“Good evening, Mr. Stock. Step over here so we may have a look in that backpack, please,” bellowed the school’s vice principal, Mr. Stuckley. “Planning to do homework at the homecoming dance, are we?”
I turned my head to see who Mr. Stuckley was speaking to. So did the two volunteer mothers manning the ticket table, and I found amusement as both their facial expressions drew noticeably uncomfortable once seeing the target of Mr. Stuckley’s attention. It was Adam Stock, another sophomore in my class who was dressed-to-impress this evening wearing black jeans, a tuxedo-printed t-shirt, polished cowboy boots, and a top hat that would make Slash envious.
“You know the routine,” said the vice principal, his arms folded across his puffed-up chest. “Let’s see the contents of your backpack, Mr. Stock.”
Adam flung his neon-green backpack off his shoulder and onto the folding table set up beside the trophy case. His swift movement stirred the air enough that I managed to catch a whiff of patchouli oil, a scent I try to avoid whenever within a short radius of Adam. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a small nested tripod, a hand-held Sony digital video camera, two weathered spiral-bound notebooks with a pen stuffed into the spiral of one of them, and a soft-covered book titled The Dune Chronicles.
“Very well, Mr. Stock, thank you” said Mr. Stuckley, his voice softening a bit this time.
I’m still amused how Mr. Stuckley can maintain speaking in a voice clearly forced two octave lower than his normal register. He must drink a lot of herbal tea each night to prepare for the next day of school.
Adam stuffed the items back into his bag, handed one of the mothers a crumbled five, and shot me a quick glance before walking into the gymnasium.
Amateur, I thought. He never checked the top hat.