George Wilcox and Jimmy Peters stood before the principal. Jimmy kept his gaze fixed on the bookcase on the other side of the room. George shifted his weight as if something inside him needed balancing.
“Well?” Principal Henricks folded his hands and rested them on his desk.
Neither boy said a word.
Principal Henricks exhaled through his nose. “Yesterday, the showers in the girl’s locker room had an interesting malfunction.”
Jimmy stared at the bookcase so hard and fixedly the bookcase could have slapped him with a harassment suit.
“You see, when a person turns on a shower faucet, it’s a given that water is supposed to come out of the showerhead. Furthermore, when a person turns the shower faucet to hot, hot water is supposed to come out.”
George shifted to his right foot.
“Well, yesterday, the girls turned on the shower faucets in their locker room and guess what? Water didn’t come out of the showerheads. Not hot water. Not cold water. Not lukewarm water. Do you know what came out instead?”
Neither boy offered an answer.
“Gumdrops. Ice cold gumdrops. Red gumdrops. Green gumdrops. Blue gumdrops. Pink gumdrops and so on.” He leaned forward. “I know you two had something to do with it. I don’t know how you managed it, but I know it was both of you. I want to know how. How did you do it?”
Jimmy finally looked at him. George stood still.
“I don’t see a good reason to ‘fess up to anything.” George said.
“Feed my curiosity, George Wilcox. Feed me.”
Jimmy gave George a panicked look.
The taller boy scoffed. “Yeah, about that. Sorry. My mom always told me to steer clear of creeps.”
“I won’t hurt you.”
“So says ever single creep that ever lived.”
“I simply want answers.”
“Well, toodididdily boo-hoo for you. Me and Jimmy here have to get back to class.”
Principal Henricks stood. “I could have you expelled. I could have you both expelled.”
“Hey, if it gets us away from you and your creep factor, go ahead. Expel us. Jimmy and I will go down to Spiff’s and get two heaping bowls of ice cream to celebrate.”
The principal gave them a hard, considering look. “Go back to your class, boys. But know this: This isn’t a victory for you two.”
George shrugged. “I sure doesn’t count as a defeat.”
“It’s a draw. Neither of us has won.” He sat in his chair and smiled. “I haven’t won. Yet.”
“Yeah, go eat a shoe horn.” George grabbed Jimmy’s hand. “Come on, Jims. We’re going back to class.”
The two teens left the office.
Principal Henricks opened the his desk’s top drawer. He pulled out a gumdrop that was neither red nor blue, but somewhere in between. It was cold, but his deeply calloused fingertips barely registered the coldness. He turned the gumdrop every which way, studying it and examining it.
Ocean waves rippled inside of it.
He popped it into his mouth and savored its electric tang. “Mmm. I love the taste of magic in the morning.”
I know those two boys did it. I know it was them.
He licked his teeth.
I’ll make them confess and then I’ll be able to take them away. After all, who’s going to want two magical troublemakers in their school? They’ll gladly surrender them.
He licked his teeth again.
And they’ll be mine.