Miss Keene was pissed.

Robbie had told one joke too many; now he dragged his ass out into the hall, where he was to spend the remainder of second period. 30 minutes remained until the bell, a long and boring proposition without Robbie’s hilarious antics. Robbie was the class clown; he kept everybody in stitches, making the time pass really fast.

Robbie was also my best friend.

We had met in the sixth grade when his family moved here in the middle of the school year. Robbie had told me where he was from, but I can’t remember. Not that it’s important. As far as I’m concerned, everything that happened to Robbie before he entered my life is meaningless. That part is history and I hate history. Fuck pilgrims and presidents and all of that boring shit.

Eighth grade English sucks just as bad; not even Miss Keene could liven up her drab subject. The trick was blocking out what she said, forgetting all about verbs and adjectives and prepositions and focusing on her hot body. Miss Keene wore these really rad sleeveless dresses that showed off her arms and legs.

She had been a big shot cross country runner in college; sometimes on Saturday or Sunday, while riding my bike to the Quick Mart, I would see her running down the street in these really skimpy shorts that hugged her ass like plastic wrap. Thinking about Miss Keene’s ass always gave me a boner…

Now I had another one as she stopped teaching and stepped out into the hall. She was gone for at least 15 minutes. She finally returned, looking worried and sick, with the assistant principal. Mr. Polk looked pretty damned worried, too. He told us that Robbie had disappeared, that they had checked the bathrooms and gymnasium and even the parking lot.

“We think he ran away,” Miss Keene said. “Does anybody have any idea where he might’ve gone?”

“Yeah,” Doug Pinter said, “try the state hospital.”

That got a lot of laughs. Mr. Polk didn’t find it very funny.

“This is nothing to joke about, young man.”

“Grow up, Doug,” Miss Keene said. “One of your classmates has left school property. This is a very serious—”

“I know where he went.”

I was suddenly the center of attention, the main attraction. I might as well have been bathed in a spotlight. All eyes were on me.

“Yes, Alex?” Miss Keene asked.

“The dead end,” I said.


“Are you sure he wouldn’t go home?”

“I’m sure. No doubt about it, Miss Keene. Robbie’s at the dead end.”

She had a little Volkswagen hatchback, a nice car, much nicer than my mother’s old Pontiac. I sat there in the passenger seat and gave directions. Mr. Polk had volunteered for the mission, but Miss Keene had insisted. She felt responsible and wanted to solve the problem all by herself.

It was great, getting to leave school and all, getting to ride around with Miss Keene like I was her boyfriend or something. It made me feel special.

It was nothing, really, the dead end, just the end of a crummy street and some crummy woods where Robbie and I liked to ride our bikes and get stoned and sometimes look at an old Penthouse we kept stashed under a rotten mattress.

“Here,” I said.

Miss Keene parked. She followed me into the woods, calling Robbie’s name as we walked a narrow dirt path littered with cigarette butts, beer cans, and candy wrappers. She thought it was a disgusting place. I could tell from the look on her face.

“Robbie! Robbie!”

He leaped out of hiding right in front of us. Miss Keene jerked. Hell, I did too. And I was expecting it.

“You don’t have to shout,” Robbie said. “I’m right here.”

“See,” I said to Miss Keene, “I told you he would be here.”

“Welcome to the dead end,” Robbie said.

“Come on, boys. We’re going back to school.”

“No,” Robbie said, “I don’t want to go back.”

“Fuck school,” I said. “School sucks.”

Robbie reached around and pulled the knife from his back pocket.

“Show us your tits,” he said.

“You two are in big trouble—”

“Yeah,” I said, “show us your tits.”

I pushed her. Hard. She fell to the dirt. The color drained from her face. For a teacher, Miss Keene sure did have a lot to learn.