The
Underachievers
CHAPTER
20
Bubble Gum Ben
My Dad was actually home for a weekend. We watched a baseball game together and I ran errands with him. Which was good for both of us. My sister Amelia got dumped by her doofus boyfriend Ty. She was mostly upset that he dumped her before she could dump him. She felt she was better than him and he was lucky to be with her. Now he was bragging to everyone that he dumped her. So she was totally moody. Plus she won’t get to go to senior prom as a junior Big deal! I have to admit we were all happy Ty would not be coming over anymore. Saturday evening was the best, hanging out at Sawyer’s house for a game night. I can’t wait for the next game night.
Here it is Sunday and I need to work on my art piece for the school art show. I finished making my templates. Dad let me get some really good quality spray paints and poster board. I numbered my templates. One by one I would line them up perfectly and spray paint over the template. When I’m done my art should look like a real poster. I’m pretty stoked about it.
I put down a drop sheet on the driveway and put my poster board in the center. I carefully lined up the first template and held it with a bit of masking tape. I grabbed the blue spray paint and shook it up really well. I tested it on a scrap piece of paper. Then I went over and sprayed over the first template as evenly as possible. When it looked good I carefully stepped away.
I sat on a lawn chair and started sketching in my book while the paint dried. I started to get that creepy feeling I get when someone is watching me. I looked up. Then someone right behind me said, “Hey, that’s pretty good.” I jumped out of my seat.
Felicity was standing there laughing. “I didn’t mean to scare you,” she said.
“I guess I was really concentrating on my sketch. I almost swallowed my gum,” I said.
“Don’t worry I know the Heimlich maneuver. I’d save you,” Felicity said.
“Oh.” I said. I actually wished I had choked on it now, as morbid as that sounds.
“What are you painting here?” She asked as she walked over to my poster board.
“That? It’s for an art show at my school. You could come if you want. You know if you like art.”
“Cool. What is it going to be?” Felicity asked.
“Well, that’s kind of a secret.”
“Okay, if you want to be that way,” she said.
“Oh no, it’s not that. I mean, I’m not that way. I just, I mean I could tell you.”
Felicity laughed again. “I’m just kidding, relax. I hope you show me when you’re done.”
“I will, for sure,” I said.
“Alright. Well I’m going to go see your sister for a bit. So, have fun.”
“I will, you too,” I said.
I sat back down. She wants to see my poster when it’s done, how cool is that! I realized I had dropped my pencil and looked for it. I found it under the chair.
Monday after school the detention gang stayed to make posters for the Mountain View Middle School first annual art show and raffle. It would be held the first week of June.
“Well here we are together again. It’s like a reunion. I’m glad you all haven’t been getting in trouble again though,” said Mr. Dan.
“Me too,” I said.
“Feel free to use paints or markers. Just make sure you keep the paint on the drop clothes.” Said Mr. Dan.
“Thanks Mr. Dan,” said Savannah.
We each chose some different color poster boards and got to work. I started with markers. I made large colorful block letters and art supplies around the border.
“Nice job guys,” said Principle Callahan. I hadn’t heard her walk over. “Is that gum in your mouth Ben?”
“Yeah. It’s not class or detention.”
“Spit it out,” Callahan said.
I went over and put my gum into the garbage.
“How many posters should we make?” Zoey asked Principal Callahan.
“As many as you like, just don’t go too crazy. In each hall would be nice, the entry way, the gym and cafeteria. You can put one in the office area too,” said Callahan.
“Okay, thanks,” Zoey said.
“Keep up the good work,” said Callahan. She walked back toward the office.
We spent an hour making some pretty cool signs, I think. Mr. Dan let us hang some of them up. The painted ones we let dry along a shelf in the janitor’s room.
“Hey Mr. Dan, what’s taken before you get it?”
“What?”
“Your picture! Get it?”
“Yes I do Ben,” Mr. Dan said.
“What stays on the ground but never gets dirty?”
“I give up?” Said Mr. Dan.
“A Shadow!”
“Okay, that’s a good one,” said Mr. Dan.
“How about this one. Why was your broom late to work?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” said Mr. Dan.
“It over swept!”
Mr. Dan laughed and told me to go home.
I walked out with Zoey. “How many jokes do you have in that head of yours anyway?” She asked.
“I got a million of ‘em! Ha-cha-cha-chaaaaaaa!” I said. “That would be funnier if you watched old shows with your grandfather.”
“You’re crazy Ben,” said Zoey.
“Thanks!”
Zoey laughed. She’s really pretty cool. I told her I was making a superhero poster for the art show. She thought it sounded really awesome. I love the fact that she likes comics.
“Are you two able to stay after this Friday to finish the posters?” Asked Savannah.
“I can,” I said.
“I’ll have to check but I’m pretty sure that’s fine,” said Zoey.
“It looks like Friday will work then,” said Tyler.
“I’m taking off, see you guys tomorrow,” said Braeden.
We said goodbye and he took off on his skateboard.
“I guess I should get walking,” I said.
“You don’t have a ride?” Asked Zoey.
“Nope,” I said.
“Hold on,” said Zoey. She ran over to a car. I’m guessing she was talking to her Mom. She waved me over. “Come on Ben! We can give you a ride home.”
I said goodbye to the others and went over to Zoey. “Are you sure you don’t mind?” I asked Zoey’s Mom. She said it was no trouble. I hopped in. I noticed Zoey’s Mom told her to sit up front. I was a little bummed but she did mention once that her Mom doesn’t want her dating or hanging out with boys. The ride was a little awkward but Zoey helped by talking to me about school. I thanked her Mom when she dropped me off.
“Was that your girlfriend?” Asked Amelia when I went inside.
“No,” I said.
“Mom is working late. We have to start dinner in about an hour,” said Amelia.
“Okay. I’m just going to go do my homework first,” I said.
“What? Who are you?”
“What are you talking about? I asked.
“Since when do you just agree to help with dinner and go do your homework voluntarily?”
“I don’t know. I’m trying to do better,” I said.
“Well I’m impressed,” said Amelia.
“Thanks.”
I was glad I had my homework done before I had to help start dinner. That way I had time to work on my art piece after dinner. It was going slowly because I want the paint to thoroughly dry after each template piece so there is no smearing or running of colors. My cousin came over for dinner. I told him all about my art piece for the show. We ended up playing video games until he left so I ran out of time to paint with another template. At least I have plenty of time before the art show.
My Dad told me he was really proud of me tonight. The way I have been focusing more, doing better in school, and not getting in trouble as much. That made me happy. I guess I have changed a little.
I drew a picture of the wise Raghnall, the three legged ant character I came up with, who is highly inspirational. I thanked him for all his great advice and drew a big trophy for him. He really has helped me out. I’m sure he will get me through a lot more in the next few years.
Wednesday wasn’t a very good day for me. I was late to school, got yelled at for running through the halls, and I somehow missed two assignments we were supposed to do last night! Just when you think things are going better a bad day comes along and messes everything up. Now I have twice as much homework tonight. I just can’t seem to focus today either. I really did try.
My Mom came home in a bad mood and got upset with me for not paying attention and missing two assignments. If she wasn’t so mad, I had the perfect line, “But I’m too poor to pay attention!” I didn’t dare say it though. I practically had to bite my tongue to keep from blurting it out. It feels like someone telling me not to breathe when I have a good joke or line I can’t say. When I am an adult I will never hold back a great line, no matter how mad someone is at me. Comedy should never be restrained.
By Friday things were a little better. At least I was caught up with work, I wasn’t late, but I did get caught chewing gum in science class. After school I got to help hang posters. Zoey couldn’t stay because her Dad was picking her up after school and wouldn’t wait an hour.
“Did we get all the halls?” Asked Savannah.
“I think so,” said Sawyer.
“Tyler and I put a few in the gym and the cafeteria,” said Braeden.
“I put the big one in the office,” I said.
“We need one in the entryway,” said Tyler.
“I think we should make some more posters. I can make some at home this weekend,” said Savannah.
“I can make a few.” I said.
“Cool,” said Savannah.
“Ben did you write a letter on why we should have art in school for Callahan?” Asked Savannah.
“Oh man! I forgot, sorry.”
“Ben, you can’t forget. You need to have that by next Tuesday,” said Savannah.
“I said I’m sorry, I’ll do it this weekend.”
“Just remember how important this is,” said Savannah. “See you all Monday.”
Tyler put his arm around my shoulders. “Don’t worry dude, I know you’ll get it done.”
“I hope I don’t forget. This hasn’t been my week.”
“I’ll text you and remind you,” said Tyler.
“If you forget, I’ll hold off Savannah on Monday and give you a good running head start,” said Braeden.
“Thanks,” I said.
Tyler slapped the top of the doorway as usual on the way out. I tried but missed by an inch.
“There’s my ride. See you guys Monday,” said Sawyer.
“Bye!”
Braeden’s brother pulled into the lot quickly causing the tires to screech. “Great. Just what I need. Catch ya later guys.”
Braeden hopped in to deafening music. Then his brother’s car peeled out.
“I hope we see that kid Monday,” said Tyler as he was slowly shaking his head back and forth.
“If that was my brother I’d skateboard home,” I said.
My mother pulled up. “You have a ride?”
“Yup, there’s my Dad now,” said Tyler. “Have a good one. I’ll be texting you.”
“Oh yeah, thanks. See ya,” I said and got into the car.
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