I glanced at Nick and his wide eyes glanced back. This thing had escalated out of control. Mrs. E stood over the desk with paddle in hand, Mr. E, our principal, held a clipboard overhead, and Mr. G, our custodian, had the presence to bring a rake.

Then the sound again, something was in the top drawer. How do you conquer a snake out of a top drawer?

“Who knows something about this?” said Mr. E nearly spitting out the words. Now earlier in the prank, Nick and I would have taken credit for it, but with E, E, and G all carrying, we decided to deal ourselves out of this hand.

It started out so harmlessly. Nick and Frank found a magpie with a broken wing. The three of us needed a plan to use this discovery to our benefit. Scare the girls, no . Spiders and such are used to scare girls. It is written that it is so. Now, Mrs. E is a great one to conflict upon. With no one in her room at lunch, we deposited our little black and white beauty in the top drawer of her desk.

After lunch, Mrs. E standing behind her desk heard a crawling, scraping noise in her desk. She jumped back. She heard it again. This is where the plan took off on it’s own.

“Maybe it’s a snake,” said one of the girls in the back. That thought immediately went from maybe to ‘there is a snake in the desk’.

Mrs. E. called for reinforcements and here we are.

Now another scaley scrape, all three weaponized adults jumped back.

“Steve, what do you know about this snake?”.

“I don’t know anything about a snake in there,” I said. Now if I had been asked whether I knew how a magpie had found it’s way into the desk, I might have known something about that.

Mr.G. pulled out the drawer a tad, there was flapping, exposing black and white feathers. He pulled out further and captured the frightened bird. Being a nice guy, he let all the kids look and pet. To our surprise, Mr. and Mrs. E., thankful that the snake incident was over, got lost in the pretty magpie thing and didn’t pursue any further line of questioning.

After school sitting quietly behind the school, Nick, Frank, and I took sideways peeks at one another, then broke in laughter. The closer it is to disaster, the more fun it is…

Several years later

The noon hour was about to expire. The wide hallways were noisy with chattering groups of teenagers and movement to and fro. Perhaps the hallway was a little more crowded than normal, but the tempo of the day seemed good, my hall duty with it. The principal and I were talking NFL when the bell rang.

I turned and began moving to my chemistry room. “Come on guys, let’s go.”. The groups weren’t moving and not talking either. “Class time, don’t be late.”.

I turned around to see the commons area completely still and absolutely quiet. The whole student body was frozen in place, no smirks, no nothing. I looked through the crowd to see the principal hold up his hands in a ‘you got me’ sort of gesture. Knowing somehow, we had been had, we joined in playfully trying to move arms that were now stiff and rigid, looking into faces that were expressionless with noncommitment.

Then the bell, and the statues came undone and the students moved along and spoke like nothing ever happened. They didn’t look back to see our reaction. It was a flash mob, no a freeze mob. Some how, every student was in on it, football players, nerds, special kids, all.

In all my years, I have never seen such complete unity and total effort in a student body.Later, I found out my grandson and two of his compadres had orchestrated the whole event, must run in families.

More years later

The homecoming bonfire was playing it’s last notes and the cheerleaders silhouetted against the bonfire glow were about cheered out. Bonfire night was undirected  and unscripted, the glow of the fire extended to the full acre of kids milling about and having joyous fun and socializing. The SRO (school resource officer) had removed and arrested a drunk non-student and was away. There were still two of us monitoring  the event.

Having been the school’s eyes hundreds of times, I scanned the crowds over, looking for something unusual. The crowd often gives direction to these different events by looking and/or walking toward it in unison. Tonight was one of those nights.

I began to notice kids looking to the far corner of the lot. Several girls were excitedly running that way. I saw a crowd forming and a tide of students moving that way. I radioed the other ass’t principal and we were both on the run. The sounds made the prospect of a fight the best guess. When I started moving students out of my way, the yells of battle grew louder and more violent.

I broke into the center of action expecting a brawl. Instead were two boys wearing headlamps seated across from each other pretending to play chess.

The students roared with delight, the prank was a awesome success. The two chess players continued to role-play as we stood pranked. On our way out of the crowded mass of students, The students playfully laughed and patted us on the back.

Although I wasn’t there, I am sure that after everyone was gone, the two chess players stole glances at each other and broke into laughter…

Some of the best times of our lives…








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