Senior Pranks

“The Brewer’s Backstory” – Episode 7

May 2003

The Brewer's Justice cover

Coming January 2016!

Brad slowed the Blazer as brake lights ahead of him lit up both lanes of southbound traffic on the parkway. After four years at Belmar High, tomorrow would be the last time he’d make this drive as a BHS student. It seemed like another lifetime when his mother had driven him to high school freshman orientation. He could hardly believe it had been two years since the exploding bottle had changed his life—and since Barry Soules had come begging for homebrew for a senior party. Brad glanced down at his Buffs t-shirt. He’d gotten the acceptance letter from the University of Colorado three months ago. Mentally, he was spending more time in Boulder than at Belmar these days.

He rubbed a hand along his bristly chin. Maybe he’d grow a beard before he moved into the dorm in August. He glanced at the dashboard clock as the traffic picked up speed. Back in his freshman and sophomore years, when he had to ride to Belmar with his sister, she’d driven him crazy, waiting till the last minute to leave the house. After they got detention for multiple tardies, he’d sat on his bed listening through the wall and grinning while his parents yelled at Natalie.

He hadn’t racked up a single tardy in the two years since Natalie had gone off to CSU. Today, he was cutting it really close, not that he cared much anymore. Applebaum, the assistant principal in charge of graduation, had warned that instigators of malicious pranks wouldn’t walk at graduation. “Malicious,” of course, was vague.

Brad had gone along to the copy shop when the seniors on the tennis team printed forty-six FOR SALE posters. Afterwards, at Eric Villarreal’s house, he had nearly nailed his finger with the staple gun while they were tacking the signs to stakes. So many seniors had showed up at forty thirty on Monday morning, that it had taken less than a half hour to hammer the signs into the lawn around the school’s main entrance. Even Applebaum had laughed, and by three p.m., every sign was down, just as Applebaum had ordered.

It was a funny prank, on the immature side, but funny. Yesterday’s prank by the three computer geeks—high-jacking the school’s PA system and playing old Pink Floyd songs during fifth hour had been kind of funny, too. But Brad was over high school and over senior pranks. As for today’s prank, his parents would have yanked his keys to the Blazer in a minute if he had been one of seniors blocking the entrance to the junior parking lot with the cars. And joining the, supposedly, one hundred seniors who would simultaneously descend on the faculty parking lot with cans of shaving cream didn’t interest him, even if it was probably true that Applebaum couldn’t exclude a quarter of the class from graduation.

At the Belmar exit, a long line of cars and mustard-yellow school busses had the right-lane traffic nearly paralyzed. Two tow trucks hauling cars, passed by in the northbound lanes. Brad swerved left and sped to the next intersection, where he turned and drove to the less trafficked street leading directly to the senior parking lot. Not surprisingly, many of the usual vehicles were not in their assigned spots. He jumped out of the Blazer and hurried to first hour. He was so ready for it all to be over.

The administration yanked seniors from final exams most of the morning. At lunch, the talk was that Applebaum had called in the parents of Jeff Montrose, Dana Worthington and Clarissa Simpson. The parents were pissed with their kids and with the school for bills from the towing company and the fact that their kids wouldn’t walk. Brad ate fast and headed to the chemistry room.

“Eh! You’re early,” Mr. E said, looking up distractedly from his computer. “How’s my favorite student assistant?”

Brad smiled at the two-year-old joke. “You’re only student assistant is doing fine.”

Mr. E, wearing his white lab coat, rolled the chair back and crossed his arms behind his head. “Tell, me you weren’t involved in any of that nonsense this morning.”

Brad raised his arms, palms outward. “You know me better than that, Mr. E.”

“By the way, got any FOR SALE signs I can borrow?”

Brad gave a sheepish grin. “I do have something else for you.” He pulled an envelope from the zippered pocket of his backpack and held it out. “You’ve probably already got a ton of graduation parties to go to.”

Mr. E’s eyes lit up. “I guess you know you’ve been one of my all-time favorite students.”

“Thanks. I, um, wrote a note. Kind of a thank you for writing me the letter of recommendation. And for,” he gazed up toward the ceiling panel with a missing chunk. Freshman orientation might have been a million years ago, but the sound of the bottle exploding two years ago was still loud in his head. “Thanks for putting up with some of the stuff I did.”

Mr. E was already reading the letter. He finally looked up, blinking rapidly, and gave one of his crazy laughs that made everybody else laugh with him. “I can honestly say that I can’t recall anyone ever having had his life so changed by a suspension. When you turn twenty-one, invite me up to Boulder for one of your beers.”

“Sure thing,” Brad said with a nod. The bell rang and a herd of students came stampeding down the hall. “Meanwhile, I’ll have my dad slip you one of our brews to take home from the graduation party.”

Mr. E held out a knuckle to bump. “It’s been an honor to have you in my class and as my student assistant. You’ve got one hell of a future, Brad.”

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