It was the perfect plan, some would agrue flawless. Here is how it would go: Kathryn and myself (typically referred to as Partners in Crime) would meet up with Jack at seven am. The tardy bell would ring at promptly 7:09. We would pile into Kathryn’s Cavalier, affectionately referred to as The Purple Bomb, and arrive at Bob Evan’s no later than 7:30 that lovely Thursday morning. This would give us plenty of time to order and eat our breakfast before slinking back into the high school by 8:47 just as first period ended, leaving us precisely enough time to slip Mrs. Johansen her order of biscuits and gravy in return for her not marking us absent. It was perfection. Nothing could go wrong.
We were terribly mistaken.
The plan started out just as we anticipated. I had stayed the night with Kathryn and we woke up and went to meet Jack. As we drove down Byers road, the sounds of our summer ’03 CD mix filled the car with a nostalgic longing for summer. The moment of truth was now upon us; the high school was coming into view. I detected a brief hesitation from Kathryn before continuing to press down on the accelerator and we sped past 1860 Belvo. A fleeting nervous feeling flitted down my spine for a brief instant. However it didn’t last too long, and Nelly’s rap interrupted my worried thoughts.
We stepped into the restaurant. At first, I nearly expected every adult within a twenty foot radius to pull out their cell phone and immediately call a truancy officer to come and arrest us. He then, undoubtedly, would take us to jail where would inevitably rot in a forgotten cell reserved for children who commit the heinous act of skipping even one class of one school day.
But as it turned out, no one seemed to take notice of this trio of teenagers out and about on a Spring morning. We ordered our meals in peace, and the South Western Omelet’s melted cheese never tasted so delicious. Innocent me, sitting there taking in my small act of defiance. As well as Kathrn, too, sitting there in her Springfield High School hooded sweatshirt. Not to mention the high school guidance counselors sitting on the wall opposite of our booth.
Flashing red signals went off like a firework exploding in my brain. All of the peace that delicious omelet brought to me was now no where to be found. I was in a state of silent, utter panic. Lest I forget, Kathryn sitting there in her SHS apparel with the giant Viking plastered across the front in case you didn’t bother reading the print.
“Kathryn! Take that sweatshirt off!” I whisper-yelled, “Now!”
Fumbling foolishly, she scrambled awkwardly out of her sweatshirt, but to no avail: underneath we found nothing but her Springfield Swim Team t-shirt. My mouth dropped and my heart sunk as my eyes made the connection to my brain which processed the gravity of our predicament. Luck was not on our side. Kathryn sheepishly slid down low into the booth, but whether out of shame or fear I was unsure. A sick feeling returned to my stomach as it began to tie up in knots. I was thoroughly convinced that we would be caught and I was all too aware that there was nothing that could be done.
We immediately asked our server for the bill, and I’m quite positive that I’ve never had to wait such an eternity for check. As I stared at my watch, I painfully counted the seconds which seemed to stretch on into a vast infinity. Eventually our bill came and we paid and tipped our waiter. Quickly, we made a quasi-nonchalant dash-walk back to The Purple Bomb and we were on our way. The lighthearted feeling that was present that morning was now replaced with a somber tone hanging on our shoulders as we headed back to school. Nelly’s rap still sounded through the speakers, but it didn’t bring the sing-a-long it had merely hours before.
And then… silence.
“Hey, turn that back on,” Jack called up from the back seat.
“I didn’t turn it off!” Kathryn protested.
“Well, what happened then?” I inquired.
We exchanged quizzical glances as we approached the four way stop at Byers and Gebhart Church. An eerie feeling crept upon us and the silence felt unnatural. With slight apprehension, Kathryn pressed down on the accelerator after completing her stop. Our weight shifted back in our seats as the car began to move forward, but began was all it did as the car slowly came to a halt in the middle of the intersection.
“Cut the engine and try again,” Jack feebly suggested.
In what we all felt to be a hopeless effort, Kathryn gently turned back the key. A short pause ensued before she tried again. The engine made a weak sputtering noise that sounded like some sort of dying animal taking its last breath before it gave out.
“Er… why don’t you try it one more time,” I suggested, a slight shake in my voice.
With no success, we sat in heavy silence after a second failed attempt. An unspoken, “What now?” filled the space between us. The Purple Bomb sat idle in the intersection of the four way stop.
Just when we thought all was lost, we had hit rock bottom, and there was nothing more left to lose, it began to rain. Not just rain. No light April shower to bring us lovely May flowers, but a downpour: a monsoon in midwest America.
As Jack and I stared out the car window watching the rain drops dancing down the glass, a sinking feeling ripple down from my heart to the bottom of my stomach. I felt sick. It was hopeless. We played the silent game of who could last the longest and not verbalize the only obvious solution to our predicament.
Jack finally caved, “Well, are you going to call him, or should we just sit in the intersection a little more?”
Kathryn’s hand had a subtle tremor as she pulled out her phone, which matched her voice as she spoke to her father. Kathryn retorted a brief account of our story, which was followed by a prolonged silence that seemed to correlate to the forlorn look on her face. She said her goodbye and the sound of her phone closing resonated in my ears and signified the finality of our defeat. Our short hours of rebellion had come to a close. It was time to return to school.