|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
Have You Ever Considered…
“I,” pant “can’t breathe!” he gasps, struggling to suck air through his swelling, exasperated windpipe. His lungs just aren’t taking it though, the wind’s never been knocked out of this boy so hard by a warm-up before. It’s probably because, for the past five hours, he was trudging through the woods with an alien, a bigfoot, a happy scientist, and a crazy trippy dude in a suit; suffice to say, Jack’s a little tired from not sitting still in a desk all day, and he’s having some trouble keeping up with everybody else.
“You okay, man?” asks Sam, filling in as the coach until Coach gets here, which, as soon as he wraps up his wonderful conversation with Officer Dinkelbop, he will be.
“Yeah I’m,” pant “I’m fine, just a little,” pant “overtired.”
“Long day in the woods?”
“You could,” pant “say that.” pant
Sam waits for Jack to explain what he means but the explanation never comes, so, “Did they go back at it after we left?”
“I don’t know Sam,” pant “I was in the,” pant “car with you.”
“Oh yeah… hah, I tell ya man, I may have stopped smoking a few days ago, but my memory is still foggier than–”
‘–the top of that mountain I woke up this morning.’
“–uh… a very foggy day, I guess.”
A thin, bony hand falls on Jack’s hunched-over shoulder from the back. He doesn’t even have to turn around, he knows exactly who it is. “Well well well, look who decided to show up!”
Jack’s face lights up like a starter pistol and he suddenly stops panting. “Hey Coach!”
“Howdy, partner,” Coach says ironically. “I see that everybody else is circled up. A little out of shape from missing practice, yeah?”
“Nah,” Jack and Sam both say in unison, the latter waiting to be acknowledged, caught waiting for something that will never come, yet again.
This time, Sam seeks instead of waiting to be found. “Nah, he was out hiking in the woods with some uh… some family friends that we don’t get to see very often. They came into town before the whole, yanno, alien invasion thing, and they’re wit’ the shit so they convinced us not to evacuate.”
“Hm,” Coach hms. “Very good, then. Jack, go and stretch. Sam, right?” as he extends an invitation for a handshake. “Good to see you again.”
Sam shakes Coach’s hand and returns the sentiment before being thanked for getting Coach’s kids in line, er, in circle while Coach was escaping the clutches of the various old men who roam the halls of Hoffman Regional High after the bell tolls.
“Yeah no problem, I actually ran the warm-up with them. It was kind of fun.”
This time, its Coach’s face that lights up. “Really? Well that’s not something I’ve ever heard before in my many years of coaching here. Have you ever considered coaching at this school?”
‘Have you ever considered suicide?’
“Uh, no,” Sam says, answering one question and lying about the other. “Can’t say that I have.”
“I see… well listen, I need to get moving on getting the kids moving. Why don’t you come to the meet on Saturday and we can talk more about it? I think it would be good for you, and if nothing else, you can come support your brother on his seventeenth birthday. Sound doable?”
‘Oh fuck, I need to get Jack a birthday present!’ “Yeah uh, yeah, I think I can do that. Can I just ride the bus with you guh–”
“Let me cut you off right there, that’s a hard no. The school has a very strict policy about outsiders riding the bus, or being on school grounds in general, actually. I’m surprised that haven’t already been escorted off the property by one of the SMAK officers, to be totally honest.”
Over in the parking lot of the West Wing, right underneath the security camera positioned over the door to the school’s weight room/ex-autoshop, the SMAK officer who lost the game of rock, paper, scissors that determined which new guy would be stuck doing patrol duty is waiting on line to purchase a tiny bag full of little white rocks from Miss Palkokane whilst Missus Smily keeps watch inside, just in case any more of the students on their list walk by. Little do they know, this is one of the three security cameras in the school that constantly records footage (you know, the three that I intentionally didn’t mention earlier?), and will be a major factor in the school’s canceling of not only their security camera protocol, but also the curriculum of classes based around it at a board meeting next year.
Told you it was unrelated to the Kwik Chek landscaping thing.
“Huh. Well in that case, I better get on outta here!” Sam says as he’s already walking away, not wanting to spend any more time at this wasteland of an educational institution than he has to.
“Wait, so are you coming?” Coach says in his outside voice, perfectly applicable for this outside situation.
“Yeah, probably!” Sam shouts over his shoulder. “I gotta see if I can get a ride with my mom, but I’ll most likely be there!”
Dakota And The Boys
Meanwhile, over in the circle, Dakota and The Boys interrogate Jack with questions about where he’s been all week, why Isabelle was in his house on Monday, what it was like to meet the aliens (he corrects them into saying extraterrestrials, not wanting to give away the
Z word just yet) and, unanimously, what he’s figured out about the invading extraterrestrial spaceship that’s practically hovering over his house.
Jack, the smug, buttery little bugger he is, answers everybody’s queries with five simple words: “Relax, boys. There’s a plan.”