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Chapter 5

Early Monday morning, before the first bell, Robby hurried down the long school hallway, ignoring kids slamming their lockers on their way to class. The gasoline leaking in his duffle bag smelled. He should have tightened the bottles better.

He saw Mrs. Gonical looking at him suspiciously from her classroom door. Her puffed-up, jet black hair and pointy glasses made her look like a witch, but she was always nice to him and he really liked her. She took her job of monitoring the eighth grade hallway seriously. He’d seen her give referrals to kids who walked into homeroom within seconds of the bell sounding.

As he passed her, he glanced back and saw her still peering at him, wrinkling her nose. The dark blue linoleum floors muffled the sounds of many students hurrying to their classrooms. A boy he didn’t know cuffed him in the shoulder and shouted, “Hey, Boy Scout. Help any old ladies cross the street today?”

Robby walked faster towards the boys’ bathroom. Ever since the bullying began, everyone looked at him strangely. He certainly wasn’t wearing his Boy Scout uniform today. Sure, having just turned fourteen he was a little short for his age, and a little chubby, but with his blonde crew cut, pale skin and blue eyes, he didn’t look that different from the rest of the boys

“Where are you going, Robby?” Mrs. Gonical shouted. “Class starts in three minutes. You weren’t late once last year. Don’t spoil a perfect record.”

Robby ignored her and rushed into the boys’ bathroom, locking himself into the first stall. He set the duffle down on the toilet lid and began unpacking the Molotov cocktails he’d made early that morning. Molotov cocktail was a fancy name for soda bottles filled with gasoline and topped with shredded newspaper. He’d learned to make them from the Internet and then built them in his tool shed. His grandmother didn’t suspect a thing. The shed was his domain. It housed his wood work, his Eagle Scout project and the lawnmower he used in his lawn business. Plus, this morning, the explosives

“Robby? Robby, come out of there, or I’ll call Officer Bowman. I don’t like the looks of this.”

His teacher sounded close by.

Robby felt excited and confused. His thoughts were jumbled, going every which way. It had seemed so clear to him this morning. He would put the bombs in different places around Harbor Point Middle School as a way to scare the kids. Kids who bullied him and kids who just watched. But this morning, the logic of his plan seemed to be falling to pieces. He knew as soon as he struck a match to one bomb he’d be caught.

“Robby,” a man with a deep voice yelled, entering the bathroom.

It was Officer Thomas Bowman, the school resource officer, and now he was pounding on the door of the stall. “Open this door at once, young man. I smell gasoline. You haven’t got a match in there, have you, Robby?”

Oh no, Robby thought. Now I’m in deep trouble. Thoughts of what his grandmother would do when she found out and the shame she would feel flooded his mind. He felt a sense of panic, and failure. He had to light at least one bomb.

He stuck the match just as Officer Bowman kicked in the door, knocking Robby to the ground next to the toilet. Two of the bottles fell off the toilet lid, spilling gasoline into the adjacent stall. Robby’s body had smothered the flame.

“Jesus Christ, kid. Are you trying to kill us all?”

Officer Bowman grabbed the book of matches from Robby’s hand as he lay on the floor.

“I know you. You’re the Boy Scout, working on your Eagle badge. You’re the last kid I’d ever think would pull this kind of stunt. Now get up. I’ve got to arrest you.” He unclipped a pair of handcuffs from his belt and backed out of the stall.

Robby pushed himself up slowly, first to his knees, then placing one hand on the toilet. He spun around to face the officer, his scout knife raised above his head.

“Holy shit,” Bowman exclaimed, grabbing the knife and wrestling Robby to the ground. Robby jerked the knife away from Bowman. He felt like a trapped animal. He couldn’t let his grandmother find out what he did. He kneeled over the officer and stabbed him in the chest again and again. Blood spurted onto Robby’s face and shirt. Bowman screamed. Robby stood as if frozen in place.

Coach Williams and the janitor burst into the bathroom. The coach grabbed Robby so hard the knife popped out of his hand. He handed his cell phone to the janitor who called 911.

“We’ve got an officer bleeding to death,” the coach yelled into his cell phone. “Send an ambulance to Harbor Point Middle School ASAP and send a backup sheriff and the fire department. We’ve got gasoline in the boys’ bathroom and I’m looking at homemade bombs.”

Coach Williams twisted Robby’s arms tight behind his back. He grabbed the handcuffs lying on the floor and clipped them on. Robby didn’t care. He couldn’t take his eyes off Officer Bowman, lying unconscious on the bathroom floor. There was blood everywhere. Robby could smell the wet blood on his clothes. He was fighting back waves of nausea. The janitor held onto him while Coach Williams knelt beside the officer, hands full of paper towels, pressing firmly on the bloody wounds.

“My life is over,” Robby screamed. “I want to kill myself.”

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