Last week, wee Billy Hamilton was faced with yet another dilemma in my continuing saga of “The Ladore Luger.” (Catch up with Part 1 and Part 2) After a rough start to the day, Billy had the opportunity to look at a paper that his principal was arguing about in the next room. After tallying the votes (by which, I mean looking at the results that were already tallied for me), Billy’s fate has been decided.
He will look at the paper. Huge shock there.
Anyway, enjoy Part 3.
The room next door was filled the continuing argument. The noise would grow for a few seconds then, just as quickly, it would turn to hushed whispers. Finally, the door slammed shut, sending a rattle through the cluster of family photos on the wall.
Billy leaned over the desk. He knew it was not a good idea, but he couldn’t help it. The curiosity had taken him over. There was no reason for two seemingly adult people to argue this much.
All he could make out was a series of numbers. One after another, the numbers spanned the page until the white was filled with meaningless figures. Billy had never been particularly fond of math and a chart full of numbers could only equal astonishing boredom. As the arguing fired up once again, he began to think about a way out.
That’s when he saw it.
Covered by the folder, towards the bottom of the page, was a single paragraph.
After a month and a half, a significant difference has been noted. There has been an increase of…
Billy crept closer. He slowly began to slide the page out, uncovering the rest of the page. Picking it up, he began to read before he noticed a strange sound.
Next door, no one made a sound. It caught him off guard, but nothing could catch him as off guard as the sound of a door opening that followed.
“Well, Coach,” said Principal Stewart, “I’m glad we got that worked out.”Stewart did not act as though he had spent the last five minutes in a heated row. In fact, he seemed completely pleasant, like the man who had greeted Billy with a smile and warm handshake.
The coach did not seem that pleasant. He grunted something and began to walk away.
Billy watched Principal Stewart turn towards his office when a startling thought crossed his mind: he was still holding the paper. He began to break into a sweat. The principal was only feet away from him. He had no chance of trying to put it back into the folder before Stewart arrived. With all of the logic that his sixteen-year-old brain could muster, Billy crumpled the paper, reached under his seat, and slipped it into his backpack.
“Sorry about that interruption,” Principal Stewart said, taking his seat at the desk. “To get to the main point, it’s important to be on time. Do you understand?”
“Good. Welcome to North Ladore High, Billy.” The principal stood and smiled. “Have a great first day.”
Billy turned and walked out the door, wondering if the principal knew how unlikely a great first day seemed at this point.
The first few hours of the day seemed to drag by. No one in their right mind would expect Algebra, Physics, or Civics class to be exciting. The good folks at North Ladore had clearly not gone out of their way to alter this notion.
Room 136 offered the first chance at any sort of entertainment Billy might have. He had originally enrolled in his high school newspaper expecting a blow off class with no real requirements. What he found as he entered the door was a thousand miles from that.
Students rushed about, typing on computers, printing pages, ripping up those pages they had just printed, then doing the whole thing again. The room was full of frenzied excitement and Billy could not help but be reminded of the newspapers he had seen in the movies, but with more acne and complaining about parents.
“Are you Billy Hamilton?” came a soft but commanding voice from the front of the room. A small girl stepped out of the chaos and walked towards Billy, her short hair bobbing with each step.
“I’m Emily,” the girl said, a very formal and slightly cold handshake being offered. “I’m the editor.”
The next few minutes were a flurry of information. The North Ladore News, known to all newspaper personnel as the NLN, was a biweekly foray into the vast activities of the school. No matter the subject, the NLN would do its best to uncover all it had to offer and expose it to the student body. The student body would, in turn, use that newspaper to hold their gum or create balls of paper to throw into the occasional trash can.
“So, your first assignment,” Emily said, wrapping up, “will be to interview the school’s linebacker Dave Barkley. He’s supposed to be All-State this year. It pretty much writes itself.”
“Dave Barkley?” Billy suddenly had a terrible flashback to the boy in the car this morning. Across his sleeve, the name Barkley had been sewn in large gold lettering.
“Yeah. They call him the Ladore Luger because… he hits hard, I guess. It seems like a pretty crappy nickname to me, but no one asked.”
Billy shifted nervously. “I don’t think I can do that assignment. Is there anything else?”
“Well, we do have a story on Principal Stewart. You could spend some time with him and get to know him a little bit better.”
With that, Billy grabbed his notebook and headed to the football field. He would happily do anything but take another trip to that office.
North Ladore had a winning tradition when it came to football. The last ten years had brought five state championship, 45 full ride scholarships, and a handful of NFL caliber talent. As far as raw skill went, though, everyone believed Dave Barkley was the best.
Billy stood patiently on the sideline, pen in hand.
- Choose Your Own Adventure: “The Ladore Luger: Part 2″ (badlandsbadley.wordpress.com)
- Choose Your Own Adventure: “The Ladore Luger: Part 1″ (badlandsbadley.wordpress.com)