Quadruple double-dog dare
The first time I spied Slam I nearly gagged to death on my persimmon. That thick pulpy jelly and that waxy shell just spewed right out of my mouth. At the same time as my near death experience, a seedy shot-gun blast mysteriously appeared on the right cheek of Ms. Alderberry – Cherry Hill’s own Commandant Vice-Principal. The gooey mess crawled down her face like a slug and plopped on the front of her snow-white blouse.
It might not have been so bad if she hadn’t been trying to impress Mr. Adkins with her basketball skills. He had enough girls in his Phys Ed classes trying to impress him without someone the age of my mother hitting on him. I knew immediately, by that death ray coming from the Commandant’s eyes that I’d have to think of something good to explain why I was going back to the office for the fourth time in a week. I couldn’t.
There out to be a law against people like Slam. Slam showed up that first day at Cherry Hills looking like his mom had dressed him from a catalogue. Black Levis, Crocs without socks, red turtleneck and dark as mid-night knit vest. When he carried that Designer Label back-pack through the front gate and started a wave of motion through his blond curls with a flick of his chin I almost lost it. Every girl within seeing distance was frozen like a statue. That’s when I gagged.
I take every bit of credit for saving Slam from himself. When I met Slam the day I got back from my suspension he’d never licked a flag pole in the dead of winter before. He’d never given his cat any fun in his clothes dryer. He’d never sucked in helium and tried to sing the national anthem in front of the whole school auditorium. But Turk had done it all. And I introduced Turk to Slam. And Turk introduced Slam to Truth-or-dare.
By the end of the first week we knew Slam was really an orphan who’d been sucked up by some millionaire wannabees who had just moved from New York to take over the bank. He had two younger sisters who were also adopted from Africa or China or somewhere. This was his first chance in a public school and he hadn’t made any friends yet.
Turk found out Slam had never played Marines before and dared him to get a crew-cut to show his loyalty to America. He squealed like a stuck pig when I used the scissors in the Art room to lose those curls. He’d make a lousy POW. He told everything before school was even out. I’m beginning to not like the home end results of these suspensions.
I was the one who invited Slam to soccer practice. The Wolverines are the greatest team this side of the Mississippi and I thought a blond New Yorker ought to see how the game was really played. Turns out Slam had already played. So I dared him to do a bicycle kick and score upside down. He was getting good at this. To my credit, I did visit him in the hospital after practice when he got the cast on his right arm.
For some reason, Slam’s adopted parents and the Commandant had a pow-wow and decided that Slam needed new friends. Turk and I didn’t get to see Slam for almost a month. It was almost by accident that we spotted him at the drinking fountain outside the library. He saw us coming and started to walk away then stopped and turned around.
The Commandant was nowhere in sight. Slam just came right out and said it. “Turk, I dare you …I double dare you … I triple dare you … I quadruple double-dog dare you to meet me at Lizzy’s house right after school.”
We knew right away we were dealing with a different class of trouble here. No one in these parts had ever raised the bar to a quadruple double-dog dare before. Turk had no choice. It was Lizzy’s or total humiliation. I had to go with him just to see what would happen.
There must have been twenty kids already in the yard when we arrived. It felt like that persimmon was back stuck in my throat. We went in. A marine from Iraq was sitting on the stairs talking about the war and talking about Jesus. Slam’s dare ended up changing my forever.
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