Second-to-last chapter at age eleven, and all I can say is, heeeeeeeere's Kirky! (Evil grin.) Enjoy, R&R, you know the drill.



Every time Coach Farland blew a long blast on that stupid inane whistle, Luke felt like ripping the thing out of his hand. Like now, for instance.

"All right, class, give me one more lap and you can go for the day!"

Sighs of relief went up from the students as the entire gym class headed around the floor one more time. Luke finished ahead of most of them---Farland was always saying he should go out for the track team in high school, but that was too far off for Luke to worry about.

In the hallway on the way back to his classroom, Luke noticed that one of the scrawny second-graders had begun to follow him. He stopped, turned, and found Kirk Gleason grinning there at his elbow.


"You're a fifth-grader, right?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Do fifth-graders still carry blankets to school?"

Man, this kid is wierd. "No! Why, do you?"

"No," little Kirk lied. He tried to hide his blanket behind him. "Mom said this is a jacket." Luke walked on, but the kid was still there. The bell was about to ring, and Luke knew he'd just as soon follow Luke into the fifth-grade room than go to his own.

"Stop following me, Kirk," he tried.

"But the cool kids are in there."

Luke rolled his eyes. "Kirk, I'm serious. You'll be late."

Still the kid just stood there. An a last attempt, Luke slipped into the classroom and ditched him on the other side of the door. Peeking back out the window, he watched as Kirk pick up the spelling book that a fourth-grader had knocked out of his hands, looked around, and ran in the direction of his own room.

Phew. Relieved, Luke turned around, glad to be on time for class.

"Excuse me, son, are you in the right place?" A kind voice said.

Confused, Luke looked around. There was no Mrs. Albernathy, or Bootsy, or Carrie, or anybody. He'd ducked into the wrong room.

As if fate had pulled the trigger, the bell rang.

"Sorry," Luke muttered, and he turned around, pulled open the door, and walked back to room nine.

Rejoining his class, there was a hush of laughter throughout the room.

"No note, Luke?" Mrs. Albernathy inquired.

"No ma'am." He slid into his seat, and no one said anything more about it.

Well, almost no one.

"You're late, Luke," Bootsy hissed from behind him.

"How many times a day do I have to say shut up, Bootsy?" Luke whispered back.

"That's not very sportsmanlike."

"Well we're not playing a sport."

"That doesn't matter."

"Yes it does."

"My dad said it doesn't."

"So? My dad could squash your dad. Don't you have somebody else to bother?"

"Not right now."

Mrs. Albernathy cleared her throat, and the boys both looked up. They hadn't noticed that the entire class had been staring at them.

"Sorry," they both squeaked, and returned their attention to their desks.