1. West: Check
And blah blah blah…
West Rhodes stares, bored, as the history teacher Mr. Hutchens goes on one of his long and grueling lectures about Ancient Rome, or Greece, or some other European country. It's the middle of March, and the closeness of summer, even though two months away, is glistening on every 10th grader's mind, including his.
He stops trying to listen to Mr. Hutchens's monotonous voice. Next to him sits Mike, or "South", as he liked to call himself. South yawns and stretches his arms above his head. West rolls his eyes but stops when a folded piece of paper falls on his desk. He opens the note. Quick. What are ten kids at this school who have a secret identity?
West smirks. South has a crazy collection of the weirdest top ten lists, a complete David Letterman fan. When finding new ones started getting harder, he convinced West to come up with originals. West opens his notebook and drums the pencil on the desk, thinking of his friend's question. He starts writing.
Okay. Maybe they don't have a different identity, but they definitely have a secret.
1. Aner Grett aka "Mr. Popular". He has it all. He goes out with Stacy Emerson, the only sophomore on varsity cheerleading, but… I don't know. It's just sometimes, when you look at him with her, or sitting at lunch with his "friends"… he seems tired, sad. Like he's sick of something.
2. Unknown. You know, that guy that's always by himself, and never gets acknowledged by anyone. The one that nobody has a clue who he is, what his real name is, and is never seen outside of school. The one that just is… always on the outside. Why is he the way he is? Why did he appear halfway through the school year last year? Why does he never talk, and who is he really?
3. Lacey Judon, the "Nonconformist". The girl who struts around like she's better than everybody else, the one who doesn't wear the right clothes nor acts like everyone else. The girl that always is alone, but sits by herself with a secretive smile on her face. The girl that doesn't fit into any clique, or group, but doesn't seem to care. There has to be a reason why she is who she is. And how she is outside of school.
4. Dei Walker. We all know she's the smart kid, not geek or annoying, but still is a straight-A student. The girl whose life revolves around school, and is no doubt going to Harvard or Yale or Princeton or someplace like that. But you notice how whenever she messes up and acts all arrogant and know it all-y, how she looks embarrassed or nervous? Why?
5. Trent Thurton. There's a difference between him and all the other bullies. With them, they'll always pick on kids with a friend, or some other dumb jock. He doesn't have any other friend. He just picks on kids, and then goes and does stuff by himself. He just isn't… normal, for a bully. You notice how his eyes are filled with either rage or frustration all the time? Isn't that pretty strange?
6. Vee, Vanessa Gibbs. I know you're going to think I put her on here only cause I like her, but that's not true. She is really like every other girl. Except, you know, hot, awesome, nice, funny, and smart (okay, that was my libido talking). But I just know she has some big secret. It's the way she looks when she's looking at the trophy case in front of the front office, when she puts the ear buds of her iPod under her black hair in the middle of class. She just has a look that says… I don't know.
7. Violeta Hernandez Martinez Rico. The nice one. She's great to everybody, and yet doesn't ask for anything in return. Also strange. Anyway, doesn't it strike you as weird that even though some people hate her cause of her chipperness, she doesn't care and is still nice to them? What's up with her?
8. The loser, Sam Willis. He's the geek, the annoying one, the know-it-all, and the anti social weirdo all rolled into one. Everyone hates him and he knows it. He has no friends and gives loser a new name. I bet there's more to him than you realize.
9. Sedge Hitherwick, Vee's boyfriend. Notice how he doesn't seem to be good at anything? (Well, besides the fact that he picked up the best girl at the school) I mean, everybody is good, or does somewhat well at something. We've been in the same classes since we played in sandboxes. And yet he still doesn't seem to have any talent… Does he have one that we don't know about? Or what?
10. Um… I can't think of anyone else. How about me, West Rhodes?
"Mr. Rhodes, where was Alexander the Great's home country?" West looks up from writing to meet Mr. Hutchens's surly glare. The whole class has their eyes on him. Staring around, he sees Aner mouthing the answer.
"Um, Massnoria?" he guesses.
Mr. Hutchens sighs. His wrinkles, glasses, and baldhead seem to fit the subject he taught perfectly: never ending, boring, and ancient. "No, Mr. Rhodes, but it seems that even though you don't pay attention, your answers to my questions seem to get closer and closer." He frowns at Aner. "The correct answer is 'Macedonia'. And please, stop writing love letters to Mr. Warren."
Referring to South, the class laughs. West slouches in embarrassment and tries to pay attention again to Mr. Hutchens as he continues the lecture. He catches Aner winking at him before being subjected to the cruel and awful torture that was Mr. Hutchens's voice.
After class he catches up to Aner as he is heading to his locker. "Hey, Aner, wait up!" West call.
The muscular teen turns to look at West and smiles that half smile that supposedly "makes the girls swoon". God, sometimes I wish they were attracted like that to me, he thinks. "I just wanted to say thanks, for helping me out in there," he says. "I wouldn't have expected you to do that."
Aner chuckles, shaking his head. "What, because I'm popular? Because I wouldn't want to help a loser like you? West, I'm just another guy in this school. I may be the popular one in our grade, but I'm a normal person, and I get how hard it is to pay attention in Mr. Hutchens's class."
West is stunned, at loss of how to respond to that. All he gets out is, "Well… sorry." He adjusts the books in my arms and a paper happens to flutter to the floor. Aner reaches down to get it.
"Huh, 'ten people that probably have a big secret'?" he reads. Crap, he thinks, I forgot to give that to South!
"Hey, that's nothing, give it back," I plead, reaching out to snatch the paper.
He pulls his hand up, putting the paper out of reach. "Let's see, there's me, Unknown, Lacey, Dei, Trent, Vee… Wait, you like Vanessa Gibbs?"
West's eyes widen as soon as the words leave Aner's lips. "Keep your voice down!" he hisses. His teeth grit, and he swallows. "Fine. Yeah, I like her. Now promise me that you won't tell anybody, especially not Vee herself!" Before the jock can respond, Stacy Emerson, the Ice Queen herself, comes up next to him.
"Hey babe," she says, kissing her boyfriend's neck. She then turns to West, scoffs. "What are you doing with this loser?"
Aner snorts. "Nothing," he answers.
Stacy laughs and leans in closer to the shorter student. "I know you want some tips on how to be less loser and more cool, but you'll have to realize that you're never going to be as good as him," she says in a cruel, demeaning voice
"Come on, babe, let's leave," Aner replies, slinking his hand into hers. "See ya, loser."
West shakes his head in disgust. Why'd I think he could be nice? He's about to head to his locker when the list crinkles on the floor. He picks it up, and looks up to see the back Aner walking down the hall with Stacy. Without breaking stride, he lifts his hand off Stacey's shoulder and waves to West. Well, anyone can surprise you.
"Um, South, I know you're lost, but your locker is not actually in the south part of the school; it's in the east," West jokes. South stands waiting for his friend.
He punches West's arm. "I'm not lost, you dimwit. Remember the list? Where is it?"
"Oh, right, its—"
The intercom crackles, "All students report to your lockers for a drug check. Those who do not do so will get detention."
"Oh shit!" South says, backpedaling towards his locker. "If I miss one more soccer practice because of detention, Coach is going to kill me!" He starts to rush down the hall.
"What about the list?" West calls.
"Give it to me later!"
West puts his books and the paper into his locker and leans against it, waiting for the drug dog to head come near. The girl on his left blows air out her lips, and smiles when she sees him. "Hey West, haven't seen you in a while."
"I know, Wilson," he says. "How have we been locker mates for so many years but never had a class together?"
"Beats me," she says, "messed up school this is." Wilson mimics a reporter. "So, Mr. Rhodes, what drugs do you think the policeman is going to find today?" She holds the imaginary microphone to my mouth.
"Well, Ms. Rigby," I play along, "I'm sure someone has a pack of crayons they plan to commit a felony with."
"Like drawing graffiti on some street signs!" She breaks character, bursting into laughter. "Do you remember the guy that got caught with marijuana?"
"Yeah, that junior on the first check of the year," I nod. "What happened to him? I heard nobody has seen him since he got suspended."
"I have a theory," Wilson grins. "I bet Ms. Willsin was so pissed that he smudged the school's reputation as the safest in the country and took care of him as soon as he got out of jail."
"No way," West disagrees. Wilson arches her eyebrows and nods. "You know, that's probably why I don't see you that often. Hearing your name reminds everyone of the principal."
She rolls her eyes. "That's why people call me Will now. You think you're the first one to realize that?"
The policewoman enters their hallway with the Great Dane sniffing at the lockers. "They're not going to get anything…" Will mutters.
"You sound pretty sure."
The girl looks at West in confusion. "Well, yeah. Didn't you hear about the tipoff?"
"The tipoff?" West curses. "I missed it again?"
Wilson shakes her head. "Well, you've always been so out of the loop…"
His mouth opens to say something but shuts as the dog approaches him. Instead of continuing his walk as West suspects, it starts barking and growling at him. He stares at the dog in disbelief. Wait, does he think I have drugs?
"Sir, open your locker," the officer drones, Ms. Willsin glaring at him behind her. He opens it, and step aside as she looks look through. Will eyes him, one eyebrow raised questioningly. He shrugs.
The officer reaches into the front pocket of his bag, and pulls out a small plastic baggie. West's eyes widen and his mouth falls agape. Inside the bag is marijuana.
Ms. Willsin's face goes red as she glares down at West, entering her office. Suddenly the kidnapping theory doesn't seem so far-fetched to him.
As soon as the door closes, the officer takes out her handcuffs. "Sir, you're under arrest for possession of illegal drugs."
"Those aren't mine!" he insists. "I have no idea how they got into there!"
"Mr. Rhodes," Ms. Willsin growls, "the drugs were found in your pack, in your locker, one that nobody knows the combination but you."
"That's not true!" West protest, pointing out of her office at the secretary. "Mr. Inez has a copy of all the students' combinations. Remember the leak a few months ago? Anyone could have easily found my combination."
The officer, clearly annoyed that she has to listen to this, turns to the principal. "What is he talking about?"
Ms. Willsin lets out a breath, and sits down behind her desk. "A few months ago, somebody got a hold of all of the students' combinations and posted them online. We couldn't catch the criminal, and even though the original owner took it down its been copied and pasted all over the Internet. We've offered to give students new lockers, but not all have done so."
"There you go!" West says. "Someone is trying to frame me."
"However," Ms. Willsin states, "We have no proof that the drugs were planted in your locker and a very good case for the fact that you were in the possession of them."
"But I don't own them!" he repeats. He turns to the officer. "Here, why don't you dust the bag for prints? Since I never touched it, my prints can't be on there."
"Absolutely not!" Ms. Willsin spits. "Mr. Rhodes, this is over. We found them in your locker; that makes you guilty for possession. Now leave."
The officer speaks, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to side with the kid for this one." Both of us stare at her in disbelief. "The last time this happened it turned out the drugs were planted, and the police station got sued by his parents. I'm not going to be responsible for that happening again." She says to Ms. Willsin, "I have my finger print kit and my laptop in the police car. Let me go get it, and we can do it right here. If he really doesn't have any prints on the bag, I'll let him off with a warning. Okay?"
Ms. Willsin sighs with relent. "Fine."
Twenty minutes later, West leaves the principal's office with a huge smile on his face. South and Vee wait at his locker
Vee's eyebrows bunch together. "Well? What happened?"
"Yeah dude, you got off?" South asks.
"Okay, get this. The officer takes out handcuffs and tells me I'm under arrest. And I'm protesting, cause I have no idea how the drugs got there, and Ms. Willsin is steaming. Mad. I get the officer to fingerprint the bag, saying that if she finds my prints, I'll go willingly. She agrees, and goes out to her car, and Ms. Willsin is glaring at me, worrying about her precious reputation. The officer prints the bag, and mine aren't there! She did find a fiber from gloves though."
South gapes. "Wait, so you're off the hook?"
"Yeah I'm off the hook!"
"That's great!" Vee says, throwing her arms around West. His heart starts to race, and he bites his lip to keep from laughing at South's teasing, humping the air.
"Hey!" a deep voice calls from behind them. They break up to see Sedge, Vee's boyfriend, looming over, his brown, shaggy hair falling close to his eyes. He jabs a finger into West's chest. "What are you doing with my girl?" West's face drops.
Vee rolls her eyes. "Don't worry about it Sedge, it was nothing. He's just a friend."
"A friend, my ass," he says, stepping closer to me, his fists clenching. West takes a step back, my back hitting the locker.
"Sedge!" Vee shouts. "I said forget it! I hugged him," she says, pulling him away from West. "Come on, you can buy me lunch."
"Sure." He leans down to kiss her. It gets heated, and soon he's making out with her in front of the other two. West and South look at each other and grimace. They break apart and start to walk to the cafeteria. Sedge turns his head and gives a cold stare
"Oh, we're so scared," South mocks. West smacks him in the back of the head.
"That guy could beat me up with one hand behind his back!" he exclaims.
"You don't want to seem weak in front of Vee!" his friend responds.
"I also don't want to seem dead in front of Vee!"
South shakes his head. "Whatever, dude. Now can you give me the list?"
"Sure." He looks through his locker. When it's not where he put it he looks through all his books, the folders, in his bag (which still smells of the magical plant), but still can't find it. "No way, dude. It's not here."
"What?" South exclaims. "You're kidding me, right? Did you drop it?"
"No, I didn't drop it!" he says. "I am sure I put it back into my locker after you ran off for the check."
South groans. "That was going to be list number 100! Dude, I need it to—"
West stops looking through my locker and looks at South. "What?"
"West, it was crazy after you went into Ms. Willsin's room. Everyone was talking about it, nobody stayed at their lockers. I didn't go myself, because of soccer, but everyone rushed here to check for the marijuana."
"And?" West insists.
"And did you lock your locker, by any chance, before you went with them?" he asks hopefully.
"No… wait, you're not saying that—"
South nods. They both say it in unison.
"Somebody stole the list."
Lockdown starts next chapter! I've been sitting on this story for a while, so any comments, criticisms, suggestions are welcome. Next chapter focuses on Aner, aka Mr. Popular. Q: Which character interests you the most?