.

Almost on cue, his nose picked up an unmistakable scent. Slightly minty, but heavy and musty. He knew that smell. It was the stink of uselessness, the stink of a net-zero worth to society. That stink was of marijuana smoke. And he'd bet dollars to donuts he knew where it was coming from.

Immediately he began actively scanning for two particular targets. He picked them up immediately, such was the keenness of his visual acuity. What they all failed to realize was that, with his glasses, his vision was 20/15. The very device meant to compensate for his natural visual deficiency had actually enhanced it beyond natural limits. He knew there had to be an anime based around that plot somewhere.

Spanky's eyes narrowed. There they were, dopey smiles plastered on their faces and all. They still had their backpacks on. Keeping one's backpack on during transition periods was expressly forbidden by the student handbook, which meant only one thing. They must be late. Sometimes he impressed himself with his detective work, his ability to spot small inconsistencies that any normal person would doubtlessly miss. They even had their sunglasses on still. Were the fools trying to get caught?

Damien Sorresso and Matt Lineberger, otherwise known as "Red," slowly sauntered through the halls. They weren't so much as bumping into people as acting like the high school hallway equivalent of 80 year-old drivers. Those two were unquestionably high, but Spanky had to wait for confirmation. Wait for it. Then he saw Sorresso remove his sunglasses, with Red following suit. Sorresso was nearest him, and he made the mistake of looking in Spanky's general direction. Sorresso's "Drugs are bad ... mmmkay?" tie taunted the very institution of law itself. Then Spanky saw it. His eyes were bloodshot. Should've listened to Ben Stein, stoner. Your ass is mine, now.

Fucking contemptible drug users, Spanky thought. It's a good thing that swearing in one's own thoughts was not covered in the student handbook, lest he'd reprimand himself for his slip. The law applies equally to all, even when you don't like it. Especially when you don't like it.

He needed to find a teacher, alert him that two contemptible stoners were now wandering the halls, completely care-free. We'll see how care-free they are when they're rotting in jail.

Spanky's head snapped around, his mind instinctively pointing him to the places a teacher was most likely to be. There, walking only a few meters behind the two contemptible stoners was Mr. Dalton, unaware of the trouble that was even now lurking so closely to him. He had to get to him, but he needed to be covert about it. He didn't want his quarry to be scared off. He had to smoothly merge with the flow of traffic, become inconspicuous. He took a deep breath and plunged into crowd.

And directly into the path of a girl rushing to class. The collision almost caused her to drop her books. Clumsy bitch. Her "Watch it, asshole!" was only a vague echo in his pursuit of the greater justice. "Mr. Dalton!" He said, constantly looking back to make sure Sorresso and Red weren't on to him. They weren't. The fools were oblivious. "Mr. Dalton!"

--

Dalton froze. No, it must just be your imagination. He's only supposed to be here between second and third periods.

The call sounded again. Dalton realized now that something was terribly wrong. His eyes widened as his brain began diverting the adrenaline necessary for a quick getaway, should it come to that. He hoped to God that it would not. But then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw it. The thick glasses, the immaculate uniform with not a single flaw in its presentation and the hall-monitor sash. Spanky was here.

They said he was only here between second and third period! Dalton's brain exclaimed again, willing reality to bend to its preconceptions. Dalton looked at his watch. Eleven o'clock. Oh God ... it is between second and third period! He had to think fast. Spanky was closing. Don't make eye contact, whatever you do. Somehow, Dalton always ended up being Spanky's go-to authority figure whenever he had to rat someone out. I should've just fucking failed him last term! Then he'd hate me and never talk to me again! Dalton lamented. But there was no time for that now. What's done is done.

Dalton looked around. He spotted a male student moving next to him. "Excuse me, Mister," He paused, checking his list of emergency names that were queried whenever he needed to make one up. Query complete. "Mister Johnson. I believe you owe me a paper still." The poor student was utterly confused.

"What? It's the second day of school!" He seemed genuinely distressed. Dalton leaned in closer.

"Just play along ... please."

"Well, okay, Mr. um ... Guy." He clearly didn't know Dalton, and Dalton didn't know him, either. Dalton began quickening his pace and making hand gestures, as if he was explaining something to the boy. Something important. About a paper.

Dalton knew that Spanky could not leave the hall during the changing period. He made his way toward sanctuary, the double-doors leading to the stair well, at an ever-quickening pace. He continued warding Spanky off with his bullshit conversation. Dalton looked up. He saw the doors! He rushed through them and down the stairs with the student.

The bell rang and he let out a sigh of relief. He was safe. He and the confused student were late for their respective classes, however. Wait, I've got third period off! Dalton realized. Teacher's lounge, here I come!

The boy looked around nervously. "Um ... I'm late for class. Could I get a note from you or something?" Dalton figured it would be appropriate recompense for the boy's help. He opened his brief case and dug out a crappy sheet of paper and a pen. He wrote a small note on the paper. "Please excuse this kid for being late or whatever. -Dalton." A name wasn't required. His style and sloppy hand-writing would tell the kid's teacher that it was genuine.

"Here you go," he said, handing the kid the note. The kid read it and, though confused, simply accepted it.

"Thanks," the kid said back. Dalton dismissed his gratitude.

"No, thank you."

"Sure, uh, no problem." He turned to leave.

"Hey, what's your name?" Dalton asked before he'd fully turned around. The kid's head turned toward Dalton.

"Name? Well my friends call me Kernel," he said.

"Ah, okay, cool. Well thanks, Kernel," Dalton said. Dalton began making his way to the teacher's lounge, where donuts almost assuredly awaited him. Mmm ... donuts.

--

I don't get it, Spanky thought to himself in the now-empty hallway. He must not have heard me. It didn't matter. This was just a minor setback. There was still the whole school year to finish out. He'd catch those contemptible stoners eventually; it was only a matter of time.

But he could worry about that later. He had to get to his study hall. As a hall monitor, he was allowed some leeway on his arrival at class because of his duties, but he'd best not abuse the consideration he was given by being more than a couple minutes late. Lead by example.

He started walking to his next class, when he saw two students, roaming the halls. A boy and a girl ... and they ... they ... They're holding hands! Public displays of affection were explicitly forbidden in the student handbook! And they're talking and laughing, as if nothing is wrong!

The male was talking now. What was his name? He couldn't remember the name and face of every lawbreaker, but this one stood out for repeated offenses. Aerius. Yes, the scofflaw's name is Aerius. And he was with his girlfriend, a brunette in the Natalie Portman tradition with a set of swimmer's legs that stretched all the way up to the heaven that was her hour-glass torso. Her name was Jennifer MacKenzie, but she was known to the students as "JMac."

"You know, that janitor's closet isn't so bad once you get a naked girl in there," Aerius said. JMac laughed at his comment. Spanky confronted them.

"What are you two doing?" He challenged.

"Relax, Gestapo, we're on our way to Stravo's office. Here's a pass," Aerius said in a tone that one might use to present a begging dog with a treat. He handed a hall pass to Spanky.

"That's Principal Stravo to you," he corrected, snatching the pass from Aerius' hand.

"Yeah, whatever," Aerius said. Spanky examined the pass.

Just before he was about to give his authorization for them to continue, JMac looked sympathetically at him. "Aw, he's so cute, with the little sash ... and the hair!" She reached out and ... and ... She touched me! What am I? A furry animal?!

His mental alert klaxons began blaring as she ruffled his hair, destroying his hair style, a facsimile of some random anime character's, right down to the obnoxious shininess. He spent 15 to 20 minutes every morning perfected it with his level 10 extra-crispy-hold hair gel, only to have it messed up by some floozy!

Some gorgeous floozy who just said you were cute.

He was stunned. Physical contact of any type with a female always did this to him. Women were a powerful lot, able to manipulate even the most resolute and battle-hardened soldiers in the fight for justice, like himself, with the slightest brush of the hand. And exert that power Miss Jennifer MacKenzie did, like a paralyzing venom delivered with an enchanting smile.

The couple made their way down to Stravo's office for a stern lecture, or at least as stern as Stravo could manage after he'd probably spiked his morning coffee. Aerius said something about never letting JMac's hand near his dick again after being in Spanky's hair.

Spanky stood in the middle of the empty, silent hallway for a minute. Then he rushed off to the nearest bathroom.

--

The Kernel had been hoping for a quiet entrance to his third period class, so of course the door screeched like a cat in heat. The teacher turned away from an intimidating series of symbols and numbers he'd been scribbling on the blackboard to glare at the late arrival.

"Can I help you?" he asked, putting more menace than the Kernel would have thought possible into a Louisiana accent. He was tall and broad and wore his hair down to his shoulders, framing his face like an Egyptian helmet. He actually bore a striking resmebelance to Megatron.

"Uh, sorry I'm late, Mr. Degan." The Kernel congratulated himself on remembering his logic teacher's name. He skittered forward to hand him the note Mr Guy (for lack of a better name) had given him.

Degan read the note and sighed. Probably Spanky again, he thought. "Alright. Don't let this happen again. Next time, just keep on walking; Dalton's not that fast." He gestured to an empty desk on the far side of the room. "Welcome to Sunnyvale West."

David Hellenberg watched the exchange from the back of the classroom, struggling mightily to control his rising glee. A newbie! Oh a newbie a newbie a newbie! Just wait 'till I get him! That'll show those seniors I'm a real 'Sunnyvale Damp'!" He absentmindedly stroked his penis while he thought of all the fun ways he would torment the newcomer and how all the seniors would love him.

"Mr. Hellenberg, do you mind?" snapped Mr. Degan.

David jerked his hand away from his love-rod like it was a snake. Better look cool, he thought. "I told you my name is Dark Hellion," said David. "David Hellenberg is dead."

Degan rolled his eyes. "Jesus H. Christ, not another one." The class burst into laughter. Dark Hellion sank into his seat, burning with shame. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the new kid snicker once or twice.

Yuk it up, noob. Your time is coming. Soon you'll face the wrath of Dark Hellion! His penis stiffened again and DH stuck his right hand in his pocket.

----

The Kernel had stopped at his locker and gathered his things for fourth and fifth periods, and started towards the east wing, when the kid who'd been playing with himself in logic class stepped into his path. Three weedy looking dweebs followed him.

"Uh, hey," said the Kernel.

"So I hear you're new here," said DH.

"Yeah. What gave it away?"

"Shutup, noob," said one of the dweebs. The Kernel had named them Moe, Larry, and Shemp for easy reference. The one who'd told him to shut up was Moe.

"Uh, right," said The Kernel. "I'm going to be late, so if you don't mind..." He tried to push past DH. DH nearly looked as if he would try to stop him, but then stepped aside. Moe, Larry, and Shemp also got out of the way. Alright, then, that was easier than I thought it would be.

On some hidden signal, Shemp's arm chopped down on The Kernel's books. Sadly for Shemp, his dweeby noodle limb was unable to do much more than harass the books, and he grabbed his forearm and yelped in pain.

"Oh for fuck's sake," said DH, who lunged forward and knocked the books out of The Kernel's arm onto the floor in front of Larry, who kicked them into a convenient stairwell.

The Kernel spun to face DH, who was too busy stroking himself to realize he was about to have the bridge of his nose knocked into his sinuses.

"Hey! What's going on here?" A hall moniter, not the same one who'd been chasing Mr. Dalton, came up the stairs brandishing one of the Kernel's books. "I almost got hit in the head."

"Sorry, David!" groveled DH. The Stooges assumed the posture and expression of three small dogs just caught piddling on the rug.

"Go away," said David.

"He started it," said Moe.

"Shut up and go away," said David, rolling his eyes. He pointed at The Kernel. "Pick up your shit and get to class." He tossed The Kernel his biology book and walked away.

"Right," said The Kernel. He glared at DH, who was skittering away from the hall moniter as fast as his dignity would allow, which was very fast indeed. The Stooges, being toadies with no need for dignity, were running even faster.

The Kernel decided it would be best not to press the issue right away. He sighed and started down the stairs, looking for his books. A redheaded female student who was making her uniform look much better than the designers had intended was standing on the lower landing, holding his math and Spanish books.

"These yours?" she asked.

"Uhhhhh?"

"The books. Are these your books?"

"Oh, yeah. Um...yeah."

The redhead smiled like she was used to this reaction. "Here you go, then," she said, and she held them out to him. It took the Kernel a moment to figure out how to grab them without dropping the one already in his hand. She snickered at him.

"I'm Marina," she said.

"My friends call me The Kernel," he replied. "Pleased to meet you."

"I'd say the pleasure is mine, but it's obvious who's enjoying himself more," said Marina. The Kernel turned fire engine red and Marina smiled like she was definitely used to this reaction.

"So, anyway, where are you off to now?"

"Biology with Mr. Vympel."

"Hey, me too." God damn, she's hot. thought The Kernel.

"Well, then, follow me." The Kernel was more than happy to oblige, especially when he got his first good look at her skirted rear end.

"By the way," said Marina.

"Yeah?"

"I'm a lesbian."

"Damn," said the Kernel. A moment later, he realized he'd said it out loud. He blushed so hard he thought his ears would catch fire.

Marina looked back and laughed at him. Here, no doubt, was a reaction she was very used to indeed.

--

It was noon. Lunch time for the masses. Stravo's mouth was drier than Utah on a Sunday, as alcohol tended to have that effect on one's hydration. Luckily for him, being principal gave him a certain sway with plumbers and maintenance personnel. He had take care to make sure that the drinking fountain outside of his office had ultra-cold water that came out with enough force to make men lesser than him blush, while every other fountain in the school more or less leaked water like a weak male orgasm.

Every school seemed to have shitty water fountains except for one, and students through the generations had long-suspected a conspiracy. But they can't prove anything, Stravo thought, relishing in his part in the vast conspiracy.

He stepped out of his office into the usual changing period rush and went straight to his pristine drinking fountain. He looked around at the students. Many looked like their parents, and he should know. He'd been at least acquaintances with plenty of them. Many parents of current students had attended Sunnyvale Central with him. This simple fact had given rise to one of his favorite activities, the one he called "Whose Mom Did I Fuck in High School?"

Let's see ... fucked his mom, fucked his mom ... He looked to a group of female students. Ooh, she's got her mom's tits. Man, I don't know her mom, but I'm sure I'd fuck her anyway. He saw Spanky coming down the hallway. Man, his mom was such a slut. What happened? He looked at a group of male students. Hey, that one kind of looks like m-- His train of thought was interrupted. He'd spotted a student making his way toward his immaculately icy drinking fountain, threatening to cut him off. He had to move quickly.

But dude, you're kind of drunk, the part of his brain he called Sensible told him.

Come on you pussy. Move your ass. One foot in front of the other, I'm fucking thirsty, the other part, Stupid, told him. Stupid sounded very threatening, so Stravo was compelled to listen to him.

He began walking. Slowly. Against the flow of traffic. The kids were shunting their paths around him, thankfully, making his quest for the precious aqua easier. The student making his way to the fountain was getting closer. Stravo realized that he would get there first, and his thirsty ass would be stuck waiting for the usurper to take his sweet time.

Life sucks. The student began gulping down the ice-cold water. Stravo was now in line behind him, like some common peasant.

Wait a second. He's got a bag-lunch. Is his name written on the bag? Stravo examined the brown parcel. It is ... in mommy's handwriting. He must be a freshman; you can fuck with him and put the little maggot in his place, Stupid said.

Good idea! Sensible agreed. Stravo was powerless to resist his brain's unified whim. He tapped the increasingly hydrated student on his shoulder. The student looked back at him.

"Move it," Stravo said, in no uncertain terms. He could certainly be imposing when he felt it necessary. The student apparently got it, picked up his skyscraper of books and skittered off like a roach in the light. Victory is mine! Stravo leaned down and began gulping his special water.

Then he heard a body slam against a locker. There were distinct qualities in the sound that made him sure it wasn't just a locker being slammed shut. When a student is thrown against a locker, the sound tended to be much deeper and resonate through the halls. Following were some grunts, then a chorus of blood-thirsty students chanting for the two combatants to pound each other's consciousness into next week. Blood-thirsty or just plain bored.

He straightened his posture and made his way over to the scene of the dispute. Not quickly, by any means. He always liked to let fights go on just long enough that there wouldn't be any dispute as to who the winner was or would have been in the general population. Such uncertainty just led to more violence later on. Beside that, Stravo liked a good fight as much as the next guy.

He pushed through the mob in time to see one boy on top of another about to perform some unlicensed plastic surgery with his fist on the other. The clear victor noticed Stravo before finishing his opponent and stopped with his coiled hand in the air. Stravo eyed him. He felt kind of like a Roman emperor, with the victorious gladiator waiting for his signal to send the slain to Elysium in shame. Stravo was tempted to give a thumb's down, but that might result in a messy situation with the PTA.

He recognized the two gladiators. He never could remember either's real name, so he'd assigned them nicknames which sprung from their deeds. The one on bottom he called "Crackpot." Crackpot had earned his nickname with his affinity for hatching utterly stupid ideas. He'd once sat down and asked Stravo, with a deadly straight face, if he could get permission to drop a freshman out of a third-story window as part of his physics project. Fortunately for a random freshman, Stravo had been sober at the time.

The other he called "Bored Shirtless," or just "Shirtless." The reason for this was simple. Shirtless had decided that his English class lacked proper stimulation. So he asked to go to the bathroom, and then creatively interpreted "Okay, you can go" as "Okay, you can go ... streaking down the hallway." He'd managed to get his shirt off before tripping himself while trying to jump out of his pants. Apparently Isaac Newton hadn't wanted to see his genitals any more than the rest of the school.

Stravo audibly cleared his throat. Well, Shirtless is winning, so that must mean that the US was wrong to invade Iraq for the time-being.

"Okay you two, quit flirting," he said with more exasperation than anything else.

Shirtless got off of Crackpot, and they both stood up. "He started it," Shirtless claimed.

"No, Hussein started it by defying UN resolutions," Crackpot shot back.

"Yeah, so why don't we just invade Israel too?" Shirtless countered. Stravo sighed.

"Both of you shut up." He looked around at the mob. "The rest of you get to lunch." Some gawkers remained. "Go. Food. Eat," he said in simpler, more angry-sounding terms. The rest slowly drifted away, leaving Stravo with the duelists in the hall. He unclipped his walkie-talkie from his belt.

"El Tee, come on down to the office floor. Shirtless and Crackpot went at it again," he said. The El Tee, otherwise known as the Dean of Discipline, was a retired Marines lieutenant. The board had thought him perfect for controlling the types of unruly students that tended to grace Sunnyvale West's halls. He was a master of twisted, underhanded retribution.

Rumor had it that he once punished a female student who was spreading nasty rumors about another girl by paying a male student to run around saying that she was the basketball team's pre-game free-throw practice. In those exact words.

No one ever found out if it was true (the story about the El Tee ... there had been no question that the girl was a slut). Not even Stravo knew.

"Okay, you on that side. You on that side. Both of you stare at the floor and look remorseful," Stravo commanded, directing each to opposite sides of the hall. "We're going to just wait for the dean to get here." He wished he'd had a bell to toll for them both.

Instead, a bell rang, indicating the start of lunch.

--

Marina led The Kernel out of Mr. Vympel's classroom, ahead of the crowd. "So," said The Kernel, "Where to--"

"For the last fucking time, your name is Walter!" shouted Mr. Vympel.

"--next?"

"Lunch."

"Hey cool, me too."

Marina smiled. Dear God: Why did you make her a lesbian? Your friend, The Kernel. "I'll introduce you to some friends of mine. I think you'll get along with them." Then she picked up her pace down the hall, giving The Kernel another view of her ass.

P.S. You're a fucker.

The cafeteria was noisy and crowded. The Kernel noticed Marina stopped at the door and peered in before continuing--understandable, as Sunnyvale West was legendary for its food fights. She led him to a table in the back corner, where two boys were in a heated argument while a blonde girl read a book.

"All you ever heard about Dean was that he was angry, he was unstable, he was this and that. Every story about him spun it that way."

"Have you considered that was because he was angry and unstable?"

"The giant conglomerates that run the media were threatened by Dean."

"The media was sucking his dick until he made the worst speech ever."

"Gentlemen," said Marina.

The two broke off the argument. "Hey Marina," said the Deanite. "Who's that?"

"This is The Kernel. Kernel, this is Mark--" she gestured at the Deanite, "and Joe." The anti-Deanite nodded hello.

"And this social butterfly is Debi." The blonde looked up at the Kernel, nodded imperceptibly, then went back to her book.

Something to take my mind of Marina, thought Kernel. "How's the food here?" he asked.

The other four all exchanged meaningful looks--even Debi managed to break away from her book.

"It's interesting," said Marina finally.

"I ... see," said Kernel.

Joe stood up. "Well, I'm going to go get something to eat. You coming Marina?"

"I think I'd rather stay here and discuss George Bush's inevitable triumph with Mark--"

"Eat me," said Mark.

"--but I'm sure you could show the Kernel what to avoid."

"Sure," said Joe. "C'mon, chief."

They walked to the front of the cafeteria and grabbed a pair of trays. "So are you new or something?" asked Joe. "I don't remember you from last year."

"I just moved to Sunnyvale."

"And your parents moved to the West side on purpose?"

"Uh, I guess. Is there a problem with the West side?"

Joe just shook his head and gestured at the room around him. "You tell me."

"Just looks like a regular high school."

"Just wait."

They got up to the counter. A markerboard was set up with the day's menu written upon it.

"Laced buttsteak? Ruffled squash boats? What the fuck is that?"

"The chef is a little bit of a sadist. By which I mean, don't order anything except the cheese sandwich."

"Good to know."

The chef, in fact, was standing behind the counter serving the students. He wore a name-tag that said "Ryan" pinned to a dirty camo tank top that said "I INTEND TO KILL SOMEONE. I AM VERY SERIOUS." in stencil letters. He had a fur hat with earflaps and a CCCP pin.

"Buttsteak or squash boats?"

"Cheese sandwich," said The Kernel.

"Buttsteak or squash boats?"

"Cheese sandwich."

"Buttsteak or squash boats?"

"Cheese sandwich! God dammit, what's that matter with you?"

"He's a little deaf," said Joe. He leaned in very close to Ryan. "CHEESE SANDWICH!" he bellowed.

Ryan looked very disappointed they weren't going to try the buttsteak or the squash boats. He pulled two sad, limp sandwiches wrapped in cellophane out of a laundry bin marked "Property of Corrections Department" and threw them both on Joe's tray.

"I'm starting to see what you mean," said Kernel.

"He's not always that surly. We get hamburgers on Strom Thurmond's birthday."

"I can't wait." They got to the register. "So, uh, about Marina ..."

"Yes, she's really a lesbian."

"I guess you get that a lot."

"Yep. Sorry man. She gets more pussy than I do." He paused. "Way more."

"So she's never been interested in any guys?" He paused. "Even if he was especially attractive?" He paid for his delicious feast.

"You mean like how most straight guys would fuck Legolas if they got desparate enough?" They started back towards the table.

"Yeah."

"No."

"Damn." After a moment, he added, "Well, what about Debi?"

"She's straight, but forget about that, too."

"Why?"

"Because--"

The Kernel's tray flew out of his arms and clattered across the floor. DH and the Stooges stood in front of them, laughing hysterically at DH's great wit.

"That's it, hatfucker," said The Kernel.

"Dude, no, the El Tee is here!" shouted Joe.

Too late. The Kernel lunged for DH's nose.

********************
*To be continued...*
********************


Last edited by Stravo on 2004-07-14 11:21am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2004-07-14 11:15am
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*************************************************
FAST TIMES AT SD HIGH

Starring
The Duchess of Zeon
Iceberg
Innerbrat
Joe
The Kernel

Also Starring
Lt. Hitman
Stravo

Featuring
Aerius
BoredShirtless
Col. Crackpot
Dark Hellion
Durandal
Einhander Snowman
Fgalkin
RedImperator

And
A Random Board Denizen Who Wants to be in the Fic
as
A Random Background Character

Written by
Matt Lineberger
Damien Sorresso

Executive Producers
Matt Lineberger
Damien Sorresso
*************************************************/

episode[2].setSeason (1);
episode[2].setTitle ("The Kernel Comes to SD");
episode[2].setPart (2, 2);

A hand like a steel clamp closed on Kernel's arm, neatly throwing him off target. Instead of smashing DH's nose, he grazed his cheek. Someone much bigger and stronger than him yanked him back and spun him around.

"Let's take a walk, junior." The man who'd grabbed him was seven feet tall and built like a refrigerator. He had a face like a brick with wild, crazy yellow eyes.

Joe watched the El Tee drag Kernel off to God only knew where. Hellenberg and his toadies stood smirking, Hellenberg's right hand jammed deep in his front pocket. Joe contemplated his chances in a four on one fight but decided he didn't like those odds, even against these clowns. He started to walk away.

"Hey Joe, how about you tell Marina I'm ready to make her straight," said DH. The toadies snickered at their master's wit.

"How about you tell her yourself, shitbrick?" The toadies blanched, but the smile didn't even leave DH's face. Joe walked away before he got tempted to test those bad odds.

Mark and Marina were still deep in debate when Joe returned. They'd missed the whole confrontation.

"Hey, where's the new guy?" said Mark when he noticed Joe.

"That shitstain Hellenberg knocked his lunch tray out of his hand and the El Tee grabbed him when he tried to punch him out."

"Well, isn't he quite the catch, Marina," said Debi.

"Hey, Hellenberg had it coming," said Joe.

"Right," said Debi. "I'm sure whatever he did was definitely worth being hauled off to the El Tee's dungeon."

"I'd go down to the El Tee's office if it meant punching Hellenberg," said Mark.

"No you wouldn't," said Debi. "Because you have a brain." She paused. "Of sorts."

"Don't tell me you're afraid of that gorilla," said Joe.

"Of course I'm not. But he's as sadistic as he is ugly, and he'd be happy to harass you for an entire year."

"Well, he's the new kid's problem, not ours," said Mark.

"Right. Because the El Tee is so fair minded he wouldn't jump all over our shit because we let the loose cannon new kid hang out with us."

"I'm telling you, DH deserved it. You would have decked him, if he had the stones to go after you," said Joe.

"Right," said Debi. "Everybody defend the lecher with a bad temper."

"Lecher?" said Marina.

"He was staring at my tits the ENTIRE TIME he was standing here!" she exclaimed.

"No he ... well, not the entire time," said Mark.

"I don't like him," said Debi. "And that's final."

"I stare at her tits all the time and she doesn't hate me," whispered Joe to Marina.

"Joe stares at your tits all the time and you don't hate him," said Marina to Debi.

"Marina, Goddammit!"

"As I don't really think of Joe as being someone with a penis, it doesn't bother me." Mark nearly inhaled a chunk of his buttsteak.

--

"Sorry, Stravo, I'm a little busy down here. Gotta haul some new kid down to the office," the El Tee's voice came over the walkie-talkie. Stravo sighed. This isn't fair. What good was being a principal if you couldn't shuffle disciplinary duties off to the dean when you needed to?

"What happened?" Stravo asked the walkie-talkie, just out of curiosity.

"Kid threw a punch at Hellenberg. I nabbed him before it landed, though."

Shit, Stravo thought. He was supposed to appear impartial in disciplinary matters, but Jesus would he love to see Hellenberg walking the halls with a nice, big shiner on his eye. His endless harassment of freshmen and transfer students got really tiresome after a while. Oh well. Stravo tried one last time to get out of dealing with Shirtless and Crackpot.

"You know, I could deal wi--"

"Nope, I got it."

Dammit, he's a sly one. "Okay," Stravo said, resigned to his fate. He clipped the walkie-talkie to his belt and looked at his two charges. They were still on opposite sides of the hall, looking remorseful, just as he'd ordered. "Well, you boys are in luck. The El Tee is otherwise indisposed."

Stravo looked at the two belligerent youths, trying to figure out what to do with them. They had a history, and he was getting sick of the two of them trying to constantly rewrite it. You know what? Fuck it.

"Both of you in my office, now," he commanded with an angry voice and a pointing finger. The two of them obediently headed into his office. He walked in after them and closed the door. They both sat silently in the chairs in front of his desk.

He sat down behind the desk and leaned forward with his hands clasped on its surface. "Okay boys, what's it been? A year that this shit has been going on?" They acknowledged his rhetorical question with silence. "We're putting an end to this." They both looked up, expecting one, the other or both to get expelled. What Stravo told them was about the exact opposite.

"You two are going to finish your little feud after school, two blocks down on Moseley Street, and I'm going to referee," Stravo said. The rule was that anything that went on beyond a two-block radius around the school was none of the school's concern, even if it involved students. Moseley Street was basically the SD High Mexican border, as it indicated the end of the two-block sphere of influence that the school had.

"After it's done, the winner is the winner, and the loser is the loser. You can spread whatever rumors you like after that about who won and who lost, but the only ones who will know for sure are the three of us. And if you two so much as even look at each other funny after today, it's immediate expulsion, no questions asked, for both of you. Three-fifteen, on Moseley. If one of you fails to show, you both get expelled. Are we clear?" Stravo laid it out for them.

The two looked at each other, stunned. They then turned back to Stravo and said, in unison, "Yes, sir."

--

The Kernel sat nervously ... no, actually nervous didn't quite cover it. He was either very terrified, or he'd overdosed on PCP. Whichever it was, he was certain that death lay at the end of his ordeal.

Well, I don't do PCP, the Kernel thought. That left being terrified. Of the El Tee. A small part of his soul died a meager death at that, sparing itself the imminent pain. At least with PCP, I'd die fast. There's no telling what this guy will come up with.

Across from him sat the El Tee. Back at his old school, the Dean of Discipline had had a very nice, furnished office. The Kernel had been in there on more than one occasion for lacking the capacity to take shit lying down. Now that he thought of it, the fanciness of the his old dean's office was probably one of the reasons he could never take the guy seriously.

The El Tee was apparently of the same school of thought as the Kernel. Instead of hauling him up to the office floor from the cafeteria, the El Tee had marched him down to the boiler room. Despite being a brand new school, SD High had a boiler room that looked like a converted bomb shelter. Somehow, there was an office down there, as indicated by the door with "EL TEE" carved in it by and punctuated with a survival knife. Once inside, the El Tee had pointed one, meaty finger to a small metal chair with red spots that he normally would've considered to be rust, but given his company, could just as easily have been blood spots. The Kernel's buttocks were now assigned to the chair indefinitely.

He didn't know much about this El Tee guy; he'd simply heard Joe mention the name just before he sent his fist on a collision course for Hellenberg's face. The Kernel got the feeling that it didn't take more than five minutes of exposure to the El Tee to know everything one needed to know. The Kernel had basically concluded that, if the movie Predator was based on actual events, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character was based off of a very tame, pussified version of the El Tee.

The Kernel shifted uncomfortably. He couldn't look straight ahead, seeing as the only light in the room, a desk lamp that looked about 30 years old, was pointed squarely at his face. He'd been sitting there for at least 5 minutes without the personification of pain sitting on the opposite end of the desk saying a word to him. The El Tee simply sat in his battered, old, leather chair, smoking a cigar. Not just any cigar, a big, smelly Cuban that probably would've torn Monica Lewinsky in half if she'd ever ventured to try it out.

Cuba's contraband pride and joy was the least of the Kernel's concerns, however. He couldn't be certain with the lack of light, but he was pretty sure that he saw the barrel of an M4A1 hanging on the wall, as well as the unmistakable silver sheen of a Desert Eagle.

The El Tee's face was a black shadow enshrouded by the smoke pumping out of the cigar like industrial air pollution. The Kernel looked up and saw two very serious eyes boring into his. Just then, the smoke in the immediate area of El Tee's face was disrupted as his low voice thundered out with enough bass to make the Kernel think the guy was somehow involved in THX promos.

"I've been thinking." Okay, no death yet, the Kernel thought. One of the El Tee's tree trunks, which looked suspiciously like arms, reached out and pounded lingering ash from the cigar into an old grease can with "FROM SHEP" crudely scraped into its surface where "Maxwell House" had probably once been. "You're new. You don't quite know the ropes around here. But you've figured out a thing or two."

The Kernel gulped. Was he supposed to speak? The increasingly long pause indicated that he should, and the fear of remaining silent quickly overwhelmed the fear of saying the wrong thing.

"Um ... uh ... what did I figure out ... sir?" The Kernel asked with piety and humility that would put a confessing Catholic to shame. The El Tee took another puff of his cigar before responding. The Kernel could hear the crackling of the burning paper and tobacco. Don't you dare cough.

"That Hellenberg's a poser and basically a fucking pussy." The El Tee's response had seemed so random and unexpected that the Kernel fought with all his might to put down the smirk threatening to creep across his face. Don't you dare laugh.

"Yes, sir," he said simply.

"Your punch didn't make contact, which means technically, you've done nothing to seriously damage your career at this institution. So I'm gonna let you off with a warning. This time." The El Tee rendered his verdict.

"Thank you, sir." The Kernel had to wonder just what a "warning" in this guy's book was.

"And your parents will be spared the knowledge of this little ... incident," the El Tee added. His idea of a warning was apparently to let you off scott-free once and then keep you inline by instilling a healthy fear of reprisal.

"You're dismissed."

--

"Oh come on, Hellenberg had it coming. He always has it coming," Marina whispered to Debi. There was no real seating arrangement in Mr. Galkine's "Spanish" class, so they just sat next to each other and discussed the new kid. Mr. Galkine had been yammering on about nothing in particular for the past 40 minutes, so there wasn't much else for them to do.

Yefim Mikhailovich Galkine wasn't Spanish, nor did he know Spanish. In fact, he probably couldn't even find Spain on a map without considerable help from Lady Luck. Mr. Galkine was a Russian in the proud tradition of stereotypes. The only thing thicker than his white mustache was his accent, and he bore a fair resemblance to Boris, the sneaky fucking Russian from the movie Snatch. The description fit, since he was famous for giving pop quizzes at the most inopportune times in his Russian class.

But that was his Russian class, which had been cut from the budget last term. Normally, when a foreign language teacher loses his class, he's out of a job, unless he knows another, non-English language, which Mr. Galkine did not. However, he could be a very intimidating individual, and given his likeness to a shifty arms-dealer from a film about a diamond heist, the board decided it would be best not to risk his retribution by terminating his contract. So they let him teach Spanish instead.

Incidentally, the students also had what was probably a very legitimate fear that Mr. Galkine kept all manner of assault rifles hidden under his floorboards. This had kept his house absent from students' TP'ing lists during Homecoming season.

While Marina and Debi had only been in the Mr. Galkine's Spanish class for a day, they could tell that all he really intended to do for the rest of the term was sit on the edge of his desk and talk about Russia for about 50 minutes every day of class.

"Yeah, Marina, casus belli, I know. But come on, the El Tee was right there. Who does he think he's fooling with that macho crap?" Debi whispered back. Marina seemed to like the Kernel, but he struck Debi as more of a loose cannon than anything else.

"And een Russia, zee tanning wuther vus twventy-five degree Centigrade be-low zeero."

"Like you've never wanted to see Hellenberg get his," Marina said, refusing to let Debi condemn an innocent man.

"That's not the point, Marina! The El Tee was right there," Debi said in defense.

"He's new! He doesn't know anything about the El Tee," Marina countered.

"In my home village, ve actually saw Spaniard at vun time."

"What's to know? A crew-cut sitting on top of 4 redwoods attached to a refrigerator should tell him everything he needs to know."

"So? That just means that he's got a pair."

"I still don't like him," Debi said.

"Aw, that's too bad, 'cause I think he likes you," Marina said with a blatant smile. Debi immediately turned red.

"Vell, ve didn't know for sewr eef he vas Spaniard. Ve just knew he vasn't Russian because he vas frozen een ice cube!" Mr. Galkine finished with what he must have thought was a masterful delivery, punctuating the joke with a hearty laugh and a slap on the knee. The muffled coughs that could only be mistaken for laughs by the severely deluded prompted him to take another rather large swig from his coffee mug.

"Oh stop it, Marina. I barely even looked at him!"

"So? He was checking out my tits in the hallway, and I hadn't even said five words to him," Marina said. "And Joe told me that he was asking about you."

"Even if he is interested in me, I don't want anything to do with someone who can't control himself," Debi said.

"Oh give him a break. He's from out of town and probably doesn't have any friends here," Marina said.

"Bot een cup vas really rat poison, bee-cuz een Russia, vee have vury large rats, thees big around," Mr. Galkine said, indicating the size of the beasts with his hands.

"He's not going to go around making friends by beating people up."

"Hellenberg's not the kind anyone but his little cronies want to be friends with anyway. You're not giving him a fair chance."

"And ven Vanya drank from cup, vee all thought he vas good as dead man."

"If you like him so much, why don't you date him?"

"Because I'm a lesbian."

"Uh huh, sure. I think this whole 'lesbian' thing is just a rebellious phase. I think you're the one who likes him, but you can't say it, so you have to say that I like him," Debi said, busting a move with psychoanalysis.

"Oh come on. He's kinda cute, but he's no substitute for a good vibrator, that's for sure," Marina said.

"Marina!" Debi kept her mock revulsion to a minimum noise level. "And you kiss your mother with that mouth!"

"We're not that kind of family," Marina said slyly. Debi unsuccessfully tried to suppress her laughter, letting an obnoxious and very audible snort out instead. The whole class turned their direction to see Debi's hand embarrassingly masking the lower half of her face. Mr. Galkine just kept on talking, and the class eventually turned back to what they were doing, which certainly wasn't learning Spanish.

"Bot Vanya deed not die. He peessed blood for a veek, and then was fine aftear that."

"But come on. He is cute. I'm a lesbian, and even I can admit it," Marina said, casting her lure into the water.

"Yeah, I guess he's cute," Debi said, snatching up the bait.

"You think he's cute!" Marina said, taunting her with a forefinger. Debi was furious.

"You bitch! You dirty, sinful lesbian bitch!" She said loudly enough for the whole class to turn back in her direction. Marina just kept snickering. Mr. Galkine was completely unperturbed.

"And a veek aftear that, vee vear out drinking weeth Vanya. Ven vee voke up zee next morning ..." Galkine made a confused gesture with his hands. "Vanya vas steel sleeping and not breathing. Cooronor told us zat he died from haaving moore vodka een bloodstream than plasma!" Galkine was very amused with himself. He practically laid on his desk to polish off the "coffee" in his mug.

"Practically" became "actually" as the bell rang, and Mr. Galkine, who was probably very drunk, stayed stationary on his desk with one arm hanging down, curled fingers barely holding on to his mug. Before leaving the classroom, Marina charitably took the mug out of his hand before he dropped it and put it on his chair, where she knew it wouldn't be disturbed.

--

Joe and Mark spotted Kernel in the hall just before the last bell. Joe waved him over.

"You're alive," said Joe.

"Yeah. I got off with a warning because the El Tee thinks DH is a fucknut."

"Sweet," said Mark. "It's probably good you didn't actually hit Hellenberg."

"I guess," said Kernel. "That's twice today he's knocked shit out of my hands and someone stopped me before I could beat his ass."

"He's not worth the trouble," said Mark. "He's gotten his ass kicked a few times before. There's no glory in it."

"He's a vulture," said Joe. "He and his pals pick on freshmen and new kids. Sometimes upperclassmen who are out of favor with the ruling elite."

"Sunnyvale has a ruling elite?"

Joe and Mark nodded. "It's sorta taboo to say it," said Mark, "but this whole place is basically run by thirty or forty seniors. It's been like that since before they tore down Central High."

"I see," said Kernel.

"Ever since Mike Wong," said Joe.

"Who's Mike Wong?"

Joe and Mark froze in their tracks. So did half a dozen people nearby.

"Uh, did I say something wrong?"

"You've been at Sunnyvale West for a whole day and you've never heard of Mike Wong?" Mark seemed boggled.

"Uh, I guess not. Should I have?"

"Mike Wong scored four touchdowns in the state championship against the Sunnyvale Bitches!" said a nearby student.

"Mike Wong could talk any girl in school into having buttsex!" said another.

"Mike Wong ran the biggest high school pornography ring in the STATE," said Joe, plainly awed by the very thought.

"Mike Wong practically DID talk every girl in the school into having buttsex," said Mark, in a state somewhere beyond awe.

"He paved the way for all of us," said Aerius, who'd wandered into the scene for some reason. "He was a pioneer."

"Alright, I get it. He was a football star and he had lots of buttsex," said Kernel.

"And he sold porn. And he once got into a fight with three SBers at once and beat them bloody. He was the best fighter anyone ever saw--never beaten."

"You people get into an awful lot of fights," said Kernel.

"Bah," said Mark. "At Central, nobody ever got punished for it. You had a problem with another student, you and he squared off in the hallways and fought until someone went limp."

"Didn't that create liability issues?"

Joe and Mark shrugged. "It was a simpler time," said Mark.

"It was five years ago," said Kernel.

"Well, things were simpler then. Then they build the new place and Stravo hired the El Tee so he wouldn't get sued into debtors prison because his students were killing each other."

"First, I don't think they have debtor's prison anymore. Second, I think the El Tee presents certain liability risks on his own. And third, you two sure seem to know an awful lot of background material."

"Yeah, it's pretty convenient, isn't it?" said Joe.

They started down the hall towards the exit. "This is a pretty strange place," said Kernel.

"Sunnyvale is a strange town," said Mark. "I used to go to East, and it's just as odd."

"Why'd you transfer here?"

"They redrew the district lines two years ago. A whole bunch of East kids ended up getting sent to West."

"Don't East and West hate each other? How did that go for the transfers?"

"There were enough of them that they really didn't get a lot of shit," said Mark. "There's a few hardliners, but it's mostly peaceful."

"Mostly," said Joe.

Somebody to Kernel's right whistled at him. "Hey Joe! Who's the cutey boy?" Kernel froze--it had not been a female voice.

"He's straight, Dale," said Joe.

A tallish, rail thin, copper-haired live wire skipped across the hall, ignoring the crowd. He wore camo pants and a bright pink tank top. "I still want to meet him," he said.

"Kernel, this is Dale. Dale, Kernel."

"Pleased to meet you," said Kernel, offering his hand.

"You too!" Dale grabbed Kernel's hand and yanked him forward to wrap him up in a big hug.

Kernel had just started struggling when Sorresso and Red walked up behind Dale and tapped his shoulder. Red was holding a fifty dollar bill. Dale let Kernel go.

"Sorry, cutie, I've got business."

"That's ... quite alright," said Kernel.

"Let's go," said Mark. "No point hanging around here any longer than we have to."

"Who were they and why was one of them holding money?"

"Dale's the biggest pot dealer in Sunnyvale. Those two are his best customers," said Joe.

"That makes sense. Sorta."

They finally pushed through the crowd to the front doors. Debi and Marina were waiting for them. Debi made a face when she saw Kernel.

"Kernel! You're alive!" exclaimed Marina.

"This El Tee must have a pretty bad reputation," said Kernel.

Marina snickered. "I was going to start a pool."

"Well, next time I get busted trying to knock Hellenberg's teeth out, put me down for drawn and quartered."

"You might get your chance soon," said Mark. "Look."

DH and the Stooges were standing on the front lawn, surrounding another student--a freshman, by the looks of him. They were playing keep-away with his bookbag.

"Motherfucker," said Kernel. He dropped his bag and broke into a run, towards DH.

Mark and Joe looked at each other. "Shit," said Mark, and they followed him.

Kernel hit DH in the small of his back at a full sprint. DH yelped and dropped to the ground. Kernel tripped over him and went sprawling into Larry. Joe and Mark tackled Moe and Shemp before they could jump on him. Kernel jumped back to his feet and gave Larry a kick to the ribs to make sure he stayed down.

DH was just getting up. The freshman had grabbed his bag and gotten the hell out of the way.

"I owe you something, you little shit," said Kernel.

"I guess you want to go see the El Tee again," said DH.

"Guess so," said Kernel. He feinted to the left and opened up with a right hook to the side of DH's face. DH reeled back, tried to set his feet, and earned a shot to the solar plexus for his trouble. He folded up and dropped to the ground. A hand fell on Kernel's shoulder.

"That's enough, son," said Principal Stravo. He'd forced his way through the cheering throng to "break up" the fight.

Now I'm fucked, thought Kernel. Then he saw the El Tee approaching. Correction: now I'm REALLY fucked.

"It's lucky for you," said Stravo, "that no teachers saw this fight and David isn't going to tell me what happened."

"Huh?" said Kernel.

"What?!" exclaimed David. "I'll tell you everything! He--"

"If you know what's good for you, you'll shut up right now," said Stravo.

"You can't do this to me! I'm a Sunnyvale Damp and he's just a newbie!"

"I'm the principal of this Goddamn school and I can do anything I want," said Stravo.

"And it's DANK, you imbecile," said Mark.

"Go home," said Stravo. "The lot of you." He pointed to Kernel. "You've used up two second chances today. Most people around here don't even get one. You understand what I'm saying to you?"

"Yes sir," said Kernel.

"Good. Now get the hell off school property. El Tee, clear out this crowd!" With those words, the crowd started dispersing, before the El Tee could even start bellowing. Not that it stopped him.

Marina and Debi rejoined the boys as soon as they'd cleared the mob. They strolled together towards the parking lot.

"Aren't they cute, Debi? They're our three little maniacs."

Debi snorted. "You're all lucky you're not chained to the basement wall right now." Then her face cracked open into a huge smile. "That was awfully fun to watch, though."

"Not too bad for a new guy, huh?" said Kernel.

"No," said Debi. "And it was sweet of you to rescue that poor freshman. Now if you can learn to talk to my face instead of my chest, this might be the start of a wonderful friendship."

Kernel turned dark red and Marina started laughing so hard she nearly fell down. Joe and Mark skipped the "nearly".

"Sorry about that," muttered Kernel.

"Say that five hundred more times and I might forgive you," said Debi. She swatted him on the shoulder and walked away to her car. "I'll see you clowns tomorrow."

"Later, Debi," said the gang.

"You need a ride?" asked Joe to Kernel.

"Nah, I live right up the block. I can walk."

"Cool," said Joe. "See you tomorrow."

"Right, guys." He turned towards the street, walking away from the others. He stopped to wave once he'd gotten to the sidewalk, then continued up the street.

"Good guy," said Mark.

"I like him," said Marina.

"Yeah, he's cool," said Joe with just a shade less enthusiasm. Debi seems to have gotten over her dislike, he thought.

Nah.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2004-07-14 11:17am
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Location: NYC
*************************************************
FAST TIMES AT SD HIGH

Starring
The Duchess of Zeon
Iceberg
Innerbrat
Joe
The Kernel

Also Starring
Lt. Hitman
Stravo

Featuring
Axis Kast
Dalton
Death from the Sea
Durandal
Einhander Snowman
Fighter of Foo
Keevan Colton
Patrick Degan
RedImperator
Rogue 9
SirNitram
Slartibartfast
Stuart Mackey
The Yosemite Bear

And Introducing
Pablo Sanchez
as
Superintendent Sanchez

With References To
BoredShirtless
Col. Crackpot
Darth Wong

Written by
Matt Lineberger
Damien Sorresso

Executive Producers
Matt Lineberger
Damien Sorresso

Special Thanks To
All the participants of the now infamous "Baghdad Tiger Thread."
*************************************************/

episode[3].setSeason (1);
episode[3].setTitle ("Reefer Madness");

A knock at the office door distracted Stravo from the execrable novel he'd been slogging through. The El Tee was standing in the doorframe and blocking most of the light from his secretary's office. The dean's right arm twitched like he wanted to salute his boss.

"Permission to enter, sir," said the El Tee.

Stravo sighed. He'd been trying to get the El Tee to stop calling him sir since he'd hired him. He suspected Hitman was doing it just to annoy him now.

"Yes, come in." He set the book down, forgetting to mark his page. Oh Christ, thought Stravo. Now I'm going to have to re-read parts of it to get back to where I was. It was a deeply distressing realization.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" asked Hitman.

"Superintendent Sanchez called this morning to ask about the assembly. He's been up my ass all week and now he's decided to attend personally." Stravo's hand jerked towards the whiskey drawer reflexively as he thought about his boss.

"I understand, sir. I'll make sure there isn't any trouble."

"Good," said Stravo. "Are we set for the show?"

"The Death From the Sea Players should be here any time. They did a show at East yesterday. A rousing success, from what I'm told. And the Junior Puritan League has been practicing all week for their part."

Stravo blinked. "Junior Puritan League? Who the hell are they?"

"Well, sir, it's not so much a 'they' as it is a 'he'. Gauner Negen is going to be putting on a one-man show on the dangers of marijuana. The Players thought it would be a great idea if one of our own students could be the opening act for them."

"So one of our students is responsible for this going well."

"Yes sir."

"Our student. A student at Sunnyvale West High School."

"Yes sir."

I need a drink.

"It will be fine, sir. Gauner is a good lad. He can communicate with these kids. He's down with the lingo, as they say." The El Tee was unfased by Stravo's look. "Sir."

"I want all the hall moniters on duty. And I want every teacher in there. And I want Crackpot and Shirtless seated as far apart as possible."

"I thought that was settled, sir."

"No use taking chances."

"Aye sir."

"Try to glare a lot at the kids when they come in."

"Can do, sir."

"Am I forgetting anything?"

"Which hall moniter is in charge?"

Stravo thought about this. "Better make it David. I don't trust Spanky with that much power."

"Spanky won't be happy, sir. He considers David too leniant."

"Spanky will be happy if you order him to be happy."

"Perhaps we can give him that nightstick he's been requesting, sir? That would smooth any ruffled feathers." The El Tee pulled a yellow supply requisition form from his back pocket.

"I don't see why he needs a nightstick when he doesn't use the one he's got up his ass already."

"Aye sir. Will that be all, sir?"

"Yeah. Go make sure everything is ready for when Superintendent Sanchez gets here."

"Aye, sir." The El Tee stood up and noticed the book for the first time.

"I see you have the latest Frank Fontaine novel, sir. I hear it's excellent."

"It sucks. I can't believe people read this crap. You want to borrow it, El Tee? At this rate, I'm never going to get to the ending anyway."

"Perhaps later, sir. I've still got three hundred pages left on that Torquemada biography."

"I see," said Stravo. He picked up the book again. "Now where the hell was I..."

It took him a minute to realize the El Tee hadn't left. "Dismissed, Hitman," he said. The former Marine turned smartly and marched out. Stravo sighed, grabbed his flask, and took a huge gulp.

"I can't believe I spent money on this crap. Captain Kirk is strong in the force. Thrawn ordering Darth Vader around. Wesley Crusher a Sith Apprentice. Jesus Christ. Starcrossed my ass." He tried reading another page and finally threw the book in the wastepaper basket in disgust.

"What a fucking hack," muttered Stravo. He took another drink.

----

The whiteboard squeaked like a hamster in an oven as Mr. Degan's writing quickened. He was nearing the bottom of the board with his list of various ethical schools of thought. He stuck "Appealing to Authority/Religion" somewhere at the bottom. The Kernel was pretty sure that Mr. Degan's likeness to Megatron was no coincidence. The man could be writing on the floor and still keep his back ramrod straight. His arms must be robotic or something, Kernel theorized internally.

Mr. Degan finished his list and spun around to face the class, holding his right hand in front of him and proceeding to crack every knuckle on it as well as some that weren't. He spied a student turn to check the clock. "It has been approximately 20 seconds since you last checked the clock. Time is still flowing at its normal pace, but your concern for the consistency of physical law is appreciated," he said with all the biting superiority of a college professor. The anonymous student attempted to become more so by sinking a little further into his desk.

"All right, this is where we left off yesterday," he said, gesturing at "Secular Humanism/Human Rights." "We had just begun a discussion about the assumption that all humans have inalienable rights versus the assumption that other animals with less complex and developed brains do not." The Kernel had been admittedly intrigued by the topic, but he was still a little shy about throwing comments out in the air, and he'd stayed mostly silent during the debate.

He'd managed to spot the students whose parents were most likely members of PETA, though. A lot of them were blondes as good-looking as they were sympathetic to animals' plight. While there had been one or two intelligent comments among the spiels about the cute and cuddly animals being killed en masse for human consumption, Kernel had mostly come to the conclusion that many of them very seriously needed to be fucked up the ass.

"Now, since the class seemed so intrigued by the subject, I dug around last night for a few stories in the news to discuss, so that we could apply what we've been talking about in a somewhat practical manner," Mr. Degan said, opening a folder on his desk and pulling out a stack of papers. "Here is the first article; I'd like you all to take a few minutes to read it." He began passing copies out.

The article was about an endangered tiger in a Baghdad zoo which had attacked an off-duty US soldier who was part of the occupation. The soldier and his friend were both drinking and in the zoo after normal operating hours. They had both gone into the inner cage, reserved for zoo keepers, and one had tried feeding it through the cage's bars and had gotten attacked. His friend shot the tiger, killing it on the spot.

"Okay, everyone done reading?" Mr. Degan asked. No one indicated otherwise, so he assumed that everyone had read the short article. "So, what do we all think? Was the soldier justified in shooting the tiger after it attacked his companion?"

One student spoke up without raising his hand. Mostly, Kernel figured that the kid's parents must have been obsessed with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and thus had named their son Slartibartfast. Mr. Degan called him "Bart" for short. "Maybe if the soldier had put his arm in a meat grinder, the other soldier would have shot it," he said, completely dead-pan. "After all, it's necessary to send a clear message to all the dangerous carnivores -- and dangerous food processing appliances -- that they must not stand in the way of freedom," Bart said. The class erupted into laughter, except for one who waited for the laughter to subdue. He raised his hand to speak.

"Yes, Alex?" Mr. Degan gave him permission to speak. Alexander Kast was a hard-core right-winger. He was also completely impervious to all forms of criticism and famous for going to great lengths to avoid admitting error. Mr. Degan knew that this was going to be good, and he could barely keep the stone-cold seriousness from giving way to an anticipating grin on his face.

"The incident is extremely unfortunate. That does not, however, preclude normal animal control measures. Animals that become too used to humans are a grave danger. Especially a tiger such as the one in this situation, probably frightened out of its mind by the events of the past several months and enjoying only sub-standard care," Kast said. That drew about ten counter-arguments simultaneously. Mr. Degan quieted down the rabble and let everyone who wanted to speak do so one at a time.

Stuart Mackey, head editor for the school paper "The Sunnyvale West Headline News," was up first. "A wild animal in a zoo, particularly endangered ones are not normally put down after a attack on a human because they are too rare to just do away with," he said. "And on that note a wild animal in a zoo is managed by trained, professional keepers, not drunk idiot soldiers with firearms; there is a difference. That tiger acted on instinct, exactly as it should. The soldiers acted out of drunken stupidity." Kast didn't give Mr. Degan the chance to let someone else speak, and Mr. Degan loved hearing Kast's arguments anyway.

"Oh, I'll agree the tiger probably acted out of instinct. That doesn't mean its action won't have consequences however. The issue of desensitization remains. Even in open habitats, animals that attack humans who come too close -- even though it's virtually always the human's fault -- are often put down. It's a matter of precluding a breakdown in psychological barriers," Kast said. Mr. Degan selected someone to reply.

"Colton, what've you got for us?" Mr. Degan addressed Kevin Colton. Colton was the lead singer for a band composed of students called "Fifty-Dollar Fine," and they performed at the talent show yearly, as well as other school functions.

"Apparently a functioning brain, unlike Kast over there," Colton prefaced his reply with a properly demeaning insult. "An animal in a cage that's mauled someone dumb enough to stick bits of themselves into that cage and one that's mauled someone wandering the countryside are totally different. You cannot even begin to compare them. Animals in the wild aren't the same as caged up ones." He had barely finished when Alex was already addressing (in a very loose sense of the word) his argument.

"Human incompetence is almost always the problem. That doesn't change the result of an attack however: the breakdown of psychological barriers that discourage an animal from making aggressive moves toward a human being. The animal is still made more dangerous by the attack -- even if the human being was the fulcrum for that eventuality," he said, completely seriously.

Bart responded. "It's not a pet; it's a wild animal in a cage. Whether it fears human or not is irrelevant. Whether it can attack humans or not is irrelevant. Whether it eats human flesh or Fruit Loops is irrelevant."

"Prove to me that wild animals in cages have no contact with human beings," Kast demanded.

Bart held up his hand parallel to the wall. He pointed to the palm side and said, "Wild animal." He then pointed to his hand and said, "Cage." To finish, he pointed to the other side of his hand and said, "Human being. Get it?"

Apparently, he did not. "In a national park, most animals therein never have contact with human beings," Kast said.

Another student, Damien Sorresso, one of the ones who had been buying pot from the flamboyantly gay Dale the other day, responded. "There's a big difference between what happens in a national park as opposed to what happens in a zoo. In a national park, animals roam freely, while in a zoo, they do not. In a zoo, the human patrons are in full control of their interactions with the animal. They can either do the intelligent thing and not stick their hands into the cage, or they can be morons and stick their hands in the cage," he said, pausing for a second.

"In a park, on the other hand, a bear can just wander up to a tent and start harassing people, which is why there is justification for putting it down if it does so and injures someone. In zoos, humans are in full control. In parks, they are not. If you get attacked by a bear in a park, that may be cause for concern over the bear that attacked you and justification for punishing it, but if you're so stupid that you think it's a good idea to wave appendages around in close proximity to vicious predators, then the only animal that should be punished is you." Kernel never would've guessed that a pot head would've had the requisite attention span to say that much in one sitting.

Kast lost no time responding. "Human fault has nothing to do with this argument. It still results in the same consequence whether or not it was stupid. You've been repeating yourself endlessly, just like everybody else in this class who can't distance themselves from the subject of whose responsibility this whole situation actually happens to be." He didn't stop there.

"Get it through your heads: nobody is arguing that the soldier didn't make a mistake. It must be recognized that the animal had to be put down however. If the soldier didn't do it, somebody else should have," he said. "Iraq is a war zone, and the tiger was under fantastic levels of stress."

Mr. Degan replied with a question. "What do you mean by 'stress'?"

"Bombs. They fell throughout Baghdad. They cause stress for animals that have no idea what they are. They cause stress for people who do know what they are."

Stuart responded. "This was after the US forces had already taken over Baghdad. The bombing ended months before this happened."

"The tiger is more likely to display increased aggression toward humans after the air-strikes -- even those not engaging in stupid, provocative behavior," Kast said. "Animal aggression is tied to stress, and after the incident, the human being is now directly associated with food. Before, it wasn't necessarily the choice target. So the tiger had to be put down. If not by the soldier, someone else should have done it." Martin Nitram spoke up from the back of the class.

"A mama bear whose cub was killed by campers will have an obvious instinctive desire to seek revenge, thus making her dangerous. A circus elephant which has been ruthlessly abused by human trainers may become more dangerous. But a tiger who heard some loud popping noises three months ago is only analogous if you're a blithering idiot. It's already extremely dangerous, in case you're too stupid to read books," he said.

"My point is that no matter why the animal bit the guy, the stress it must have been under would only have reinforced the negative reinforcement gained. But then, if you'd listened to me rather than jumped in because it was me, you might have noticed that," Alex responded.

"As to stress from bombs, air strikes are extended affairs that create a great deal of variable-strength noise. On a sustained level, the tiger would probably be somewhat stressed out. Even moreso if looting and gunfire marked activity at the zoo only a short time before."

"So let me see if I've got your argument straight: there were some loud noises a few months ago, and a lot of shooting and looting in the zoo since then -- which you can't substantiate at all -- so you figure the tiger lost its respect for humans and is now willing to eat them, whereas a normal tiger would not. It sounds to me like your keepers need to increase your daily dosage of thorazine," Nitram responded. Kast was unfazed by his insult.

"The unacceptable living conditions would have contibuted to the stress, and developed during the run-up to war when the zoo's staff vacated to avoid death, looters, et cetera," Kast said. Nitram wasn't letting him off.

"And then they would have been relieved when the conditions improved. Real animals in the wild face the specter of starvation and death every day of their lives. Do you think wild tigers lay around in little tiger resorts, sipping tiger pina coladas and relaxing to the sound of Jimmy Buffet? Have you ever seen a real tiger up close? Do you ever go to the zoo? I've seen tigers up close, and if that cage weren't there, you know you'd be a dead man. No 'stress' is necessary to make tigers dangerous, and you are merely tattoing 'MORON' on your forehead the longer you participate in this ridiculous Quixotic battle to 'prove' that it's somehow out of the ordinary for a tiger to bite a human who stupidly offers his hand," Nitram tore into Kast. The whole class was almost wetting themselves in hysterical laughter from the mental image of tigers in Hawaiian shirts, relaxing in beach chairs, wearing star-shaped sunglasses and straw hats and sipping "tiger pina coladas."

Mr. Degan smiled. He was glad that he'd failed Kast last term. Now he got to enjoy his antics all over again.

----

Think, Spanky, think, Spanky thought ... to himself. His quest would exhaust every mental faculty he possessed, tap every connection he'd made in his 2 months being a hall monitor and call in every favor he was owed. His investigation might even demand that he bend a few rules, but if he could get the two most infamous pot-heads in the school booted out, his name would ring with fear in the contemptible skulls of drug users throughout the school. He could clean up the school with an example of but two. The clean-up started with Lineberger and Sorresso.

And what a perfect day, too. The school was kicking off the year with an anti-drug assembly that all students were required to attend. Word on the street was that Dale, everyone's one-stop source for illegal pleasure center stimulants, was doing a deal during the assembly some time. With who, he could not be sure, but Lineberger and Sorresso had such an utter contempt and disdain for the institution of the law that he could bet money on their being the other party involved. He'd heard it was high-quality stuff, as well, and lots of it. At least a dime-bag of schwag ... wait, is a dime-bag a lot? Or is dank good?

Whatever, Spanky thought. He couldn't keep up to date on all the slang terms for the various forms and distribution quantities of illicit substances. While the worthless junkies may make a distinction among various types of marijuana, the law did not. The scales of justice were beginning to tip, and they were in his favor. Wait ... is that how the justice scale works?

Whatever. However the scales worked and whatever they were doing, it was in his favor, that much he could be sure of.

It all starts with Dale. Find him, and then it's just a matter of following the bread crumbs. Once he spotted Dale, he'd stick to him like glue, but he couldn't risk being seen. To prepare for his deep cover espionage, he had rented the movie The Recruit -- well, he hadn't rented it. He was only 16, and he couldn't rent R-rated movies without parental consent. So he told his mom it was for a class presentation, and she begrudgingly agreed to pick it up for him. Luckily for him, none of the scenes involving following techniques had explicit material, so his mother hadn't made him leave the room while they played out.

He had gleaned a few really cool- and professional-sounding intelligence terms. The person being followed was the "rabbit." The person following was the "eye." Behind the eye were other eyes following him and rotating in and out of the lead position. But Spanky had no one to rotate in and out of the lead position. That was a problem.

Whatever. He could maintain the cover himself. His mark was so hyper and ... and ... Is there an adjective for describing Attention Deficit Disorder? 'He's ADD' doesn't sound right.

Whatever. Dale would never notice him. That's what he was trying to say. Er, think.

Two students walked past him. "Did you hear about Shirtless and Crackpot?"

"Yeah, I heard Crackpot broke Shirtless' leg, and that's why he's limping," one said.

"No way! I heard that Shirtless sprained his ankle when he kicked Crackpot in the face and broke his nose," the other said. They disappeared up the stair well.

He peaked out from his covered position, the door frame into Junior Hall. Bingo. Dale was many things, and hard to spot was not one of them. He was at his locker, up to his usual antics with a group of females during the changing period. He heard a massive burst of squealing laughter erupt from them as he no doubt said something obscene. There was no indication that he'd been seen. The assembly was next period, so he'd probably skip this class, and that's when Spanky would start tailing him.

--

"I hear he's from out of town, and like, from Switzerland." The Kernel, aka the guy who kicked Hellenberg's ass, was the topic of conversation. Dale laughed.

"Oh no, sweetheart. He's one hundred-percent American. If he isn't, he had the awkwardness around gays down pat, I can tell you that much," Dale told Foo. Foo was a young sophomore girl who was obsessed with computer programming. Dale, loving computers and Linux, had naturally taken a liking to her. Her odd nickname had come from the wide use of the term in the computer world. Any example code on a website almost always included the term "foo" as a variable, function or practically anything else.

"I was gonna say, that's a little fast to be speaking from experience, even for you," she said.

"And what is that supposed to mean?!" Dale asked, acting shocked.

"What do you think it means?" She asked back. "Slut!"

"Uh!" Dale said in mock revulsion. "I swear, that term is so hetero. I'm tired of borrowing straight terms for gays."

"Fine, we'll call gay sluts 'Dale,' then. How about that?"

"Oh you are such a bitch! Why do I even keep talking to you? It's so bad for my self-esteem!" At that, the bell rang, indicating that Foo should probably be on her way to class. She called him a slut one more time and scuttled off.

Oh you are a slut. His ego told him. Slutty slut slut. The hallway was empty, now. He had to get to his car to pick up a little package for his best customers, Sorresso and Red. Dear God, why did you have to make Sorresso straight? Your friend, Dale.

P.S. Oh, and Red's not bad, either.

Oh well. Such is life, Dale lamented. He started off to his car. Right about now, David should be busy admiring his new friend Andrew Jackson, so he didn't have to worry about getting busted for roaming during class periods.

--

He's on the move, Spanky thought. If he had one of those cool, Secret Service ear-radio things, he'd have spoken into his collar. Some day ... He inched out from his hiding place behind the door frame, letting Dale get a good lead and turn the corner before going after him.

He saw Dale approach the end of the hallway and put his right foot out to begin creeping down the hallway. Right foot, now pivot and left-- A dull thud resonated through the hallway as he fell flatly on his face. One of the teachers poked his head out a doorway to see what had happened.

--

THUD! Dalton was in the middle of spinning some bullshit about the hidden meaning behind art when he heard something hit the hallway floor. He stopped talking and walked over to the door. Flinging it open, he looked down the hallway to see ... Shit! Spanky! He pulled out of the hallway faster than a virgin out of Jenna Jameson before Spanky saw him.

His class looked at him, wondering what had made him panic so. He eyed them all. "Don't give me that look. I don't have to explain myself to you."

He continued his lecture.

--

Spanky hastily got to his feet and, like a feline that had just slipped on a wet floor and fallen on its ass, acted like nothing had happened. He crept quickly down the hall, walking on the balls of his feet in a zig-zag pattern. Well, a zig-zag pattern to anybody else possibly watching; to him it was a "sweep" pattern, just like all those cool special ops guys did. His hands instinctively clasped in front of him as though he had a pistol, specifically a Beretta. No, a Desert Eagle. Those things rock in Counter Strike.

Wait, would a federal agent carry a Desert Eagle ...?

Whatever.

He approached the corner Dale had turned down and poked his head around. He saw Dale approaching an exit. With his Skin-Tone Hand .50 at the ready, he crept after Dale, following him to the parking lot.

--

Dale got to his car and opened his door up. He might have been flamboyantly gay, but he wasn't blind. As he was approaching his car, he saw someone following him in the reflection of his side-view mirror. As he leaned in to the get under the driver's seat where his product was stored, he took another look in his side-view mirror. All he could make out was a mess of hair styled in a pathetic imitation of Cloud Strife's poking up from behind another car.

Phew. He'd been worried for a second, but it was just Spanky. Why is he following me ...? Then it hit him.

That boy's got 'closet gay' written all over him! Of course he wouldn't directly approach him! He was so nervous and shy at this point about his sexuality. Dale could relate, and he knew that it'd be best not to force anything. Instead, he'd play a little bit with Spanky, get him more comfortable.

He's no Damien Sorresso, but he's probably a demon in the sack on the inside, Dale thought. After all, the repressed ones wanted to get it out the most, and the little nerdy types were always very ... creative.

Dale grabbed the little brown paper bag out from under his seat with a wicked smile and walked back in like he hadn't noticed Spanky.

----

Colin Brian Witz, English teacher, was an enthusiastic teacher's union member. He paid his dues happily, attended union functions, was there for every important vote. He sat on a number of committees, had been president of the local several times, and had been one of Sunnyvale West's representatives at the last contract negotiation with the school board.

"Now, here we can see that Hamlet has his opportunity to avenge his father, but he balks. What does that tell us about his character, and how does that--SHIT COCK MOTHERFUCKER!--help illustrate Shakespeare's theme in the play? BALLSACK!"

Mr. Witz had Tourette's syndrome which mysteriously never responded to treatment. It had developed out of the blue one day, when in the midst of a discussion on Fitzgerald he unloaded a fourteen minute stream of profanity so vile it would have set nuns and small housepets on fire at ten paces. Fortunately, as this had happened at Central High, no students had been harmed, but it was considered bad form in high school. The union had prevented him from being fired.

"I feel like I owe the union something," Mr. Witz would say. "They were there for me when I needed them. CUNTFACE!"

Mr. Witz's class was the most popular in the Language Arts department. He also taught a poetry writing course which had resulted in several Federal obscenity charges.

Joe was absently doodling in his notebook, not really paying attention to Shakespeare or the blue crackling profanities that laced the air. He was trying to draw a human face, but it came out looking like a Laffer curve. They always ended up looking like Laffer curves. He'd taken Mr. Witz's poetry class the previous semester and had wound up making actuarial tables punctuated with synonyms for genitals.

Joe's mind had a certain fiduciary cast.

Mark wasn't paying attention, either. He was too busy penning an editorial for the school newspaper explaining, in great detail with many useful references, that George W. Bush was a wanker and needed to be thrown out of office, even if all the voters got in exchange was John Kerry. "An empty suit is better than a pile of shit with a necktie," he wrote.

"Joe, could you tell us--ASSFUCK!--why Hamlet feels the need to concoct an elaborate--PISS SHIT SPOOGE!--scheme to entrap Claudius?"

Joe "eeped" and looked around in panic.

"Never mind, hatfucker. I can see you're not paying attention." Joe turned dark red and tried to melt into his seat. It was moments like that which made him suspect the Tourette's was just a little too convenient.

When Mr. Witz's attention was safely focused elsewhere, Mark elbowed Joe from across the aisle. "Hey, what's with you?"

Joe showed him the drawing. "Laffer curve."

"You're upset over tax policy?"

"I'm not upset over anything."

Mark shrugged and went back to his essay.

"It's just that Debi has gotten a little cozy with the new guy, hasn't she?"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

Joe shook his head. "Nothing. Never mind."

Mark shrugged and went back to his essay.

"You mean you didn't see it? How she hugged him in the parking lot?"

Mark dropped his pencil and took a deep breath to calm himself down. "It wasn't a hug. It was a pat. And it was a week ago. It means absolutely nothing. And I don't see what your problem is anyway even if she did like him."

Joe looks stricken. "Do you think she likes him?"

"Did I say that? No, I didn't say that. Calm the hell down."

"Well do you?"

"No, for Christ's sake. Why do you care?"

"Well, she's hot."

"So's Marina."

"Marina is a lesbian."

"She's hot. That's the only reason you gave for Debi. So what's the difference?"

"Marina is unavailable. I can content myself with staring at her tits. Debi is available."

"Not to you. And if you did less tit-staring, you'd probably have better luck with the women."

"Like you don't."

"You don't hear my whining about how I'm not in Debi's knickers, though, do you? I accept the consequences of my lechery."

"Forget about it. You're right, I'm being stupid."

Mark shrugged and pretended to go back to his essay. Three...two...one...

"Do you think I have a chance with her?"

"No."

"Well, the hell with you, then."

"I can give you my honest opinion or I can tell you what you want to hear. You didn't specify which one you wanted."

"'Yeeeaaargh'."

"Fuck you. I'm giving you friendly, useful advice here."

"What are you two--FUCK--talking about in my class?" demanded Mr. Witz.

"Good going," said Joe. "Now we're fucked."

"How is this my fault, Bush zombie?"

"Joe, Mark, go down to--"

"Attention, maggots!" squaked the El Tee intercom. "Get your asses down to the auditorium right now!" There was some feedback and a muffled, "Put that damn thing down!" followed by "Yes sir," and then Stravo started speaking. "All faculty and students, please report to the auditorium for an important educational performance on the dangers of marijuana by the Death from the Sea Players and the Sunnyvale West Junior Puritan League."

There were groans all around, except from Mark and Joe. Mr. Witz looked furious he'd been interrupted, and as his class filed out, he stood in the corner and fired of a stream of dirty words that would have made Mike Wong proud.

"Sorry about that," said Joe to Mark once they were in the hall.

"It's cool," said Mark. He went back to re-reading his essay as they walked.

----

Debi and Marina got into the auditorium early and snagged choice seats as far away from the stage as possible without being close enough to the back aisle to be easily spotted by roving teachers.

"What do you think the odds are that this won't be terrible?" said Debi as they settled in.

"I have high hopes for unintentionally hilarious," said Marina. "Oh look! It's the often unintentionally hilarious Joe and Mark!"

"Shut up," said Joe.

"He's cranky," said Mark.

"Maybe he needs to change his pad," suggested Debi.

"Who needs to do what now?" said the Kernel, the last to arrive. "Jesus, Mr. Galkine likes to talk a lot."

The place was filling up rapidly as teachers herded students in. Mr. Dalton rumbled by virtually shoving students forward.

"Does he have a donut stuck in his beard?" asked Kernel. The others shrugged. If he did, it wouldn't have been terribly noteworthy. Up on stage, the stage crew was finishing its last minute preparations. In the buzz, nobody noticed two figures slip behind the curtain.

--

Dale filed into the auditorium with the rest of the student body. The announcement for the assembly was abrupt enough that he could sneak out and back in without being spotted in the mess of students. His pants now contained a few various treasures, some of them for gays, some for anybody and some for money.

Sorresso and Red should be behind the stage-left curtain about now. The crowd was still large enough that he should be able to slip behind there, and aside from that, he had a few ... "friends" in the theatre department who wouldn't question his presence back there. The curtains back there were thick enough that the three of them could stay comfortably hidden within the giant three-layer affair. Not only was he getting a deal on some very expensive marijuana, but he got a new sexual fantasy about Sorresso behind the stage curtains. Oh, why must you pawn after that which you cannot have?

He stepped into a side door that led back-stage-left, one that was very infrequently used, but would be left open for the performers. He slipped inside and closed the door, making his way up the back-stage stairs to the curtains, which were drawn back, and to his customers.

--

"Mr. Galkine is hilarious," said Marina. "Best teacher in the school."

"All he does is prattle on and on about how drunk he got in Russia," said Debi. "I mean, it was funny the first time, but is this all we're going to hear all year?"

"I don't get the guy's rep," said Kernel.

"What do you mean?" said Marina.

"I mean, I don't understand why everyone thinks he's such a badass. The El Tee, I get, but not him. He's just a funny old drunk."

"He's an arms dealer," said Joe.

"No he's not. He looks like an arms dealer from a movie. That means, at best, he's an actor."

"Then why didn't the school fire him when they dumped Russian class?" demanded Marina.

"The union maybe? They didn't fire Mr. Witz, and I don't think that guy even really has Tourettes."

"You know," said Joe, "I'm starting to think the same thing."

Debi continued on undaunted. "Even the El Tee gives him a wide berth."

"He's just running on reputation. He's harmless."

"Kernel, you have to understand," said Marina, "The student body here is like a pack of wild dogs. They smell weakness, and if Galkine wasn't dangerous, they would have done something to him by now. His house hasn't even gotten a good toilet papering. Even Mr. Degan's house has been toilet papered."

"Really now," said Kernel. "Never you say?"

"You have this problem with your brain," said Debi. "Perhaps in a past life, you were a bear-baiter."

"And he got reincarnated as a West student?" said Mark. "God must really hate bear-baiters."

Joe noticed a banner being stretched out above the stage. He interrupted the debate to ask a question.

"Hey," said Joe, "What the hell is the Junior Puritan League?"

"I don't know," said Mark. "Is Spanky in it?"

"Sounds like something he'd do," agreed Debi.

"Maybe," said Joe. "There goes Spanky now on his way backstage."

--

Dale was about half-way to the curtain when he bumped into someone. It was hard to see back-stage, seeing as how everything was dark. "Who's that?" The figure asked. The voice sounded familiar, but he couldn't quite place it.

"Oh, I guess I'm kinda lost. It's my first day here," Dale said, covering.

"Freshman, huh? Well, it's your lucky day," the figure said.

"Oh ... why's that?"

"My name's Gauner Negen. I'm part of the Sunnyvale West Junior Puritans League."

Oh Jesus Christ, of course, Dale thought. Gauner Negen was the school's resident whiney Christian. He cried foul when the school shut down his initiative to begin every lunch with a completely optional prayer, which he felt was a grave injustice. He also was vehemently anti-drugs, and Dale had heard that he'd be part of this joke of an assembly in some way. Dale wasn't completely sure, but he could swear that his name, when appropriately translated, meant "Rogue Nine" in English.

"Oh, uh, cool," Dale said, trying to hide his normally flamboyant voice as much as possible.

"The only high I need is the one Jesus gives me. You can stay back here and watch the presentation from an exclusive position; consider it a 'back-stage pass.' How's that sound?" Gauner said. Dale couldn't see clearly, but he was pretty sure that Gauner winked at him when he said that.

Sounds like you're an accessory to an illegal drug deal, Dale thought, which brought a smile to his face. "Sounds great! Thanks so much!" Idiot.

Now he'd just have to wait until Gauner went out, and he could slip into the curtains.

"If anyone asks why you're back here, you just tell 'em that you're with Gauner and with God."

Will do, Dale though.

--

The curtain came up and the lights went down. This did nothing to quiet the crowd. The El Tee randomly pointing to raucuous students and yelling "My office, meat!" did.

Gauner walked out on stage. He wore gangsta pants, a wife-beater top, an open flannel shirt, combat boots, and a rhinestone studded Liberace cape.

Stravo, standing by the back doors next to Superintendant Sanchez, blew a snort of bourbon out of his nose.

"Guzentite," said Sanchez.

"Thank you sir."

Sanchez scowled. "Stravo, what the hell smells like Jim Beam?"

"Couldn't say, sir. I don't know what Jim Beam smells like." What did I do to deserve this?

--

"What the fuck is that?" said Mark.

"We're in the presense of something rare and wonderful," said Marina, plainly awestruck. "Here, finally, is 'dork' distilled to its purest essense."

"No, it's not," said Debi. "For it to be pure, he'd have to--"

She was interrupted by Gauner pressing the play button on a tired tape deck by his feet. Someone in the stage crew had somehow wired it to the sound system--the West High stage crew's motto was "Why do it right when you could do it complicated, dangerous, and inadequete?". There was a hiss of blank tape, and then the first few notes sounded. Everybody recognized the song, even the ones who weren't fans of Eminem.

"Ok," said Debi. "Now he's a pure dork."

--

Dale couldn't believe what he was seeing. When Gauner had gotten out on stage, he finally got a glimpse of what he was wearing. He was trying to look like a hardcore gangsta to appeal to the youth. He wasn't aware that such utter lameness could be achieved by anyone under the age of 40.

Just when he'd thought he'd seen everything up Gauner's sleeve, he noticed the little boom box sitting at his feet. Gauner bent down and pressed the "Play" button. Oh Christ I can't watch anymore. Dale firmly ignored the bastardized version of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady" emanating from Gauner's throat, which was horridly unsuitable for gangsta rapping.

He slipped into the designated curtain, and surely enough there were his two favorite customers. Once the curtain flowed back into place, they couldn't see anything. "Oooh, this is so romantic boys," he said in a low voice. He heard Sorresso respond in a similarly quiet tone.

"It's a candle-light dinner. I hope you brought the candles."

"As long as you brought the green napkins." In response, he heard the crinkling noise distinctive to cash.

"Of course," Red said. Dale swung his hand around until it contacted Red's. He grabbed the cash from it.

"Ooh, new bills? You didn't have to do this," Dale said.

"Your turn, sweetheart," Sorresso said. Dale dug into his pants and extracted the bag, containing an eighth of marijuana.

"Oh you are such a tease," Dale said, sticking his hand out. Sorresso took the bag and began putting it in his pocket. All of a sudden, the curtains shrouding them all in secrecy were being disturbed. Someone else was trying to come through.

--

"May I have your attention please, may I have your attention please! Will the real Rogue 9 please stand up? I repeat will the real Rogue 9 please stand up ... we're gonna have a problem here ..."

"I hate this song!" complained Debi.

"I think you'll like this one," said Kernel. Debi giggled. Joe glared.

"Ya'll act like you never seen a clean person before
jaws all on the floor
like drug and alcohol abuse are the norm
burning you up and spitting you on the floor
they first ruin your life
messing up your furniture"

The audience, the entire faculty and student body of Sunnyvale West High School, stared, shocked beyond mockery.

"It's the return of the...
'awww ... wait, no wait, you're kidding,
he didn't just say drugs are bad, mmmkay,
did he?"
and McGruff said ...
'Don't do drugs and take a bite out of crime'
not even in your basement."

Stravo was frantically waving at the El Tee and making slashing motions across his throat. For God's sake, you lunatic, look at me!

"Did you just say something, Stravo?" said Sanchez.

"Um, no sir. Excellent show, don't you think, sir?"

"You should be ashamed of yourself, Stravo."

"I am, sir. Very ashamed." When he thought Sanchez wasn't watching, he started waving at the El Tee again. Finally, he caught his eye, and made another violent slashing gesture. "Get that dumbfuck off the stage!" he mouthed. The El Tee nodded and started walking towards the orchestra pit.

--

Dale felt a form plow into the curtain straight into him. "Ah hah! You're so--" Dale cut Spanky off. He must've followed him back to confess his love. It was after all, a very private place.

"Oh Spanky, you don't need to say anything!" Dale said, pulling Spanky's face to his and kissing him, full on the lips. Spanky was stunned into paralysis at first, but then started violently struggling. Dale and Spanky got caught in the curtains, and their rolling pulled the curtains off their supports at the top of the stage. Sorresso and Red both dove out before the mass of heavy cloth could hit the floor. And they found themselves on a very silent stage with a still rustling curtain beside them.

They both stood silently, looking at the entire student body. Red couldn't help noticing Principal Stravo's eyes protruding about four feet in front of his head.

Just then, Spanky and Dale came rolling out of the curtains. Dale was still mounted on Spanky. Sorresso's, Red's and the rest of the student body's gaping jaws shifted over to the cute new couple.

Spanky finally managed to get out from under Dale. He stood up, and froze in front of the auditorium. After about 10 seconds, Spanky bolted from the stage. Dale quickly leapt up to follow his new love. That left Red and Sorresso on stage. Whatever asinine creature was operating the spot light decided to shine it directly on both of them.

Red looked at Sorresso. They then both looked at the audience. Then, in perfect simultaneity, they both sang, "Cause I'm the real Slim Shady!" and continued the rap to the best of their meager and pathetic performing abilities.

--

"Hey! Spanky is in it!" said Marina.

"I knew he didn't like girls," said Mark.

--

Stravo was having war flashbacks. He'd never actually faught in a war, but sometimes he fantasized about it, when crawling through the jungle underbrush while Charlie tore his platoon apart with machine gun and mortar fire was a pleasant change from running West High.

"Stravo, are those two who I think they are?"

"Who do you think they are sir? Besides upstanding young member of the Junior Puritan League, I mean."

"Don't bullshit me! Those two are the biggest potheads in the senior class!"

How the hell does he know that?! "Sir, what gave you that impression?"

"Your Dean of Discipline told me."

I knew it! That fucking traitor! Stravo thought about firing the El Tee, until he realized he probably wouldn't have a job himself if the show went on much longer. He started daydreaming about a mortar shell landing directly on the El Tee's head.

--

"Yeah, if you use drugs you've got a couple of screws up in your head loose but no worse than--" started Gauner, trying to keep his professionalism.

"Women wave your pantehose, sing the chorus and it goes ..." said Sorresso.

"You gotta, um, lose yourself in the music--" sand Red.

"Wrong song, dumbass! Jesus, you're such a fucking stoner!"

"Fuck you. All the other slim shadys are just imitating, so won't the real--"

"No!" exclaimed Gauner. "Not slim shady! I'm Rogue 9!"

The entire auditorium was shaking. The appearance of Red, Sorresso, Dale, and Spanky had broken Gauner's hold on the audience, and the student body was roaring with laughter. Marina and Debi had to support each other so as not to fall on the floor. Mark, Joe, and Kernel were already there, though they occasionally managed to glance back up at the girls, just in case Marina decided to grope Debi (it had never happened to their knowledge, but there was always hope).

The El Tee was marching towards the stage to abort the disaster in progress. Sorresso and Red gave each other significant glances. They were carrying an eighth of marijuana on stage at an anti-drug assembly and the Dean of Discipine was on the way. There was only one thing they could do.

Sorresso reached under Gauner's cape and "grabbed" a bag of marijuana. "Hey! You dirty, contemptible pothead! What do you think you're doing with this?!"

The audience gasped. Even at West, misdemeanors were rarely so brazenly committed. Even the El Tee stopped, not quite sure what to do.

"What?! That's not mine! That's yours!"

"See," said Red, "Shirking responsibility, bad judgement, copyright infringement, pregnancy -- all these are what marijuana can do to you! So don't do drugs, or you'll be like Gauner!" He spat at Gauner's feet. "You disgust me, pothead."

And with that, the two stoners ran to the edge of the stage, took a huge bow, and ran back behind the backdrop -- Red surreptitiously scooping up the bag of dope on the way.

Gauner wasn't much of a showman, but he had enough sense to improvise. He took a bow as well. Suddenly, the audience understood -- it had all been an act! An incoherent and ineffective one, but an act.

"See, sir?" said Stravo. "All part of the show."

"Your office," said Sanchez. "Right now."

----

"In all my years in education, the was the sorriest, most disgraceful performance I've ever seen, Stravo! You should be ashamed of yourself!"

"I am, sir. Very ashamed." Stravo was sitting in his chair trying to hide behind the desk as best he could. Sanchez was storming around the office, gesturing angrily.

"I'm tired of hearing about how this place is being run like a Goddamn zoo! It's worse than a zoo! In the zoo, the animals just stand around eating and shitting! If you were running a zoo, the visitors would have all been eaten by now!"

"Yes sir. I'd be a terrible zookeeper, sir."

"Stop mocking me! You're done, Stravo! Finished. I want to see your resignation in front of the board Monday morning!"

Stravo had been bracing himself for this moment as soon as the curtain had come up on Gauner. Truth be told, he'd been bracing himself for it since his first day on the job. He knew West would break him. It had broken everyone else.

So this is it. The end of my carreer. Pack up the desk, walk out, never see this office again. No more conferences, no more working with the teachers. No more students.

He paused. No more students. No more Spanky. No more Transcend. No more Shirtless and Crackpot. No more Sorresso and Red.

No more Galkine, no more Witz, no more union. No more El Tee. No more Sanchez.

I'll be finished, done, gone. Out of this job and out of this town. I've got money saved. They'll pay me severance! I can drive cross country, go to Europe, take a cruise, go on safari. Maybe go back to school myself--law school! Business school! Jiffy Lube school! I'll bet Jiffy Lube pays more. I'll open a bar! No, a hot dog stand! Everybody loves hot dogs. Who cares!? I'm FREE!!! I'm FREE!!!! I'M FREEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

"I understand, sir. I'll have it on your desk by--"

"What's this?" said Sanchez suddenly. Something in the wastepaper basket had caught his eye.

"Sir?"

Sanchez bent down and pulled Stravo's copy of Starcrossed out. "What's this doing in the trash?"

"It must have fallen in, sir." Wait, why am I lying? I'm fired anyway. "Actually, sir, I--"

"I didn't know you were a Frank Fontaine fan, Stravo."

"Um, sir, I'm not--"

"I love Frank Fontaine. Best novelist of our time."

"I don't--"

"You know, Stravo, this assembly was a disaster, but at least those morons managed to make it look like it was a disaster on purpose. Maybe they even learned something."

Oh no. "Sir, I'm pretty sure that was real marijuana."

"Yes, I'm sure it is. And for that, I'm going to put you on probation, and come make inspections weekly. But this is a tought school, and you've managed to make it work. After a fashion."

"Sir, I appreciate that, but--"

"And I think we need to spend more time together, learning how to communicate. I think that's part of your problem with me."

"Sir--"

"And what better way to learn to communicate than through Frank Fontaine? Did you know there's a Frank Fontaine book club? We meet at my house every Saturday night for four hours."

Saturday night?! That's prime poontang time! "Sir, I couldn't--"

"I think this is the start of a whole new relationship for us, Stravo. I'll see you there Saturday night, I presume."

Charlie had tagged Stravo's Huey with AAA fire, and they were going down hard behind enemy lines. If they managed to live, the NVA would throw their broken, battered bodies into the Hanoi Hilton and they'd stay there for years in bamboo cages being poked with sharp sticks and living on a bowl of rice a day. Stravo smiled at the thought of years of nothing to do but sit in a cage and get poked by sticks.

"Yes sir."

--

Kernel was still wiping tears from his eyes. What had played out in the auditorium was hysterical beyond description. He intended to go back home that day and thank his parents profusely for transferring him to this school.

"And the look on Spanky's face, oh my God, that was hilarious!" Debi said, still doubled over as she walked to her car. She was leaning on Kernel's shoulder for support. Kernel was still laughing, but not quite as badly as Debi.

Marina had Joe and Mark under her arms as they helped her along along. "Oh Jesus, oh Jesus help me!" She said, laughing so hard her face was red and felt like it was going to explode. Mark was still chuckling a little, but Joe seemed to be a little more sober, forcing a few laughs in an attempt to not dampen the mood.

Marina looked at him. "Aw, wassamatter Joe? Disappointed that Spanky chose Dale over you?" Joe heard her words as an echo.

"What? Oh ... right. Yeah," Joe said, glaring at the Kernel's back.

Debi and the Kernel arrived at her car, and Joe spotted them talking as he walked along to his. He said something; she giggled. He was stalling and sticking around for the awkward silence. She broke the silence with some comment and mock-punched him in the shoulder, sending him on his way.

Mark passed Joe on his way to his car and smacked him on the shoulder, throwing him out of his icy-cold stare mode.

"Jesus will you stop staring? You look like you're about to kill something, or at least horribly maim a small animal." Joe shook it off, and opened his door absently. Debi drove out of the parking lot. Mark got into his car and drove away. Joe followed suit, almost praying for an accident so he'd have something else to be pissed off about.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2004-07-14 11:20am
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Posts: 12806
Location: NYC
*************************************************
FAST TIMES AT SD HIGH

Starring
The Duchess of Zeon
Iceberg
Innerbrat
Joe
The Kernel

Also Starring
Lt. Hitman
Stravo

Featuring
Aerius
Beowulf
Cairber
Chardok
Chardok's Mom
Gil Hamilton
Jmac
Mayabird
Rob Wilson
Spanky the Dolphin
Zaia

With References To
BoredShirtless
Col. Crackpot
Kuroneko

Written by
Matt Lineberger
Damien Sorresso

Executive Producers
Matt Lineberger
Damien Sorresso
*************************************************/

episode[4].setSeason (1);
episode[4].setTitle ("Chardok's Mom");

"Good morning, sir," said the El Tee. "How was your weekend?"

Stravo glared at his subordinate. "I didn't get laid this weekend. That hasn't happened in thirteen years. Do you know why?"

"I couldn't imagine, sir."

"Because I spent ALL NIGHT SATURDAY reading books at Superintendent Sanchez's house! And do you know whose fault that is?"

"No, sir."

"YOURS! You set me up, you son of a bitch!"

"Sir, permission to speak freely, sir."

Stravo sighed. "Go ahead."

"Sir, with all due respect, I did nothing of the kind. The incident at the assembly was entirely unforseen."

"I'll bet. Did you at least catch those stoner assholes?"

"Yes sir, I did. But it turns out, all they had on them was a bag of oregano. They claimed it was a prop, and there's nothing I could do about it."

"What about Gauner, then? Is he actually claiming that clusterfuck was deliberate?"

"Yes sir, he is."

"And Spanky?"

"He's rather embarassed by the whole incident, sir. He insists that there was an actual drug deal going down, but he can't prove it."

"So we can't even punish anybody."

"No, sir."

"Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck." He slumped down in his chair and pulled the flask out from the drawer. You're all I have left, my precious.

"Sir, I have the list of subs for the day. Do you want to see it?"

Stravo shrugged. If it would get the El Tee out of his office, he was all for it. Hitman placed it on his desk and returned to attention.

"Dismissed, Hitman. Oh, and you know what? Punish everybody who was on stage at the assembly for general incompetence." said Stravo. The El Tee saluted, spun around sharply, and marched out. He had somebody to torment besides Stravo now.

Stravo started flipping through the list. Sunnyvale West had a horrible time finding substitutes. The ones they got were usually defective in some way. "Just like our regular staff," said Stravo.

A name caught his eye on the third page. "No, it can't be." He checked the stat sheet that came with the report, just to make sure it was the same woman.

A huge grin that had nothing to do with Jim Beam spread across his face. He closed his eyes and reminisced, about one lovely spring afternoon when he'd thrown Aerius and Jmac out of the humping closet so he and the hottest substitute in the known galaxy could make use of it. Her reputation had, unfortunately, spread to the school board, and the fact her son went here didn't help her chances. From what he'd heard, she was out of the district, but apparently times had gotten desparate.

Stravo capped the flask and put it away. He decided it was time for a walking inspection of the school. His teachers needed his support.

Especially Ms. Chardok.

--==--

Lieu Lieu Lieu, I've got some apples. Lieu Lieu Lieu, you've got some too. Kernel couldn't get South Park's Butters' idiotic tune out of his head. This is going to be in my head all day, he thought. Normally he wasn't up this early, but for some reason, he felt especially brisk this morning. So he got up and decided to walk to school early and just hang out for 45 minutes before class. Maybe interesting things went on before classes started that no one knew about.

The course from his house to school took him through the mostly empty parking lot. No one was really here yet ... except ... Is that Debi's car? He studied the car in front of him more closely. I think it is! The driver-side door opened, and it was most certainly Debi getting out. Come on, just say "Hey Debi"; it's not hard. He walked toward her, and waved, which didn't do much good, since her beautifully skirt-framed ass was facing him.

"Hey, Debi!" He said. She turned her head and spied him over her left shoulder. He could just barely see her lips sneaking over her collar. As soon as she realized it was him, she spun around and sent her blonde hair swirling around her head. A few strands were caught in her mouth as she smiled at him. He saw her mouth open to form the single syllable of the word "Hey." Then he saw her car's tail lights. Then the asphalt, as it slammed into his face. He didn't know what those big concrete things that were put in parking spaces were, but he tripped on one.

Debi rushed over to him. "Oh God, are you okay?" She asked. He propped himself up on his arms and tilted his freshly-gritted face up toward her.

"Of course. Why wouldn't I be? It's just my pride," he said. She put her hand to her mouth as she giggled. He got to his feet.

"It's okay. Happens to the best of us," she reassured him. She brushed off some pebbles from his shirt and straightened it out for him. "There, now no one will ever know."

"Thanks," he said. "I owe you for that. My mom's not here to make me look presentable, so I dunno what I would've done," he said with a sly smile. She laughed.

"So what're you doing here so early?" She asked, moving to the front of her car and sitting on the hood.

"Well," he began, taking the seat next to her. "I'm not sure. I woke up early for some reason and couldn't get back to sleep. So I decided to just come here early. There's some sort of appeal about being in school and not actually in school, you know?" She looked at him, confused.

"Well, no, I don't know, but I'm sure that you did, so that's all that matters," she said. He looked down, dejectedly.

"My mom says I'm cool," he said in a mock-Milhouse voice. She smiled and chuckled.

"It's okay. I think you're cool," touching her hand lightly on his thigh. He felt his face flush. Calm down. Her hand is only inches away from your penis. Calm down. He changed the subject quickly.

"So, what about you? Are you always here this early?"

"Yeah, pretty much. It gives me time to read. Marina and all them don't get here until about five minutes before first period."

"So how'd you get to be friends with Marina anyway?"

"She and I went to grade school together, and well I dunno, we just kind of grew closer over the years," she explained.

"Yeah? So you've both been here all your lives?"

"Well, she moved here when she was in fifth grade, so she had a kind of hard time making friends, you know? New school and all."

"So you two just hit it off?" Why is he so interested in my friendship with Marina?

"Yeah, I guess. We both sort of sat alone at lunch, reading. One day, I saw her reading Dante's Inferno at lunch, and it turns out that she'd checked out the last copy from the library, which made me kind of mad. But when I started talking to her, we got along really well, and she let me have it right after she was done with it," Debi said.

"You read Dante's Inferno in fifth grade?"

"Yeah, but I didn't really get it until I read it again a couple years back," she said. Finally, he stopped talking about Marina.

"So get any other interesting reads from Marina?"

Dammit. What is it with guys and lesbians?

"Yeah ... she recommended Julius Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul, but I thought it was really, really boring. She's a big military history buff."

"Really? That's interesting."

"What? Girls can't be interested in military history?"

"No, it's not that. It's just interesting. Not something you see every day, you know?"

"I guess ..." She said.

"So ... when did she, well, um, you know ... realize that she was a lesbian?" He asked. She seemed taken aback by the question.

"Why are guys so interested in lesbians?" She asked, exasperated.

"Well I dunno ... we just kind of are, I guess," he said, struggling frantically to get the conversation flying smoothly again. He might as well have tried using Wile E. Coyote physics to catch the Road Runner.

"No seriously, what is this fascination? You don't see me fawning all over Dale because he's gay, do you?"

"Well, no, but it's not the same."

"What's so different about it?"

"Lesbians are hot. Gay guys are ... well, not," he said. Good job, dumb-ass. She sighed, got up from her seat and began walking toward the school.

"Debi! Wait!" Kernel called after her and got up from the hood. She didn't even turn toward him to brush him off.

"I'm sorry, Kernel. I'm not a lesbian, so there's no reason you'd want to talk to me." He stopped in his tracks.

"What did I say?"

--==--

"I don't get why she's so mad," said Kernel. "All I wanted was to know how long you guys have been friends."

"And if I've ever gone muff diving on her," said Marina.

"What?! No, I never said anything like that!"

"She was trying to talk to you, and all you wanted to talk about was me. How did you think she was going to take that?"

Kernel sighed. "How should I know? I swear to God, I was just curious. It had nothing to do with lesbianism or anything else."

"The fact remains," said Marina, "that a pretty girl put her hand on your thigh and you took that as your cue to start talking about another pretty girl. What does that make you?"

"Stupid?"

Marina beamed. "Exactly!"

"Great. Now what do I do?"

Mark and Joe sauntered up. "You could go punch Hellenberg again," said Joe. "That seems to make you popular with all the ladies." He was joking, but there was something in his tone that unsettled the Kernel. He couldn't exactly place it and wrote it off as being upset over what had happened with Debi.

"I'd like to avoid another trip to the El Tee's dungeon if I could," said Kernel. "Any other ideas?"

"Have you considered castration? More blood for the brain that way," said Mark.

"Sex change," said Marina. "Then you won't just have to talk about lesbians anymore."

"Funny," said Kernel. "You guys should write an advice column, what with being pricks and all."

"Well, I'd hate to hide my light under a bushel," said Marina.

Debi walked up to the group. The conversation suddenly tailed off.

"What?" she said.

"Kernel here was just explaining how to woo a girl. He has a whole technique," said Marina.

"Really? Does that technique include yammering like a horny idiot about the girl's gay friends?"

"The very same," said Marina.

"He didn't say it was a good technique," added Mark.

Debi harumphed. The Kernel wished very much that he could turn invisible. The others were having a great deal of fun at his expense.

The merriment was interrupted by a commotion coming down the hall.

"Ah, shit," said Joe.

"What?" said Kernel.

"Chardok," said Mark.

A group of about seven or eight boys with letter jackets were rushing up the hall. In the middle stood a six and a half foot ape-man with a crew cut. He was built like a tank and was just about as smart. It was Biff Chardok.

Chardok spotted the group and a big, evil grin spread across his face. He sauntered over their way, dismissing his crew as he went. Kernel look around and saw the rest of his gang was giving him dirty looks, so he decided to do the same.

"Well hey guys! What's shakin'?"

"Go away," said Debi.

"Sounds like someone needs to change her pad. Hey Joey! Still a virgin?"

"Hey Biff," said Joe. "Still stupid?"

"Hey fuck you, okay? I'm just being friendly here. How about you get Dale to pop your cherry for you? I hear he'd be glad to do it. Unless you're saving yourself for Mark. Hey, is this the kid who messed up Hellenberg?"

Kernel shrugged. "Yeah, that's me."

"How hard did you have to suck Stravo's cock to get away with that?"

"I had your mom do it for me. I think I'm going to get an A in all my classes now."

Chardok's mean, dumb face turned dark with anger. "You've got a pretty smart mouth for a new kid."

"And you've got a pretty dumb head," said Kernel. He regretted the words as soon as they were out of his mouth. Kernel braced for Biff to take a swing at him.

Instad, Biff just laughed. "Shit, man, you'll fit right in here." He looked around to make sure nobody was listening, then leaned in close to Kernel and whispered: "You should join the chess club."

"Why?" said Kernel.

"Because they'd love to have you." Kernel just stood there, waiting for the rest of the punchline.

"Is that it?" he said. "That's the whole joke?"

"No joke. The Great Leader would--shit, I've said too much."

Kernel started backing away from him. "Whatever you say, man."

"Biff, don't you have a waterboy to cornhole or something? Get the fuck out of here," said Marina.

"Hey, babe, if I wanted lip from you, I'd drop my pants."

Marina's bright green eyes frosted over. "What did you just say to me?"

"You heard me. I think you need some dick. Your box is so tight you put a quarter up there the eagle will scream."

Marina was more than half a foot shorter and sixty pounds lighter than Chardok, and a girl besides. So neither he nor anyone else expected it when she drove her elbow into his solar plexus. He reeled backwards and she loosed a kick as his right knee. It connected and he fell hard to the ground.

It happened so fast nobody had time to react. A crowd of spectators didn't even form up.

"Jesus Marina!" said Debi.

"Did I just see that?" said Mark.

"Is he alright?" said Kernel.

Biff staggered to his feet, holding clutching his gut. "Jesus Christ! Someone's fucking touchy." He straightened up as best he could, trying to hide the fact he was gasping for air. "You're lucky that didn't hurt," he said.

"Want me to try again?" said Marina in a perfectly conversational tone of voice?

Chardok managed a grin. "You just want to touch me." The grin evaporated when Marina's right hand curled up into a fist.

"Okay, okay, fine!" He backed away from her until he reached what he thought was a safe distance, then tried to saunter away as best he could on one good leg.

"Wow," said Kernel.

"That was so hot," said Joe. The other boys nodded. Marina beamed.

Debi just rolled her eyes.

--==--

Mark looked at his watch. The five minute rule was getting very close to coming into effect. This was extremely strange, considering that Mr. Kuroneko was never late. Ever. For anything. Though he did have a tendency to take extremely long vacations. Rumor has it that, in his first 30 years as a teacher, he never took any sick or vacation days, so for his last 20, he was making good use of them. He'd probably gotten the job equivalent of roll-over minutes on his contract, which was hardly surprising. When a Berkeley magna cum laude holding a PhD in mathematics tells you he wants to teach high schoolers at your school, you tend not to argue with his terms.

But he must have taken one of his famous, mysterious sabbaticals. That meant a substitute teacher. Which meant nothing of consequence would happen today. Which meant that he could just fall aslee--

Oh. My. God. He could've turned the lights off and brought a disco ball to school, and their classroom would've been transformed into a strip club, the woman walking into the room providing the most essential part of the metamorphosis. She wore a women's business suit with the black skirt subtly defying the normal "two inches above the knee" rule. The black halter-vest left her smooth back exposed and framed her well-endowed bust perfectly. Her figure was exquisite, a perfect complement to the thin face framed with horn-rimmed glasses that befitted an office secretary. Her blonde hair, probably normally wild and free across her shoulders, was done up in a bun, just begging to be released by a horny 17 year-old high school student.

Mrs. Chardok was subbing for Mr. Kuroneko. As much as Mark liked a good show, he'd heard enough rumors about the sultry substitute that, statistically, there simply had to be truth to them. He had his standards. Don't go lusting after Principal Stravo's sloppy seconds, he told himself. Again and again, as she spun on one of her multi-inch heels to face the class.

"Hello, everyone," she said in a Dixie-land voice. The only responses audible were the droplets of drool from male students' mouths hitting the floor. Had the boys not been so fixated on Mrs. Chardok, they might have noticed the girls' responses, namely the rolling of eyes.

She lightly picked up a piece of chalk and began writing her name on the board in elegant script. "For those of you who don't know me, my name is Ms. Chardok. I'll be subbing for Mr. Kuroneko's class today." The introduction was largely unnecessary. "So, let's take roll," she said, picking up the attendance sheet and calling out names. "Mark Berger." Mark perked up.

"Um, here," he said, confirming his presence.

"Ah, there you are," she said coyly. "Mm ... Mark. Such a nice name. Rolls off the tongue very nicely." She licked her lips as she finished the sentence. He sank into his seat, more than a little embarrassed. She finished the roll call.

"Now, Mr. Kuroneko gave me a worksheet to give out and said that you can spend the class doing it. She began distributing the worksheets. Mark was sitting up front, and she gave him a little wink through her glasses as she handed him a pile to pass back and made sure to flex her buttocks as she moved on to the next row. Mark began trying his damnedest to start working the problems on the sheet. Every so often he'd look up to find the sultry substitute eyeing him and making sure to smile when his eyes met hers, at which point he'd quickly look back down and begin scribbling on his worksheet.

Ms. Chardok gracefully rose from her seat behind the desk. "I have to use the ladies room, so while I'm away ... let's see ..."

Oh Jesus God don't say my name, Mark thought fervently.

"Mark, you'll be in charge," she said, pointing a long, red nail in his direction, which matched her red lipstick perfectly. Red lipstick. Red lips. Red smiling lips. Oh God she's smiling at me! Look down you fool! His head obeyed, with his eyes putting up stiff resistance.

"Um ... kay," he said.

"Be back in a few," she said, making her delicious exit. The minute her fine legs vanished from view, every male head in the class shot a glance directly at him. Gil Hamilton spoke and so represented the combined will of every penis in the room.

"Mark. Dude. She. Wants. You," Gil said slowly, making sure that Mark was digesting he information. Mark looked at him with wide eyes.

"No fucking way, Gil. I'm not hounding after Stravo's sloppy seconds! His name is probably inscribed on her vulva, for fuck's sake!" The words didn't register in Gil's brain, most likely because its functions had been superseded by Commander Phallus. Mark could see it now, the penis assuming command ...

Commander Phallus strode on to the bridge. Captain Brain whirled around. He was expecting this. They always had it out whenever the eyes reported a hot piece of ass at 12 o'clock.

"Captain, I'm taking command of this vessel," Phallus said with words as confident as his stride.

"You can't do that Phallus! We're ... we're in the middle of class! You can't handle it!" Brain protested vainly.

"The eyes and ears have briefed me on the situation, Captain. It's a substitute teacher, which falls under
my jurisdiction, and you know it," Phallus said smugly. Phallus motioned to Lieutenant Prostate. "Take him away, Lieutenant." Prostate moved toward the captain threateningly.

"You're not gonna get away with this," Brain said, defiant as Prostate escorted him off the bridge.

"Take it up with my balls."


"Mark!" Gil pulled him from his idiotic daydream. Mark shook his head. "You're not listening to me! The hottest substitute teacher on the East Coast wants to have sex with you!"

"I don't care! I have standards for Christ's sake!"

"Mark, please! Don't pass this up!" Gil pleaded.

"No! Leave me alone! I'm supposed to be in charge here, whatever that means."

"Come on, Mark. Fuck her ... for me. Fuck her for all of us."

"Dude, for the last fucking time, no!" Gil raised his pleading voice to a demanding yell that echoed through the halls.

"Mark, if you don't fuck that woman, I will kill myself!" Mark's face turned red like the ass of a freshly disciplined child living in the Bronx during the 1950s. There was an audible sigh from one of the girls. Carrie, Mark believed her name was. Not that he was thinking of that right now.

"Oh Christ, Gil, leave Mark alone," she said, more exasperated than anything. Just then, the Phallic Collective's object of desire came swaggering back in the room.

"Oh good. Everything just as I left it," she observed. "Mark, was someone yelling in here?"

"Um, uh, no ma'am," he stuttered.

"Mmm, a man who can maintain order," she purred. "You know, that's a very desirable trait." She flashed him a smile and sat back down at her desk.

Mark struggled through the rest of the period, doing his best to resist Ms. Chardok's advances. Just remember, you don't want anything to do with any orifice that spits out something like Biff Chardok.

The bell rang. Finally. Marked let out a mental sigh of relief. He was on his way out the door when he heard the dreaded words.

"Oh, Mark, I need to see you after class for a couple of minutes." Mark stopped in his tracks. Gil strode past him and slapped him on the shoulder.

"Go get 'er, buddy," Gil said, slipping something into his shirt's front pocket. Mark looked down and saw a Trojan condom.

"Dammit Gil!" He said through clenched teeth. Gil had already taken off. After a moment's hesitation, he slowly turned around.

"Uh ... what's this about?" She smiled at him seductively.

"Just take a seat." The room was now totally empty, and the door was closed. He sat down ... in a seat near the back corner on the entrance wall. She maneuvered through the desks to stand in front on him.

"I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated you looking after the class for me while I was gone," she said in a deep voice. She posted both arms on his desk, leaning down and giving him a world-class view of her cleavage. He could see the little white clasp of her bra holding the two cups together, and Commander Phallus' mutiny was gaining momentum.

Her right hand lightly grasped his tie and traced down it, gently pulling him toward her. Her words came through as sweet whispers. "I just hope there's some way I can ... show you how much it meant to me."

With his mouth gaping open, Mark couldn't form a coherent syllable, much less word. Her intoxicating scent lightly danced inside his nostrils, giving Commander Phallus some needed reinforcement. Get out of there, you fool! He was paralyzed. Her lips approached his, opened just widely enough to allow the tip of her tongue to protrude. Just as her lips were about to touch his, Captain Brain made one last-ditch attempt to suppress the coup, an effort that materialized as two words in his brain.

Genital. Herpes.

His legs kicked into action, and he bolted upright. He leapt over the desk to his right and sprinted toward the front of the room, skidding as he negotiated the hard, ninety-degree turn out the door.

Ms. Chardok sighed. "Well shit."

--==--

A paper airplane flew across the table. None of the group assembled paid it any attention; they were just thankful it wasn't a knife or hammer. Marina was the only one who really seemed herself. Joe was in a pissy mood and glaring a lot, Mark was nervously looking around, Kernel looked confused and guilty, and Debi looked pissed.

Marina knew what this meant. Well, it has been a long time since I had to listen to everyone's crap on the same day, she thought. She loved being a lesbian, but sometimes she thought that it made her too stable. Since she was a lesbian (and a very successful one), others naturally assumed she knew a lot about women. And also because of this, perversely, others assumed that she knew a bit about men as well. After all, she would've had to date a few of them in order to reject the penis out of hand.

Marina considered her options. She could talk to Joe, and put up with his lusting after Debi, she could talk to Kernel or Debi and put up with their awkwardness, or she could talk to ... Mark. Dear old Mark. She had no idea what was troubling him, and she was eager to find out. Few things, if any, ever got him as flustered as she saw him now.

"So, Mark ... who's about to stab you in the back?"

"Huh?" Mark said.

"Why are you looking over your shoulder?" Marina clarified.

"Oh ... uh, no one in particular," he lied, unconvincingly.

"Bullshit."

"Okay fine. It is bullshit," he admitted. "But I don't want to talk about it right now."

"Mark, come on. I've never seen you this flustered over anything."

"I told you, I--" Mark was cut off by Gil's sudden fanatical appearance.

"Mark, you fucked her. Tell me you fucked her!" He yelled, slamming his hands on their lunch table on the space between Marina and Joe, across from Mark.

"Gil," Mark began. "FUCK OFF!"

"I can't believe you didn't fuck her. You fucking pussy, I want my Trojan back!" Gil yelled.

"I didn't say I didn't fuck her; I told you to fuck off!" Mark yelled back.

"Fuck you! No one fucks Ms. Chardok and is in as shitty a mood as you are. Now gimme my fucking Trojan back!" Mark pulled the prophylactic out of his shirt's front pocket and threw it at Gil.

"There! Now put it back in your back pocket before its imprint on your ass starts wearing out!" Gil picked the incarnation of his prom night dream off the floor and walked off.

Marina looked at Mark again. "So, Mark ..." She began.

"Fine! Ms. Chardok propositioned me after class, and I turned her down," he said. Marina let that sink in.

"Wait ... Ms. Chardok is subbing today? For what classes?"

"Who's Ms. Chardok?" Kernel asked. "She's not related to that Biff guy, is she?"

"Yeah," Joe said. "She's his mom. His incredibly hot mom."

Debi piped up. "She's not a lesbian, so you wouldn't be interested," she torpedoed Kernel. He blinked his eyes and shook his head slightly, still not believing that she could make such a huge deal out of his remarks. Joe allowed a little smirk to cross his face.

Marina decided it would be best to stay away from that little bundle of anger for the time-being. "Mark, are you telling me that Ms. Chardok kept you after class and tried to seduce you?"

"Yes, that's exactly what happened, and now you know. Can we drop it?" Kernel jumped in.

"So a woman who is allegedly incredibly hot is responsible for Biff?" He asked, very surprised.

"There are theories in the works to explain this observation," Joe said. "It's eminently possible that Biff was adopted, spawned at the bottom of a river or that he simply congealed in a gutter somewhere."

"I see. I think."

Mark suddenly froze. There was a tap on his shoulder, and a scent teasing his nose. Oh shit, she doesn't give up. He looked over his shoulder, and there was the steaming-hot substitute.

"Um ... yes?" He asked like ... well, like a 17 year-old with a beautiful woman hanging over his shoulder.

"Mark, have you or any of your friends seen my son around? I just heard you mention his name, and thought maybe you'd seen him recently."

"Uh ... no ma'am," Mark said.

"Well, it's lunch time, so he might be picking fleas off the other apes' backs right about now," Debi said. Her vitriol was apparently not staying confined to Kernel. Ms. Chardok ignored her and looked at Marina.

"My, you have gorgeous hair!" She said. "Is it naturally red?" Marina took the compliment in stride. Joe and Mark would have to keep waiting for the day they'd see her actually blush.

"Why yes, it is," she said smoothly. "Thank you for noticing."

"Oh you have to tell me what treatment you're using," Ms. Chardok said.

Thank fucking God, Mark thought.

--==--

Debi and Marina wisely decided to sit in the back on Mr. Wilson's history class. The way they figured it, they were doing him a favor by putting their breasts out of his immediate view. Rob Wilson's status at the school hung very tenuously between "FIRED" and "NOT FIRED."

Occasionally, a girl would complain about his lecherous behavior, but nothing ever stuck. Mr. Wilson was certainly a pervert, but he made sure that all of the more well-endowed ladies in his class came out with A's with little to no effort. So whenever anyone complained, all the other girls in the class would become tight-lipped. They weren't sacrificing their easy A's so that a girl with no appreciation for the power of her two wonderful gifts from God Himself could drag a poor old lecher like Mr. Wilson in front of a judge.

--

Hm, Marina and Debi are in the back today. Too bad, Mr. Wilson thought to himself. He'd taken one of his frequent pauses during his lecture to call on a student to answer some bullshit question he made up on the spot. He scanned the room. "Maya, can you tell us why musket barrels were so long in the Civil War?"

Maya, a disastrously cute female with straight, shoulder-length, light brown hair and blue eyes, leaned forward in her seat, giving him a fairly decent view down her shirt, whose top three buttons weren't clasped. Oh, no undershirt today, Mr. Wilson observed. Hm, black lace bra, front clasp ... looks like the lace Miracle Bra. Fall 2003 Victoria's Secret sale, he deduced. 34-B, if my eyes serve me right.

And they damn well should. He was an ex-Marine Corps sniper and had eyes like a hawk. Being an American history teacher at a high school allowed him to partake in his two favorite activities, staring at young girls' breasts and talking about guns, both at the same time. He couldn't think of a better way to spend his life post-military.

Somewhere along the line, he'd developed an underwear fetish. He had every Victoria's Secret catalogue ever printed since 1996 stacked in a closet in his house, which was fast running out of room. Not only did he look at them, but he memorized the descriptions. Snipers tended to have a sort of attention to detail that most normal people couldn't understand.

"Uh," Maya began. She tossed her hair lightly to one side and exposed her neck, much to his delight. "Because the barrels weren't rifled and the musket ball wouldn't go very straight once out of the barrel?"

--

Marina leaned over to Debi. "I think Maya just turned him on," she said.

"No shit. She's talking about rifled barrels and giving him a first-class view of her cleavage," Debi said back.

"As opposed to the economy-class view of yours that you give Kernel?" Marina asked. Debi shot her a glaring look.

"What's that supposed to mean?" She spat. Mr. Wilson was continuing his lecture and not paying any attention to the girls whose breasts were out of range.

"Kernel and I were talking just before Biff showed up in the hall," Marina said.

"Yeah, so?"

"I think you're being too hard on him, like with that little shot you fired across his bow at lunch."

"He deserved it! All he's interested in is you!"

"Oh don't be silly. He's plenty interested in you. He's just a boy, and sweetie, you don't understand boys. They're stupid," Marina explained.

"So what does any of this have to do with my cleavage?" Debi asked.

"Kernel's mind might wander during the course of conversation to topics you don't want it go go," Marina said. "Maybe giving him a little peek of first-class would keep his mind on you." Debi was taken aback.

"So I should flash him so he'll stay interested?"

"No, not flash. Just tease a little."

"That's degrading," Debi said with disgust. "I'm not going to go all slutty just so Kernel keeps paying attention to me."

"Oh stop making it sound so bad. You're just teasing him, not hopping his stock," Marina said.

--

Suddenly a few choice words from Marina caught his ears. He couldn't be sure, but he thought he heard, "hopping his stock" from the well-known lesbian. Very interesting, Mr. Wilson thought. Too bad she was all the way in the back. Even so, he decided to pick on her. She may be a lesbian, but she knows her military history.

"Marina, can you tell me which Confederate vessel the North turned into an iron-clad?" Marina looked up from whispering to Debi.

"The North never captured a Confederate vessel and turned it into an iron-clad," Marina said. "The South, however, captured the U.S.S. Merrimac and rebuilt it as an iron-clad, re-christening it the C.S.S. Virginia. Is that what you were referring to?"

"Ah, yes, of course," he said. He was sorely tempted to ask her out for a drink, despite any such attempt being doomed to failure. He was almost disappointed that he couldn't give her a higher grade than an A. Her beautiful breasts gave her plenty of extra credit.

He scanned over the class again. His eyes landed straight on the innocent-until-proven-guilty Homecoming queen, Zaia, who was currently stretching her stomach and shoulders in her seat. Her long red hair had landed on the desk of the fellow sitting behind her. The arching of her back pressed her thin white shirt against her, and he got a clear outline of her bra. Red, satin, seamless underlined demi-bra. Second-Skin Satin collection from Victoria's Secret. 36-B ... no wait, they're being pressed from the stretch. Must be at least a 34-C.

"And Zaia, what was the North's iron-clad's name?" He asked. Zaia finished her extreme stretch with a little squeak that would've made someone think there was a cute puppy in the room.

"The Monitor," she said confidently with a slight twitch in her pointed nose.

"Excellent."

--

Marina turned back to Debi. "See?" She whispered. "Tease, and good things come your way." Debi still wasn't buying it.

"I shouldn't have to entertain his lechery just to get a decent conversation out of him," she said.

"Oh you need to lighten up about this whole subject. Men and men, and you're just not lucky enough to be a lesbian. You're going to have to deal with it sooner or later, and Kernel's a pretty nice guy anyway," Marina said. "Trust me, just give it a shot, and you'll notice a big difference."

"I don't like it," Debi said begrudgingly.

"Oh come on dear. It'll be fun. Just unbutton the top two buttons on your blouse and give him a little peek. Nothing too distracting, just enough to keep his focus on you." Debi sighed. Marina's advice had never before led her astray, however. She had to credit her with that.

"Fine," she said.

--

"Okay, and today we're going to end on--" Mr. Wilson stopped abruptly. Is Debi unbuttoning her blouse?!

--==--

Mark walked out of his last class feeling like he'd been carrying a giant sandbag on each shoulder all day, and he'd just dropped them. In ten minutes, I'm out of this funhouse. Jesus, she's crazy. He peeked around corners tenatively as he walked towards his locker, hoping to avoid the strumpet. Maybe I should have--NO! Stravo's sloppy seconds, Stravo's sloppy seconds! Though it occured to him he had no idea if Stravo had actually hit it with her. For all he really knew, the only time she'd ever had sex before was when Biff had been conceived, and there was always a chance he'd just escaped from the zoo and she took him in.

I wish she'd fucked Joe. Maybe he wouldn't be such a whiny bitch over Debi then. He felt guilty as soon as he thought it. If he'd been in Joe's situation, he probably wouldn't have been happy with how things had gone, either. Though there was always a chance the Kernel would talk himself right into a hole and never climb out, and the status quo would be restored.

Still, he shouldn't be such a whiny bitch.

He reached his locker. To his relief, she wasn't there waiting for him. Better hurry, she might be looking for me.

Someone tapped his shoulder while he was digging for his books. He jumped and banged his head on the locker door frame.

"You fucker!" he spat when he saw it had been Joe.

"What the fuck crawled up your ass and died? Are you still pissing and moaning because a hot teacher wants to fuck you? You poor guy."

"Suck my balls. Which one of us has been blubbering about Debi all week?"

"Actually, I'm cool about all that."

"The hell you are."

"I am. I was thinking about it today, and I got over it."

"It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact she's mad at him, would it?"

"Of course not," said Joe. The lie was so transparent Mark didn't even bother pointing it out. And then the conversation halted right there because Kernel arrived.

"Hey guys," he said without much enthusiasm.

"Hey," they mumbled in return.

"What a lousy day," said Kernel.

"Yep," said Joe, who thought it was the finest day he'd had in weeks.

"Guys, you've both known Debi for a while, right? When she gets mad, how long does she stay mad?"

Mark looked at Joe, who seemed to be looking at nothing in particular. "I don't know," said Mark, cautiously. "About the same as usual, I guess."

"Great," said Kernel.

"Well, this should cheer you up," said Mark, pointing at someone coming down the hall. Kernel turned around and groaned. It was Biff and his posse.

"It was a lead pipe and Crackpot busted his arms and legs with it. Stravo had to pull him off when he started on Shirtless's ribs, and that's where he got the black eye" said the one walking side by side with him, a junior called Beowulf who played on the football team with Chardok...and was carrying a chessboard under one arm.

"Bullshit," said Chardok. "Shirtless messed up his face with a hammer. He sprained his ankle running after him when Crackpot tried to get away." He spotted the three boys. "Hey! That dude right there, that's the guy I want you to meet." He and Beowulf went over to Kernel while the others continued on.

"Go away Biff," said Joe.

"Can't you be nice to me for two minutes? You're really starting to...." he sobbed once, "hurt my feelings!" He sniffled for good measure.

"Really?" said Joe.

"Yeah, really.....but your mom will make me feel better!" He guffawed at his own wit.

"That's real ironic coming from you," said Mark.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Beowulf, who apparently did know what it meant, looked suddenly uncomfortable.

"Don't worry about it," said Kernel, who didn't want to start a fight with two football players without Marina around. Where is she? he thought. "What do you want?"

"I want to remind you about the offer."

"What offer?"

"What offer?! To join the chess club!"

Kernel started backing away from him. He's a lot more enthusiastic about chess than he should be. "Why do I need an offer to join the chess club?"

"Because the Great--" Beowulf suddenly smacked him in the back of his head "Because only the club president can invite people in."

"They can't be that exclusive if they invited you," said Mark.

"Okay, great," said Kernel. "Thanks for the offer, guys, but I'm not a big chess fan."

Chardok looked about ready to say something else, but Debi arrived at that moment. She shot him a dirty look, but only a cursory one. Instead, she went right to the Kernel.

"Hey," she said. She leaned against the locker in front of him. "Listen, I think I owe you an apology. I realize that when you said those insensitive, idiotic, disgraceful things this morning, it wasn't because you're an insesnitive, idiotic, disgraceful dolt, but because testosterone causes some sort of incurable brain disease in all men, and I shouldn't get mad at you for being stupid about girls any more than I should get mad at a paraplegic for being bad at hopscotch. I need you to understand that you can't act like that around me again, because that would show you're not trying, but the first time, you couldn't have known. You were like a baby given a fork and placed in a room full of electrical outlets, and I shouldn't have been surprised you went and hurt yourself. You're a fundamentally good person at heart and I think you're trying your best. You're still an idiot, but you're a very well meaning one, and I forgive you, and I hope you can do the same."

"Uh huh," said Kernel. She's got some great tits. I can't believe she forgot to button that last button. Debi saw the glazed look in his eyes and smiled broadly.

"That was beautiful," said Biff. "I really mean that." Debi glanced at him curiously. "You've got really nice clevage," he added.

She heaved an enormous sigh and buttoned the top button. Kernel and Mark looked very disappointed. Joe was too busy looking like he'd been kicked in the face, but nobody was paying any attention to him.

"Where's Marina when you need her?" she said. Chardok flinched at the mention of her name, but relaxed when he realized she wasn't there.

"Come to think of it," said Mark, "Where is Marina? I haven't seen her since lunch."

"Last I saw her was history," said Debi. She frowned. "That's odd, I usually run into her before last bell. And she's never this late."

"I haven't seen her," said Kernel. "How about you Joe?"

"How the fuck should I know where she is?" snapped Joe.

"Just asking," said Kernel. Who the hell shit in his cereal?

"Well, it's not like we've got a bus to miss," said Mark.

"Yeah, but I don't want to wait around here for her all day," said Kernel. He was looking directly at Debi as he said that.

"We'll just give her a few more minutes," said Debi, looking at Kernel.

"She's probably off dyking it up," said Biff. Everyone ignored him.

It was late and the hall had mostly cleared out, so they could hear running feet approaching them clearly. It was Aerius and Jennifer, and they weren't approaching them so much as they were the janitor's closet at the end of the row of lockers across the hall. Jennifer, who swam for the school team and was much bigger and stronger than Aerius, was practically dragging him by the arm, not that he needed much encouragement.

Jennifer grabbed the closet doorknob, intending to yank the door open and toss Aerius inside. Instead, she pulled up short and nearly fell as it didn't budge. She let go of Aerius, who was off balance and did fall.

"What the fuck," she said.

"Trouble?" asked Kernel from across the hall.

"This door is never locked! You don't lock the fuck closet. That's a rule."

"Unless you're in the fuck closet," said Mark.

"Well, yeah. But who's in the fuck closet now?" Jennifer started rattling the doorknob and pounding on the door. "Time's up! Comeon, Goddammit, it's not a motel room!"

The entire group crossed the hall to get a better look at the closet's occupants when the door opened. Debi stood close to Kernel and leaned into him slightly.

Jmac pounded the door again. "Open up!"

There was a muffled female voice from the other side, and then the lock clicked. The door swung open slowly, and a sweaty, disheveled redhead stumbled out still adjusting her blouse.

"Marina?!" gasped Debi.

"Hello everyone," she said, as casually as if they'd caught her reading the Sunday New York Times.

"I told you she was dyking it up!" said Biff. Marina turned his way and suddenly Chardok looked tense, but all she did was grin languidly.

"You had to have been adopted," she said.

"What does that mean?" he said.

"Biff? Honey?" came a voice from the closet. Everybody except Marina froze. Horror slowly crept across Biff's face.

"No. No no no no no no."

"Yes," said Marina, as Mrs. Chardok stepped out of the closet, also sweaty and disheveled, with her skirt on backwards.

"Mom?!"

"Biff, sweetie, I can explain. Sometimes, you see, mommies get a little lonely, and they need to be touched in a special way that only women can do."

"MOM!"

"SCORE ONE FOR THE REDHEADED BABE!" exclaimed Beowulf.

"SHUT UP!" Biff covered his ears and ran down the hall.

"Wait Biff!" cried Mrs. Chardok, running after him.

"Wait!" said Marina. "You forgot your...." she shrugged and tossed the lacy black thong she'd been holding behind her.

"Am I allowed to be turned on by this?" said Kernel to Debi.

"I think I'm turned on by this," said Debi.

"This is the best day EVER," said Mark.

"Yeah, great," muttered Joe.

"You're my hero, Marina," said Kernel.

Marina had a brush out and was fixing her hair back. "I know."

--==--

Spanky wandered up the empty hall feeling sad and useless. So many scofflaws, so many contemptible vermin, and I haven't caught anyone for anything more serious than a dress code violation. He rubbed the material of his sash between his thumb and forefinger and sighed.

"I'm not fit for the sash," he said out loud. "I had a drug dealer and two potheads in my sights and they got away."

Maybe it's time to face facts. Maybe you should turn in the sash. He'd had thoughts like that before and had brushed them off. Now, though.... He sighed again. Up ahead, he noticed someone had left the janitor's closet door open.

The cleaning crew doesn't get to this hall until much later, he thought. That meant students had been fooling around in there, which meant dangerous chemicals might have been taken or valuable property damaged. He brightened slightly. I can compare the contents to what the inventory sheet says should be in there. I might discover evidence of a serious crime. Then he sighed and shook his head. He realized what closet that was--it was the fuck closet. The administration didn't even bother storing chemicals in there anymore, just a plastic mop bucket full of condoms and an old bleach jug converted into a bank for coins to pay for them, on the honor system. West High was a modern, progressive sort of place. Spanky thought it was degenerate, but the only person who'd signed his "Close the Fuck Closet" petition had been Gauner, and even Spanky thought he was a dork.

"This whole place should be burned to the ground," said Spanky sadly as he reached for the door to push it closed.

"OUT OF MY WAY!" Someone big and strong and moving very fast flung Spanky away from the closet. Spanky tumbled to the floor, landing right on his ass. The closet door slammed shut, but not before he saw Prinicpal Stravo ripping off his gold business shirt and heard an older female voice Spanky recognized as a substitute teacher who'd worked that day moan "Oh, punish me like one of your students!" The bang from the door as it slammed shut echoed up and down the empty hall.

"The rot has started at the top," said Spanky. He should have felt alarmed by his own disrespect, but he didn't care.

He was about to get up and leave the building when he spotted a small black pile of cloth along the baseboard near the closet. Litter he thought, and considered leaving it for the janitor. But angry as he was at himself and his superiors, he still had responsibilities.

He got up and grabbed the bundle. Suddenly, it unraveled, and all of Spanky's troubles melted away. It was a paid of black thong panties with lace trim, size M, silk. Frederick's of Hollywood. He could tell without checking the tag.

That sub is probably a medium, he thought. These might be hers. His heart churned for a moment. He was obligated, technically, to at least ask if they belonged to her, before he claimed them as found items and added them to his collection. His beautiful, beautiful panty collection.

This is a good pair. Nice panties. He rubbed the slippery fabric with his hands.

You know what? These would have been thrown out anyway. I'm not stealing these at all. I'm rescuingthem."

"Oh Mr. Stravo!" cried the woman in the closet.

"And she doesn't need them anyway," he said. His mind made up, he stuck the panties in his back pocket and walked away, whistling, happily fiddling with his sash.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2005-02-11 01:11pm
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Official SD.Net Teller of Tales
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Joined: 2002-07-08 12:06pm
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Location: NYC
Fast Times at SD High
*
* Starring
*
*The Kernel
*Joe
*Iceberg
*The Duchess of Zeon
*Innerbrat
*
* Also Starring
*
* Stravo
* The El Tee
*
* Featuring
*
* Dalton, Fglakin, Rob Wilson, bohemianfey,
* Broomstick, Kuroneko, Admiral Valdemar
* Patrick Degan, Vympel, The Yosemite Bear,
* and Elfdart
*
* Written by
*
* Damien Sorresso and Matthew Lineberger
*
* Executive Producers
*
* Damien Sorresso and Matthew Lineberger
*********************************************

*********************************************
*Episode 105: To Russia, With Love*
*********************************************

Homecoming. Whoever thought of that concept clearly hadn't had Sunnyvale West's student body in mind, Stravo thought. Homecoming at many schools was replete with rituals of light hazing. Students would sometimes toilet-paper teachers' houses or the school. But to assume that the SD High students would stop at such trite levels was an exercise in foolishness. Last year, poor Miss Fey, the health and sex education teacher, had woken up to find her driveway covered with European blow-up dolls in lewd sexual positions. And the worst part was that they weren't wearing condoms.

His mind returned to the present, which, at the moment, smelled like vodka and smelled Russian. No matter what you say to him, he always manages to relate it to drinking vodka with his buddies, Stravo thought. Mister Galkine, the alleged ex-KGB, weapons-dealing, mafia hitman who had been shot 37 times before escaping wrongful imprisonment in a gulag, was currently engaged in retelling one such story.

"And ve tould Vlad, 'Russian roulette cannot be played vith Beretta.' Bot he vood not leesen! He vanted to play roulette! So ve passed gun around seex times before poor Vanya took bullet to skull."

"That's very interesting, Galkine, but we re--"

"And do you know vat today ees, Meester Stravo?"

Stravo sighed again. "What?"

"Zee tventy-feefth anniversary of Vanya's death." Stravo rubbed his forehead with one hand.

"Galkine, Berettas weren't around in 1980." Stravo had no idea where he'd picked up that little piece of trivia. It had just popped into his head, as if at the whim of whatever deity decided what joke to play on him when.

"You most be mistaken."

"Whatever. Anyway, I'd prefer it if you ... tried not to drink in class. As much." Stravo kept his demands within reason. Taking the Russian off his vodka was about as as likely as Mike Wong returning to score the winning touchdown at this year's homecoming game against Sunnyvale East.

"You have my vord, as Russian!" Galkine exclaimed.

"Great, thanks. You can go now." Galkine lumbered out of his seat. "Oh, Galkine?"

"Yesh Meestar Stravo?"

"Is it true that your house has never gotten TP'ed on Homecoming?" Galkine grinned with a hint of pride through his thick beard.

"Eet is very true, Meester Stravo."

"What's your secret?" Galkine seemed to sober up and become deadly serious in less than a second.

"Meester Stravo, some secrets are ... meant to remain secret." Stravo nodded suspiciously.

"All right, here's hoping you can make it through this year unscathed."

"And you as vell, Meester Stravo." Galkine walked out without a hint of inebriation, closing the door behind him.

You know, with all the rumors floating around about him, there's got to be at least one or true ones in there, Stravo thought. Ugh, I need a drink.

A knock at his office door fended off the incoming hypocrisy. Good, must be the El Tee. "Come," he said. Hey, I just sounded kinda like Captain Picard! He thought. Oh Jesus, I didn't just think that did I? Before his brain could play back the court-reporter's record, the El Tee walked through the door.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" The El Tee was ramrod-straight, standing at attention. Stravo sighed.

"At ease, El Tee," he said. The El Tee promptly placed his hands at the small of his back and widened his stance slightly. He was about as "at ease" as Stravo was "a little buzzed."

"Yes sir?"

"Just wanted to make sure everything's on schedule for tonight," Stravo said.

"Yes sir. The bonfire begins at 1800 hours, and we show no signs of deviating from that schedule," the El Tee explained. For some ridiculous reason, the student council had gotten approval to hold a homecoming bonfire. Not a unique tradition by any means, but having the student body at this school within a mile of dead wood, lighter fluid and ample supplies of both had to be the worst idea since Abe Lincoln's trip to the theatre.

"I don't want things getting out of hand, El Tee," Stravo warned. The anti-drug assembly's utter failure was still punishing him, every Saturday night at nine o'clock sharp. I swear I'd rather stay in and watch the garbage that SNL's showing nowadays than read another fucking Fontaine novel. Unfortunately for Stravo, Fontaine turned out roughly four-hundred new novels per hour.

"They won't, sir. A few of the bouncers from the Dank have volunteered to bust some skulls before their shifts start." Club Dank was a local, two-story club. The lower level was a pub where people could watch TV and get drunk with their friends. The upper level was a raging dance club that had been Stravo's Saturday night scene. Before the dark times. Before that fucking assembly.

"Bouncers from the Dank? Well that's actually some good news," Stravo said. "What will the parents think?"

"That they'd better shut up and accept it. Unless they want these particular bouncers testifying as to their whereabouts and company during an incriminating weekend in a divorce court," the El Tee said.

Haha! Stravo thought. He loved being able to stick it to the parents of these little mongrels.

"Good work, El Tee. I'd promote you, but your name's 'El Tee'," Stravo said.

"Perfectly understandable, sir. I prefer to stay in the field."

"And in the field you shall remain."

"Thank you, sir."

"Dismissed, El Tee."

--==--

Mark slid through the jostling crowd to Marina's locker, where she and The Kernel were already waiting and talking. He knew right away something was up--The Kernel was rubbing his hands together, grinning, bouncing on the balls of his feet, while Marina had the look of grim, steely determination reserved for soldiers on the eve of battle and the badly constipated.

"You look like you're constipated," said Mark.

Marina ignored him. "I recommend shaving gel instead of shaving cream. The gel holds a steady stream for longer."

"We get more bang for our buck with cream," said The Kernel. "And if the gel doesn't foam, he might not even see it."

Marina mulled over that. "You may be right. Mark, do you have any opinion?"

"On what? Shaving cream? I prefer gel." He rubbed his chin. Come to think of it, he needed a shave.

"Not for you," said Marina. "For the Operation."

Mark could hear the capital letter and he knew immediately that he was doomed. "What operation?" he said.

"We're going to--" started Kernel.

Marina held up her hand. "Not here. These walls have ears." She jerked her head around, making sure nobody was listening. "We'll wait for the others to rendezvous, then proceed to a secure location so everyone can be fully briefed."

Now he was really doomed. "Briefed on WHAT?"

"You'll see," said The Kernel. "You didn't have plans for tonight, did you?"

A way out! "Actually, I--"

"They've been cancelled," said Marina. "I need you tonight. You're my right hand."

Kernel drew in a breath as if to speak.

"Do you like having testicles?" said Marina to Kernel. Kernel kept his mouth shut.

"Look, I'm flattered, really," said Mark. "But whatever you two are planning, I want no part of it."

"You're laboring under the delusion," said Marina, "that your participation is optional."

Before Mark could argue further, he saw Joe and Debi approaching. Together. Joe was very animated, waving his hands around as he talked to her, speaking with broad gestures. Debi was grinning, and then, after one particularly exuberant hand motion on Joe's part, she threw back her head and laughed.

The Kernel watched it curiously. Mark read his face for some sign of jealousy, and didn't see any.

They arrived at the locker and Debi immediately went over to Kernel's side, well inside his personal space, without actually touching him. Joe's face went blank, and apparently only Mark noticed he was squeezing his fist so tight his knuckles were white.

One of these days, he's going to use that, thought Mark. Won't that be swell.

"Excellent," said Marina. "We can go now. There's enough room in my car for all of us."

"Go where?" said Debi.

"We have to requisition supplies," said Marina.

"Supplies? For what?"

"For the best homecoming prank ever," said Kernel. "Come on." He and Marina started walking down the hall, and the others reluctantly followed.

"What are you prattling about?" said Debi.

"Yeah," said Joe. "What's going on here?"

"They're not saying," said Mark. "It's Super Duper Top Secret or some shit."

"Don't tell me we're doing the sex dolls thing again," said Joe. "Somebody already did that last year."

"It's not the sex dolls," said Kernel.

"Not the Saran Wrap, either. I'm not standing out in the damn cold wrapping Stravo's car with sandwich wrap," said Mark.

"It's not the Saran Wrap."

They made it outside. It was a cloudy and blustery October day and Debi immediately started shivering. Joe noticed and started taking off his coat.

"I'm cold," said Debi.

"You--" started Joe.

"Here," said Kernel, taking off his coat and handing it to her. Joe muttered something unprintable that fortunately only Mark heard.

Fortunately? God damn, maybe if he said something all this shit would end. He debated telling him that later, and decided it wasn't worth the trouble. Maybe being miserable gave Joe a sense of meaning in his life. He wouldn't be the first.

Marina drove a dark red, mint condition 1974 Ford Thunderbird. Only copyright laws and ambiguous local obscenity statutes kept her from airbrushing "Pussy Wagon" on the trunk lid. Inside was all original white leather, a totally bitchin' custom sound system, fuzzy dice, and thirty-four pairs of panties neatly arranged on the package shelf.

"Shotgun!" said Kernel.

"It's behind a false panel in--" She stopped. "Oh. Yes. You may sit in the front."

Joe, Debi, and Mark slid into the back, Debi in the middle because she was the smallest. She glanced back at the package shelf. "You've been busy," she said.

"I had a good month," said Marina. "Now, focus. We have an operation to perform."

She pulled out of the empty parking lot onto Annaliese St., towards downtown.

"Where the hell are we going?" said Mark.

"The supermarket," she said.

"Oh God no," said Debi. "If we're going to do a homecoming prank, at least we can do something more original than buy a load of eggs and toilet paper--"

"And shaving cream," added Kernel.

"And shaving cream and mess up some poor sod's house. Come on."

"Maybe that's not what it is," said Mark. "Marina, I can't believe the best you could come up with is rolling someone's house. The elementary school kids have better pranks."

"Besides," said Joe. "Every teacher's house has been rolled already. More than once, probably. Even the El Tee has been rolled."

"I remember that. Didn't they turn donuts on his lawn, too?" said Mark.

"They tried," said Marina, "But they hit a mine."

"Oh! That was that year! I remember now."

"We're not turning donuts on the El Tee's lawn," said Debi. "I refuse to participate in that. Marina, would you care to risk wrecking the Pussy Wagon?"

"Certainly not," said Marina. "And don't fret. The El Tee is not the mission objective."

"Then who is?" said Joe.

"Kernel? Would you like to do the honors?"

"Sure!" He turned around in his seat to face the three in the back. "Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to go down in history tonight. We're going to do what's never been done. When we're through, we'll have accomplished the greatest homecoming prank this sad sack burg has ever seen."

Joe, Debi, and Mark sat in stone silence. Kernel's smile faltered at the unenthusiastic reaction, but only a little.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to roll Mr. Galkine's house."

More silence, like a graveyard. Mark reached for his door handle. They were only going fifty five or so--he'd probably live.

"It's locked from up here," said Marina without looking back.

"Fuck," said Mark.

--==--

The Dank was widely regarded as the best bar in Sunnyvale. Oh, out on the east side, they probably thought it was too dark, too smokey, too crowded, not enough pointless geegaws on the walls. They probably all drank bananna daiquiris at Applebee's or some shit like that. But since everybody on the west side knew nobody on the east side counted, the patrons at The Dank didn't worry about it.

The faculty of Sunnyvale West, and Sunnyvale Central before that, always had a party in the Dank pub the night before homecoming. This year, virtually all of them had come. Stravo and Dalton had taken a booth near the back, where Stravo could look out across the whole bar and see who was there. There was Degan and Vympel knocking back beers and talking politics at the bar; Rob Wilson was perched by the piano, watching the room with his sniper's eyes; Mr. Witz loosing a stream of vulgarity at Mr. Elfdart, the twitching, frazzle-haired art teacher with the "Bush Eats Babies" tee shirt; Mrs. Broomstick, the beloved health sciences and sex ed teacher drinking a Diet Coke because she planned on flying her plane the next day; Ms. Fey, the bat-shit lunatic health sciences and sex ed teacher drinking warm tap water by herself at the end of the bar because anything that tasted good was sinful. And Mr. Galkine, alone at a table with a bottle of the cheapest bottom shelf vodka the Dank had. Stravo used the stuff at home to light his charcoal grill.

In the booth behind Stravo and Dalton, Mr. Valdemar, the senior biology teacher, was filling in Mr. Kuroneko, back from his mysterious sabbatical, on the Bored Shirtless/Crackpot situation. "So basically, after Crackpot broke BS's ankle with a manhole cover, BS managed to wrestle Crackpot to the ground and cock-slapped him so hard he broke his nose."

"And this happened on the first day of school?" said Kuroneko.

"Yeah," said Valdemar.

"Excellent! That's exactly when my model predicted they'd fight. If you'll excuse me, I have to submit another paper to ... ahem, excuse me."

Stravo wasn't really listening to what they were saying. Kuroneko was a good teacher, but he missed having Mrs. Chardok around as a full-time sub.

While that had been going on, Rob Wilson had walked across the bar to Miss Fey. Stravo palmed his face; nothing good was going to come of that. He didn't exactly blame him--she was short, dark haired, and very very stacked, but...

The *thwack* of Wilson getting belted in the face with Miss Fey's Bible really said it all.

Stravo decided it was time to get to the business at hand. "Is this thing all set up?"

Dalton was munching on a chocolate donut and drinking a Guinness. "Sure, boss. There won't be any problems."

"I need more than that. Is this safe?"

Dalton considered that. "Probably not, but we're committed now. Nobody will get hurt too bad even if something goes wrong."

"That's not what I fucking want to hear."

Dalton took a bite of his donut and shrugged.

"Where's the El Tee? I thought you and him were coordinating this," said Stravo.

"I don't know. He said he had some kind of lead or something and he needed to investigate."

"Oh that's just fucking great. Is someone going to disrupt this?"

"He doesn't know, boss."

"I've had one disaster already this year. If there's going to be another--"

At that moment, the El Tee arrived, panting, in the bar. Stravo sighed miserably. Something was up. Something was always up.

He came to Stravo's table. "Sir! Permission to report, sir?"

"El Tee, for the love of Jesus corn-holing Mary Magdeline, would you cut that Army shit out? Just tell me what the fuck is going on."

"Sir, I have been informed by a reliable source that there is a prank in progress tonight."

"Where? At the bonfire? If someone does something stupid around a giant fucking fire, I give you permission to throw him in."

"Sir, I have already called up all the hall monitors. I believe security at tonight's event is more than sufficient."

Stravo sighed, the first relief he'd felt all day. "Alright, then, what's the problem? Are they going to put more blow-up dolls in Miss Fey's driveway?"

"No sir, she is not the target this year."

"Well who is? Me? Are they going to fuck with my house? I'll expel them right now."

"Sir, your domicile is secure. And you are not, to the best of my knowledge, a target either."

Stravo waited for the El Tee to actually tell him who the real target was. The El Tee stood impassively.

With both hands on his temper, Stravo finally said, "El Tee, who exactly is the target?"

"Mr. Galkine, sir."

Stravo gasped and Dalton dropped his donut. "Fuck!" He looked over at Galkine, morosely sucking down ... was that Mr. Clean? He shook his head. "Are you sure?"

"Yes sir, very sure. If my source is correct, O'Leary has targeted his house tonight, while Galkine is at the bonfire."

"Or passed out in the gutter," said Dalton.

"Or that, Mr. Dalton."

"O'Leary?" said Stravo. "She's behind this?"

"Yes sir."

"Shit. She'll do the job right, and then we'll have a real fucking mess on our hands. She needs to be stopped."

"Sir, request permission--"

"Just do whatever you think you need to do, El Tee, and report back to me when this situation is under control."

"Yes sir. Request to be dismissed, sir."

"Jesus Christ, I told you to ... fine, El Tee. Dismissed. And don't fuck this up." Stravo gulped down the last of his Jim Beam. "Barkeep! Refill!" he bellowed.

Just then, he saw the front door open, and a man came walking through. Stravo recognized him instantly. "Well, no fucking shit. Barkeep! Make it two!"

--==--

"Marina sure has this planned out," said Kernel.

"She's mad. You're mad. You're both mad. And I must be madder to even go along with this," said Debi.

"Oh, it'll be fine," said Kernel, checking the roll of toilet paper in his hand against the neatly written specifications on the list Marina had given him. "This it two-ply, right?"

"What does it matter?"

"Marina says if we use cheap paper, it might not unroll right."

"So this is going to be crazy and expensive."

"No, crazy would be launching these from catapults. This is just dangerous and stupid." She didn't return his broad, beaming grin. Quite the opposite, actually.

"I'm surprised Marina didn't bring a bloody catapult."

"That would be hard to fit in the car."

"I'm glad one of us thinks this is funny."

"Oh come on. This is funny."

"And when Galkine finds out who did this, will that be funny?"

"He's a harmless old drunk. Even if he finds out, what's the worst he can do?"

"Give me an 'F' in Spanish, maybe?"

Kernel pondered that. "Marina's in your class. She's not worried about it."

"That's because she's mad."

Kernel started throwing rolls of toilet paper into the cart by way of rebuttal.

"And that's another thing. We're buying two dozen rolls of toilet paper, ten dozen eggs, and ten cans of shaving cream in one trip. The store is going to remember us. They'll know what we're doing."

"It'll be okay."

"There is no way we are getting away with this."

He dropped the last two rolls into the cart and then faced her. He sighed a little. "Listen, if you really don't want to be a part of this, that's okay. But you won't get in trouble, I promise."

"It's not that I don't want to come along. I'm up for this as much as the rest of you ... but damn it, there has to be a reason nobody's ever rolled Galkine's house. And even if there isn't, he can still get me directly. Marina doesn't care because ... well, I don't know why. She's always had a few marbles rolling around loose. But you and Joe and Mark, the worst they'll do to you is suspend you. I'll have to deal with him for the rest of the year."

Kernel pondered that for a minute. "Look," he said, "They're not going to catch us in the act tonight. And if they do figure out who did it, Marina and I will take the fall for everybody. We won't mention you were even involved."

"You'd do that?"

"For you? Absolutely."

She smiled and shook her head. "I can't believe I let you talk me into this."

"It's because I'm so sexy."

She rolled her eyes. "That must be it. It's your irresistible lumberjack charm."

"Lumberjack charm?"

"Yes. Hasn't anybody ever told you you look like a lumberjack?"

"I do not!"

"You do too. All you need to do is put on a flannel shirt and not shave for three days."

"Should I wear the flannel shirt for three days? For that authentic lumberjack smell?"

"No, that's quite alright." She laughed and mock punched his shoulder.

He laughed too, but as he looked at her, it trailed off. She's really pretty, he thought. I wonder why I thought Marina was hotter. He understood why, on a certain level--Marina's looks were striking where Debi's were subtle, and Marina's personality demanded to be noticed where Debi's was content to wait until you discovered it on its own merits. And that was before the whole "Marina fucks girls" angle was considered. But he had noticed Debi, had discovered her personality, and had startled himself by realizing that if he had to chose between the two, he'd take Debi.

It's time, dude. No more fucking around.

"What?" said Debi, who, being unable to read his mind, only knew he was staring at her. "Is there something caught in my teeth?"

"Do you want to go to Homecoming with me?" he blurted.

"You mean, like, go together to Homecoming, or ..."

"I mean, go with me. As like ... my date, you know?"

She hesitated, and it almost killed him. "Sure," she finally said. Her voice was wary, unsure, and for a terrible moment he thought she'd agreed because she didn't want to hurt him, or she couldn't think of a good excuse in time. Then exhaled suddenly, as if in relief, and smiled and said, "God, I've been waiting all week for you to ask me that. I'd love to go."

"Really?"

"Yes, you lumberjack, really. I was afraid I was going to have to get Marina to intervene."

"I'm glad it didn't come to that."

"You should be," she said. Impulsively, she jumped forward and hugged him.

Mark's voice interrupted the moment. "Hey guys, we gotta split. Marina's going on and on about some fucking timetable and ... uh, right." He pulled up short halfway down the aisle from him. Behind him, pushing a cart, was Joe.

"Uh, sorry about that," said Kernel, releasing Debi. "We kinda got caught up in the moment."

"Fine time to have a fucking moment. Do you have the TP?" Mark asked.

"Yeah, we have it."

"Super. Let's get out of here before Marina knots her panties any tighter."

"Good idea. What's the plan once we're out of here?"

"Marina will drive you back to the school to get your car, then we're going to meet at the OC."

"The OC? The TV show?"

Mark palmed his face. "Sorry. Now I'm talking like she is. Operations Control--her house. You know where that is?"

"I do," said Debi. "I can ride with him and give him directions."

"Fantastic. Let's go."

Kernel nodded and started pushing the cart. Debi walked alongside, with the hand closest to him hanging in midair between them. When he didn't get the hint right away, she elbowed him.

"Oh! Sorry!" he said. He took her hand and they walked that way behind Mark and Joe to the checkout.

Throughout the entire exchange, Joe had watched, stone faced, silent, seething. Mark kept glancing over at him, trying to read his face. They'd known each other a long time, and Mark had gotten pretty good at it, and the fact that he couldn't had him genuinely alarmed, more so than the prospect of vandalizing Galkine's property. There was no conceivable way it could end well as far as he knew. He had to warn Marina and hope she wasn't so wrapped up her master plan she didn't take time to help defuse the coming conflict. As it was, she was already back in her pimp car, waiting outside for them, so she wouldn't be able to see any of this firsthand.

Because she was in the car, she didn't see the other cause for alarm that was following well behind Debi. Neither did Mark, who was worried about Joe and what he was going to do. Neither did Joe, who was so wrapped up in a red blanket of anger and what he was going to do to that son of a bitch interloper that he wouldn't have noticed if his own feet were on fire. Neither did Kernel, who was looking at Debi, and neither did Debi, who was enjoying being looked at.

Instead, they paid for their items, not drawing so much as a second glance from the clerk who'd worked near West High for too long to be surprised by anything, and went out to load up Marina's car. The malevolent shadowy hulk behind them watched, unseen, until they pulled out of the parking lot and headed back towards the school.

He pulled out a cell phone and dialed an unlisted number. "Confirmed, sir. They're making a move."

"Deal with them," came the reply, and the the phone went dead.

--==--

Kernel and Debi walked in to see Marina, Joe and Mark all decking themselves out in camouflage. Debi stared curiously.

"Um ... wha?" Marina sighed heavily.

"Oh don't tell me neither of you brought camo either."

"We were supposed to?" Kernel asked.

"Of course you were supposed to!" Marina scolded. "How else are we going to conduct a covert op?! Wearing--" She gestured nebulously at Debi. "--Sky blue sweaters?!"

"Hey!" Debi protested. "You said this was cute! You told me to buy it!"

"Well lucky for the two of you I keep enough spare fatigues around for contingencies like this." She walked to a hall closet and opened it -- it was entirely filled with standard Army-issue camouflage field uniforms. Marina was fortunate enough to have a godfather who was a captain in the United States Marine Corps. She'd been getting mortar shells, pistol holsters, survival knives and fatigues for every birthday and Christmas since she was a baby. He'd even snuck her a live grenade for her Sweet Sixteenth, telling her to save it for prom. Kernel blurted out a laugh.

"What's so funny?" Marina asked. Kernel gestured at the camouflage-filled closet.

"Nothing, I just can't see the closet," he said, snickering. Marina glared at him.

"Very funny, mister. Now find your sizes, change and be ready for action in five minutes! We're on a schedule, here!" Marina commanded.

"Yes ma'am!" Kernel said.

"In separate rooms, mister," Marina corrected the Kernel's sinister notions. "Debi, you can take the downstairs bathroom. You, you hetero-male-pervert, go upstairs and to the left." They both obeyed.

Four minutes and thirty-seven seconds later, Kernel came lumbering down the stairs. "Reporting for duty, ma'am!" He said, enthused.

"At ease, maggot," Marina said. "DEBI!!!" She yelled to the bathroom.

"WHAT?!" Came Debi's reply.

"HURRY UP!!"

"THESE PANTS ITCH!"

"WHAT ABOUT THE BOOTS?"

"THEY'RE A LITTLE TIGHT BUT OKAY FOR A FEW HOURS I GUESS."

Joe butted in. "COULD YOU TWO STOP YELLING ACROSS THE DAMN HOUSE?" Just then the bathroom door opened, and out walked Debi, uniform perfectly fit and trim with her hair pulled back in a regulation but oh-so-sexy bun. Kernel stared, gape-jawed. Fuck the dress, she's wearing that to the dance.

"Marina, do you have an M4 you could give Debi just to hold for a few seconds?" Kernel asked innocently.

"We're not sexing her up anymore for you," Joe blurted out. Everyone stared at him. He had to recover. "How'd you get your uniform on so well?" He asked Debi quickly.

"Oh come on Joe. We've been friends since grade school. You think Marina would let me associate with her for all these years if I didn't know to throw on a uniform in under five minutes?" Marina looked at Joe.

"It's true. First time she was over here, I made her learn." Joe and Kernel were practically salivating over the notion of two bombshells like Marina and Debi playing dress-up with army fatigues.

"Okay, we're all set," Marina said. "Let's move you maggots! You wanna live forever?!"

--

Marina's car slowly crept through the housing development with its headlights turned off. The five of them were crammed inside, with Joe riding shotgun and Mark having to put up with the dreamy-eyed crap Debi and Kernel were pulling.

"Okay, we're about a block away. We'll hoof it the rest of the way," Marina said. She was about to open her door when she stopped. "Wait!" She hissed.

"What?" Joe whispered. Marina waited.

"Thought I saw a reflection of something in the mirror ... probably nothing."

"Yeah, who'd have thought reflections would show up on mirrors," Mark sarcastically whispered. They all got out and slowly moved to the trunk. Marina opened it quietly and pulled out the two large, Israeli standard-issue military duffels.

"Remember, these are to be empty when we're through," Marina said. "Let's move." Kernel and Joe took the two duffels. "Okay, Joe, Kernel, bring up the rear. Mark, you and Debi in the middle. I'll take point."

Marina expertly led them to Galkine's front yard with a series of cryptic hand signals that Kernel was amazed to have guessed the meaning of. I think a fist means "stop." They crouched in front of the fence around Galkine's house.

"This is definitely the place, Mark said." The sickle and hammer adorning the front gate gave that much away.

"Hm ... front gate's open, but Galkine's car isn't here," Marina observed.

"That's too convenient," Mark said. "What if it's a trap?" Marina considered what he was saying.

"Then we burn that bridge when we come to it," she said resolutely. She stretched out her hand. "Mark Two-Ply Toilet Paper Roll, please." Kernel slapped a fresh role in her hand.

"Marina, you get the first strike. Make it a good one," Kernel encouraged. Marina nodded, got up and walked toward the nearest tree. She threw back her arm and was about to catapult the roll of bathroom tissue when a steely hand clamped on to her wrist. She froze.

"Well, so that intel was accurate, after all," an all-to-familiar voice spoke. The El Tee walked her back to the rest of the group, who were all too busy holding their bowels together to try and run.

"So this is how Galkine's house has stayed clean all these years!" Marina said. "He's got you watch-dogging it!" The El Tee ignored her accusation.

"Kids, whatever you know, or think you know, I suggest you keep it to yourselves. Understood?" All except Marina nodded heartily in agreement. The El Tee patted her on the shoulder.

"If it makes you feel any better, I'm impressed. But one snitch can ruin even the most meticulous planning," he said. "Now all of you get lost." Marina scowled as she walked away. Kernel and Joe picked up the duffels and were about to be on their way when the El Tee stopped them.

"Ah ah ah, leave those," he commanded. "You kids could get into a lot of trouble, carrying this kind of ordnance around." Marina protested.

"Those are Israeli military-issue duffels! They cost--"

"About forty bucks at an Army Surplus store," the El Tee finished. "And I also happen to know you've got about twenty more at home." Marina shot him a dark glance and stalked off with the rest of her company.

When they were out of hearing range, the El Tee flipped his cell phone open and dialed an unlisted number. The other end picked up. "It's done." Then the other side hung up.

--==--

"Who talked?!" Marina yelled, furious that her carefully-planned operation had been foiled. After the El Tee's intervention, Marina issued the "Abort" signal, which involved a rendezvous back at Operations Control -- otherwise known as Marina's house. Marina was currently pacing in front of the couch on which Joe, Mark, the Kernel and Debi were seated. In that order. Which really pissed Joe off. But everyone else was too busy worrying about whether Marina was going to drag them into separate interrogation rooms for "special information extraction."

"This information was classified. Do you know what Uncle Sam thinks of people who leak classified information? They're TRAITORS! Do you know what happens to traitors in the United States of America?!"

"They get jobs as political commentators?" Mark said wryly, in reference to the Douchebag of Liberty himself, Robert Novak. The rest of the couch snickered. Even Marina snerked slightly.

No, you raving Deanite," she began, but she quickly started cracking up. Everyone else, including Joe, followed suit. For the next five minutes, they were all just laughing their asses off at the absurdity of the night.

"Novak is such a douche!" Kernel yelled through tears.

The laughter slowly died down until everyone's stomach was hurting.

"No seriously though, how did El Tee find out we were hitting Galkine's house?" Marina asked.

"Eh, who knows," Joe said. "Maybe someone saw us at the supermarket or something."

"Let's just go to the bonfire," Debi suggested. "Maybe Dale will throw a stash on it or something and we can watch the teachers wriggle." Kernel agreed enthusiastically.

"That sounds like a plan to me!" Debi looked at him scrutinizingly.

"What, do you hope Dale throws a stash on? I didn't know you were a pothead." Kernel felt his face flush. Any reasonable person could see she was just playing, but the paranoia that came from working long and hard on securing Debi's hand at the Homecoming dance quickly eroded rational thought functions.

"Wha, I mean, no ... what I meant, you know," he paused. "I meant whatever you think I should have meant." Joe was slightly amused to see Kernel squirming, but he knew it wouldn't last. Debi chuckled.

"Try not to panic," she said. "I'm just playing around." Kernel sighed.

"You sure?"

"Of course she's sure," Joe butted in. Everyone looked at him curiously. Joe had to think of something, and fast. "Let's just go." Well done! Now all you have to do is find a hole to crawl into, and no one will suspect a thing. Retard. Kernel broke the tension.

"Yeah, let's just go. They'll be lighting it up in fifteen minutes."

Marina piped up.

"All right! Avengers, assemble! We're taking the Kernel's car!"

"We are?" Kernel said.

"Shotgun!" Debi yelled.

"Guess that makes me bitch," Joe grumbled under his breath.

--

The five of them pulled into the parking lot behind the football field where the bonfire was traditionally held. Marina took point, with Mark and Joe behind her and Debi and Kernel behind them. Hundreds of students crowded the field, which was stationed by what looked like bouncers. Hey hey, Gary's here! Marina waved to one of the bouncers across the field. He smiled back and found a small kid to manhandle for her enjoyment.

They walked on to the field, noticing that the inferno had not yet been set ablaze. What happened next could've only been weirder if the ending theme from the first Star Wars movie had started playing. Marina heard someone shout, "There they are!"

The crowd broke out into spontaneous applause, hoots and hollers.

"Did we just score a touchdown?" Joe asked.

"No, but we did make sure the most beautiful girl in school arrived safely," Kernel said, squeezing Debi's side.

"Aw, that's so sweet," Debi said. Joe cringed. Just then, Dale came scampering up to them.

"Oh you guys are just fabulous! How the hell did you pull it off?"

"Why, what do you mean, Dale?" Marina asked, honestly not having a clue.

"Oh don't be so modest, sweetheart. Mr. Galkine's house is whiter than a Klansman's cum! Oh I'm so bad! Someone please spank me!"

"But we--" Mark tried to correct Dale, but Marina quickly threw her arm around Mark's neck and pulled his face within mere inches of her tits to shut him up.

"We weren't going to tell anyone," Marina explained.

"Oh please sweetheart. That Gauner kid found out about it and went straight to Stravo this morning. I heard that he had the El Tee on your asses. How'd you manage to shake him off?"

Gauner! Marina thought. "Well, we--"

"Don't even tell me! I don't wanna know! I don't wanna be involved in one of your national security scandals, Marina," Dale faux protested. He noticed Joe's glum demeanor. "Hey sweetheart, perk up!" He jabbed Joe's shoulder a little. But Joe remained solidly percolating and decidedly un-perky. Debi popped in.

"You know, I think we should go and meet some of our adoring public." Kernel pinched the small of her back.

"Great idea, you first," he said playfully.

"Yeah, great," Joe murmured.

--

After shaking hands and politely refusing to deny their involvement, Joe, Mark and Marina headed up to the bleachers to witness the spawn of the conflagration, otherwise known as the bonfire. Kernel and Debi curled up in a corner at the top of the stands and cuddled for the duration.

The blaze erupted, and the crowd cheered. A merry time was being had by all. Then Marina felt a hand clamp down on her shoulder, with its partner solidly fixed on Mark's. The three of them looked behind them to see the El Tee and Stravo sitting right behind them, along with Sunnyvale West's own Silent Bob, Rob Dalton. Seemingly the entire faculty was there, except, curiously, for Galkine.

"Glad you kids could make it," the El Tee said. "Took a little side trip after our last run-in?" Mark and Joe fumbled for words trying to explain that it hadn't been them, but Marina's gaze was solidly locked on the only absent member of the faculty now walking toward them from the end of their row, hands behind his back. Marina could almost see the scene in slow motion.

Only her seeing Galkine approaching.

Mark and Joe confused and unaware.

The wild crowd, completely oblivious to the justice about to be extracted from innocents.

All that was missing was Francis Ford Coppola calling the takes. Marina froze as Galkine approached. The El Tee spied the incoming Russian. Marina saw Galkine's arms move swiftly to produce a pair of pistols. She heard the Russian's battle cry.

"For MOTHAR RUSSIA!!!!"

"Get down Mister Principal!" The El Tee bellowed.

Marina, after years of hailing the technique as the most absurd public school practice in existence, ducked and covered. She braced for impact and felt ... nothing.

Then she heard it. Small clicks followed by splats.

"OW! FUCK!" Stravo yelled.

"MY DONUT! My last jelly donut!" Dalton wept as though he'd just lost his wife.

Then the slightly pungent smell danced on to her nose.

... Paintballs?

--

The home of Yefim Mikhailovich Galkine was white as a Russian wasteland. The front lawn was intricately cross-hatched with only the finest of toilet paper, the driveway fully prepared for a good shave. Streams of errant toilet paper hung from the trees, waving in the wind as though conducting a symphony.

The lone observer stared in wonder. How the hell did they pull it off? He wondered to himself. So many fond memories ...

His eyes fell upon the driveway. On top of the highest of the rolling hills of shaving cream sat the unmistakable calling card of one of the vandals. It blended so well with the white shaving cream that he'd almost missed it. But it was there.

A lone, powdered-sugar donut sat patiently, awaiting its master's inevitable return.

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