This is the second chapter of my fancy interactive story where the plot is decided by the readers, and it’s still unnamed. There’s another poll at the end of this chapter with all the previously suggested titles. Feel free to vote for one.
Also, I decided they’ll be about twenty chapters, ten for each character. That is, unless I die or get a severe case of writer’s block. Enjoy.
I thought about bribing the student teacher with a pack of gum, but I figured it wasn’t worth the risk. The penalty for chewing gum was lunch detention, the penalty for trying to bribe a student teacher with a full pack would probably get me suspended. Only an idiot would risk suspension for a pack of gum.
So instead I tried bribing him with two packs of gum.
“Are you kidding me?” As anyone who had lunch detention with him knew, Mr. Donahue was a completely different person when authority figures weren’t around. “I’m not risking my future career for two packs of gum. I could get them at a gas station for a dollar.”
“No you can’t. Any place in this town you could buy gum, I went there and emptied it out. It’s a great investment,” I told him. “All I want to do is go to the bathroom for now until 10:30 AM. That is all,” I checked my phone. It was 10:24. If I waited any longer I’d miss the meeting. James was mad at me enough already.
“That’s an oddly specific time,” he said, immediately making me regret saying anything. “What are you planning to do that can’t wait until after? And by the way, you pretty much just admitted you sell gum to me.” Shit.
“You know what? Forget I said anything.” Just missing the meeting could put a large hole in my ever-expanding gum empire; getting suspended could tear it all down.
“Okay, I will,” said Mr. Donahue, grinning. “For two packs of gum.”
After bribing him, he walked me into the principal’s office. Mrs. Romero and I had gotten to know each other well over Freshman year. “Hi,” I said, waving to her as if she was far away. She didn’t smile. On her desk lay a couple packs of mentos chewing gum.
“Sit down.” As I took the chair in front of her desk, her eyes moved towards Mr. Donahue, looking a bit more friendly. “Thank you for escorting him over here.”
“No problem,” he said casually, and then: “He wanted to go to the bathroom first for some reason. Said he wasn’t going to leave until exactly 10:30.”
I gave him a disgusted look. “I trusted you.” He just shrugged.
“Why’d you need to go to the bathroom for that specific time?” Mrs. Romero me.
“I have a very specific bathroom schedule.”
“This is the first time I’ve seen him ask to go the bathroom since I got here,” said Mr. Donahue, further twisting his giant knife into my back. At least he didn’t tell her about the gum bribe.
“That’s not even important,” I said, changing the subject with a question I already knew the answer to. “Why was I called down here?”
She picked up a couple packs and held it in front of me. “Do you know anything about these?” I shook my head no. “Well, I’ve been told from numerous sources that you’ve made a profitable business out of selling them. Over ten thousand dollars. A total that high suggests you’re selling something other than gum.”
She was wrong about one thing: I only sold gum, nothing else. I had three distributors located in every other middle and high school in the district. I supplied the gum, they sold it and kept thirty percent of the profit. With twenty-five cents per piece and fourteen pieces per pack, I gained around a dollar and forty-five cents for each pack of gum sold. Each distributor sold at least ten packs a day.
I didn’t tell her this, though. Instead I laughed, as if the whole idea were completely insane. “I don’t sell anything. Not even gum.” Of course, that’s when Mr. Donahue spoke up.
“He tried to bribe me with gum on the way here.” My hand went to my forehead as I imagined myself stabbing him in the eye with Mrs. Romero’s ballpoint pen.
“Is this true?” There was no point in lying. I was never very good at it anyway.
“Yeah, but he took the bribe!” I pointed at him as he shrugged innocently. “You have some corrupt student teachers on school grounds, Mrs. Romero. I suggest you take a look into that, instead of accusing innocent students of committing completely made-up crimes.” While I was talking, the principal was typing something on her laptop.
“You should know, we have definite proof that you’ve been selling.” She turned the laptop around so the screen faced me. “An anonymous source sent this in.” The picture showed me in the middle of study hall, selling twenty-five cents a piece to a group of kids I barely knew. Judging from the length of the hair, it could only have been taken from the beginning of the school year (two weeks ago) to Monday, (four days ago), when I got my haircut. Judging from the photo’s angle, I had a good idea who was the photographer is.
Adrien. Of course. He asked to join my gum-business, I turned him down, and now he was probably upset that I was getting all the attention. And so the selfish prick was sabotaging my high school life’s work as a way of what? Revenge? Well, two could play at that game.
“You do know I have an identical twin, right? Well, when it comes to breaking the rules, he has a much worse record than me. He got into two fights in middle school and was caught shoplifting once (and God knows how many times he got away with it). He’s much more likely than me to be causing trouble.”
“Nice try,” she said, “but we know it’s not him in the picture.”
Well, that’s proof. “Because he sent it?”
“No, this picture was sent in anonymously,” she said, probably lying. “We know it’s you here because you’re wearing your JV hockey jacket from last year. Adrien was never on the hockey team.” I cursed under my breath, more mad at Adrien than I’ve been in years.
“Okay,” I admitted, “you got me. But I only do what I do for the benefit of the school. Because apparently, student teachers like gum too.” I shot Mr. Donahue a dirty look.
“You think what you do is for the good of the school?” she said, her nostrils flaring. “The desks are covered in chewed-up gum. Every day after school, the janitors have to come in and scrape it all off. It takes them hours. Meanwhile, people keep complaining about gum on their shoes because apparently, high school students like to spit out their gum on the floor without any regard for other people. And you’re also taking money away from charities and school clubs that sell candy to raise money, because students are giving all their money over to you.”
“Okay, it has some… slight negative effects,” I said, using my hands to imitate a scale, “But I suppose if you weigh out the pros and cons, the pros would win.” I watched for her reaction, sort of like how I’d imagine a bomb defuser watching the wire he just cut.
I had no idea what she’d say next.