This is an excerpt from Chapter Five of my middle grade novel, “Smivey Stepward in Love and Other Misery.” Author: Dale Parsons, all rights reserved.
This is the day of the week Smivey dreads. Fourth hour Band is replaced by Gym class. He would rather play his clarinet all day long, which he never wants to do, compared to playing dodge ball, which is what Mr. Gorschanski said they were going to play today.
“Let’s go! Let’s go!” Mr. Gorschanski shouts as the boys hurry into the locker room. “Get dressed and get out on the floor! Let’s go, men!”
Mr. Gorschanski is a tall man with lots of muscles. His short sleeves are tight on his arms and his chest muscles stick out. Someone said he can make his chest muscles bounce up and down but no one has seen him do it. It’s probably a lie. His short haircut makes him look mean. He is the varsity football coach at the high school and he treats all of the junior high boys like his players.
“Fulkins, don’t you leave this locker room without tying those shoes!” Mr. G, as most students call him, yells in a booming voice.
The boys all have to wear identical white shorts and t-shirts with the name of the school printed on them in red letters. The shorts and t-shirts wouldn’t be bad if the gym wasn’t freezing cold.
“All right, men, get warmed up! Jumping jacks first! Ready, set, one, two, one, two…” Mr. G’s voice thunders through the gym. “Fifteen squat-thrusts! Let’s go! Let’s go!” he shouts.
“I hate doing these” Larry said to Smivey.
“Me too” he answered, trying not to say it too loudly.
“Fifteen push-ups, let’s go! Down! Down! All the way down!” Mr. G orders as he walks through the rows of boys.
“Okay, men, three laps around the gym! Get going!” “Murfin and Stepward! You two get moving or you’ll be doing laps for the rest of the hour!”
The two boys pick up the pace, not realizing they are almost a lap behind the rest of the class.
“I don’t know why we have to have gym class anyway,” Smivey said as he and Larry trotted along together.
“Great job, men! It’s time for dodge ball. Today it’s every man for himself. If you get hit, you’re out. Last one standing is the winner,” Mr. G commanded.
After the boys were lined up against the wall, Mr. G put all the volleyballs in the center of the gym.
“Okay, men, when I count to three, the battle begins. One, two, three!”
Instead of running to the center of the gym, screaming wildly like the rest of the boys, Larry and Smivey ran to the opposite end, trying to avoid becoming targets. Volleyballs started shooting through the air, followed by dull thuds and howls as many of them hit kids. Soon classmates discovered Smivey and Larry trying to stay out of the fight. Volleyballs started flying at them from every direction as the boys attempted to avoid being hit. Running, jumping and ducking they were successful for a few seconds but soon both of them were out.
A ball rolled near Smivey’s feet and with a burst electrifying energy he grabbed the ball and threw it as hard as he could at one of the other boys. The ball sailed high and instead of hitting the intended target, hit Mr. Gorschanski in the back of the head, knocking his glasses off which broke in several pieces when they hit the floor.
Smivey instantly felt as if a bucket of cold water had been dumped over him as the blood drained from his face.
“Who threw that ball!” Mr. G howled in a monstrous voice.
It was instantly silent in the gym and every boy stopped dead in his tracks.
“I said, who threw that ball!” he shouted threateningly.
Smivey slowly walked forward, looking down at the floor.
“I-I threw it, Mr. G. I-I didn’t mean to hit you, I was throwing it at…”
“Stepward! It was you?!”
“Yes, sir” he answered softly, terrified of what might happen next.
“Are you sure it was you?!” Mr. G hollered even louder.
“Do you play football, Stepward?!”
“Why not?! That ball had a ton of mustard on it! You should be playing ball!” Mr. G shouted.
Mr. Gorschanski continued, “Gentlemen! I want each of you to learn a lesson from Mr. Stepward today! It took a lot of guts to step up and claim responsibility for hitting me in the head! He could have kept quiet, or blamed it on you. But he stepped right up like a man, ready to take the punishment!”
Then looking at Smivey whose knees were shaking said, “Stepward! Are you sorry?!”
“Yes, sir” Smivey said quietly.
“Good job. Okay men, hit the showers!”
As the class ran for the locker room, Smivey turned to join them. Mr. G, who had begun picking up what was left of his glasses said, “Stepward, come over here.”
Smivey was suddenly terrified again, feeling a rush of fear charge through his body. “Yes, sir?”
“You grew a foot today, son. Don’t you ever forget this.”
“I won’t, Mr. G.”
“Okay, shower and get to class.”
When Smivey reached the locker room someone yelled,
“Stepward, you are so lucky, I can’t believe you didn’t get in trouble.”
“I know it” he answered.
Larry was waiting for him, “I thought you were dead Smiv.”
“So did I. I think Mr. G is going to be my favorite teacher from now on.”
As the two boys put their gym clothes away and dressed for class they heard a loud commotion. Knowing that Mr. G usually went to the office to get a cup of coffee after class, several boys were trying to pull Jimmy Silvers out into the hall totally naked. Two had his hands and two held his feet as he screamed and tried to kick himself free from their grasp. They got him just outside the door when they all heard the familiar voice that shook the building.
“What are you clowns doing?!!”
They dropped Silvers on his butt who quickly scrambled back into the locker room trying to cover himself as he went.
“Crimmel! Vickers! Froberson! Beltzer! You numbskulls have pulled your last stunt! Get your butts to the office this instant!” Mr. G screamed loud enough that the entire school probably heard him.
The four boys who by this time looked sickly pale headed for the office.
“Wow, I think those guys will probably get a lot worse because of everything that already happened in class” Smivey said to Larry as they walked away from the gym.
Copyright 2022 by Dale Parsons