“Did you bring it?” said Chuck. His face bright eyed and nervous Chuck towering over the boy in front of him. His excitement was palpable awaiting the illicit contraband.
“Yeah I got it, back off man!” said Alvin pushing Chuck away. “Did you bring yours? Did you bring what you were supposed to? Because if you didn’t, we have a real big problem.”
“Al! Come on you know I got it. I always come through for you. You on the other hand have the issue remembering. Besides, if you forgot yours, mine won’t even matter.”
The two boys argued back and forth over whom had forgotten what. Other children trailing hats and gloves ignored them as they spilled into the classroom of Sunshine Daycare Center. The brightly colored room filled with many face and bodies. They happily placed items into cubbies exchanging hellos filled with excitement. Al and Chuck’s entire argument had gone unnoticed while the room became more vocal with tiny voices. As Ms. Torrance watch she knew this was going to be a wonderful start to the year.
Ms. Torrance stood and nodded to Harry, her teaching assistant. This was the signal to flicker the lights and close the door. Every child immediately stopped and turned to face Ms. Torrance. Al and Chuck hastily ran to their cubbies stuffing their belongings away. The last thing needed was drawing attention to their actions. They took their places behind their desks, waiting for Ms. Torrance to begin.
“Good morning class, “ said Ms. Torrance.
“Good morning Ms. Torrance,” twenty small voices answered in chorus.
“Go ahead and take your seats,” said Ms. Torrance. She counted in her head the children sitting before her. She made a mental record of the children in attendance. It was this first count she would use as a checklist anytime a child entered or exited the classroom.
“There should always be twenty,” thought Ms. Torrance. “We’re going to start this morning with show and tell. Does anyone have anything exciting to share from their summer?”
Two hands immediately shot up. Both Al and Chuck leap almost loose from their seats.
“Alvin and Chuck which one of you boys would like to go first?”
“We want to go at the same time,” Chuck and Al answered.
“Curious,” thought Ms. Torrance. “Okay...? Are you sure boys? You can each go right after one another.”
“No we really need to go together,” said Al.
“Yeah we really, really need to go together. Our stuff won’t be good if it’s not together,” said Chuck.
“Well, alright then boys. Come on up and share what you brought.”
Al and Chuck rushed to their cubbies to grab their bags. They moved like the wind from one side of the room to the very front.
“My Dad got a new hobby this summer,” said Al. He reached into his bag removing a cylindrical shaped item. It was brown etched with lines on all sides. “Here, my Dad calls this his ‘mellow out buddy’.”
Ms. Torrance took a hard look at the item. A word rushed into her head, CIGAR! “Oh Alvin that is a very adult toy you have there, can you give it here please?”
“But why? It’s not even lit up yet. I was going to do that next,” said Al, reaching into his pocket to fetch the lighter.
“OH NO, there is no need for that Alvin,” said Ms. Torrance. She leaned across the desk; hand out attempting to snatch the cigar away. Just inches away as Chuck jumped forward with his item in hand.
“Annnnnnnnnnnd here is what Al’s Dad uses to hide it from his Mom,” said Chuck. His small hand held a glass bottle. Chuck depressed the gold nozzle at the top. The room was suddenly filled with the pungent odor of cheap brute cologne.
Eighteen small noses snubbed back in revulsion. They began to cough and wheeze. Cries and the cologne filled every corner of the classroom. That is when mass hysteria read about it medical journals took hold. Tiny bodies fled their desks streaming into the aisles. Chairs were thrown everywhere as Chuck and Al rushed to cover their mouths and noses. All the while Chuck continued to rapidly depress the nozzle.
“Harry! Open the door, everyone line up FIRE DRILL!”
Forty-four feet lined up straight, and rushed forth from the room, away from the cologne. Al and Chuck made sure to be at the end of the line. They knew that Harry would ignore them while the girls were in distress. He was one of those “rush in on a white steed” kind of heroes. The line of children between the two teachers ushered themselves down the empty hallway. All looking forward to the promise of fresh air.
Ms. Torrance who was allergic to such cologne could barely walk as her eyes swelled and filled with tears. As she stood and held open the door she was too distracted to recall her earlier run of counting to twenty. This miscount allowed for both Al and Chuck to step free the line and rush toward the far end of the playground.
Both boys raced as far as they could before stopping to take a breath. They hugged and high fived each other, their plan had finally worked.
“Freedom,” said Al.
“Freedom,” said Chuck.
“Freedom?” said Ms. Torrance.
Half way across town a woman would claim she heard the sound of glasses breaking in her sink. What she did not know was that it was not glass that had broken but the hope and hearts of two small boys.
“Good plan boys. Just not good enough,” said Ms. Torrance. She pointed sternly to the line of students standing by the entrance. “Now get!”
The boys obeyed. They moved awkwardly, shoulders heavy, heads to the ground, feet laden with sorrow. As they approached their classmates, cheers and accolades welcomed them. They were heroes. They were legends. They would try again tomorrow.