(This is a scene from I Can and I Will that did not find itself in the original book. It will probably end up in Finding Closure.)
A minute before the bell rang, Rob and Jay’s English teacher, Mr. Grossman, interrupted the class as they were gathering up their belongings so they could race for the door.
“Alright, listen up. You don’t have any homework for the weekend, so I’m giving you a chance to earn some extra credit. We’ve been looking at Haikus the past few days, so here’s the deal. If you’re able to come up with a Haiku that you can demonstrate, I’ll come up with ten extra credit points. Now, I don’t mean three random lines consisting of the five-seven-five syllable count, but a picture we can visualize in our minds.”
When the bell rang, Rob and Jay walked out the door, took their shortcut through the gym, and strolled out to the parking lot, gabbing away as always. It was Friday, and they were free for the weekend. Football season was over so there were no games, no practices, and best of all, no homework. It was one of those rare weekends where they had nothing to do but screw off the whole time and enjoy themselves. Their biggest concern for the afternoon was whether or not there’d be anything good to snack on when they got home. The extra credit assignment was never mentioned.
Saturday morning Mom Roberts got called in to work. She was a registered nurse for a pediatrician in private practice. However, there were times when there was an emergency of some kind or shortage at the hospital, so occasionally she got called into the pediatric emergency ward. That morning, the hospital had called and asked if she could come in and cover for a while—not all day, but maybe six hours at most. The boys would be on their own.
Jay looked over at his brother from the sports page he’d been absorbing—along with his second bowl of cereal. “Been thinking about the extra credit Haiku assignment. Got an idea.”
“Oh no, do I want to hear this? I don’t like the look on your face.”
“Rob, you’re sixty pounds heavier than I am. If I stiffen out my body, do you think you could lift me over your head and strut across the room bellowing out a Haiku?”
“I could grab you by the belt and lift your scrawny butt off the floor one handed. Of course I could hold you over my head,” Rob smirked.
“While Mom’s not here, so maybe we can practice it a little and see if we can make it work. Not sure which way would be easier, if you picked me up at the waist or by the hips. We’ll have to experiment.”
Monday, on their way down the hall to lunch, Rob nudged Jay with his elbow. “Want to practice one last time before we pull this baby off for Grossman seventh hour?”
“Right here in front of the whole school?”
“Yeah, it’d be a riot. C’mon over here by the wall where I can get a good grip.”
So they did. Standing erect, Jay made his body as rigid as possible while Rob leaned down, wrapped his hands around Jay’s waist and hoisted him above his head. As soon as they were steady and perfectly balanced, Rob began strutting down the hallways, yelling loud enough so anyone within fifty feet of them could hear.
Hey! We’re coming through.
Move your butts out of our way.
We’ve got lunch to do.
Standing at the end of the hall by the office windows and at the far corner of the lunch room was Mr. Martin, the boy’s counselor, along with the school’s security officer.
Hearing Rob’s roar and all of the laughter from down the hall caught both of their attentions. Looking up to see what was going on, they saw a problem headed their way.
“Oh, no. What are those two dingbats up to now? C’mon, Sarge, we’ve gotta stop this before somebody gets hurt.”
The two officials stormed down the hall towards Rob and Jay.
“Rob, put him down, now! And be careful!” Martin yelled as he approached the boys.
“Where’s the trashcan?” Rob asked.
“Quit acting like an idiot and set him down, and don’t drop him! If he falls from there and lands on his head, you could kill him.”
“Oh, c’mon, Mr. Martin, I’m not going to drop him. We’ve practiced this dozens of times.”
Standing perfectly still, he tilted his head upwards. “Ready?”
“Ready,” said Jay.
Rob lowered his brother to his right shoulder and paused. Then he wrapped his arm around Jay’s waist and paused again.
When he knew he had a solid grip around Jay’s body, he asked one more time. “Ready?”
Rob dropped down to one knee, bending at the waist. Jay touched down on both feet at the same time. As soon as Rob knew he was upright and steady, he let go.
Jay looked up and smirked. “Oops, busted. Rob, this is the police officer who gave me my driver’s test when I got my license. Officer, this is my big brother I told you about, Rob.”
The two nodded at each other, and then the sergeant looked at Jay. “And, here I thought you were sane.”
Rob nudged Jay and whispered aloud, “By sane, does he mean ‘out’ or ‘in’?”
Jay whispered back, “Out, I’m sure.”
Mr. Martin was not amused. “Don’t you two clowns ever pull a stunt like that again. If you’d dropped him on this marble flooring, you could have maimed him for life, if not worse.”
“I had a good grip on him, so I wouldn’t have dropped him. We’ve been practicing this all weekend. We know what we’re doing,” Rob said.
“With that mob racing down the hall for lunch, what if somebody had accidentally bumped into you and you’d lost your balance? Then what?” The police officer asked.
“Hadn’t thought of that,” Rob said.
“And, what does Mrs. Roberts think of this brilliant stunt?” Asked Mr. Martin.
Both boys blanched and looked at each other. Finally, Jay answered sheepishly. “She doesn’t know a thing about it, and we’re not telling her.”
Martin, shook his head slowly before speaking. “I’m giving you boys two choices. You can bring me a note tomorrow morning before school starts in her handwriting and signed indicating you have told her the entire story, or I will call her myself during first hour. Got it?”
“Yes, sir!” both boys said in unison.
“Now, get yourselves to lunch while there’s still something to eat besides soda crackers and cottage cheese. And, boys, NEVER again. I mean it.”
Jay and Rob turned and raced to the rear of the lunch line, hoping there was something left to eat.
As could be expected, by the time they boys walked into seventh hour, everyone in school had heard about the caper—including their English teacher, Mr. Grossman.
After taking roll, their teacher innocently looked around the room before speaking.
“Let’s get the class started today with our extra credit assignments. Those of you who did it, hold ‘um up in the air, and I’ll come around and pick them up.”
He walked around the class and collected Haikus from maybe half a dozen kids. Neither Jay nor Rob even looked up as he walked past them.
When he returned to the front of the class, he slipped the sheets of paper into the in-basket on his desk, turned, and looked back and forth between Jay and Rob. “What gives? I’ve heard rumors that the two of you have a very demonstrable Haiku, yet you didn’t hand in your written copies? Why?”
Rob, unable to suppress his grin, answered, “Because we wanted to demonstrate it, and Mr. Martin threatened us with our lives if we ever did it again.”
“Now, if I’ve heard the story correctly, I think he was talking about the marble like hallways. My classroom floor is wood, so if Jay falls, it might only knock some sense into him.”
“I wouldn’t drop him. We’ve practiced it too many times. Like I told Mr. Martin, we know what we’re doing.”
“Okay,” Mr. Grossman said. “Come up here by me and show us your Haiku.”
So, the two of them stood, walked to the front, and demonstrated their poetic masterpiece, complete with the—only, not quite so loudly that time—oral version as Rob strutted across the room, much to the delight of their classmates. When they finished, Rob and Jay again went through their dismount routine, which, once again, went perfectly.
“So, during your practice sessions, did you try different ways of doing it?” Grossman asked.
“Mostly, it was just where I hold on to him,” Rob said. “When I grab him around the waist, it pinches him a bit. Yet, when I lift him from Maddie’s petting zone, it’s more comfortable for him, but his balance isn’t quite as good. So, we’ve stuck to the waist lift.”
Mr. Grossman looked back and forth between the two boys. “Do I even dare ask about Maddie’s petting zone?”
“No!” Jay said jerking his head towards his brother, shaking his head.
“Oh, why not,” Rob said. “When he and Madelyn are dancing to some slow song, instead of wrapping her arms around his neck, she slips her hands into his back pockets. She claims the petting movement we see is her keeping time to the music. Now, if you believe that line, let me tell you about an investment proposal I’d like to talk to you about.”
“I’ll pass on that wonderful opportunity,” Grossman said, smiling.
“Um, by the way, I might have another Haiku to describe the ‘ petting zone’ scenario, if, that is, I can get another ten points extra credit,” Rob said.
“What?” Jay said. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m in,” Grossman said. “Let’s hear it.”
Swaying to the song
sneaky hands slide down his back
The dude’s ‘heart’ goes bong!