|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
I Dare You
Don’t Do Drugs
An old codger-dodger of a Caucasian with more hair poofing out of his drooping ears than he has growing on his scalp walks across the stage and steps up to the podium, a construct of faux ivory with mahogany trim stained to look like Brazilian rosewood. A spotlight shines down from the control booth in the ceiling, illuminating the one up on his stage standing above the rest. He taps the mic a few times before clearing whatever that chunky green stuff is from his throat into a handkerchief, placing the phlegmy cloth back into his inside jacket pocket before he begins. Mister Queue PrinciPal, the Head Principal of this fine educational establishment, takes a long, sweeping look at the mass of youth in front of him, and a big smile stretches across his wrinkly face.
“Good morning children, and happy Monday!”
He waits for a response, but all he gets is the chirp of a cricket which is quickly snuffed out by the boot of an angry gray child with bad teeth. PrinciPal waits a moment to see if the cricket will resume chirping for him, but it does not.
“Well, I can see we’re all very happy to be in school today! Hah hah haaaaaaaaaaaah, only kidding with you, guys and gals. You know, surprisingly enough I was a kid too once, a loooong, long, long – did I mention long? – time ago.”
More awkward silence, this time gleefully broken to pieces by a few yawns, a sniffle, and a courtesy cough from a student who just walked in from the bathroom.
“Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth…” as he flashes a big smile and clasps his hands together, looking around for any sign of laughter, joy, attentiveness, anything. ‘Come on guys, these jokes are killer!’
Meanwhile, in the back row, a skateboarder and her girlfriend are having an enlightening discussion about how dinosaurs probably didn’t exist because of how easily the fossils could be faked. The biology professor standing guard at the doors, an old man draped in khaki explorer’s garb with streaks of faded purple running through what remains of his spindly gray hair, overhears this discussion. He leaves his letter of resignation on his boss’s desk on his way out of the building.
Clipping his dinosaur tangent, “…I was sitting right where you are, being talked to by a Principal of my own. Although, mine wasn’t quite as nifty and tubular as myself.”
More silence. Two young teachers, hired fresh out of the nearby community college, are standing guard at the doors in the back of the auditorium. Missus Smiley leans in close to Miss Palkokane and asks why their boss bothers with these jokes instead of getting to the point. Palkokane laughs in the form of a puff of air escaping her nose as she tells her coworker that it doesn’t matter because they get paid their two dollars and fifty cents by the hour.
Then, “Ahhh hahahah, so today students, we’re going to talk about a subject that you hopefully aren’t very familiar with: the use of drugs, and why you should never ever ever do them under any circumstances whatsoever!”
Meanwhile, off in the bathroom across the hall, four hippies-in-training are having something of a powwow, passing a burning stick of bush amongst themselves in a counter-clockwise rotation.
Once he’s found the slide clicker (which is more for show than anything else, as Mister doesn’t know how to make a slideshow presentation) “Before I bring all up my slides, does anybody in the audience have any information about drugs they’d like to share?”
Not even the crickets chirp for that one.
Somebody says Oh shit under their breath before wildly digging through their pockets. A lone boy wearing a shirt with a glow in the dark DOPE logo emblazoned across the front stands up and raises his hand.
“Yes Mister PrinciPal, sir! I have something to say!”
Mister PrinciPal beams a smile that lights up the entire room. “Egg-sellent! And what is your name, young man?”
As he speaks, Mister PrinciPal’s voice wavers up and down like his pointer finger when he shakes it in a tisk-tisky fashion. Without giving the student a chance to speak, he continues with…
“Or, better yet,” the tired strands of his vocal cords grinding together like nails on a chalkboard, “who is it that you represent with that radical shirt of yours,” explicitly phrased as anything but a question. Almost like it was rehearsed.
“What, this dusty old thing?” as the boy flicks his left shoulder with his right hand. “I got it from the local DOPE ambassador, h–”
“The DOPE ambassador?” PrinciPal asserts. “Who is that, and what on Earth is DOPE? I hope it’s not something you’re smoking, young man,” and thus begins the finger wagging.
In the second row from the stage, three grams of cocaine that were stuffed with the tissues into a bra this morning are being shared between a group of cliquely-diverse students. Among them are the quarterback of the football team, a captain of the robotics team, the soccer goalie, the head cheerleader, the dungeon master of the D&D club, and that one random kid who hangs around the school during summer vacation riding his bike (you know, the one who doesn’t participate in any afterschool activities once the bell starts ringing). Mister PrinciPal hears the sniffling but assumes the kids are sick with a case of homework fever.
“Smoke DOPE?” Billy recites, “Well that would work about as well as sucking a grapefruit through a straw!”
The cheer captain’s head shoots up and she looks around the auditorium before shrugging and rolling up another single.
“The DOPE ambassador is a police officer in town, except he’s not a normal police officer. His job is to teach us, the children, the future Dollarists of this great untied nation of ours, about the dangers of drugs,” Billy beams through a toothy smile. “And he gets to drive a super gnarly sports car!”
Mister PrinciPal nearly does a backflip out of sheer, unbridled joy. “Well isn’t that funny, I saw that sports car on my way here this morning! And you just happened to wear that nifty shirt for today’s assembly!”
PrinciPal peers out at the crowd of crusty-eyed sacks of raging hormones and self-doubt with a look of satisfaction that rivals the quarterback’s after the grapefruit comment earlier. “These must be signs! The planets are aligning to spread the message of sobriety to you children, I hope you’re all as amazed and excited as I am! Please, random student, continue spreading your good words!”
A moment of silence ensues as the drama student chosen to play Random Student 2 shuffles through a stack of index cards. “Umm… right, so DOPE stands for Drug Ob–”
“Ah, Drugs…” Mister PrinciPal cuts in with a feigned tone of nostalgia, placing extra emphasis on the Dr- syllable. As he goes on describing to the high schoolers of America what drugs are, name-dropping fan favorites such as CAN’Tabis and coPAINe, the long-haired hippie dude with a tie-dye shirt and jeans with holes ripped into the knees hiding behind the curtains is reassured that Mister Queue PrinciPal has never even seen a picture of Cannabis, let alone any narcotics. He probably wouldn’t even know it if he smelled the smoke – scratch that, he literally didn’t know it. Before the assembly started, he walked into the site of the powwow to take a leak and told the five boys to, “Put out your cigga-bogeys,” before singing the chorus to an old Spötley Crüe song, a song none of the students even remotely recognized.
“…and lastly, we come to the most dangerous and downright evil category of drugs, children: the mind-altering substances known as the hal-yew-cinnogins. There are as many varieties of these drugs as there are dangers when it comes to taking them, not to mention the fact that Satan himself scrapes the substances from the bunions on his hooves; not only will hal-yew-cinnogins like weed, pot, acid, marijuana, el-ess-dee and, worse of all, dope, make you catch brain diseases like schizophrenia, but they will also dry rot your diseased brain! Your neurons will catch on fire and burn out if you try the drugs even once, the resulting sizzling causing you to see and hear things that aren’t actually there! Except you’ll think they are there – the horror! I cannot stress the importance of avoiding these drugs enough, children. They’ll also–”
“Let you talk to aliens!!” shouted seemingly from nowhere, catching the Principal more off guard than a varsity golfer who’s forced to participate in gym class. All the students, save for a pale scrawny boy named Jack Monta who pretends not to recognize the voice so hard he scrunches down in his seat, immediately perk up with interest. The whispers begin.
“Aliens? Who said that?”
“Woah, I want to meet the aliens!”
“That sounded like that Monta kid, did his balls just drop?”
“Hey Miss Palkokane, can I buy some crack?”
“Talk to me after school, sweetie.”
Mister PrinciPal breaks out into an uneasy sweat. ‘I’m losing them,’ he thinks to himself while mouthing the words to everyone else. ‘You’re at a nexus, Mister; you can let all of these children fall into a hole of drug abuse patterns, or you can save them with one flawless joke. It’s go time.’
“Aliens? Well that seems pretty far out, maybe even in outer space!”
The auditorium has never, in all of history, been more silent than it is right now. The gray child almost feels bad for squishing the cricket, but that would require having emotions… or any basic humanity in general.
‘You did it, PrinciPal. You saved them.’ “So, to recap: drugs are BAD, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm’kay?”
Wow, emphasis on the BAD, and he held the mmm. More power to ya, Queue.
“And. Everyone is going to try to get you to do them. Not anyone in this room. Obviously. Hoffman Regional High is undoubtedly better than that. But out in the real world, everyone and their mother is doing them, and they’re going to try to make you do them too. You HEAR ME? Everyone! Be careful children! Be carEFUL!!!”
White foam bubbles up in the corners of Mister’s mouth.
“The drug addicts are everywhere! Everywhere! They’ll lure you into back alleys and down into the sewers with promises of paper boats and candy that makes you feel good, but you won’t feel good. The only paper boat you’ll get is a paper submarine filled with yucky-smelling green flakes that’ll make you feel okay with dying! Now, please continue spreading your good word, young man!”
Everybody, save for the cliquely diverse party up front who’re knee-deep in titty coke (except for the Robotics captain, who is wrist-deep in cokeless titty) shifts their attention to Random Student 2. As he stands back up, the pure anxiety that is stage fright grips his index cards and scatters them all over the floor. He verbally berates himself inside his own head as he picks them up, just like the drama teacher taught him to do.
“Yes, uhhmmm, where was I… oh right! So the Dee stands for Drugs–”
“Which, may I remind everyone,” Mister PrinciPal cuts in, “are bad. And everyone is going to try to make you do them. Because they are bad humans. Always say no, don’t even think about it.”
Random Student 2 waits a short moment before continuing, the moment cut shorter by the laser beams a’fire out Mister PrinciPal’s eyes. “The Oh stands for Obstinance, whi–”
“Excuse me? What does it stand for?” PrinciPal asks, genuinely confused about the lines that he himself wrote… allegedly.
A moment of silence sweeps the auditorium. The drama teacher, watching from the projector box high above the back entrance, is feasting on his fingernails. How could Billy mess up his lines, they went over them at least forty times! This isn’t even his first rodeo, and he’s been pulled out of his classes for weeks to master this performance. Why would he forget now, after all these years?
“What I think you meeeaan,” Mister Principal hisses from the top of his ivory tower, “is abstinence, as in abstaining. Do you know what that means, Bil– eh, I mean, random student two? Er, random student??”
“Well, yeah, we learned about that word in sex ed, buh–”
“IT meanssss…” holding that s like a nun would a ruler in the olden days, “to restrain yourself from doing something, especially something that gives you joy. But that’s just the problem with your generation, isn’t it, kid ?”
Poor Billy/Random Student 2 shrinks down to the size of a liver spot. He keeps looking down to his index cards, but these lines just ain’t in the script.
“Your whole generation is just… just so full of yourselves. You all think that just because you’re young and attractive and have your whole lives ahead of you and because you have parents who love you and actually raise you right,” he pauses and crosses himself, then, “unlike my parents God rest their immortal souls, that you can do whatever you want, that you get to make the rules. It’s all about you feeling good, about you feeling superior, especially when it is clear to everyone in the room that yoU are NOT !”
Mister PrinciPal’s voice takes on a slightly raspy hue as he begins yelling, his chapped throat in dire need of some sweet, minty menthol. Unfortunately, the Administration’s stash of cough drops are with Vice Principal Claire, who’s busy trying to figure out how to get his fingers out of one of those old Chinese finger trap games. He’s been stuck for hours now, he has to figure it out eventually… right?
Mister continues, “Whenever any of you sense the littlest bit of resistance from a grown adult, you know, someone with real life experience, someone that doesn’t spend all of their finite life doing homework and playing video games or whatever else you little snots do to occupy the free time we’ve allotted you, you get up on your ivory soapboxes and make all this raucous about how you’re right and we’re wrong because, well, because you’re entitled! Your entire generation is entitled to the point that you would actually rather make up a word than say what you’re supposed to say. Obstinance? Really? What… what do you even have to say for yourself?”
The entire auditorium is as silent as Billy’s house is after his dad slaps the shit out of his mom for not bringing home enough money from the nearby street corner and she runs off, his dad chasing after her in his rusty pickup truck that usually doesn’t start right away. Not even the teachers know what to do at this point, other than trade nervous glances and scratch at the bugs that are obviously crawling underneath their skin.
“Well, yeh shpoiled brat?!” Principal’s floppy lips get so close to the mic that they make contact, causing it to shriek. “What do you have to say fer yerself?!”
The gray child, an avid practitioner of necromancy, reanimates the cricket in order to fill the silence with chirps before snuffing it out again. He repeats this process a few times; a lot of kittens go missing in his neighborhood, there’s not much else to say about him.
With the cricket gone, the assembly is now in Billy’s hands. He did not ask for this role, for the power that was vested in him, nay, thrusted unto him, but none of that matters now. The stone has been cast and the spotlight shines hot from above. He’s not the actor the Hoffman Regional High School Annual Anti-Drug Assembly and Knowledge Seminar needs, but he’s the one it deserves right now.
Steeling himself, he clears his throat and grips his index cards tight in his hands. ‘Just take it from the top, Billy.’
“Th-The Oh stands f-for Obstinance, meaning the trait of um… of being difficult to handle or overck–… overcome. I have never experimented with drugs myself, I’m no fan of uh, of the Devil’s cabbage, Columbian coffee, or the red phosphorous rock candy, b-b-but if you look at an… anyone who does them, you’ll see that they have a very, um… a vf–… a very,” a staggered inhale, a loud exhale, “hard time giving up their habits.”
Billy, just like everybody else in the cramped auditorium that’s quickly turning into an understaffed sweatshop, shifts his attention to Mister PrinciPal. As he stands there, the silence fermenting into a noxious cloud around him, the little hamster in Mister’s brain runs so fast that it gets launched off the wheel. The hippie fellow behind the curtain eats a handful of popcorn that he pulled out of thin air, watching this scene unfold like it was a television drama. He thinks to himself, ‘Your move, Mister.’
Mister PrinciPal thinks to himself the very same thing.
“…Yes, it certainly does.”
Feeling just a wittle bit embarrassed, Mister PrinciPal pulls out a white foam cup filled with coffee and takes a sip. And then a swig. And then he drinks the remaining three quarters of the cup in one gulp, releasing a satisfied and deep-seated, “Ahhhhhhhhhh,” into the uneasy air of his auditorium before placing the empty cup back onto the podium’s interior shelf, next to the soap dispenser.
“Phew, that’s better. I got a little cranky there, but I’m sure none of you noticed. As this random child who happens to be wearing a dope DOPE shirt, see what I did there? was saying, drug habits are very difficult to shake once they get abusive. They stuh–”
PrinciPal is cut off by the sight of a single raised hand in the audience. Do his blurry eyes deceive him? Student participation? If PrinciPal was even remotely capable of getting a boner anymore, he would undoubtedly have one right now. And he would be proud of it. He calls on the brave student, eagerly waiting for the question, comment, and/or concern.
“Yes, I have a question Mister PrinciPal the principal,” says the hippie. He’s managed to worm his way into the audience, tactically positioning himself between two students wearing drug rugs and passing a Jule vapor pen loaded with THC between themselves. You see, camouflage is one of many defense mechanisms of the wild hippie; dude blends right in.
“At what point does a drug habit become abusive?”
Jack Monta recognizes this voice, there’s no faking it now. He defensively slinks down even further in his chair, sitting on his back at this point.
Mister closes his eyes and smiles for a few moments, soaking it all in. “I’m so, so thrilled that you asked, son. Truly. To answer your really, really great question, immediately. Any and every drug habit is abusive; doesn’t matter if it’s your first smoke of a doogie or your seventeenth anniversary of the first time you injected your eyeballs with heroin,” he explains while miming the hypothetical act with astonishing realism. “It’s all the same.”
PrinciPal’s smile is shared by the hippie, but for very different reasons.
Mister continues adminisplaining, “I’m sure you haven’t read up on it, but allow me to mix in some Buddhist philosophy here – that old nonsense is popular with you youngins, I think – to shine light on this enlightenment seminar. You see, Buddhists live their lives guided by the Five Moral Precepts. These are rules, and the fifth one states the following: abstain from intoxicants that tend to cloud the mind. In other words, don’t do drugs. Even the Bood– yes, another question?”
The hippie’s smile widens. “Nah, more of a concern. I’ve read quite a bit of Buddhist philosophy, actually, and those precepts were written a long, long time ago. Back then, alcohol was the prime intoxicant that humans used for the sake of getting intoxicated. Sure, Cannabis, ‘Shrooms and poppies were still around and abound, but they were legitimately used for spiritual and medicinal practices. I read somewhere that Buddhist temples would often have expansive fields of Cannabis growing behind them, the Cannabis being a favorite meditation aid to an unsteady mind. The fifth moral precept was more about avoiding alcohol than anything else because alcohol clouds the mind and is easy to get hooked on. Kinda like caffeine.”
The room grows quiet once more, save for the one kid in the back that yells, “OOOOOHHHHHH,” as if the assembly were a rap battle. He is quickly escorted out by three of the seven members of the math teacher clique.
Mister PrinciPal’s bottom left eyelid starts twitching. He reaches for his coffee cup, hand violently trembling, and brings it to his dry mouth. When nothing comes out, he crushes the cup and drops it to the stage. PrinciPal then, whilst making direct eye contact with the back side of his podium, says the following: “Actually, no, you’re wrong. So wrong. Alcohol and caffeine aren’t drugs any more than nicotine is. They were legal before the government collapsed, so obviously they are safe. You’re wrong. Wrong. What you said is not only fake news, but you probably read it on the stupid internet, too. Wokeipedia can be edited by anybody, actually, so its information doesn’t count. We’re moving on now. Random student, what does the Pee stand for.”
“The Pee stands for Persecution.”
Billy reads the next few lines written on his index card to himself and chooses to not say them aloud. Meanwhile, the drama teacher is having something of a conniption up in the box; life ain’t easy when you live it vicariously.
Billy’s Index Card
Before we go any further, take a quick look at Billy’s index card so you know what lines were supposed to be read:
RS2: The P stands for Persecution.
MP: Persecution, eh? That sounds harsh, but not when it comes to drug users. What kind of persecution can these undesirables expect, random student?
RS2: Well, Mr. PrinciPal sir, I would love to say, but I really don’t know. How about you, friend?
RS1: Nope! Like you, friend, I have zero drug-using experience, so rather than just hearing myself talk, like my generation loves to do, I would like to hand it over to somebody who actually has something to say.
MP: Excellent choice of vernacular, random students! Not just anybody can think up words like that, good show. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I’d like to introduce your favorite and mine, our athletic director, the host with the most mister Lonny Ghost!
Lonny Ghost AD
Lurching over his podium, Mister PrinciPal stares Billy down with a mean crease in his thinning gray brow. “No, don’t want to explain what you just said? Typical of you children, so ready to speak but when it comes time to defend what you say, you scatter away like cockroaches. That’s fine, that’s just fine, I have somebody who could better explain the persecution of high school drug users than you could anyway, Billy. Better than you ever could. Drum roll, please!”
As the sole band member sitting alone in the pit starts beating away on his snare drum, luxurious red and gray silk banners listing the school’s athletic achievements drop down from the ceiling on either side of the stage. No less than three spotlights, all manned by the drama teacher Doctor Phanny Tasia posted up in the booth, begin randomly sweeping around the auditorium. Everybody starts talking at once, causing a total uproar and giving some fortunate students a chance to scramble and escape while they won’t be seen doing so.
The escapees are thwarted when the surveillance teacher rides in on a small Zhoomba vacuum cleaner and begins rounding them up with a lasso.
In the midst of the chaos, the hippie slides in and knocks the cocaine out of the hands of the cliquely diverse group of students, handing them each a quarter of a tab of LSD instead. Then, a quiet squeaking noise resounds through the room, grabbing all the activity and holding it against a treadmill running on the highest setting, grinding it to a halt. A large papier-mâché mustache glued to a thin piece of oversized streamer paper is slowly lowered to the stage behind Mister PrinciPal. A hush of anticipation settles over the crowd, and rapidly approaching footsteps can be heard on the stage. PrinciPal, a clown-like smile painted on his face, steps off to the side, giving no further introduction as a beefy manchild sporting a chevron mustache bursts through the veil, hurdling the ‘stache.
“Well hhheeeeyyyyyy everybody, how are we all doin’ today?” whines Lonny Ghost AD, sending a wave of cringe rippling through the crowd. The brave students who were up and about, especially the athletes, all quickly find their seats and pay as much of their attention as they can afford to the hair-lipped man who holds their entire high school sports careers in the palms of his rarely seen and often moist hands. In the back row, Coach Scoompa discretely puts in earplugs, as if they’ll be enough. Sat one row behind him, Coach Thenure can be seen taking detailed notes, his tongue dangling out of his mouth.
“I’ll take your silence as a great!” Lonny Ghost AD booms, more animation put into his body language than in the majority of modern American Saturday morning cartoons. “Who’s ready for a joke?”
Utter silence, more silent than the previous silence. In fact, the room is more silent than all previous silences to ever be observed throughout the history of humankind multiplied by twenty-two, half the number of years Lonny Ghost AD has worked at Hoffman High. Lonny Ghost AD smiles and clasps his hands together in a very PrinciPalish form before proceeding with his punishment.
“SO! A kid walks into a courtroom and approaches the judge. The judge asks him one, why isn’t he in school, and two, hahah, and two, what does he want. The kid, rudely ignoring the judge’s first question, tells the judge he wants a divorce from his parents. The judge asks why and goes into a heartbreaking twenty-minute story about his experience with his parents getting divorced. The kid says no, I want to be divorced from them, they beat me.”
Back behind the curtain, the once annoyed Mister PrinciPal is now barely containing his excitement, the laughter literally bursting through the dam of fingers he’s installed in front of his mouth.
“So the Judge says okay, I’ll put you into custody with your grandparents. You can be spoiled for the rest of your days, just like you obviously want to be. The kid, surprisingly enough, says no, because they beat him even harder. The judge, amused at the idea of the elderly beating on a spry young child, says all right, your aunt and uncle then. But the kid, being the child that he is, protests once more: the aunt and uncle allegedly beat him too. The judge, feeling like his time is being wasted for no reason, says fine, who do you want to live with, then?”
Both the students and faculty alike brace themselves for what will surely be a hammer to the gut of a punchline. Coach Thenure is sitting so close to the edge of his seat that, if he wasn’t wearing a shirt, the hairs growing out of his belly button would be touching the floor. Smily and Palkokane are genuinely confused over the fact that the athletic director, who they’ve never seen until now, is telling jokes at an anti-drug assembly. Missus Kriegmiester is doing deep breathing exercises to prevent The Beast from howling forth. Coach Scoompa attempts the same, but he struggles with it because of the distracting droplets of moisture forming on the back of his neck, courtesy of Coach Thenure’s lovely mouth breathing. All the sports captains are texting their teammates to ensure everyone laughs really loud. The hippie decides to phase out of Existence and dodge this bullet. The narrator wishes he could do the same.
“The Wasson Highschool Gorgons, they never beat anybody!”
A bird flying over the school spontaneously combusts, falling out of the sky in a shower of embers and smoke, its charred corpse slapping against the roof over the auditorium. However, nobody notices this because of the excruciatingly loud faux laughter being projected from the throats of the high school athletes. Between all the colliding wavelengths of chortle, if one listens close enough, they can hear little quips of, “It’s so true!” “Yeah fuck them!” and of course the obligatory, “They’re our rivals!”
Back on the stage, Lonny Ghost AD is soaking it all up like a bowl of rice does to the water inside a cell phone.
Then, all the laughter simultaneously stops.
“Thank you, thank you everybody. I’ll be here all week, literally. Hah!” Again, a handclasp. “So, today’s assembly is about resisting drugs, that’s a pretty groovy topic, right? You know, sober living, sober chilling, sober playing. Pretty cool, gang, pretty cool. But you know what isn’t cool? Other than, of course, using drugs?”
The hippie phases back into reality just in time to hear nobody answer. He looks to his side and notices Jack Monta is sitting right next to him, how convenient. He gives him a little elbow to the side, right below the ribcage, just hard enough to make him jump a little but not enough to make him yelp. Upon landing, Jack looks over and nearly jumps out his seat again, whispering in a hushed voice, “What the hell are you doing here?”
Hippieman just smiles and looks towards the stage.
“The punishment for being caught using them, that’s what,” says Lonny Ghost AD with a sudden and dramatic stiffening of every single muscle in his body and the drop of all inflection from his voice. “Now, I don’t know all the athletes who attend this school because there are so many of you, and who has the time for all that? But, I know that all of you like playing your sports, and I know all of you enjoy exercising that privilege. Do you get it, exercising the privilege? Because sports are a privilege, not a right. Understand, everybody? Do you hear me, loud and crystal clear??”
The entire audience, including the coaches who midnight as teachers, slowly nod their heads. Lonny Ghost AD rolls his eyes.
“Jeez, did a herd of horses just wander into my bar? What’s with all the long faces, guys??”
It takes a second to register, but eventually the quarterback gets the joke. He quickly sends a mass text message and everyone in the auditorium starts cracking up with laughter. Lonny Ghost AD sucks it all up like a vampire with a mouthful of neck before continuing.
“Okay, now I know that everybody enjoys being a part of my Hoffman High sports program; wouldn’t it be a shame if you got kicked out? Because that’s what’ll happen if you get caught using drugs – you’ll be immediately pulled from whatever team you play on. Whether it’s performance enhancers, street drugs, burnout drugs; whether you’re using them at home, in school, in a foreign country where they’re legal; whatever. I will find out, and I will pull you right out of your jersey,” he dictates while grasping the microphone with both hands.
“And that isn’t all,” Mister PrinciPal adds, walking out onto the stage while grasping a microphone in both of his hands. “You’ll also hit a wall.”
“That reminds me, hey Mister!” Lonny Ghost AD asks, locking eyes with his comrade on stage.
“Yes Lonny?” says Mister PrinciPal, returning Lonny’s gaze of longing.
The smile on Lonny Ghost AD’s face threatens to tear his lips down the middle like a guy with a cleft pallet. “What does a fish say when it hits a wall?”
“Well gee,” PrinciPal says, delving deep into thought for more than a few moments. Then, “I don’t know, Lonny. What does a fish say when it hits a wall?”
“It says, oh dam!”
Mister PrinciPal bends over and slaps his knee. “Oh Lonny, your humor knows no bounds, just like the extent of our influence over your futures, kids! You see, losing out on your high school sports experience won’t be the only thing that’ll happen to you if we catch you using drugs. You’ll also be suspended, you won’t be allowed to attend your classes, you won’t be able to talk to your classmates, not that they’ll want to talk to you, since you’re a dirty, pathetic drug addict; you won’t be able to participate in clubs, and you won’t be allowed to attend any of our dances!”
“Speaking of dances, how do you make a tissue dance, Mister?”
“Well I don’t know Lonny, how do you make a tissue dance?”
“You put a little boogie in it!” says Lonny Ghost AD whilst Coach Thenure lip syncs the punchline with a twinkle in his eyes. Meanwhile, up in his crow’s nest, Doctor Phanny Tasia notices at least seventeen students pointing finger guns at their heads and lowering their thumbs upon hearing the punchline; he immediately calls the school psychologist. When he finds out there is no school psychologist, he brings up an application on his phone and starts to fill it out.
“Golly,” Billy finally cuts in, nervously unsure of when this back and forth will end, “that sure is a lot of punishment! I guess drugs really aren’t worth it. I–”
“Not so fast, Bobby,” Mister PrinciPal says, cutting him off like the guillotine did King Louie XVI. “That’s only the extent of the school’s contribution to your punishment. We will also contact the local volunteer police departments; you see kids, Hoffman Regional High School has a very close relationship with the chiefs of not only the Wanapo and Jaskell volunteer police departments, but also the Treering volunteer police department as well. Each town has a list, a very detailed list consisting of every single high school student ever caught doing, holding, buying and-slash-or selling drugs. This list contains every offense and the date and time the offender, or more commonly offenders, were caught.”
Lonny Ghost AD puts his hands on his cheeks and makes a face like the Scream portrait by Edvard Munch, rest in pepperonis. Then, in a high-pitched squeal that would make a banshee call in sick, he says, “Shhhheeeeeeeesh, rreeeaaaallllyy? Awwhhh mmaaaannnnn, that sounds rreeeaaaaalllly bad, Mister!”
Mister PrinciPal looks at Lonny Ghost AD out the corner of his eye and nods approvingly. “Not only that, Lonny, but when any drug abuser eventually leaves this magical little tri-town area, their entry, or more commonly entries, knowing the drug-addicted type, will be sent to the volunteer police department of whatever town they move to, even after they graduate. Plus, you’ll serve mandatory time locked inside a cage for being such a waste of space, AND, you – or more likely your parents – will have to make a hefty donation to the police force, or else!”
Lonny Ghost AD’s eyeballs literally pop right out of his skull. “Wwhhhheeelllllll, I guess they deserve it if they want to completely throw their life away by trying drugs, even if it’s just one time.”
“That’s right; trying any drug, doesn’t matter which one, any drug can turn you into an addict after the first time no matter what anybody says. So don’t do drugs guys, you’re all better than that. Now, can we get a round of applause for Lonny Ghost AD!!”
The clapping starts slowly at first, but then the half-drunk gym teacher Mister Daniels stumbles through the audience, megaphone in hand, and starts threatening to make the students duckwalk. This increases the magnitude of the applause ten-fold, as it would in any other high school in the Untied States of America.
With a slight bow and a little dance, Lonny Ghost AD jumps back through the now ripped paper veil before it’s slowly hoisted back up into the ceiling. He then takes off out the auditorium’s back door, sprinting at full speed back to his office in the school’s West Wing. On the way, he stumbles into today’s newest janitor, a man by the name of Jackson Rainfort, and spills the contents of his dirty mop bucket all over the floor. Lonny Ghost AD flashes his silver-tongued smile and continues sprinting away until he finally reaches his office. Luckily enough his Secretary, a Missus Bessy Sahvage, is already prepared with a cough drop, a bottle of lotion, a vintage Boys’ Life magazine, and enough homemade salted corn bits to dry out the swimming pool hidden on the roof of the school. Lonny Ghost AD is home, and safe once more.
Then the phone rings and he almost enters into cardiac arrest.
“Now,” back in the foggy auditorium, “why don’t you continue explaining that fancy acronym you’re wearing for us today, Bobby,” again, explicitly phrased in any way but that of a question.
Up above the stage, leaning over the railing of the catwalk, the Vice Principal Frederick Verschwatz stands ready with a tuna melt sandwich, just in case Mister PrinciPal is pushed into code red.