Nothing prepared Raphael because his going into 4th grade would differ from early elementary schooling. He merely assumed this year would be the same daily schedule of story time, lesson time and projects with other classmates. He liked going to school now, because during the summer months, he got bored stiff.
He always searched out his cousin Johnny soon . Even though he met other students, Johnny became like a kindred soul to him and he held him in high esteem. Ever since he attended The Village Community School, both he and Johnny sat together in the same classes. On this first day of 4th grade however, he attended class with Mrs. Jordan, while Johnny ended up in class with Miss Ashe.
No more Miss Gordon and her big hooters.
He also found out the teacher expected the students to learn about many new things; Things he never thought of before. Things with weird names like consonants, probability, comprehension, fluency and contractions.
The classes would be broken up into sections dealing with Arts and Reading, Math Skills, Social Studies and Science. To make things worse, he would be expected to take school work home at night to study. Mrs. Jordan looked like an old bag in Raphael’s eyes. She appeared to be about 40 years old, with a no-nonsense way of indicating she didn’t put up with any crap from her students.
Fortunately, all the students ate lunch in a common lunchroom and Raphael found Johnny sitting at a table with some of his classmates.
“Hey Raphael,” Johnny shouted. “Come over here and join us.”
Raphael sauntered over to the table where his cousin and friends sat. Compared to Johnny, his friends was huge. They’re bodies flexed lean and lanky and both appeared to be older than Johnny.
“This is my cousin, Raphael,” Johnny affirmed. “This is my friend Sammy and my friend Mitch. They both live in my neighborhood.”
“Good to meet nyou,” Raphael acknowledged with his extended hand.
“NYOU?” Sammy mocked. “What’s wrong with your lip? And check out his beak. He might even be a Sparrow.”
Raphael experienced a tinge of embarrassment at this statement. He had made his way from Kindergarten through 3rd grade, with nobody ever making any statements about the way he talked or his appearance. Now this stranger questioned him.
“I happened to be born nwith cleft palate,” Raphael stated. “My Mommy and Daddy are ngoing to nhave a doctor fix nmy mouth nwhen I’m older.”
“Your Mommy and Daddy?” Mitch chimed in. “Are you still a baby and call them Mommy and Daddy?”
“Knock the shit off guys,” Johnny lectured. “Raphael is a cool guy. Leave him alone.”
“Or you will do what?” Sammy snarled back. “Are you boys going to take us on? And I mean boys.”
Raphael didn’t like this but he didn’t possess the balls to say anything. Johnny’s friends seemed to be a bit intimidating, and if they continued, he would leave the table.
“I’ll tell the teacher you got cigarettes in your pocket.” Johnny threatened.
Johnny’s threat seemed to stop them in their tracks. Even though both Mitch and Sammy were older than Johnny and Raphael, they definitely weren’t old enough to be carrying cigarettes to school.
“OK man, be cool,” Mitch apologized. “We only wanted to test you guys. Sammy meant nothing by his statement.”
Raphael seemed to relax after this interchange and the conversation shifted to talk about their classes. Johnny said his teacher, Miss Ashe, maintained a cute enough face, but her body left a lot to be desired. Miss Gordon possessed the shape of a Hollywood starlet.
“I remember Miss Gordon,” Sammy gloated. “She threw me out of class one day because I grabbed one of those sweet titties.”
“You bullshit artist,” Mitch chuckled. “You never grabbed her.“’
“Did too,” Sammy bragged. “And what a deliciously firm and exciting feel I got with those titties. I like big tits.”
Both Raphael and Johnny laughed at the thought of a teacher being grabbed by a student. Johnny admitted he always thought of grabbing a teacher, but tried nothing because he feared what might happen.
This whole conversation turned out to be new and different for Raphael because he never even thought of such things. The four boys sat talking about their classes and complaining about the homework they assumed would come.
“I got Mrs. Jordan for nmy teacher,” Raphael reported.
“Mrs. Jordan is a bitch,” Mitch announced. “She taught one of my classes last year and she always used to pile the homework on.”
“Last year?” Johnny snickered. “This is only in the 4th grade. She doesn’t teach 3rd Grade.”
“This is my second time through,” Mitch continued. “I flunked last year and now I’m repeating the same stupid classes. If I flunk again, they will send me to reform school.”
“How old are nyou,” Raphael wondered.
“I’m going to be 11 on my next birthday,” Mitch replied. “Dummy here though, is going to be 12 in September.”
“Aw, C’mon Mitch,” Sammy complained. “Why you call me a dummy. I don’t call you lamedick, even though you are.”
“Because you are a dummy,” Mitch responded. “Who else flunks Kindergarten AND First grade?”
Now Sammy got a turn at being embarrassed. Johnny saved the day again by shifting the conversation back to their teachers and how they might harass them. He told the group that Raphael excelled at thinking up neat tricks to pull, and how they used to drive the teachers nuts last year.
“What did you used to do, Nyewt, I mean Raphael.” Sammy quizzed.
Raphael caught this ‘mock out’ of his speech pattern but let Sammy’s remark slide. He still needed convincing whether wanted these two hooligans for friends.
“I used to nmess up the teachers work papers sometimes,” he admitted. “Sometimes I nmoved the thermostat up on the wall to nmake the room hot. I never got caught because Johnny nwould keep a lookout.”
“Raphael, you never broke anything, did you? Mitch said. “I like to break things. Here, check this out.”
Mitch pulled a large firecracker out of his pocket and showed everybody. He asked if anyone might guess what the yellow barrel was and only Sammy identified Mitch’s object as a Pineapple.
“Wow,” Raphael grinned, “nwhat is that thing?”
“It’s called a Pineapple,” Mitch began. “This is equal to about a quarter stick of dynamite.”
He passed the Pineapple around the table so everyone got a good look and touch. The Pineapple really resembled a small stick of dynamite, with its large yellow shape and five-inch green fuse.
“This little baby can do some damage,” Mitch spoke with pride. “We got to figure out where to use this for maximum effect.”
“How about putting the Pineapple ndown in the nfurnace?” Raphael inquired.
“How am I going to accomplish putting this in the furnace?” Mitch questioned. “Someone would need to light the thing and I’m not hanging around to get into trouble.”
Raphael explained how everyday, the teachers dumped their trash cans into a shoot leading directly to the furnace in the basement. When the trash ignited in the furnace, the fire would light the fuse and travel down to set off the powder. Both Mitch’s and Sammy’s face lit up at the same time. They visualized the explosion in the furnace and because it would happen down in the basement, they wouldn’t be blamed.
“Shit,” Mitch uttered, “What an excellent idea. We will need to figure out a way to stay after class when this thing goes off.”
“We might ask our teachers for nhelp nwith something in the homework assignment,” Raphael offered. “This nway, nwe would need to stay after class but with good reasons.”
“Man,” Mitch remarked, “Johnny’s right. You are too cool.”
“To be safe,” Johnny warned, “we should put this in a wastebasket in a neutral location; like the girl’s bathroom. We want no one thinking we might been involved with something like an explosion.”
“Your idea sounds pretty cool,” Sammy conceded. “When can we set this off?”
“Let’s make Friday our target date,” Johnny decided. “They send the janitor home early on Friday’s and we wouldn’t need to stay after class to catch the action. We might even get out of class early.”
So the boys all agreed this coming Friday, they would pull their dirty little trick. Mrs. Gordon and Miss Ashe both appeared at the lunchroom door and told the student’s lunch time is over and they needed to head back to their classes.
Nobody was excited to go to classes. Mitch and Sammy headed off to a boring Reading class, where they would talk about vowels and consonants. Johnny was scheduled for a boring Math class, where he would learn about fractions. Finally, Raphael would be in a boring Science class, where they would discuss the materials going into making up the Earth.
None compared to the excitement of blowing up the furnace.