The Boy Who Owned the School

The Boy Who Owned the School

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English
96 Pages

Description

Jacob Freisten's goal in life is to go about unnoticed. He's perfect at gliding past the jocks' lockers and sneaking into his English class. That was, until now. If Jacob wants to pass English, he must work for extra credit on the stage crew of the school production of The Wizard of Oz.
Jacob, who is usually in a fog anyway, has the the job of running the fog machine. The problem is that Maria Tresser, the girl of his dreams, is cast as the Wicked Witch. Jacob's already made a fool of himself in front of Maria. How can he face her again?

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Published by
Published 24 June 2014
Reads 0
EAN13 9780545748049
License: All rights reserved
Language English
Document size 3 MB

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IN. Jacob Freisten stood in the shadow of the dumpster in back of the Reddi-Ralph store across from the high school and studied the front of the school carefully, as if considering buying it. Once his mother had read an article in a magazine about positive reinforcement, and for seven or eight days every morning she would greet him with, “Good morning — and how is the boy who owns the school today?” She thought it would help him get better grades. Jacob winced, remembering it — the boy who owned the school. If she only knew how far off the mark that was. On the other hand, he thought, leaning against the dumpster, it wasn’t as bad as the time she read the piece about the all-bran diet. They’d even had to eat bran sprinkled on their meat. Jacob had lost seven pounds. In. That was the hardest part about school. Getting in without being noticed. There it was — he had to not be seen. The thing was, when he was seen, or noticed, or watched, things … happened. Ridiculous things. He couldn’t explain it even to himself. But if people started to notice him, watch him — or the worst, stare at him — one thing led to another and there was always a disaster. Over the years he had noticed it getting worse and worse, and now he just kept from being seen. It wasn’t just that he was shy — it was more the way he was, a way that his everyday life had come to be. Fact: If you get noticed, bad things happen. Solution: Don’t get noticed. There were only four doors, two in the front, big ones that led straight into the main halls where everybody could see you, then one at each end of the old, rectangular building. But both of those doors were the kind that only opened from the inside, and you had to be lucky to hit it just right when somebody you didn’t know was opening one and you could slip in. Even then there were two rows of lockers, and that’s where the jocks usually took lockers for themselves, and that was the worst of all — if the jocks noticed you. They were like sharks smelling blood if they saw you; one of them would say something, then they would all laugh the hard laugh they had, and another of them would poke or jerk or punch or shoulder-hit you, and it was all over. Once Jacob had been caught in death row — as he thought of the jock locker area — the wrong way at the wrong time and most of the football team had been there and they had shouldered him from one to the next the entire length of the hall like a sack of potatoes, like seals throwing a ball — except that he figured seals were smarter — and the ball had been him, punched and bruised until the jock at the end had jammed him down into a trash barrel by the door to the girls’ toilet. An awful day, that had been. One he had not forgotten and one he still had not found a way to get even for, because he could not bring himself to think evil enough thoughts. Though he was working on it. He figured hell was made for jocks, and it was simply a matter of letting his thoughts sink low enough for an idea to come…. There was an art to getting in. A definite art. He removed his glasses and wiped them gently with the tail of his T-shirt. With the glasses off he was nearly blind and had to squint so that the freckles on his cheeks — he hated them — seemed to become more dense. He was thin, wiry-thin with faded jeans and a zip-up sweatshirt over his T-shirt and scuffed tennis shoes that felt right when he bought them but were too big now and slopped on his feet. He had high cheekbones and even, blue eyes that saw everything as a fuzzy cloud without glasses, and he thought, when he wore the glasses and could see himself well and looked in the mirror in the school toilet, that he was probably the ugliest boy in history except for one, who was Darrin Murston, and who looked exactly like a pimple about to come to a head. Timing was everything. The buses would unload and the main mob of kids would go in. At that point everything was confused and moving but still too crowded. Then — just as the main group of kids finished going in and the hall monitors were getting ready to head for the rooms and all the kids were busy with their lockers and nobody was paying any attention to the door — then. Right then. He waited, watched. The buses unloaded, and kids yelled and joked and moved into the building, and still he waited. The last ones began moving to the doors, and two of the buses started to drive away, and he made his move. Across the street to the right main front door, in the door looking straight ahead, through the kids still dragging back but not looking at them — with a glazed look he had perfected for just this use, getting in — he went right and down the hall to his locker. Perfect. They were old lockers, with combination locks that never worked right, but he had come one night with a tube of bicycle lubricant and worked at his lock until it was like a fine watch. Three turns, stop, one turn, stop, one turn and click — open and he had his books for the first class, still without looking up, still without seeing or being seen, and he was gone, down the hallway to his homeroom and the first class of the day, English, where he took the back corner chair and sat with his book open, eyes to the front, ignoring everything and being ignored.