The prank at the football game had been a tremendous success. It even made the TV news. Samantha had set high expectations, and she had unintentionally recruited a team for more mischief. It didn’t take them long to find out that publishing a website was out of their league, but wiring a cheap CB radio into the school public address was easy. To keep it unexpected but frequent they tuned it to channel 19, at the time one of the most popular. The first transmission was received during second period, and others occurred sporadically during the rest of the day. By the time the public address repairman showed, it was after lunch and even the pranksters were tired of the interruptions.
Other pranks included coloring the shrubbery with a water soluble red paint, spraying the corridors with fake spider webs, putting vinegar in the lunchroom drink dispenser, and other harmless monkeyshines. The police weren’t interested since no one was being hurt, but Principal Ashworth hired a private detective to find the culprits. He turned out to be as ineffective as Inspector Clouseau or Sherloque Tanney.
Here’s what Samantha has to say about it.
Keeping ahead of the detective, Sheerluck Jones, became a game in itself. Unfortunately, other people joined the game and started playing pranks on their own. I could see what was coming, so I got together with Dwayne and Renee to decide what to do about it.
We sat down together in the Exchange snack bar after school. I went right to the heart of the matter. “I think it’s time to get out of the prank business.”
I had expected a “What? Why?” from either Dwayne or Renee, but they both nodded their heads. Dwayne spoke first. “This could get nasty in a hurry. Do you think a police investigation would lead to us?”
I answered, “I don’t know, but it would be best if we can head off a probe. What can we do to put a lid on this prank epidemic we started?”
Renee laughed. “I’m not so sure we started it. Sheerluck’s bumbling is what made it fun and got others involved … Do either of you know who started that nickname?”
Dwayne surprised us with an answer. “Locally, no, but it came from a derogatory name applied to a DC comic character … Getting back to the issue at hand, this is a student issue and needs to be handled by the Student Council. Someone who is obviously alert to the problems this can cause needs to bring it up at the next meeting. I’m already on the council so it should be one of you. I can back you up when the discussion gets underway.”
I glanced at Renee who was looking at her hands. I said, “I started this whole thing, so I guess it’s my responsibility.” Renee looked relieved. “I have one problem … I don’t lie. If they ask me what I know about what’s happening, well, I’m not sure how to address that.” Renee blanched.
Dwayne said, “I agree it should be you. You’ll have to take charge and steer the conversation – aggressively. Make sure it never gets around to what you know about it. Better yet, start off with what you know about the other pranksters but don’t tie it to anything we’ve done.”
I thought about that for a few seconds. “Maybe I could compare what might happen to one of our weaker attempts, say painting the shrubs. That way there wouldn’t be any obvious holes.”
Dwayne had an additional suggestion. “You probably ought to practice what you’re going to say. Renee and I could sit in and offer suggestions.”
It’s never that easy.
––– # –––
From what I understood the Student Council meetings were rarely attended by anyone but the council. When I walked in to the room, people were already standing along the walls. Bill Compton had a seat in the front row. When I walked by he stood up. “Looking for a seat, Sam? You can have mine.”
“Thanks, but …”
“No buts, I can stand.”
All I could say was, “Thanks.”
He walked away and I took the seat.
The sergeant-at-arms rapped the gavel and called the meeting to order. He introduced the council president, Walter O’Connor, and sat down.
O’Connor looked over the room. “Wow, what brings all of you here?”
There were several titters, but Bill spoke up, “We’ve heard that something important is going to be discussed, and the council was likely to blow it off.”
O’Connor started to say something that began with an indignant “How …?” and then stopped. He changed directions. “Does anyone here know what this important subject is?” He looked around the room. No hands went up. He looked at the members of the council. Dwayne frowned and looked at me, but no one else responded. Then, as O’Connor started to say something, I realized this was my turn staring me in the face. I rose to my feet. “I know what it is.”
“Your name and class for the record, please.” O’Connor knew me, but this was supposed to be a formal meeting.
“Samantha Pederson, Senior.”
“And what is this important topic?”
“The pranks that are going on at the school.” I stood taller. “We’re heading for real trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the pranks are getting more dangerous. I mean hiding all the toilet paper in the girls’ locker room was annoying but no one got hurt by it. Someone deliberately blocked the doors to the gym the other day. Glenn Reiser and Andy Carpenter both hit he doors so hard when they raced out of the gym that they were woozy and had to be helped to their feet. Luckily neither was seriously injured, but they could have been.”
“They shouldn’t have been running,” O’Connor said, dismissing the problem.
“I’m not arguing that, but the situation was dangerous. Someone could have been hurt. That’s what is important. Whoever blocked the door would have been more at fault than Glenn or Andy. Those doors have panic bars for a reason – so no one gets crushed if a crowd tries to get through them in a panic.”
“So what are we supposed to do about this problem?” O’Connor was still being dismissive.
“You guys are the council, figure it out, but I would suggest starting by letting the student body know that enough is enough, that if somebody is injured in one of these pranks, the prankster will be held responsible.”
O’Connor stood there open mouthed. I can still remember how funny he looked. Fortunately, Dwayne came to the rescue. “Walt, why don’t we get a consensus of the students in the room and see how important this is to them? That way we’ll know how to proceed.”
It was a totally new idea since there had never been a group this large at a council meeting. O’Connor jumped on it. Before the meeting was over, the council had agreed to take action to shut down the pranks. They recruited a committee from the students in the room to create posters urging a stop to the shenanigans, and another group to urge Principal Ashworth to fire his inept PI, and finally, as the council’s most outspoken member, O’Connor took on the task of putting together a short announcement on the public address.
Naturally, Ashworth was the one who balked.