Larry finds a buddy - FICTION - Chapter 1
Larry pressed himself against the brick wall, hands gleefully clutching at his mouth, as he waited for the screams to come from behind the wall. And there they were! Giggling behind his hands as the cries rose into the air, Larry pushed himself away from the wall and ran off to mingle with the crowds of schoolchildren who were all busy enjoying their breaktime in different ways. Once he was safely one of the crowd, Larry worked his way back past the wall to see the effects of his prank. A little crowd had gathered around the two girls, one of whom was wailing loudly. There was no sign of the rubber snake he'd slipped into the drinking fountain just before they'd arrived, but he supposed that it would have gotten away safely while the girls were busy screaming. He grinned widely at the thought and then decided to make himself scarce again as he caught sight of a teacher, attracted by all the noise, marching smartly up to investigate the problem.
Larry wandered off, kicking at a stone and scuffing up dirt as he went. The moment of excitement over, a feeling of flatness had come over him. As usual, he felt let down and fed up after one of his pranks. He didn't even know why he kept on doing them. They weren't all that much fun, when you got to the bottom of it.
It was better than doing nothing though, he thought, a scowl on his face, and then turned and made his way slowly back to the classroom as the bell went.
Larry was eleven years old. He was not a tall boy for his age, but stockily built and already showing promise of becoming a good rugby player. He had short straight brown hair, brown eyes, a dimple on his chin and a wide, usually cheery mouth which more often than not these days was turned down sulkily at the corners.
He hadn't been in Johannesburg for a very long time. Two months ago his father had been transferred from Cape Town and the little family - only three of them as Larry was an only child - had come to live in this part of the Freestate. His folks had been very pleased with the house they had found and with the school Larry was zoned to attend. His dad had settled into his new job immediately and his mother had made friends quickly with the neighboring ladies, all of whom were much older than herself. The school was okay, thought Larry , and he could cope with the work all right. It was just...
Larry's head shot up guiltily as he was about to step into the classroom. The two victims of his prank were standing self-righteously at the teacher's desk, and it was Miss Ponting who had called him. With a sinking heart, Larry stepped forward.
"What have you been up to this time, Larry?" His teachers's eyes were kind but there was a look of exasperation on her face. Larry flashed a look beneath lowered eyebrows at the two girls. Darn! They must have seen him do it.
"Amy tells me you were playing with the water fountain a minute before she and Emma got there," continued Miss Ponting. "And then, when she bent over for a drink a snake slithered out of the fountain and if she hadn't seen it, who knows what could have happened."
Giggles from the rest of the class were quickly quelled by a thunderous look from their teacher.
"Well?" she enquired of Larry.
Although Larry had become incredibly naughty and even difficult lately, he was not a dishonest child.
"Yes, it was me, Miss Ponting," he muttered, his eyes on the dusty toes of his shoes. For a moment, he tried to redirect his thoughts to his shoes, wondering when the last time was that he had polished them.
"You may go back to you seat, Larry, and I will decide what is to be done about this by the time the bell goes this afternoon. Now, go and sit down."
At the end of the schoolday, and after a nerve-wrecking two hours and 15 minutes, Larry was once again called up to the teacher's desk as the other children left the classroom one by one. What did Miss Ponting have lined up for him? Whispers of a hiding from the headmaster had been going around the class ever since break and some were even saying he might be expelled.
Nervously he adjusted his tie and shifted his weight from one foot the the other as he waited for her to speak.
"Well, Larry." Miss Ponting eventually raised her head, after Larry had waited for nearly five minutes and was by now shaking in his shoes.
"I'm not going to send you to Mr. Adams this time."
Larry let out a quiet but gusty sigh of relief.
"But I want you to take this letter home to your mother and father. I think it's time we had a talk."
As Larry stretched out his hand for the brown envelope, his heart sank again. Perhaps it would have been better to have had the hiding after all. That way it'd be over and done with and his folks needn't know anything about this.
Miss Ponting had now got to her feet and was busy collecting books from her desk. He had clearly been dismissed. With a mumbled "Afternoon, Miss Ponting," Larry left the class and made for the bus stop.
... to be continued