Thursday, February 20, 2014
"Okay, class! Take your seats! Good morning! Good morning!"
The students of Mr. Baltimore's drama club filed their way to their seats at the row of desks arranged just behind stage left of the school's auditorium.
"Today, we have a new addition to our group!" Mr. Baltimore enthusiastically exclaimed as a certain boy entered the "room".
"I'm sure you all know Mr. Kenton and Mr. Elias here. Kenton, go have a seat in the empty desk next to Ms. Olivia! Elias, you can have the seat next to William. Good morning!" Mr. Baltimore cried out as the two boys stood before the group.
"S-Sure!" Kenton said as introduction was already giving him a mild taste of the wonderful world of stage fright. He nervously gave a polite wave to his adjacent classmates as he took his seat. Olivia smiled at him while Mia rested her chin on her head and gave a slightly jealous pout. William, a blonde tall boy, rolled his eyes as Elias took the seat next to him.
"So, so, SO! It's that time of year again, friends!" Mr. Baltimore blasted out as her took out a marker and wrote "SCHOOL PLAY" in big red letters on the free-standing whiteboard facing the desks.
"As some of you seventh-and-eighth graders know, this is a democratic process. Today, I know we have little time for a meeting, so I'm going to ask for ideas from the class, and we'll come to a decision."
"Ooh!" a voice said from the furthest desk on the right.
"Okay, Elias, I'm all ears."
"Okay. There's this awesome story about a land and time where alchemy saw precedence over science…"
"Ooh, I like this. Keep going! Keep going!"
"This boy and his little brother lose their mother and try to…"
"Objection!" another boy exclaimed as he raised his hand.
"William! That's rude!" the teacher reprimanded as Elias shot the boy a piercing glare.
"I apologize, I just wanted to note that the story that Elias is trying to pitch is a popular comic book series in Japan."
"Elias, is this true?"
Elias could only sigh and nod. The instructor walked over to Elias's desk and lowered himself to Elias's level.
"Elias. I know that this is an open process, and I don't mean to discourage you, especially since this your first year in the club. We're just a small drama club in a small school in a small town. We've only got the budget for, well, what they call 'Public Domain' works."
The teacher leaned back up and turned his head slightly so he could address the club.
"Keep in mind that we can only perform plays based on an original idea or what they call 'Public Domain' ideas. 'Public Domains' means that the work was either released to be totally free by the creator or that the work is so old that it cannot be covered by any applicable copyright or other intellectual property law."
"How old does a story have to be in order to be free for us to use?" Kenton asked, trying to show that his heard was indeed in this club.
"Well, and I'm glad you asked, Kenton. It varies on when and how it was originally published and the age of the author. After a specific year, I almost want to say 1977, the copyright protection of a piece of work lasts the life of the creator plus an additional 70 years after their death."
"Wow," Kenton said in genuine amusement at both the fact and the teacher's knowledge of the fact.
Olivia heard a noise and turned to notice that Mia had already fallen asleep at her desk. A quick bump with Olivia's elbow knocked Mia back into the here-and-now.
"Why not something old and sophisticated, like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?"
"Well, that's an idea, yeah. The novel was published in 1900, so it should be safely in the public domain. Yeah."
"What now, William. What now?"
"I don't mean to be a wet blanket, but I think that we, as a cultured educational facility, have an obligation to our fellow students, our forthcoming grade school students and even our high school alumni to provide a story that's educationally nurturing."
"Where is this going, William?"
"I refuse to perform in a play based on such an inaccurate piece of work!"
"With the book?"
"No! Don't you all know the infamous error in the movie?"
"The scarecrow CLEARLY misstates the Pythagorean Theorem! This is a school! We cannot perform a work that is associated with a blatant insult to the educational process!"
To empathize his words, William took his fist and started to knock on the top of his desk rather loudly. Of course, this spoiled Mia's attempt to doze off again.
"Good mor- Enough!" Mr. Baltimore said with a raised voice.
"Couldn't we just rewrite the line so that it makes sense?" Kenton chimed in, wanting to defuse the situation.
"And just how do you suggest we do that?!"
"I don’t know. Just change the line to 'the sum of two sides of any right triangle is equal to the root of the largest side'?"
William's right eye twitched at that statement. Kenton was almost correct: The Pythagorean Theorem states that the sum of two legs squared is equal to the squared length of the hypotenuse.
"WHAT IN THE HELL DID YOU SAY?!"
Kenton defensively flinched at his classmate's sudden outburst.
"William, cool down!" Mr. Baltimore nervously (yet firmly) stated.
"You are such an idiot, Kenton." William stated while eyeing the other boy up and down. "That comes as no surprise to me."
Kenton could only blink as this line was enough to put Mr. Baltimore over the edge.
"William. Get out. You do not come into my auditorium, my stage, and make horrid remarks about your 'fellow students'!"
"Whatever. As I said, I don't want to be part of an idiot farm that promotes the misstatement of information!"
"And for that, I don't want to see you in this room! Ever!"
William shrugged, picked up his backpack, and proudly strutted out into the hallway.
Mr. Baltimore walked over the folding table being used as his desk and took a drink from his sparkling water bottle to cool his fired-up nerves.
"So, everybody, what do you think about this idea?"
"We lost our only good candidate for the witch." Kenton chimed in without missing a beat.
The remaining members of the club erupted into laughter. Nobody could know that William was leaning against the wall around the corner. He was out of sight, but the acoustics of the auditorium bounced Kenton's remark out into the hallway. William finally lost his cool and planted the tip of his tennis shoe into a nearby locker, leaving a dent.
"Wow, okay. We're just about out of time, so why don't we call it a day and sleep on this before making a decision?"
There was a silent chorus of nods to indicate that everyone was on board with this idea.
"See you at this time tomorrow?" Mr. Baltimore asked.
Some immediately repeated their nods while others had to hesitate and contemplate the idea of getting up so early.
"So, do you think that Kenton and Elias are going to work out in this club?" Mia said to Olivia as Kenton was one of the first to leave. Olivia shrugged and replied, "Who knows?"
"Oh, Olivia. There was something that you were going to show me?" Mia said as she placed a hand on her friend's shoulder to stop her.
Olivia reached into her backpack and pulled out an envelope. Glittery makeup flaked off as Olivia removed the card from the envelope.
"Be careful with it." She said as she handed it to the only person, she would trust with it.
Mia's eyes widened slightly as she read the words "someone that likes you very much".
"Who… who in the hell wrote this?" she asked in awe.
"I don’t know. For a moment, I thought it was you being funny. This looks like something you might do. But I can tell from your reaction that it wasn't your work. It's nice. I love it."
Little did they know that the "culprit" had left the room a mere moment before.
"Whoa, you can't just drop that on me and then shrug it off!" Mia said as she caught up to Olivia as class got over for the day.
"I know, I know."
"Well, aren't you going to do something about it?"
"I dunno, maybe tell someone! You've got a stalker!"
"As I said before… it's kind of sweet and I like it. Why would I want to get this person in trouble?"
"Well, it could be someone wanting to do… bad things or something?"
"It's someone from this school, I'm sure!"
"Really, Olivia? Have you stopped and looked at the people around here? Yeah, there's a share of cute guys."
Mia stopped talking momentarily as Elias snuck between the two girls to get out of the auditorium area. When he was around the corner, she continued her spiel without missing a beat.
"Yeah, there's cute guys, but there's all sorts of freaks here. Half of the adults here look like they belong in a special database and not allowed anywhere near a school."
Olivia stopped and thought about that. There were enough stories in the news about creepy janitors and disturbed teachers in the news. She shuddered at the thought of one of them having her in their crosshairs.
"See? It's not so sweet, is it?"
"Yeah, I get what you're saying."
The two girls got to Olivia's locker and she started to undo the lock. Just like clockwork, Kenton came around the corner and smiled and waved at the two girls. Mia politely waved back as Olivia was turned away and digging in her backpack.
"There's a lot of glitter all over the place." Olivia complained as she pulled out her jacket and slipped it on. After slamming the locker shut, the two of them opened the door and walked into the school yard.
Meanwhile, at her house, Charmaine looked at her phone and the message that she was about to send to Andrea.
"Hey, girl. I'm feeling like crap tonight. Will call you later."
After hitting send, Charmaine opened her laptop and looked at the information that she had in front of her.
The amount of money to get this dream off the ground would be over $75,000. Andrea got $10,000 of that from doing who-knows-what to get her uncle to give that money up with "no strings attached".
Charmaine's husband died tragically several years ago with a life insurance policy that paid out $250,000. After paying for her husband's funeral and putting a hefty sum in a college fund for Kenton, she still had a large amount that she could do whatever with. That money was going to be for the restaurant.
Did Andrea get a loan? No, that couldn't be. Andrea snapped photos for minimum wage. While it wouldn't be impossible, the idea of Andrea getting a loan by herself would be improbable.
Just then, Charmaine's phone gave a cheerful chime as a green LED started blinking to indicate that a text message was ready for her.
"Okay, get better, dear! I just told the realtor that we'll take it! We'll talk money later."
Something was seriously not adding up with this situation. How was Andrea getting ready to sign a contract-for-deed without the proof of the money that was technically not hers? Charmaine turned on the television and tried to watch as she tried to get her mind off things.
"This isn't right."
Charmaine shook her head. There was that voice in the back of her head nagging at her. She turned up the volume on the TV and tried to place some "hyper-focus" on the program on the screen.
"Charmaine. This isn't right."
At that point, the program dropped from its fantasy world and started playing advertisements. Charmaine had to shut that voice in her head up. She looked at the listing for the building that was still on her laptop screen and once she found a phone number, she woke her smartphone up and started dialing the number.
"Hello? How may I help you?"
"Yes, I'm interested in the building that you have for rent on the corner of Jaguar and Panther. Is it still available?"
"Wow, I mean, yeah, okay. I apologize, but I've been sitting on that building for five years!"
The property manager on the other end of the line couldn't see it, but Charmaine's head tilted sideways at this.
"Really? Nobody else has called about it?"
"Nope. Not a peep."
Charmaine couldn't figure out why the realtor was telling her all of this. But it didn't matter because it proved that Andrea was lying.
Meanwhile, as Mia and Olivia walked to the corner lot where Olivia lived, the older girl took a deep breath.
"Are you okay, Olivia?"
"Yeah, I'm just a little queasy. I'll be okay."
"Are you sure?"
At that point, Mia's phone beeped twice with a reminder for her to pick up her homework. Mia's jaw dropped as she read the words.
"Oh, crap! I left my homework in my locker!"
Olivia gave her best friend one of those looks that said "Really? Again?"
"You don't have to say it. Why don't you get some rest while I go back and get it?" Mia said as she patted her friend on the back while pointing with her thumb back towards the school.
"Very well." Olivia said as she folded her arms in an annoyed fashion.
"I'll call you later tonight?"
"Nah, it's movie night and I'm picking the movie."
"Even if you're sick?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Well, I'll talk to you tomorrow, then?"
Mia waved to her friend as she turned around and started walking back towards the school. Olivia never the type to instantly feeling sick. Having grown up with her, Mia knew exactly what was going on: Olivia was disappointed. She genuinely thought that some boy had a crush on her, and Mia came along and planted the idea that it was a creepy stalker.
Putting her hands in her pockets, Mia looked down at the ground in guilt over what she said. Ugh, that locker was such a mess. Glitter was everywhere. Then something clicked in her head. Some of the glitter coagulated around the ventilation slots on the locker door. The valentine was shoved through those slots in a hurry.
Mia sighed as this train of thought didn't help to prove anything to her. To her relief, the side door by the gymnasium was still unlocked. She opened the door and quickly made her way to the block of lockers where hers was located. After undoing the lock, she groaned as she shoveled a couple textbooks into her backpack.
She wanted to get home as soon as possible to get a jump on this mental "heavy lifting", so she quickly slammed the locker shut and took off towards the same door she came in. She was looking down at the worksheet she was assigned and didn't see the boy coming around the corner.
"Oh!" Mia said as Kenton's books went flying onto the floor. "Oh…" Mia said as she looked at what she did.
"Are you okay?" Kenton politely asked as he started to pick up his books.
"Yeah… oh, I'm sorry. Let me help."
Mia reached down to pick up the remaining folder off the floor. Her eyes widened as she noticed something: glitter. To be exact, the same glitter that was on the valentine that Olivia received. Kenton brought the letter in his backpack wedged between folders and the result was an outline of glitter on the folder.
As Mia speechlessly handed the folder back to the young man, everything started to make sense. Kenton has a crush on Olivia and now there was all sorts of evidence to prove it.
"Mia? Are you okay?"
Mia slowly nodded before rushing out of the door. After crossing the road outside of the school, she took off in a sprint. Olivia needed to know this and needed to know it now.