Friday afternoon couldn't have come too soon for the students of Peterson High School. It was the first week of June, and they had less than two weeks to go until graduation. For Michael Rossi and Bobby Williams, it meant that in ten short days they would finish their years at Peterson and move on to bigger and better things. In Bobby's case it was a football scholarship at State, and for Mike Rossi a chance to study Industrial Arts at Brookfield U.
"I thought that English Lit class would never end." Bobby said as they headed for the bus stop on the corner. "I can't seem to understand Hamlet, they speak so funny. You never know what they're talking about."
"Well you better figure it out real quick." Mike said to his longtime pal. "Cause Old Man Winters is a bug on Shakespeare, and Hamlet is supposed to be his favorite. You know he's going to put it on the final."
"Shit," Bobby groaned. "I'm screwed then. I even got those Monarch Notes, but they still didn't help."
"Tell you what," Mike said as he suddenly stopped. "How about you take my story notes home over the weekend. Read them tomorrow and I'll come over Sunday and go over them with you."
"That'd be great." Bob said, the relief in his voice evident. "What am I ever going to do without you when I get to State."
"Properly fail," Mike joked. "But by then you'll be someone else's problem."
The larger boy joined in the laughter and slapped Mike on the back. They had been friends since the ninth grade. Even back then, Bobby had been a jock. Mike on the other hand had been a skinny, pale little kid who more than earned the nerd title. He was the kind of kid that always seem to get beat up by the bigger guys. That was until the day Bobby Williams had come across a Junior about to deposit Mikey in a waste bin after he had spilled milk on his jacket.
Bobby didn't know Mike from Adam, but he'd had a little brother who used to get picked on by the bigger kids. In fact, since Bobby was left back in the fifth grade, he was eighteen months older than the rest of his class. That made his little brother Steve only six months younger than Mike.
From that point on, the two had formed an unlikely friendship. Mike had spent many a night tutoring Bobby in one subject or other. Bob in turn had helped his younger friend branch out in other areas that he normally wouldn't have approached. True, he wasn't about to try out for the football team, but he had long ago shed his nerd image. At least in appearance.
Rummaging through his knapsack, Mike finally came up with a small red binder and handed it to Bobby.
"Try not to drool on it when you eat." He said as his friend dropped the binder in his own carry case. "I realize that I'm asking a lot, but I do try to take care of my study notes."
"Funny, Rossi, real funny." Came Bobby's reply. "There are times I wonder why I kept them from putting you out with the trash."
Mike didn't seem to hear the comeback. His attention seemed to be concentrated on his knapsack as he sorted through it's contents looking for something. A worried look flashed across his face as he began to shift through the books and binders a second time.
"Lose something? Bobby inquired.
"My sketchbook," Mike replied as he looked a third time. "It's not here!"
"Of course I'm sure," He answered, a tense anxiousness in his voice. "I've looked three times!"
Michael's great love was drawing, and his sketchbook was his pride. Not that he ever showed it to anyone. Sure, once in a while he would produce a portrait for someone after he had ripped it from the book, but no one ever saw the book itself.
"Hey don't worry about it, it's just a book. I'll bet it's sitting in your locker or under your desk in one class or another." Bobby said as he glanced at his watch and saw that the bus would be there in a few minutes. "Don't worry about it, you'll get it Monday."
The hard angry look he suddenly got from his friend told him he had said exactly the wrong thing. It was as if after causing a losing fumble, Mike had told him football was only a game.
"Ok, I'm a thick headed jock and don't know anything about art." Bobby apologized. "I know you're going to go back and look for it, do you want me to go back with you?"
"Nah, I don't want you to be late for your job at McDonalds." Mike said, accepting the apology. "You might need those job skills some day."
"It's a good thing you're such a hot shot artist, cause as a comedian you'd make a great waiter."
"There's the bus, get going!" Mike said as he pointed out the gray bus rounding the corner.
"Ok, ok." Mike said as he grabbed his bag and started to head for the stop.
"One of these days, I really want to see what's in that book." He said after he had gone a few stops. "My moneys on a dozen or so nudes of Jenny Greene!" Bobby added, making reference to the girl who was without question, the hottest babe in school.
From the sudden blank look he saw on his friend's face before he turned to run the last twenty feet, Bobby got the impression he hadn't been far off.
After checking his locker and coming up empty, Mike began to reverse his steps for his last few periods. The book had been in his bag during his lunch. He'd done a quick sketch of Timmy Butler playing his sax in the lunchroom. Mike clearly remembered putting it away after that. Having no luck in the rooms used for English Literature and Health Science, the brown haired youth headed for the second floor and American History.
Since entering the school, Mike had only passed one other person in the halls. The dismissal bell on a Friday afternoon was like the starting gun at the races. Even the Teachers were usually gone by 3:10. With luck, he would find the book fast and make the 3:35 bus.
Quickly moving to his desk in the back of the classroom, Mike lifted the desktop, only to find it held only a few papers and a spare pencil. He was sure, it had to have been here. The only other possibility was Music Appreciation, but they'd listened to a concert tape today and he hadn't even opened his bag in that class. Could someone have taken the book out of his bag somewhere else.
"Did you lose something?" Asked a voice from the front of the room.
Mike whirled around to find himself faced by Mrs. Koda, his history teacher. Normally, Mike loved sitting in the back of the room and watching Mrs. Koda teach. It wasn't that he had such an interest in history, it was that he loved watching her walk around the room.
Arlene Koda was as far from the stereotype school teacher image as you could get. Standing 5'6", she had long curly red hair that reached down to below her shoulders. Bright emerald green eyes lit up her face, and she had a body that not even Jenny Greene could match. As on most days, she was dressed rather conservatively, a plain white blouse and blue skirt. Yet even these plain clothes couldn't hide the woman beneath.
Only in her early thirties, Mike had heard someone once say that she had come in second runner up in some statewide beauty contest back when she was in college. If she had come in third, Mike couldn't imagine what number one and two could've looked like.
"Is something wrong Mr. Rossi?" He heard her ask.
Mike suddenly realized that he'd been standing there for over ten seconds without saying a word.
"Er ... no," He stuttered. "I ... er ... forgot my sketch book somewhere and ... thought I might have left ... it in class."
"Oh, then this must be yours." Arlene said as she pulled open one of her desk draws and pulled out a thick black bound book. "I found it on the floor in the back of the room when I was cleaning up earlier."
Michael went pale as she lifted the book up and flipped it open to a page near the front. A cold sweat suddenly ran down his back as she turned a few pages.
"I only took a quick look before to see if there was a name in it." Arlene said as she turned another page. "I didn't see one, so I just put it away. By Monday, I figured, someone would've come looking for it."
Michael's heart was racing as he slowly walked to the front of the room. Each time she turned another page, his heart felt like it skipped a beat.
"Oh God," The 17 year-old pleaded in a silent prayer. "Please let her stop."
"This is really excellent work. I have to say I'm impressed." Arlene continued as she admired one particular drawing. "I can see why you'd be worried that you lost this book."
"Yeh," Mike replied, trying so very hard to be cool as he reached out for the book.
"In fact, I'm surprised you haven't submitted any of this work to the Peterson Quarterly or the Yearbook. I'm the faculty advisor for both you know." She went on as she flipped a dozen or so more pages, scanning the last half of his work. "In fact I..."
Her voice suddenly fell silent as she flipped back to a page she had just flew past. From the look on her face, Mike knew he was busted. He suddenly felt dizzy and was afraid he was about to faint.
"Oh my..." He dimly heard Mrs. Koda say as she turned a few more pages.
She paused for a second, a look of disbelief on her face. Then she turned another page.
"Oh my Lord!" She exclaimed, this time much louder.
With that, Michael did faint.
Michael's first sensation of consciousness was the smell of flowers. Even before he opened his eyes, the sweet scent filled his nostrils. When his eyes did open, they quickly focused on the soft full breasts pressing against the white blouse of the woman leaning over him. He was laying on a couch in a large room he recognized as the Teacher's Lounge.
.... There is more of this story ...