Here is a rough draft of the first two chapters, let me know what you think! Presenting, Mr. B. and the Double-Wide:
Every city, every town, every village, metropolis, hamlet, suburb, and burg in the world is famous for something. Venice, Italy, for example, is famous for having streets made of water where people glide around in long boats and live lives of mystery and intrigue. Wenzhaun, Tibet, is famous for having the highest elevation in the world – 16,730 ft. above sea level. And the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is famous for being the home of Groundhog’s Day’s official groundhog – Punxsutawney Phil.
But the small outcropping of people known as Mackinack was famous for an entirely different reason. To explain Mackinack’s claim to fame we must travel 17 and one half years into the past – the year they split the school.
Mackinack had, at that time, a population of 59 people, 23 dogs, 16 cats, 2 gerbils and a parakeet named Mo. Mo lived in a cage that hung in the window of the local convenience store; which was located – conveniently – across the street from the one-room Mackinack Elementary School. He was a dusty shade of green, had only one eye (the result of a run-in with cat number 12), could talk, but only to give non-existant sale prices for dairy products, and had been a witness to everything that went on at the school from the day little Polly Perkins was hit in the face with a water balloon during the school carnival, to the great swing-set caper in the winter of ’24, to what has become known amongst the locals as “The year of the double-wide.”
Which is exactly where our story begins. That also happened to be the year the elementary went from having 13 students to having 18 students. The schoolhouse was only big enough to house 14 people comfortably, and with 18 students, a teacher and a class pet (one of the town’s gerbils), there just wasn’t enough room. Unfortunately there also wasn’t enough money to build a new school, and there were no portable classrooms available, so they had to use an old dilapidated double-wide trailer that someone had abandoned on the outskirts of town. They hauled it up next to the schoolhouse and put a sign on the door that read, “Room 8.”
The first day of school dawned hot and dusty – which was somewhat remarkable considering Mackinack was located in a temperate zone. Nevertheless, the 7 students who would be using “Room 8” stood outside the door of the trailer waiting. The looks on their faces resembled one you might find on a person alone in the woods facing a pack of rabid wolves, or clowns.
These seven students were known as “The Smart Kids” – and they were. The un-smart kids, who had given the nickname, were also not very creative.
Hank Spackert was the oldest – 16. He stood 6 feet, 10 inches tall, had flaming red hair, too many freckles for his small face, and a constant look of surprise like he was seeing the world for the first time every day. He was somewhat clumsy, but never let that stand in his way.
Next came the triplets Mariana, Mariella, and Butch Van Pandeller at 15 years, 3 months, 4 days, and 1 minute, 4 minutes, and 7 minutes respectively. They stood about 5 feet tall, all had hair the color of graham crackers, bright blue eyes, and looked like they were always about to get into trouble – and usually they were. They told everyone they were identical triplets, though that was clearly impossible.
Tara Osgood and Victor de la Cruz were 13 and had been best friends since their first day in school when they’d discovered they shared a love of play-do, origami, and David Hasselhoff – which made for some interesting arts and crafts sessions over the years. Tara was short, about as big around as the pencil she kept in her ear, and had a head full of curly hair that looked like it might attack you if you said the wrong thing. She was spunky, had a witty comeback for everything, and was never seen without a book in her hand. Victor was equally witty and well-read, though he liked to conceal that fact to preserve his pretty-boy image. Victor was nothing short of beautiful – perfect olive skin, silky black hair, and eyes that gazed straight into your soul. It was rumored that he had once gotten a free meal at the local diner by just winking at the waitress. He was one of those young men destined to end up in a cologne commercial, or on the cover of a dime-store romance novel.
Then there was Greg Eggleman, an exceptionally bright 9-year old. A natural-born leader who the other kids looked up to, despite his small stature – he was even short for his age. His blond hair stood straight on end making him constantly look like he’d just been electrocuted. He had sharp eyes and wore glasses – which he always removed and polished when he was explaining something to someone older than himself.
So there they stood – a motley crew of mismatched youth united in a common dread of what lurked behind the thin screen door now hanging innocently in front of them.
That same door abruptly swung open and a happy-sounding voice said, “Come on in!”
The kids cautiously entered the trailer, which would probably be more accurately described as a double-long trailer, and were faced with a somewhat dismal scene. The classroom only took up one side of the trailer and half an old billboard declaring, “$29 a ni” had been propped up against the wall at the far end as a makeshift blackboard. The desks consisted of three garbage cans, a toilet, two old engine blocks, and an upside-down shopping cart. There wasn’t so much as a book, pencil, or sheet of paper to be found anywhere. Light shown through the one window illuminating the dust, the make-shift desks, and a lone figure standing in the corner smiling like he’d just baked the most delicious cookies in the history of the world and wanted to share them, which he had, and did.
“Good morning class, my name is Mr. B.” Said Mr. B, passing around the plate of cookies.
He was a young, average looking man with slightly unkempt hair that seemed to be fighting a losing battle against an encroaching forehead. He had straight teeth, a freckle just to the left of his nose, and a twinkle in his deep brown eyes that seemed to hint at more wisdom than his youthful appearance would indicate.
“Go ahead and choose your own seats and we’ll jump right into things.” He said cheerily, not seeming to notice the bleak nature of his surroundings.
“You’ll notice we don’t seem to have real desks, and no supplies to speak of, but we’ll have to make due. Also, the other half of the trailer is inaccessible at the moment, no one gave me a key to that door."
He pointed to a door which stood in the left-hand side of the wall separating the two sides of the trailer.
“So, you’ll have to run to the schoolhouse if you need to use the restroom, I’m afraid that toilet doesn’t work.” He half-lamented, indicating the seat Hank had chosen. “Other than that little hitch,” he continued with a strange sparkle in his eye, “this should be the most amazing school year of your lives.”
Little did The Smart Kids know, he wasn’t exaggerating.