Clark walked to his car, a lump of clay where his heart should have been and his legs barely strong enough to hold his weight. Hardened though he was to seeing the miseries of humanity-and even creating a few of those miseries himself-he had never witnessed anyone die in the manner his friend had.
But his friend was gone, and nothing was going to bring him back.
He had to find the girl and deliver her to Cerberus. Despite the fact that she had taken the car right out from under them, and further humiliated him and his friend by referring to them as morons, he knew that he was very good at what he did. Excuses aside, the resourcefulness of her and the boy had caught him by surprise. That, and the pure dumb luck of the commotion on the other side of the clearing at just the right time for her. Next time, he wouldn’t leave the car running. But what kind of victim escapes from a shed on a moonless night, then hides in a ditch just a few yards away waiting for a stolen car to show up so she can steal it back? Someone with spunk, he decided-character and spunk. Well, he had gotten the plate number from the car, and he had the girl’s name from when the Justin kid had yelled at her to run away. Getting her address would be easy. Kidnapping her, not quite as easy, but that’s what he was good at. She would soon find out that he was not the moron she had accused him of being.
Then he would think about justice for his friend.
Justin walked into Smiths and took a seat at his usual table. Not many had come in yet. He had been wondering if, after finding Samantha in that clearing, his gifts would be taken from him-now that they had served their purpose. No time limit had been set by any who had given the gifts to him though, so he decided that they were probably his for good.
On impulse, he called up Samantha’s aura, then used his impath Vision to determine her location. She was just leaving her house. “Hey there, Lady Fair,” he impathed, “How’s about I meet you halfway and we can walk back to Smiths together?”
“Well,” she replied, “my other escorts will be crushed, but, okay.”
“Your wish is my command,” Justin told her. “See you in a few.”
When the both of them entered Smiths later, more of a crowd had congregated.
“What?” they both asked as they took a seat opposite Bart. At the moment he had seen them come in, his face had lit with a sly smile.
“Nothing,” he answered, “except that every time I see you two together, it…I don’t know…it just makes me feel good. I-Chris! Come over and join us!”
Chris Munson, who had just come in, walked over to the table and sat down.
“I heard about your father,” he said sincerely to Justin. “That’s rough, man. I’m very sorry.”
“Thank you,” replied Justin, touched. “How’s the election coming?”
Leaning closer to the center of the table, Chris spoke in a soft voice, his gaze sweeping over all of them. “I’m starting to wonder about this popularity stuff. It was a blast in the beginning, but now it’s getting old. I’m still running for student body president of course, but this business of girls hanging all over me has become tiring.”
Samantha chuckled. “Half the guys in school would kill to be in your position,” she told him, her eyes shining with amusement. “And the girls who are hanging all over you see you as a project. Each one of them personally believes that she alone has the solution to your future-with her in it of course.”
“Great,” said Chris, sarcastically. “The Munson Girls.” Suddenly, he paused, the sparkle of an idea coming into his eyes. “Hey,” he said, finally. “That’s not bad. The Munson Girls. Picture this as a money maker for my campaign: Big banners. “Date a Munson Girl and help elect Chris Munson as student body president! For the paltry sum of ten dollars, you can spend an evening with the Munson Girl of your choice. All proceeds go to the Chris Munson election campaign.”
“That’s not bad,” said Justin encouragingly after some thought. “I can see some of the more shy guys being repeat campaign donors. And it’ll certainly keep your name on everyone’s mind.”
“How about two Munson Girls for twenty-five dollars?” asked Bart. “One for each arm during the evening.”
“But why would someone pay more than double the price for two?” asked Samantha.
“Supply and demand, Lady Fair,” said Justin, who had immediately realized the potential of Bart’s suggestion. “Chris can claim short supply, and get the extra five because when some guy takes two girls for the evening, that deprives some other guy of one.”
“Okay,” agreed Samantha. “But what about the obvious reason why this won’t work: a guy wants and evening with a Munson Girl, but doesn’t want to pay, so he just calls her up directly without going through Chris-or whoever handles his campaign money?”
“Already thought of that,” said Chris. “Every Munson Girl will sign a pledge not to give any free nights out until the campaign is over-except if it’s a current boyfriend. Although, I suspect that some of the girls will put pressure on their guy to cough up at least once.”
Samantha thought that one over for a moment. “You’re right about that,” she told Chris assertively. Turning to Justin, she said, “You might as well fork over now, dude. No date until you do.” Then to Chris again: “I would be honored to be the first Munson Girl. However, after Justin here comes up with the cash and takes me out, I intend to resign.”
“And if someone else pays for you before he does?” wondered Bart.
“Never happen,” said Justin as he slapped a ten-spot on the table. “Got to protect my interests, you know.”
“Afraid of a little competition, huh?” teased Samantha, wrinkling her nose at him.
“Nope,” replied Justin, winking. “Just saving some other poor sap from that wicked sense of humor of yours.”
Sister Isabelle and Sister Charity were in Smiths, waiting for Samantha’s arrival. An impath search told them that would she would be walking through the door in the next few minutes-with Justin at her side, of course.
“This has certainly worked out well for us,” impathed Isabelle. “I feel almost like it’s me that it’s happening to.”
“Yes,” said Sister Charity. “She’s a very lucky girl, in my opinion. When are we going to suggest marriage to them?”
“I thought we’d let them graduate high school first,” answered Isabelle. “Although, I don’t think we’ll have to push the ‘if’ very hard-just the when. And as far as I’m concerned, the ‘when’ should come sooner, rather than later.”
“Agreed,” said Charity, “and speaking of-there she is.”
As they watched their two favorite people enter the store, they witnessed a very peculiar act of behavior from them. As soon as Justin and Samantha stepped through the doors, they stopped short, looking around the room, then at each other. The strange action reminded both Sister Angels of the way someone would act who had just stepped into a room and found piles of money stacked up on the tables.
“I’ll do it,” they heard Samantha say. “Let’s sit down first.”
Now it was the Sisters who looked at each other strangely. Before they could guess what Justin and Samantha were up to, an impath message, very clear and distinct, came to both of them.
“So you’re my Guardian Angels, huh? Well, I’m flattered to have both of you watching over me. This is Samantha, by the way. Justin showed me how to impath.”
“Leland!” the Sisters thought in unison. It was just the kind of joke he was known for playing. Well, when they got back, he’d hear from them soon enough. And by the time they got through with him-
Another impath broke into their thoughts. “No, it’s not Leland,” the message said. “It really is Samantha. And this is Justin, by the way. We know you’re here. We’re just not experienced enough yet to determine which part of the room you’re in.”
“They left,” said Samantha. “I felt it.”
“They’ll be back,” Justin assured her, chuckling. “Right now, they’re on the way to report this to their team.”
“Are we in trouble?”
“No,” said Justin. “The team will discuss what to do about it; Aaron will probably want to take our impath abilities away; Leland will find the whole episode highly amusing; and in the end, your Guardians will either ignore us completely, request to be assigned to someone else, or talk to us.”
“I like the last one best,” stated Samantha.
Grinning, Justin said, “I’d sure like to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.”
“Obviously, Justin has abused his gifts,” remarked Senior Angel Aaron upon hearing the experience of Samantha’s two Guardians. “He had no right to imprint our auras.” Looking at Sisters Isabelle and Charity, he asked, “You didn’t reply to her impath, did you?”
“Oh, no,” said Sister Charity. “We left almost right away.”
“Hummm…perhaps if you never answer in the future, they’ll think it was just a mistake on their part.”
“Forget it,” said Leland, breaking politely into the discussion. “Justin is too intelligent for that to work. Samantha also. Might as well face the fact that it happened, and will again.” Looking at the two Sister Angels, he asked, “You said that he corrected you about it being me who was impathing you?”
“Yes,” replied Sister Isabelle. “We…” a pause, then realization and shock came over Sister Isabelle. “O my goodness,” she said. “Sister Charity and I were impathing each other, and he read us anyway. I didn’t know anyone could do that. I’ve always thought that non-group impathing was strictly private between the two doing it.”
“That’s our Justin,” grinned Leland. “He’s learned how to tap in. Don’t ask me how, but he’s done it.”
“That’s it, then,” declared Aaron with finality. “His gifts have to be withdrawn.”
“This may sound like a stupid question, but why do they have to be withdrawn?” asked Leland. “For improving on the talents we gave him? For making the team look a little foolish because we underestimated his creative and learning abilities? I mean, think about it: If one of us had performed that well, the rest of us would be heaping on the praise.” Leland paused, looking at each one in turn, and Aaron last. “With all due respect to you, Senior Angel, from what I’ve seen of Justin so far, he’s shaping up to be excellent Battle Angel material. Samantha too, for that matter.”
The attention of Sisters Charity and Isabelle sharpened at his last statement. “Sisters can be Battle Angels?” asked Isabelle.
“We have some, yes,” replied Leland. “Not as many as we have of the men, of course. But I’d work with anyone of them anytime without reservation. But back to the issue. I’d like to recommend that Samantha be given the gifts of Finding and Vision, making her equal with Justin.”
“I don’t-” began Aaron, but was interrupted by Charity and Isabelle.
“What a wonderful idea!” they said, turning a glare on Aaron, daring him to disagree.
Aaron, who did not become a Senior Angel by being stupid, quickly assessed what his future would be like if he opposed the suggestion.
“Yes,” he said, smiling stiffly, “a wonderful idea.”
Leland chuckled heartily. “That has to be the most sourly performed pretense of an agreement I’ve ever seen,” he said. “But since my recommendation has carried unanimously-albeit reluctantly, it’s a go. Now, here’s what we have to do.”
Justin was laying in bed on the verge of sleep when he received the impath to wake up.
“Hey, Lady Fair,” he impathed back, rubbing his eyes and trying to do just that.
“I might be fair looking, but I’m certainly no lady,” answered Leland with a chuckle.
“Anything wrong?” asked Justin, thinking immediately of his and Samantha’s impathing incident earlier.
“Other than two mortals impathing a couple of Guardian Angels,” replied Leland, “everything is just ducky.”
“Caused quite a stir at the meeting, I’ll bet.”
“And quite a discussion.”
“Am I in trouble?” asked Justin.
“All you did was improve on your talents,” said Leland pleasantly. “I think what upset them the most is that they underestimated you and were caught by surprise. Imprinting their auras before we sent you back to earth, for example.”
“It’s good that I’m not in trouble,” said Justin. “But you didn’t contact me just to tell me about a meeting.”
“Actually, I did. Or at least, to tell you about the decision we came to. I know you gave Samantha impath powers, as you were told you could.”
“Yes, and it’s been wonderful for both of us.”
“We’ve decided to give her Vision and Finding powers also. She’ll be equal to you then.”
“I bet Charity and Isabelle were ecstatic about that.”
“Aaron was the only stick-in-the-mud about it-as my mother would have put it-but he came around.”
“I’m all for it,” said Justin. “What do we have to do? And does Samantha have to go through what I went through to get them?”
“No,” laughed Leland. “Nothing drastic this time.”
“Good,” replied Justin. “Unless you’ve already decided the when and where, I have an idea.”
“Where are we going, Knight of mine?” asked Samantha. She and Justin were traveling in the Hicksville Beater, as they had christened Lloyd’s pipe truck. Another Saturday had come, bringing with it the always welcome pleasure of spending a lot of time together. To Samantha’s intense curiosity, Justin had refused to tell her what he wanted to do on this Saturday morning. “I’ve got something planned for us,” was all she got out of him.
“You’ll know in a few minutes,” he said as he turned off the highway and onto the road that led to the small clearing in the forest she had taken him to not long ago.
When she realized where they were headed, she looked at him sharply.
“Are you going to propose to me, Justin?” she asked. “Because if you are, you need to stop the truck right now so we can talk about it.”
“Lady Fair,” he said, not slowing down, “as much as I’m looking forward to that day, marriage proposals are not on this morning’s to-do list.”
“Oh,” said Samantha, relieved and disappointed at the same time. “I’m sorry if I sounded sharp. I jumped to a conclusion I shouldn’t have, I guess.”
“Already forgiven, Lady Fair,” he replied. “It was a nice conclusion to jump to, though. And some day, when the time is right, we’re going to talk about it.”
Justin reached the end of the tire tracks in the grass and stopped the truck. Half way to the clearing, Samantha slowed her walk.
“Something is happening in the clearing. I can sense it.”
“Do you feel threatened by it?” asked Justin.
Samantha examined her feelings. Whatever was happening was good, not bad. She felt no sense of threat. “No,” she told Justin as she picked up her pace. She had a strange sensation of wanting to hurry to get to the clearing sooner. Heart beating faster in anticipation, she picked up her pace.
She and Justin walked into the clearing and stood silently, Samantha looking around.
“Well,” she said, disappointed. “I don’t know what I was expecting.”
“Let’s sit down on the log over here,” suggested Justin.
Once they were sat down, Samantha looked at him. “What’s the story, Billings?” she asked.
“You’re about to find out, Lady Fair,” he told her.
Suddenly, Samantha sat up straighter on the log, concentrating intently. After a few seconds, her eyes widened in excitement. “It’s my Guardians,” she told Justin. “They’re impathing me.”
“I’d suggest that you reply back,” Justin chuckled, then kept silent so she could devote all her attention to them. Five minutes later, she relaxed, leaning against him.
“That was wonderful,” she told him. “I’m glad they decided to talk and not leave me for someone else. You knew about this, didn’t you?” she asked.
“Yes. Leland impathed me last night. It was my idea that it happen here.”
“Just right as usual,” Samantha sighed happily, taking his hand. Thinking for a minute, she lifted the hand up, then pulled it over her head and on to her other shoulder.
That’s better,” she said, relaxing against him. “So what’s next on the to-do list?”
“Sitting here,” Samantha echoed. “And then what?”
“Sitting here and waiting,” she said. “What are we waiting for?”
Justin checked his watch, looked at Samantha, and smiled. “They’re going to give you Vision and Finding abilities, Lady Fair,” he said. “That’s why I brought you here this morning.”
Confused, Samantha said, “I thought you brought me here because you knew my guardians were going…to…impath…” Her words faded as she realized the implications of his simple statement. “Their coming, aren’t they! Their coming here!” she said excitedly, grabbing him by his shirt front and shaking him. Putting her hands up to her hair, she said, “Oh, I’m not ready! How do I look?”
“You look just fine,” said a very pleasant voice from the edge of the clearing.
Startled, Samantha jerked her head in that direction and stood up. “Oh my,” was all she could manage weakly as she watched her two guardians and Leland walk into the clearing. Because their auras were imprinted on her memory, she recognized them immediately.
“Don’t faint on us, now,” joked Leland.
Feeling as though she would do just that, she grabbed Justin’s arm-who had also stood up-for support. “I…I don’t know what to say,” she replied.
“Hello,” would be nice for starters, said Sister Isabelle. “And now, I’m going to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.” Walking straight up to Samantha, she embraced her. “This is a real honor for me,” she said as she let go of the embrace.
“And for me,” said Sister Charity, who also embraced Samantha.
Samantha, who had finally calmed down, smiled serenely. “I never had sisters of my own,” she told them, “but I feel like I do now.”
“Oh,” said Sister Isabelle, emotionally. “Now you’re going to start us crying.”
“Sorry to be abrupt,” interrupted Leland kindly as he finished greeting Justin, “but our time here is short. I really had to pull some strings to get permission to do this.” Looking at Samantha, he stated, “Meeting one’s own Guardian Angels in person is a rare occurrence-a very rare occurrence. I suppose that Justin has told you already why were are here?”
“Well, we can get on with it, then.”
The log being the obvious choice for a place to sit, Samantha sat back down.
Walking up behind her, Leland placed a hand on each of her shoulders, hesitated, and then removed his hands. “Sisters Charity and Isabelle,” he said, turning to them, “I think it would be very special for Samantha if you two went first, before me.”
Excitedly, the two nodded. And then, as they had done with Justin, they stood, one on each side, and placed a hand on each of Samantha’s shoulders.
“To you, Samantha,” they said, “we give the gift of Finding. Every soul has a unique aura. If you know the aura, you will forever be able to distinguish it from among many. This is our gift to you, our new sister. Selah, and Selah.”
Solemnly, Leland stepped up again.
“To you, Samantha McCallen,” he said, “I give the gift of Vision. Use it wisely.” He paused in thought, then continued. “This spot in the forest, this little clearing, has been a place of peace and comfort for you since early childhood. Not long ago, you brought to this place someone who has become very special to you. And now, angels have graced it with their presence. I feel to tell you that this small clearing has been blessed, and will remain a harbor of comfort and security for you and Justin for the rest of your lives. From this time forward, no other mortal beings will set foot here unless you allow them to. Others may come to this forest, but they will pass by this place, neither seeing nor entering it. Looked for, this place cannot be found. Searched for, it will never be discovered. Here, you and Justin will always find peace. Selah.”
Samantha stood, tears running freely down her face. Not to be outdone, the two sister angels were busy wiping their own eyes, also.
Facing Leland, Samantha said, “That was beautiful. Thank you.”
“It was an honor for me,” he replied. “And now, we have to go. Sisters?”
Smiling broadly, Sisters Isabelle and Charity followed Leland down the same path they had come in on. Just before disappearing into the trees, they stopped and turned around. “Bye, sis!” they said, waving at Samantha. “Talk to you later!” Then, literally, they faded from view.
Samantha and Justin stayed in the clearing for another hour, reluctant to leave the almost sacred peacefulness the angels had brought to it.
“You’re going to have to show me how to do the Vision and Finding thingies,” Samantha told Justin.
“I’ll show you the Finding, Lady Fair,” said Justin gruffly, “but I’m seriously thinking about not showing you the Vision thing.” Pasting a scowl on his face, he ended with, “Oo-la-la indeed.”
Samantha looked at him and smiled knowingly.
“Hummm,” said Justin, “I guess I wasn’t very convincing, was I.”
Samantha lowered her head as if she were looking at him across the top of a pair of glasses. “Knight of mine, unless you can find some way of cooling down those warm, chocolate brown eyes of yours, your scowls will never get past the level of cute. Now, shall we get on with the educating?”
Grinning in surrender, Justin said, “I may regret this, but okay. The best way is to do it as I guide you through the steps. Whose aura do you have imprinted?”
Samantha thought. “How about Chris Munson?”
“That works,” said Justin. “Establish an impath connection to him. As long as you don’t message him, he won’t know anything is going on.”
Samantha did. “Okay,” she said, “now what.”
“Send your Vision out. It works better if you close your eyes. Just concentrate on wanting to see him.”
Samantha closed her eyes. After a few seconds of silence, she uttered a startled “Whoa!” Then, “I lost the connection.”
“Feels like falling out of bed, doesn’t it,” chuckled Justin. “You’ll get used to it. Try again.”
“Okay,” she replied, closing her eyes once more. “Impath established…and now Vision…” A few seconds of silence, then, “Oh! I can see him! I can see him!”
“Look around and tell me where he’s at.”
“That’s easy,” she informed him. “He’s in Smiths Variety.”
“Well done, Lady Fair.”
Samantha opened her eyes. “That was…awesome!” she said excitedly.
“Not for me it wasn’t,” he told her. “I just lost my option of finding a convenient bush if we ever take a trip again.”
Samantha and Justin walked along the path that took them out of the clearing. Twenty yards or so into the trees, Samantha stopped and turned, wanting a last look at her-their-special special place before leaving it for the day.
“Justin!” she gasped with surprise.
“What?” he asked, turning around.
“The clearing’s gone!”
Quickly, Justin sent his Vision back along the path. “It’s still there,” he told her. “I can see it. Use your Vision.”
“I don’t have an aura to connect to,” she replied.
“Sure you do,” he said. “You have your own aura. You can use it as a reference point just like you would use someone else’s. I forgot to tell you that, I guess.”
“I see it,” she said after a few moments. “But why can’t I see it with my own eyes?”
“The blessing the angels left on it,” he said. “Remember? Looked for, it cannot be seen? That includes our eyes, too. But we know it’s there, and how to enter it. We can go back in if you’d like.”
“No,” said Samantha. “I understand. Now, come on. We’ve got a whole day of being together. Let’s make the most of it.”
Justin took her in his arms. “Excellent idea, Lady Fair,” he said, kissing her tenderly. “Excellent idea.”
“And that’s an excellent start, Knight of mine,” she replied. “An excellent start.”
The news stunned almost no one, although the events leading to the announcement made for good gossip though-out the school.
“This is your principal speaking,” came the announcement over the speaker system. “Due to the unusual circumstance of only one person being on the ballet for student body president, and today being election day, the faculty and myself have decided to declare a winner. Your new student body president for this school year is Chris Munson. On behalf of the faculty of Prospect High, we congratulate Chris for running a very inventive and entertaining campaign. Balloting to select the rest of the student body officers will take place this afternoon in the lunch room as previously announced. Thank you.”
In the beginning, several hopefuls had begun campaigning for student body president. When the Munson Girls concept went into operation, all the other hopefuls but one saw what was coming and dropped out. The remaining person’s campaign soon headed down river when rumors exploded that he had been seen on a paid date with two Munson Girls. Word was that someone on his own campaign committee ratted him out. Regardless, when his girlfriend learned of the incident, she had a revealing talk with one of the Munson Girls in question, who willingly filled her in on the details. Confronted with the evidence, her “low-down, weasel of a boyfriend”-as she put it-snidely confessed and told her that he had been thinking of dumping her anyway. In retaliation, she promptly signed up as a Munson Girl, thus making it plain to the rest of the school that her loyalties were now in the Munson camp. Angry at his actions, almost every girl in school who might have voted for “the weasel”, switched to the Munson camp. Their boyfriends-the smart ones, anyway-switched with them.
For the first time in school history, the race for student body president was won by default. The weasel of a boyfriend, to avoid the humiliation of a massacre at the polls on election day, promptly dropped out of the race.
Clark pushed back from the computer and stood, stretching. A license plate number and a first name-small pieces of information for what they had opened to him. The car, he learned, belonged to a couple named Barber-parents of either Justin or Samantha, perhaps. Not that it mattered. He now had an address, and from that he had been able to get a phone number. Several months had passed since his lack of success in killing the boy and girl. He was still bothered that the boy was alive. He knew dead when he saw it, and that boy had been dead-dead dead. Clark’s second shot had been straight through the heart with no exit wound-a make-sure shot. The boy would have died anyway. They had dragged his body behind the building and left it there, the boy’s lifeless eyes remaining open the entire time.
But he had to believe Cerberus that the boy was alive. Cerberus would not make a mistake on something like that. Well, Clark would deliver the Samantha girl to him, and that would be the end of his part. What Cerberus did with the both of them after he had the boy, was of no concern to Clark.
Dead in the evening and attending a funeral the next day. How Machiavellian was that? He had read of people dying and coming back to life. Nothing about it added up, though. Clark knew he was missing something -or worse, that there was something he should know but didn’t.
Putting it from his mind, he began packing for the trip ahead. This time, he would not make the mistake of underestimating the Samantha girl. Have a nice walk home, you morons! Quite funny, he admitted, if you looked at it from her point of view. He must remember to compliment her on her resourcefulness. Considering himself highly talented in that area, he also respected it in others. Too bad the girl would be dead before long. Of all his victims, she had been the most resourceful-as proved by the fact that she was still alive.
As with every yearly election for student body officers, the entire school attended a special assembly the next day to hear the results of the balloting. As each winner was announced, he or she was given a few minutes of time at the microphone. Most of the speeches were as expected: thanks to all who had supported them; promises to do justice to their elected office; open to suggestions; etc. Several speeches made it into school legend, however.
When the Vice President in charge of activities was announced, a rather nervous girl stepped up to the microphone. In a shaky voice, she proclaimed that she was looking forward to working closely with President Chris Munson in a variety of activities. Her remark started some tittering and cat-calling from the lower minds in the audience. Flustered, the girl stopped in mid-sentence and walked back to her seat.
Then, without announcement, Chris Munson took his place at the podium. The entire assembly erupted in applause-yelling and whistling thrown in just because.
“Oh, my gosh,” said Samantha, impathing Justin. “I knew he was popular, but this is more than even I had guessed.”
“Better him than me,” Justin replied back, grinning widely. He and Chris had become good friends, and Justin was as proud of him as he would have been of a little brother, had he had one.
Chris held up his arms for silence, which only caused the commotion to increase. Giving up, he lowered his arms and waited patiently. When the enthusiasm had mostly spent itself, he began speaking.
“Thank you all!” he said, laughing. “For my first official act as your president, I am disbanding the Munson Girls as of this moment.” A few boos floated from the audience, both from the guys who had used the service and some of the females who had been Munson Girls. “It’s been fun,” Chris told them, “but it’s time to move on. I want all you guys who’s girlfriends were one of the Munson Girls to stand up.”
Samantha was surprised at how many arose. It was certainly more than she would have guessed-a lot more.
“Now,” Chris continued, “those of you who paid at least one time to take your girl out when she was a Munson Girl, sit down. The rest of you remain standing.”
A small gasp arose from the audience as every one of the guys sat down. “As if we had any choice,” yelled one of the boyfriends jovially, eliciting a laugh from the rest of the student body, teachers included.
“I know what a sacrifice it was for most of you guys,” said Chris, genuinely. “So here’s what I’ve decided to do. When the yearbook is put together near the end of this school year, I’m going to throw a thank you party for all the Munson Girls and their guys. A yearbook committee photographer will be there to take lots of pictures-including some group shots. And then we’re going to honor the service of the Munson Girls and their guys by giving them their own section in the yearbook just like the football team and the debate team and all the other groups in this school.”
When Chris finished explaining his plans, the student body responded with cheers and applause. When it died down enough so he could be heard again, he continued. “I think they, and their boyfriends, have earned it. Whatever else happens this year, I think we can all agree that we’ve had the most unusual student body election this old building has ever seen-or ever will see. Thank you for your support! The best is yet to come!” With that, Chris left the podium and returned to his seat.
Someone began chanting “Mun-SON! Mun-SON! Mun-SON!” in medium and determined cadence. By the time Mrs. Walker, the school principal, had gotten to the podium for her usual let’s-make-this-a-good-year speech, the entire student body had taken up the chant. She stood patiently until the chant dwindled to a halt, then spoke. “And I can say that I’ve never seen such enthusiasm and popularity for a student body president before.” Looking directly at Chris, she leaned closer to the microphone and in a conspiratorial voice asked, “How about swapping jobs with me, Chris?”
Playing along, Chris said, loudly enough for everyone to hear, “No thanks. I couldn’t take the reduction in popularity!”
Even Mrs. Walker laughed over that one.