Down and Out in Bugtussle

Down and Out in Bugtussle by Stephanie McAfee Read Free Book Online

Book: Down and Out in Bugtussle by Stephanie McAfee Read Free Book Online
Authors: Stephanie McAfee
can’t have detention,” she says in a panic. “I have cheerleading practice and we’re getting ready for tryouts!”
    “Take it up with Mr. Byer,” I say. “I can buzz his office and tell him you’re on the way.”
    She takes a deep breath and looks at me like she wants to rip my face off. “Not necessary,” she hisses, then slams her books around until, low and behold, she’s working on today’s assignment.
    When the bell rings, I somehow refrain from screaming,
Oh thank you, Jesus!
at the top of my voice. I turn out the lights, lock the door, and then make my way through the students, none of whom seem to be in any hurry to get to their next class. Since I’m not exactly in a rush, either, I move along at their pace without saying a word.
    By the time I get to Chloe’s office, I have a laundry list of excuses and/or plans for the entire weekend. While I’m waiting for her to get off the phone, I text Lilly and tell her to pretend to go to the restroom and come up to Chloe’s office and help me get out of this. She shows up a few minutes later, but we are unsuccessful in our attempts to dissuade Chloe from the topic. Not that Lilly tried that hard.
    “Okay, well, if I’m going on another blind date for you, then you have to do something for me.”
    “The date is not for me, Ace. It’s for you,” Chloe says.
    “No, sister, it’s for you. Trust me.”
    “What then?”
    “You have to make sure I get my job back.”
    “Ace, I don’t have time to discuss this right now.” She looks at Lilly. “Is this your planning period?”
    “Uh, no,” Lilly says. “And I was just about to head back to class.”
    Chloe picks up a stack of papers. “Okay, I’ll see y’all later. I’ve got to get busy helping Mr. Byer finish evaluations so we can get his recommendations to the county office by the deadline this Friday.”
    “That’s it!” I say. “Have y’all evaluated Becker yet?”
    “You know I can’t discuss that,” Chloe says.
    “You haven’t, have you?” Lilly asks. “Because yesterday, y’all stopped with Mrs. Callon and Mr. Wendell, right?”
    “How do you know that?” Chloe snaps.
    “Teachers’ lounge. Duh.”
    “Please don’t use that word.”
    “Chloe, you could talk to Mr. Byer and very nicely suggest that the current art teacher not be recommended for renewal,” I say, glancing at Lilly who jumps onboard.
    “That would be too easy,” Lilly says. “Mr. Byer will do anything you suggest and he kind of owes you one because you’ve been saving his ass this whole entire year.”
    “Mr. Byer doesn’t owe me anything.”
    “Chloe, please,” I say. “I’m dying here. If I don’t get my job back, I’m gonna be screwed.”
    “But, Ace,” Chloe protests, “that would be nothing short of a blatant show of favoritism, and you despise small-town political shams, remember?”
    “You know, I really don’t so much anymore,” I say.
    “Ace Jones!”
    “C’mon, Chloe,” Lilly says quietly. “None of the students like Ms. Becker, and even the other teachers say she’s terrible. Sometimes I hear her yelling all the way down in my room. You would be doing the school a huge favor, and all you have to do is make a subtle suggestion. Then, bingo! Ace gets her job back.” Lilly winks at me. “You know she’s the better teacher.”
    “Be that as it may,” Chloe says, “maybe Ace shouldn’t have quit her job to begin with if it was so important to her.”
    “What?” I say, shocked by her snide tone. Lilly looks at me, eyes wide.
    Chloe shoves several files in her satchel and doesn’t look up. “Ace, I fixed you up with a very nice guy this past weekend and you weren’t interested. Nor do you seem very interested in meeting the perfectly nice guy I just mentioned. I told you about the job openings in psychology and you weren’t interested. Now you want me to blackball a first-year teacher and I’m not interested.” She looks at Lilly and then at me.

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