By Billy Vessio
[please read in one breath]
It was a simple idea – I heard them discuss it during lunch. If they could just keep going with the debate, I mean, for the entire hour, Mr. Anderson would have to postpone the midterm, and we’d have to Monday to worry about it. It was genius; he might even cancel it if Sal and Leo did the same and we fell real far behind. Bite by bite I listened to their back and forth, and Dan was pointing right there on his sheet and saying in this thick voice he could definitely keep it going, but now Mikeys looking at him and he clearly has his doubts. I felt a jump – my throat closed – and Mikey said he didn’t have enough to say once they got past that. But Dan assured him it’d be enough if they talked slow, and my hands were to my neck and my breathing failed.
They were laughing at their plan and I clutched Dan’s sleeve and gestured to my throat, pounding on the table and making their meals rattle, and Dan tells Mikey he’s got to – listen, got to – keep from laughing during all this, but Mikey was laughing now, and his laughing drowned out the thuds. Doya think Anderson will figure us out? Nah, he doesn’t give a shit. What if he does? Well, then – my vision was fading – I don’t give a shit, what could he do anyway. This was our assignment wasnit? It was. I didn’t have the capacity to stand anymore, or move, I looked to Mikey – desperate – and him with a smile, it was the assignment, he’s right, he’s right. What could he say?
Mr. Anderson would even welcome it, they bet, and someone from behind – I don’t know who – with fat hands pressed in hard and the food blew out and Anderson’s old as balls and probably doesn’t want to teach anyway, Mikey said, and Dan’s telling me hurry up, relax, why am I red, I couldn’t remember laughing but Dan told me I was in on the joke on the way to class and by the time we got to History it was all a blur.