Most everybody likes me. Mom tells me one day I might be President. I think the best thing about being President is that you can fly in helicopters and tell the pilot where to go. I have lots of friends. Billy is one of my friends. He likes to hang out with me. Mom told me Billy looks up to me. I don’t know what she means, we’re the same size.
When I caught up to Billy, he says, “Wuz up?”
I pull him aside and turn him toward the wall lockers. I whisper, “Promise me, Billy. If I show you something you swear you will not tell anyone.”
“I promise, what is it, Vinnie?” asks Billy. He was so excited like I was going to give away a something top secret. It this case, it was top secret.
Mom’s always telling me to think before I act. She says if I think before I act, I’ll stay out of trouble. She told me more than one, “Vincent, one day you will listen to your Mom.”
This wasn’t one of those days. I didn’t follow Mom’s advice. I made two big mistakes. The first mistake was deciding to show my drawing to Billy. The second mistake was I forgot to make him promise on the life of his Mom’s toy poodle. If he broke the promise, his Mom’s toy poodle would die and he would have fourteen years of bad luck.
I open my homework folder far enough to show Billy my drawing of Dr. Crossman. Billy says, “Is that a horse?”
I say, “Sort of. Read the name above the horse.”
Billy smiles really, really big. He says, “That’s so cool. It really looks like her. She is so ugly. What are you going to do with it?”
I answer, “When I walk by her office I’m going to drop it on the floor. By the time anybody finds it, I’ll be home.”
“Can I do it? Please let me drop it. I never did anything like this before, Vinnie. Please let me,” begged Billy.
I like Billy. He never argues with me. He always wants to be on my team when the guys on the street play football or basketball. He’s not any good, but I always pick him. I say, “Sure. Be careful. You can’t let anyone see you drop it. As soon as you drop it, don’t turn around, go out the door. We’ll talk on the playground.”
Before I take the drawing out of my homework folder, I look around. Most of the kids are out of the building. Who wants to hang around school, right? The corridor is clear, I pull out the drawing and hand it to Billy. Billy holds it up for a second and says, “I wish I could draw as good as you. I bet you will be famous someday.”
I smile. I didn’t want to say I agreed with him, because that would be bragging, but he’s right, I’ll be famous some day.
I warn Billy, “Walk slowly, Billy. Let the drawing slip out of your hand as you pass the door. Keep on walking. Don’t turn around for nothing, promise.”
“I promise. Cross my heart,” said Billy. He was always superstitious about saying the last part, ‘hope to die.’
Dr. Crossman’s office is about twenty feet away from where we were standing. I stay where I am. I want to see who picks up the drawing after Billy drops it. Billy walks down the hallway. He’s active very cool, for Billy. I don’t know why, but he is smiling like he is the happiest kid in the world. He puts the drawing in his right hand, the hand closest to the office door, and swings his arms as he gets closer to the door. He is doing as good a job as I would have done. As he walks past the office door, he lets go of the paper and keeps walking. I watch the paper float to the ground and skid right in front of the office door. Perfect landing.
Unluckily, at that moment, Dr. Crossman comes out of the office. She sees the paper on the floor. The drawing is facing the floor. That is a good thing. She looks down the hall at me and I wave at her. She waves at me. She looks up the hall and sees Billy.
Dr. Crossman calls, “Billy. Billy, did you drop a homework paper?”
Billy turns around and I think he is going to have a heart attack. He should say no and keep on walking. But, Billy is Billy.
Billy says, “I’ll get it, Dr. Crossman.” His voice squeaks like a clarinet with a bad reed. I know this sound, because Mom makes me take clarinet lessons. I want to take drum lessons, but she says no.
Dr. Crossman bends over and picks up the paper. She smiles at Billy as she hands him the paper. My drawing is facing her. She sees and pulls the paper away from Billy. From twenty feet away, I can see red blotches on her face. “William Johnson, in my office,” says Dr. Crossman pointing to the office door.
The last words I hear Billy saying are, “I didn’t draw it. I was forced to drop it in front of your door.”