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Room 42
Room 42
Room 42
Ebook188 pages2 hours

Room 42

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Only four months left, then Dave Martinez is a free man.

Dave is an eighth-grader at Lakeville Boarding School, the school for boys with unexplored potential (aka losers). If he can control his impulse to steal, he can return home and attend regular public school. If he doesn't, he will be sent to Birmingham High, the worst high school on the planet, and his life will be doomed forever. For just a few more months, he needs to stay out of trouble and keep a low profile. And he's pretty good at that.

Then Dave gets a new roommate, Tom Grant. Tom is allergic to boring and doesn't know how to listen to rules. His wild plans involve all of his roommates, especially Dave. They're dragged along with Tom as he hunts animals (and teachers in pajamas), goes sledding on cafeteria trays, and drives bulldozers through the night. Dave's chances of keeping a low profile are going down the drain.

Release dateApr 16, 2016
Room 42
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    Room 42 - Melody J. Bremen


    Room 42

    Melody J. Bremen

    Copyright © 2016 Melody J. Bremen

    All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

    This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Except for the part about the stolen bulldozer. That’s based on a true story. ;)

    Printed in the United States of America.


    To my school buddies

    Chapter 1

    Tuesday didn’t start out as a good day. It started out as bad as any other.

    I woke up and looked at the scabby drop ceiling. It looked grayer than yesterday. I rolled onto my side and squinted at my calendar. January 29th. Only half a year left before freedom. That meant half a year until I could leave Lakeville Boarding School and go back home. No more living in a dorm, no more weird teachers. I could go to the public high school in my neighborhood like a normal kid. I’d be back with my family, where I belonged.

    But for now, I was at Lakeville Boarding School for Boys with Unexplored Potential, a school that helped boys who could benefit from a little extra attention and special programs suited to their needs. We weren’t good enough for regular public school and not bad enough for juvie hall. Basically, we were losers.

    Jed was still sleeping, a lumpy bump in the bed next to mine. I jumped down from the top bunk. IQ was asleep in the bed beneath mine. And Luke, the early bird, had gone to get the worm. Four boys in our room. Four boys, five beds. The bed under Jed’s once belonged to Harry Brinken, but he disappeared one day. No one told us why. Luke figured he exploded or something, but I heard they sent him back home because he was too normal for Lakeville Boarding School. Lucky kid.

    I found a t-shirt and a pair of jeans on the floor and I put them on. They fit, so they had to be mine. I shoved a hand through my hair to straighten it and shuffled downstairs to another day.

    The cafeteria was always kind of quiet during breakfast, probably because no one was fully awake until lunchtime. Bull Atkin’s voice was loud enough for everyone to hear when he came up to me and said, Got any cash?

    I glanced around, but there were no teachers or cafeteria ladies around. Bull was stupid, but he wasn’t stupid stupid. No, I said in a pale, little voice.

    Empty your pockets.

    I’ve heard those words plenty of times. I didn’t want to empty my pockets, not here, not ever. Everyone was looking and I could feel my ears getting hot.

    Um. Why couldn’t he just leave me alone?

    Bull put his flat face right over me. You heard me, Martinez.

    Of course, I heard him. Everyone could hear him. I dug down into my pocket. All eyes were on me, waiting to see what would come out of there. They were probably waiting to spot something that belonged to them. I began to sweat. Bull was standing way too close. I felt my way past all kinds of junk. My finger touched something cool and smooth. A coin. I guess I had cash after all.

    I managed to dig up three quarters for Bull. I held them out to him, hoping he wouldn’t ask for more. He just grabbed the coins and shouldered past me to join CJ Seeley and his other henchmen at their table.

    I sank into a seat at an empty table, far away from them. The milk smelled bad, as usual, so I ate my cheerios dry. Luke came over and sat down across from me. He happily overflowed his bowl with cereal and milk. He was the youngest in Room 42, at eight years old, and was a sparkly kind of kid with curly blonde hair and blue eyes the size of the earth. All the staff went nuts over him, no matter what he said. He told the school psychologist that her perfume stinks and she just laughed and told all the teachers how adorable he was.

    The milk is spoiled, I said.

    I like it. He ate two spoonfuls and threw up.

    That was breakfast.

    The day didn’t get any better. It never did. Math and science crawled by. I sat with my head down low and doodled. Mostly I doodled clocks, as if that would help the clock on the wall move faster. I was so bored. Sometimes I thought the school’s goal was to bore us into obedience. In the seat in front of me, Jed snored away. He only snored in class, never at night. I wondered if he was trying to make a point.

    I sat in the back, sunk down in my chair, hoping that no one would look at me. My goal was to get to graduation without anyone noticing me. In Lakeville Boarding School, everyone started out each month with a certain amount of points. If you misbehaved, they took away some of your points. If you were super-duper good, they awarded extra points.

    If you graduated with enough points on your record, you could go to a normal high school, back in your hometown, like a regular kid. But if you didn’t, you went to Birmingham High, half an hour away from Lakeville. Everyone knew that Birmingham High was ten times worse than Lakeville Boarding School. Some of the students there ended up in prison. I promised my grandmother that I wouldn’t end up in Birmingham. She said if I kept my promise, she would sell all her jewelry to help me pay for college. I owed it to her. She basically brought me up since my mom was busy with work and was hardly ever home.

    Even if I hadn’t made that promise, I would still want to go home. I missed my parents, our skinny little house, and I even missed my siblings. I was nine years old when I first came to Lakeville. I came because… well, I had a problem. A stealing problem. I didn’t even realize it then. I just knew I found things in my pockets, and that I wanted to go home. I cried every day. I learned to stop crying because Bull Atkins made fun of me.

    So here I was at Lakeville Boring School, somehow surviving class after endless class. Only half a year left.

    Mr. Turks taught math. He liked math more than anyone in the classroom, which didn’t say much. Sometimes I thought he liked math more than anyone in the entire world. He got excited about numbers.

    Boys, look at this! He jabbed his finger at the algebra example on the board and beamed at us. Isn’t it amazing how it all fits together?

    No one looked at the board to be amazed at how it all fit together.

    Who wants to volunteer to solve the next example? He looked at each of us with a huge smile and round eyes. He had bigger eyeballs than anyone I’d ever seen.

    I drew another clock. Bored, bored, bored. But being bored was part of it. I figured out that the kids who got noticed usually lost points, and that’s why I tried to keep quiet and not move much. I was almost through the system. Just a few more months of being bored and I would be free.

    Mr. Phillps taught science. He was a flabby, flappy person who waddled when he walked and spat when he spoke. Mostly, he read to us out of a science textbook. The rumor was that, way back in the past, he used to do experiments with the class, but one of the experiments exploded too close and he lost part of his hair and most of his hearing. No experiments for us.

    Math and science were painfully slow, but Spanish was worse. I knew how to speak Spanish – it was the language my family spoke. But no one else in my class spoke Spanish, so we learned to say things like, The sky is blue. We had to say it over and over again until I got to wishing that the sky changed colors so we could say it was green for a change.

    I remembered that we had a homework assignment for English class when Mrs. Bisby walked in. Mrs. Bisby looked like a bookcase in a suit. She was so wide and tall, even Bull Atkin was afraid of her. She smelled like a bookcase, too – old and crinkly and full of dust. She liked orderliness, grammar, and silence. She had assigned the homework five days ago. I was so dead.

    IQ, I whispered. My heart was banging so hard, I was sure Mrs. Bisby would hear it and order me to be silent.

    IQ sat next to me. He ended up in Lakeville after he pretty much blew up a building with his chemistry experiment. He was so smart, he was in the eighth grade even though he had just turned ten. I heard that he had been accepted to college, but his parents wanted him to have friends who were close to his age. I didn’t think he had any friends. I sometimes wondered if there was a point to him being here.

    He looked at me, a little blankly. His glasses were wider than his face and he didn’t have much shoulders. We had been roommates for three years and I wasn’t sure if he knew my name.

    Can you show me your assignment? I asked.

    He passed it to me and my heart dropped. Maybe I could’ve copied one page, but IQ’s assignment was eleven pages of cramped handwriting. I passed it back to him.

    Never mind.

    Mrs. Bisby gave me detention when she found out that I hadn’t done the homework. I sank down in my chair. Detention meant I would lose points. I would be super careful from now until the end of the year so I wouldn’t lose any more.

    Mrs. Bisby. Scott Connelly raised his hand. Scott had a wheedling voice that made you want to conk him over the head with a frying pan. Mrs. Bisby, my calculator is gone.

    Young man, you do not need a calculator for my lesson. She said it with a sneer, like he was dumb. That was how she talked, like we all had puny, dumb brains.

    It was on my desk, right here in this spot, and now it’s gone. Scott was the kind of kid who freaked out if he found his toothbrush a centimeter away from where he left it.

    Mrs. Bisby frowned at him. This wasn’t personal, she frowned at everyone. Then she turned that frown on me. Dave, come to the front of the classroom immediately.

    Oh, boy. So much for being careful. I slunk up there. I could feel myself shrinking as I got closer to the front of the classroom.

    Empty your pockets.

    There was no wriggling out of this one. I dug into my pockets and emptied it all on the table. A pencil sharpener, car keys, packs of gum, an eraser, nail clippers, a keychain, a sucking candy, all kinds of things. In the middle of the pile was Scott’s calculator. I didn’t look at anyone. I studied my sneakers. I didn’t want to take it, but how could I explain that to rest of the world?

    Young man, you know not to take things that are not your property, do you not? Mrs. Bisby’s voice was sharp enough to burn the skin off your bones. It seems you don’t. Step outside the classroom at once and wait for me. I have a number of words for you. Stand just outside the door. No loitering near the water fountain.

    I could feel Scott’s gaze burning a hole in my head as I left the room. I felt bad for taking his calculator, especially since he got so worked up about these things. I just couldn’t help it. The worst part was that Mrs. Bisby was going to report this to the school psychologist and then I would lose points this month. I stared down at my hands. They looked like regular hands. Why couldn’t I make them do what I wanted? No one else had this problem. Why me?

    I looked up and down the hallway. Mr. McLean, the principal, stood just outside his office, looking at a pile of papers. Yikes. I turned in the opposite direction and put a little distance between him and me. Mr. McLean was a nice guy, so nice that when he talked to you, he made you feel guilty about all the bad things you ever did, like you disappointed him in the worst way possible. If you asked me, I thought he was too nice to be a principal.

    I pushed open the heavy front doors of the building and sat down on the front steps. The ground in

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