Samantha – Co-conspirators

For those of you who are just joining this blog, it’s a character study of the protagonist, Samantha Pederson, for my next book, Antimatter (working title). She tells about her life starting just before she turns 16 and follows the events that shape her personality up till her current involvement in a government organization that researches technical development for potential threats to our security. In the previous episode Samantha had pulled off an elaborate prank on Principal Ashworth, but as careful as she had been about hiding her involvement, someone had called her on it.

My mind screamed, No way anyone could know what I did. Forcing a what-are-you-talking-about expression, I turned on the bench to face my accuser. “Dwayne!” I was dumbfounded. I sat there with my mouth open.

Dwayne filled the silence. “Hey, your secret’s safe with me.” He glanced at Renee. I couldn’t help myself, I looked at her too.

A puzzled expression on her face, Renee asked, “What are you looking at me for? I don’t even know what you’re talking about. What secret?”

Renee wasn’t slow, and I could see the realization dawning on her face. “You mean you …? You set off that awful noise. But … but how?”

We all scanned the bleachers around us. No one was near enough to hear us. It was one of those years for the team, so bad the attendance was always low. I returned my gaze to Renee. I wasn’t about to acknowledge what I did, even by acquiescence unless I had her word she wouldn’t tell.

Renee realized what I was looking for. “I won’t tell anyone either.”

I glanced at Dwayne. He smiled and gave a single nod, confirming he wouldn’t say anything.

First I had to know. “How did you conclude I was involved?”

He shrugged. “From what little I know of you, you’re not the type to let someone wrong you and get away with it, and it was pretty clear you thought Ashworth was deliberately after you. I have to agree with you.”

“Wait. You didn’t actually know I had something to do with this? So you tricked me into admitting …” My anger flared. If he hadn’t been out of reach, I don’t know what I would have done.

It must have shown. He shrunk back. “I had to know. I want in on it.”

I had started to get up, but that stopped me. “You want in on it?”

He nodded. “As long as no one actually gets hurt. It looks like fun, and he’s pissed off enough people with the way he runs the school. He needs some retaliation.”

I relaxed and so did Dwayne. I regarded Renee. “What about you? I don’t want to get you in trouble.”

“I’m in. After all, we went to jail together.”

Dwayne’s eyebrows rose. The police incident wasn’t common knowledge. Right then it occurred to me that our run in with the police might be why Ashworth was down on me. I had to say something to Dwayne. “It wasn’t anything. I played a prank on a couple of cops. They took us to jail to scare us.”

“And it worked,” Renee added with a rueful smile. “I’ve never been so scared.”

Dwayne stepped down to our bleacher. “Getting back on the subject, how did you pull this off today?”

It took me all of ten minutes to outline what I had done. Dwayne commented, “You realize this may be your crowning achievement. It’s going to be awfully hard for us to top it.” Something about that statement irritated me, but I couldn’t tell what at the time.

The game should have been called at half-time. Our team was so far behind, the other team could have gone home and we still wouldn’t have caught up by the end of the game. Even the most loyal fans were streaming out of the stadium. Heck, Ashworth had gone silent.

Dwayne stood up. “This is ridiculous. What say we go to Baskin-Robbins and drown our sorrows … while we plan our campaign?”

I nodded and climbed to my feet. At the same time I felt some resentment. Dwayne was taking over my revenge effort. I didn’t want to discourage him, but I wanted to make sure he knew I was in charge.

––– # –––

Baskin-Robbins was filled when we got there, so we had to stand in line. By the time we had gotten our ice cream, a table had cleared out, so Renee and I grabbed it and left Dwayne to pay for our orders. Renee took a window seat and I took the outside seat opposite her to see what Dwayne would do. He took the window seat next to me.

As he sat, he asked, “Do you think we can talk here?”

I scanned the crowd. “We should be okay … as long as we’re discrete.”

“Any idea what the next stunt should be?” Was he taking over again?

Personally I wanted to bask in the glory of having succeeded on my first attempt, but that wouldn’t be taking command. Still I said, “I’m open to suggestions.”

Dwayne responded immediately. “I’m thinking in terms of hacking into the school website and posting unflattering pictures of Ashworth.”

“Isn’t that illegal?” Renee wanted to know.

I nodded. “‘Fraid so … however, we could always start a new website and post unflattering stuff there. I bet we could get a domain name that people would check out because it looks so much like the school’s.”

“But they could always trace the posts back to us,” Dwayne objected.

“Not if we signed Ashworth up from a school computer for an obscure email account and use that account to sign up for a free website.” I was pretty sure that would work.

Renee countered, “Don’t the internet service providers have rules about that sort of thing?”

“How would they know?” I asked.

She looked skeptical. “I don’t know, but I bet they would. Somehow I think all that would be asking for trouble.”

I considered for a second. “I tell you what, Renee. Why don’t you research the ramifications? I want to cause Ashworth discomfort, not get him in legal trouble.”

She still looked doubtful. “Okay, I’ll do that, but I’ll bet it won’t work.”

I glanced at Dwayne. I had managed to take control of the group, and he didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t realize at the time I had driven a wedge between us.

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