Wow, was this a tight fit. You know when you see the spy crawling through the air-conditioning ducts in the movies the space they’re in looks big enough to fit a polar bear, well it isn’t.
I’m a very skinny guy, I’m five foot ten and weigh one hundred twenty pounds and I could hardly wiggle through the duct.
I’d been planning this for the last three weeks and now I was here, actually here.
I’d gotten into the A\C duct from the roof where I’d stayed since school closed this afternoon. Now I was working my way down the two floors of my high school to the vents over the lobby.
I started to think about all the research I’d done before I actually climbed the stairs to the roof and made myself as comfortable as I could while I waited for everyone to leave and go home.
I’d learned in my research there was no one in the building at all after 5:30 every Thursday evening, so I had set about waiting for the two hours since the end of my last class.
Other information I’d gathered was the configuration of the vents. The school was cooled by air going through these vents and they actually were constructed in a spiral that gradually descended from the roof air conditioning unit down to the basement. There were vents all along the path and there were four in the lobby, one on each wall. I was headed for the first one along the duct route.
It was a long and miserable journey, but the result was going to be worth it.
The football team had won the State Championship, the first time in the history of the school and the members of the team had tormented me and made my life a living hell ever since I met them in my class in middle school. All twenty-two guys on the team had played football together since that time. They not only wouldn’t let me fill some simple non-physical post like score keeper or water boy, they wouldn’t let me in to watch them practice.
When I’d try, the coach would tell me that I upset the team’s morale.
How the hell did I upset their morale? I wasn’t nasty, I didn’t scream or cry and I wasn’t some kind of monster. On the contrary, I was simply a very skinny kid who wasn’t very strong or fast. So what was so bad about me that “…I upset the team’s morale”?
My father, a real live rocket scientist who worked for NASA, said it was probably the fact that I had straight ‘A’ grades from the same time they started playing ball together. I also had been offered full scholarships to each of the eight Ivy League Universities.
But so what, they all had football scholarships to universities all over the country.
In response, my father said they only had the experience of success in this, their senior year, while I had straight ‘A’s since the sixth grade and had won a total of over one hundred thousand bucks in science awards.
I never flaunted it which is more than I can say about their varsity letters and their dates with cheerleaders.
There was to be a big rally and celebration tomorrow, Friday, to anoint the Golden 22 as they were referred to. The State Championship trophy was on a table in the center of the lobby and group pictures were to be taken of everyone in front of or behind the trophy. Afterwards there was to be a dinner and a dance where the Golden 22 would pursue, probably successfully, the twenty-two cheerleaders.
Local Radio, TV and Newspaper people were to attend.
I had been told by the coach and the principal that I was not welcome at the rally because… you got it “…I upset the team’s morale”.
My father had called the school to inquire what was meant by, “upsetting the team’s morale”, and he was told by the Principal that the football players complained I bullied them.
My father, usually the epitome of calm and cool, lost it and screamed at the Principal, “My hundred and twenty pound skinny son is guilty of bullying what is probably close to two tons of football players? Are you and the coach out of your minds?”
The Principal’s response was “Intellectual bullying, Mr. Carson, Intellectual bullying!”
“But he doesn’t talk to them and they don’t talk to him, except to call him names and insult him. Even then, he doesn’t answer, for fear of getting beat to a pulp. How is my son, Doug, guilty of bullying in that scenario?”
“That’s just it, Mr. Carson, he doesn’t think them important enough to respond to so they feel intellectually bullied. That’s our final decision, Mr. Carson. Please make sure Douglas stays at home the evening of the rally, dinner and dance. Goodbye.”
…and all of this is what I was thinking of as I twisted and squeezed my way down the spiraling duct work toward the lobby.
My goal was simple. Drop into the lobby from the first vent I encountered, walk over to the table where the State Championship trophy was enshrined, take it and walk out the side door and home. The doors all opened to exit even though locked from entering the building.
I was at the vent and kicked the cover plate onto the lobby floor. It made a God awful crash, but I knew the building was empty.
I squeezed through the opening, hung by my hands and dropped to the floor below. I stepped on a chair, replaced the vent cover, got down and headed for the trophy.
“Doug, get up.”
I was in that half state between sleep and waking and I couldn’t figure out if that was my Mom calling to me or I was unconscious after my burglary adventure and it was some police woman.
The voice continued, “You may not be going to the rally after school, but you are going to school. You haven’t missed a day since the sixth grade; this is not the time to start.”
It was my Mom.
Had the whole thing been a dream, a fantasy of revenge for eight years of abuse or had I done the deed and gotten back home into my safe, warm bed?
I started to look around the room for the trophy I thought I’d stolen. Nowhere!
“Mom that was some deep sleep. When did I come up to bed last night?”
“I got home about 6:30 and you were snoozing on the sofa in front of the TV. You ate dinner, and went to bed about 8:30. You must have been exhausted.”
“I guess so, Mom. I’ll get dressed and be down in ten minutes.”
I quickly looked everywhere, in my room and throughout the house and garage, no sign of the trophy.
So the whole thing had been a dream. No master burglar creeping through air ducts. No elaborate plan. No stolen trophy to put a dark cloud over the rally and celebration.
I was just the same old Doug, skinny nerd who fantasizes ‘getting even’, but never does anything.
It was all, nothing more than a dream!
“Ssshhh”, said my mother as I walked into the kitchen, “there’s news about the rally on the TV.”
The pretty blonde anchor on the local news station was going on, “…and so it appears evident that someone took the coveted State Football Championship trophy, long sought by our own Central High and won by the Golden 22 for the first time in history this year. The Sheriff has given us information that indicates the trophy was stolen before the school was locked up since there is no evidence of a break in. There are no suspects.
“Well, this certainly puts a cloud over the festivities planned for later today at Central, not to mention anything about the furor that will be raised over the missing sixty year old trophy that goes each year to the winner of that year’s championship.
“Now, on to the weather…”
My God, it wasn’t a dream! The whole thing must have taken place. I must have gotten my revenge; I must have taken the ‘coveted State Championship trophy’.
OK… Then where is it?