Stan Steals an A

This rare and silly work of fiction is brought to you as part of the “Sudden Writing Challenge” thought up by Ricky Anderson (@Arthur2Sheds) and Joseph Craven (@thejosephcraven). All the writers had 48 hours to complete their stories. All of the stories had to focus on a “caper” and had to include 3 elements: 1) a rooftop, 2) a custodian named Glenn, and 3) the line “Well, that’s not how I would have planned it.”

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It was a dark and stormy night. Except it wasn’t dark and stormy. And it was nearing  two o’clock in the afternoon so it wasn’t technically night.  Stan’s emotions, however, were dark and stormy and that has to count for something.

Stan had long since grown tired of people calling him “Stan the Man.” He found the moniker generic. Plus, he wasn’t yet a man as his hairless armpits so obviously declared. Sure, one or two had begun to sprout, but if a couple of armpit hairs were all it took to be a man half the women in his small town would qualify. And then what?

Being the 12-year-old son of one of the few doctors in the area had its privileges. For instance, when the Def Leppard tribute band, Hearing-Impaired Cheetah, performed a concert at the community center in conjunction with the town’s annual Stuttering Parakeet Festival, he got the best seat in the house. Naturally this caused a lot of jealousy among the other seven people in attendance. Stan didn’t really care because he thought most of them were jerks. Especially Glenn.

What is it about people with an unnecessary consonant in their name that makes them so unlikable? Stan didn’t know, but he knew he didn’t like Glenn. Also, Glenn was a custodian at the junior high school and Stan had learned from watching Scooby-Doo reruns that custodians were not to be trusted. When you add the fact that Glenn had once given Stan a dirty look, well, Stan’s dislike of the custodian was totally understandable.

While there were privileges to Stan’s station in life, there were also plenty of disadvantages. Stan’s family couldn’t enjoy a meal at a restaurant without someone coming up to his dad and asking for medical advice. He still fumed every time he thought about the elderly man who practically disrobed to show his dad a strange-looking rash. Yes, most people would have paid good money to see a rash that looked like a cross between Rue McClanahan and a tape dispenser, but when all you want to do is order a Big Mac from a guy, seeing him pantsless really ruins your appetite.

The worst disadvantage to being a doctor’s son, even soaring above the occasional partially nude fast-food cashier, was the expectation of academic greatness. His father expected a lot out of Stan at school as did his teachers. His mother didn’t because she was from Alabama; she was mostly just glad he knew how to tie his own shoes.

It was these high expectations which caused him to have the dark and stormy emotions that were briefly described in the opening paragraph. If you forgot that part feel free to go back and re-read it. It’s okay; we’ll wait.

Anyway, there he was full of angst, standing inside of a closet in Ms. Hamilton’s science classroom. Ms. Hamilton was a portly lady who looked like Ernest  Borgnine, but with slightly better hair. She had been teaching since approximately the Mesolithic era, so she had long ago tired of giving good grades to kids who didn’t deserve it.

Stan needed to ace the final test of the semester to make an “A.” Anything less would disappoint his father and result in Stan being grounded from attending the towns annual Tapioca Pudding and Skeet Shooting Festival. (Yes, his town had a lot of annual festivals–84 to be exact). If there is one thing Stan loved it was Dungeons and Dragons fan fiction. If there were two things he loved it was D & D fan fiction and showering with his clothes on. If there were three things he loved it was the other two things and tapioca pudding. He didn’t care much for skeet shooting.

The only way Stan was going to ace the final test and get to sample tapioca pudding from all around the tri-county area was if he could swipe the answer sheet from Ms. Hamilton’s desk drawer and use it to cheat on the test. He had a plan and it was fool-proof.

Ms. Hamilton’s planning period started at 1:45, but instead of planning for her classroom she usually planned either her retirement party or her funeral. Today, as luck would have it, she was planning her funeral. In fact, after years and years of planning she was finally about to wrap it all up. How did Stan know all of this? He just did. Stop asking questions.

As she wrapped up her planning she leaned back in her chair and exclaimed, “I’m finally ready to go when it’s time.” This was perfect. Stan knew exactly what to do. Right at that moment, he jumped out of the closet wearing the Grim Reaper costume he had borrowed.

At the sight of him, Mrs. Hamilton let out a shriek and fell backward in her chair doing a cool looking flip kind of thing at the end. Stan walked toward her and said in his most menacing voice, “IT’S TI-IME!” And Ms. Hamilton passed out. As Stan took off the costume and stuffed back into his backpack, he noticed how pretty Ms. Hamilton looked for the first time. Ah, who am I kidding? She still looked like Ernest Borgnine, only unconscious.

With his science teacher out of it, it was time to find the answer sheet. As he looked through file after file something caught his eye. It was a file marked “Ernest Borgnine.” Inside was picture after picture of the now deceased actor with hearts drawn around his face along with a restraining order from the 1980’s ordering her to stay away from him. Stan wondered if her looks caused her to be obsessed with him or if her obsession with him caused her to look like him. Either way, it was weird. And oddly sweet.

After wiping a tear from his eye, Stan finally found the answer sheet. He pulled it from its file, picked up his backpack, and headed toward the door. His plan had worked. He was going to ace the test. He was going to be able to enjoy delicious tapioca pudding.

And then the door opened. Standing in the doorway was none other than Glenn the custodian. Stan froze in his tracks.

“What’s going on in here?”

“N-n-nothing,” Stan stammered. Maybe his plan wasn’t fool-proof after all.

“What’s that in your hand?” Glenn asked.

Stan felt a wave of anger wash over him. “It’s a petition to have people with unnecessary consonants in their names be executed.”

“Now listen here you little punk…” Glenn started. And then he saw Ms. Hamilton sprawled out on the floor. “Hey–what did you do to her?”

When Glenn took a couple of steps toward the downed teacher, Stan seized the opportunity to escape. He dashed out the door into the hallway. He looked over his shoulder to see Glenn burst out the door in pursuit. This was the first time Stan had seen Glenn run and for some reason It made Stan hate him even more.

Stan knew there was no use trying to hide in the school building; no one knows the best hiding places inside a school building better than the custodian. So he headed toward a side exit, through the door, down the sidewalk and across the road with stupid Glenn catching up.

Knowing he couldn’t run much longer, Stan ran into an abandoned warehouse just like the ones often depicted in stories like this with Glenn just a few seconds behind. Without much light and with plenty of places to hide, Stan thought it would be a good place to collect his thoughts and figure out what to do next.

After 30 minutes of hiding, Stan thought Glenn was about to give up and leave. And then Glenn yelled out, “Marco!” to which he instinctively replied, “Polo!” and the chase was on again.

With his position compromised, Stan made his way to the stairs. Up and up he went, one floor after another. Suddenly, Stan found himself on the rooftop. He ran to the edge of the building looking for a ladder or some other way down. Instead he found nothing but disappointment. He was trapped.

Stan heard the door open behind him and turned to see Glenn step onto the rooftop. “You ran out of places to run, you little twerp.”

Glenn slowly and methodically walked toward Stan with malice in his eyes. “I’ve been wanting to get my hands on you ever since the Hearing-Impaired Cheetah concert. You rich kids make me sick always getting the best seats, always getting everything you want, always making fun of people with unnecessary consonants in their names.”

Glenn grabbed Stan by the collar, pulling him close. “Now, it’s no more mister nice custodian.”

“Stop right there, Glenn!”

Glenn let go of Stan and they both turned to see Sheriff Stevens standing in the rooftop doorway with his gun drawn. “Down on the ground, Glenn! NOW!”

Glenn kneeled on the ground as the sheriff walked toward him. “What’s this all about?,” he mumbled.

“You know good and well what this is all about, Glenn. You’re under arrest for the murder of Ms. Hamilton.”

“Ms. Hamilton’s dead?!?!,” Stan cried. He wanted to scare her and make her pass out with a heart attack or something, not kill her.

“Yes she is, son. And it was awful brave of you to follow Glenn into this warehouse to make sure he didn’t get away.”

“What?!?! It wasn’t me! It was Stan! He’s the one who killed her.”

“Cut it out, Glenn. I’ve already pieced it all together. You went into her classroom and started looking through her desk for some quick cash. But she walked in on you, confronted you, and you shoved her down hard enough to kill her when her head hit the floor. Witnesses saw you run out of the school and into this warehouse and they said that Stan came in here after you. And besides, haven’t you ever watched Scooby-Doo. I’m not going to take a custodian’s word over the word of a doctor’s son.”

The next day at school Stan was hailed as a hero for risking his life to follow the murderer. The principal was so appreciative that he asked Stan if there was anything he wanted. Stan, with the taste of tapioca pudding in his mouth, said the only thing he wanted was an “A” in his science class. In honor of Ms. Hamilton, of course.

The principal was only too eager to comply.

“Well, that’s not how I would have planned it,” he tought. “But I’ll take it.”

“Maybe I am “Stan the Man” after all.”

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I hope you enjoyed it. Or at least chuckled a few times.

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