Past Interlude #2
Bellevue, NE, USA - 1991



Despite the high percentage of army brats in the school, East Hollows High still had crap security. Having found one window that the security alarm didn't monitor, Remy slipped into the dark hallways, his leather-soled shoes finding purchase on a low bookshelf. He tiptoed between a couple models and an overgrown aloe plant to get to the teacher's desk.

Meticulously, he went through the desk drawers, taking care to return everything exactly as he found them. The great thing about seeing in the dark was never needing a penlight, cutting the chances of getting caught by a million. In under twenty minutes, he was out the window with the sample exam tucked in a bag under his shirt. Fifteen minutes after that, with five photocopies in the bag, he returned the original exam.

"What's stopping us from just making more copies once I pay you?" asked one of the high school kids, a "client" as Remy liked to think of him.

Not letting his smile fade, Remy took out a mini-tape recorder. When he pressed play, his shocked "client" listened, horrified, at his voice agreeing to pay for the answers. Remy's parts were cleverly blurred.

"You're gonna hand that over, kid," said the client, taking a threatening step forward.

Remy danced away. "Nuh-uh, hands off or I won't be able to get the copy of this tape that I dropped in your teachers' desk."

The client froze. His eyes harrowed. "You wouldn't so something that stupid."

"Wouldn't I?" Remy turned the tape off and tucked it back in his bag. "I'm only in middle school; they wouldn't recognize my voice. I hear that she knows you real well since you keep talking up in class. Let's see what happens when your Daddy finds out about this." He shouldn't be enjoying the way his client's fists were going white. "Nice car. Is it new?"

"Summers, you're gonna get yourself beat up," the older boy said, jerking several ten dollar bills from his wallet.

"Sure I am, but it won't be by you." He saluted. "Nice doing business with you." Remy waved as his client's car disappeared around the corner in a cloud of dust. He waited until he couldn't hear engines before loping around the tree and--

-- bumping straight into a wall of blue and yellow letterman jackets.

Remy popped off the ground and backpedalled. The wall of jocks followed. "You all should go on stage with an act like that."

The wall of jocks didn't speak.

"I get it," said Remy, still slowly moving backwards. "You buddy gets away with the answer key, you beat me up and get my hard-earned money, and when he gets pulled into the principal's office, he can honestly say he was nowhere near me, right? I think I saw something like this on TV."

The wall of jocks curved around, clearly intending to surround him. He pushed his shades higher up on his nose.

"Tell you what. What if I give you the money and we can forget about the beating part?" Remy swung his head around, searching for a way out. These guys had VW Beetles for fists and legs as long as Remy was tall. They wouldn't really beat on a thirteen year-old, would they?

"Hey, Todd Nicieza!"

Remy didn't turn around but the two dozen little pinheads on the wall of jocks did. He knew better than to turn his back on these guys. Besides, he knew that voice. Scott, the second coming of Francis of Assisi. Or was that St. Jude?

Scott, the demented idiot, kept calling out names. "James Morrisson! Danny Claremont! Joe Laird! Mike Carey! Justin Vaughn!"

"Who is that?" one of the jock wall components muttered.

"I dunno."

"Some fish, I think."

"That's a fish talkin' back at us?"

"That's what I'm sayin'."

Scott kept yelling names at the top of his lungs as Remy eased back further and further from the confused wall of jocks. "Kyle Lobdell! Bobby Milligan! Mike Willingham! Gary Moore!"

Remy broke into a run. "Hi, Scott! Bye, Scott!" he gasped as his brother fell in step.

"You're dead," Scott replied. Gripping Remy's sleeve, he pushed him forward. "Lift your goddamn lead feet and run! They're gonna catch up."

Sure enough, heavy footsteps banged closer like a barbaric chant. Remy's heart was close to breaking his ribs from fear and from running-- kee-rist was it only five blocks? Bellevue had the biggest goddamn blocks in the world! Each block was a friggin' county!

Scott yanked at Remy's shirt again. Remy followed him up the word wooden steps and the vinyl doors without hesitation. Cold, recycled air hit his sweaty forehead, making him shiver.

"Where are we?" Remy asked.

"In the library" said Scott.

"Library?" Remy repeated. "With books?"

Scott rolled his eyes. "They won't come in here; there's too many people. There are comics over there if you get bored. It has pictures in case the five-letter words get too scary for you. Just don't go out for at least two hours in case--"

"Jesus, you go to high school and suddenly, you know everything," said Remy. "I know how to stay away from the jocks."

"Yeah, you were doing a great job when I came by. Next time, I'll just leave your sorry ass instead of bailing you out like I always do."

"Maybe you should." Taking in one last deep breath, he wandered to the comics shelf.

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