The class bell rang, and the students of Newville High rushed through the halls like early-pass holders at an amusement park. Carter and Tony slugged behind their anxious classmates, who were in a rush to get a good seat in the cafeteria. “I don’t see what all the rush is about.” Tony said to Carter. “We’re all gonna sit in the same spots anyway. Nothing ever changes.”
“Yea,” said Carter, “and you know the food ain’t something to fuss about.” They both chuckled, and Tony made his body shiver just thinking about the cafeteria food. On Thursday’s, the day it currently was, the cafeteria served a heaping pile of mashed potatoes—which looked like a momma bird chewed it and spit it out for her young—there was turkey that tasted like paper (they only knew it tasted like paper, because the cafeteria served paper on Monday), and bagged gravy the lunch monitors likely stole from the dumpster behind the school. So yes, Carter and Tony saw no real reason to rush to the cafeteria.
The two friends received their toxic-waste lunch, and were headed toward their regular spot to sit and poke at their food. It was rare for them to actually eat their school lunches. On most occasions, they would toss it and stick to the snacks they brought from home: a bag of chips, a pack of fruit snacks, and two brownies, where the usual snacks they’d consume. Their regular lunch spot was in the back of the cafeteria. So, to get there without any food casualties (just imagine the sort of riot one would start if they spilled mashed potatoes and gravy on an unexpected student), they had to zigzag around the room like a mouse looking for cheese in a maze. First, they passed the brains of the school: they sat at a table front-and-center to the entire room—even at lunch they made sure to sit up front, just in case there was a spontaneous assembly. To the left of them, were the jocks: the kids nobody liked, but most wanted to be like. Opposite of them were the party girls, who at the moment, couldn’t believe Melony would ditch them to eat lunch with Trevor, the class clown. How could she! The three tables in the middle of the room were reserved for the loners, the gamers, and the skaters. Then, there were the two tables way, way back. One was where Jimmy had conversations—of high intellect—with himself; and the other was where Carter and Tony ate their lunch. Since the first day of ninth grade they had chosen the back table, and they’ve been sitting there ever since.
“Alright, Carter. What’s the plan?” Tony spoke with a mouthful of brownie, and the gaps in his teeth seemed to be storing some for later.
“Okay, so here it is…” Carter paused, eyes staring at his pile of glob the school calls a “healthy lunch.”
“Well, what is it?”
“Um…sorry. I guess I don’t have one yet.”
“Man,” said Tony sporting a look of disbelief and waving his hands to the air in disbelief, “you mean to tell me you don’t have a plan? What were you doing during that whole movie?”
“I was just,”—he was thinking about Stacy Bordals—”just trying to learn something, I guess.”
“Yea, and I’m thinking about how delicious this food might be. Come on, man! Get real.” Tony smacked Carter’s shoulder with the back of his hand.
“Alright, alright.” said Carter. “There is this one idea I had—but it could get the Chestnuts fired!”
“Go-on. I like the sound of this.” Tony drew out his words, and began stroking his imaginary mustache to show his seriousness.
“Okay, so you know how Chesticals likes his food, right?”
“Uh, I think the whole world knows that.” said Tony.
“Well, I noticed—and we don’t have to do this, but I noticed he eats everything in his path. Like…EVERYTHING! And I was thinking, maybe, if we kept giving him food during the day, by sixth period, he’d be knocked out and sleeping like a chubby baby after his milk.”
“Dude—I love it. But how does that help us?”
“Because, if he falls asleep, we snap a picture, and—vwah-la! He’s out of a job, and we get a teacher who might actually teach.
“Man,” said Tony, “that is messed up! But you can count me in! Mr. Chestnut-crunch is outta here!” Tony threw a fake pitch in the air, Carter motioned the swing of a bat, and they both pointed to the ceiling, as if to signal a home run.
“When should we do it?” Tony asked.
“Tomorrow. Let’s do it tomorrow.”
Just as they finished their mischievous plan, the lunch bell rang, signaling the end of seventh period, and the students, bellies full with garbage, trudged along to their next class. At this time tomorrow, Carter and Tony would be heroes, and Mr. Chestnut would be in serious, serious trouble.