Lieutenant Edgar Crank had one day left. In his estimation, that put roughly four cups of black coffee, one ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of pretzels, two aspirin, and give or take thirty ounces of tap water between him and retirement. But these sentimental types, with all the well-wishing and congratulating. Balloons and gifts, even a cake for crying out loud. When they broke out in song, Crank was ready to go write some parking tickets.
Then the call came in. Winston Waters High School was a war zone.
He joined the team, feeling that rush of ready just like a rookie. They lit the place up pulling in, where they found the doors chained and locked. Word came back that the ground floor was abandoned. Crank squinted up to see a spiral of smoke pluming from the third floor window. Just to the left, a sheet with the words SENIORS RULE flapped in the wind.
The sixty-six year- old lieutenant paced, hands on his hips as he grumbled. “At least we can agree on that.”
He sent his team to work, sealing off the entrances, his radio squawked dispatches as concerned parents showed up to badger him with wasteful panic. Curious bystanders gathered behind the saw horses and yellow tape. Crank cursed social networks, how they spread half-truths and gossip. How PR would suck up to the snowflakes and find all sorts of ways to apologize before they even knew what happened.
A damn dumpster fire is what it was. Every so often, an explosion threatened to crumble the school and a parent would burst into tears.All Lieutenant Crank knew about the situation came from the mumbling lips of a shell-shocked custodian who’d managed to escape through the auxiliary doors. So Crank knew very little.
HIs last day was shaping up to be one of utter chaos, and Crank resigned to the fact that fishing would have to wait.
It was well into the night, a time when usually Lt. Crank’s would be making his third trip to the bathroom, that he received a call from inside. A kid, confirmed by the custodian to be Brice Geiger—an all-state pretty boy quarterback whose rich Daddy lawyered up for minor speeding violations. The punk explained that Principal Wilkins was safe, for now, and no harm would come to him if demands were met.
Crank bit his tongue, suppressing the urge to hang up and walk. To let Wilkins deal with his ilk. Instead he took a breath, scanned the lot for a Range Rover, and made a mental note to have the car towed. “Go on.”
“We want a Jay-Z concert, no, hang on.” Crank could only hear the hushed voices followed by some rustling. Then, the punk was back, “No, a Young Trill concert. And we want our grades exposed.”
“Expunged?” Crank sighed.
“Yeah, and….and we want better lunches,” he said, his arrogant voice gaining steam. “No more of this Michelle Obama healthy crap. We want pizza.”
Click. If Crank thought he’d seen it all, this was a feature presentation. They could bust in, easy. But if something happened to one of those snowflakes, if they even grazed one, all hell would break loose. Let them have their fun, he thought. They’ll get bored soon enough. Meanwhile, he called in the tow.
Chalky smog hung over the school. Just as Crank feared, the local news team arrived, and that thorn thruster Martha Flintlock, of WGRT fame, hustled over and stuck a microphone in the-should-have-been-fishing Lieutenant’s face.
“What can you tell us about the situation?”
He waved her off. Martha pouted. Crank expressed the first of many “no comments.”
The next phone call came on day three am. The snowflakes were bored.
Crank took the call in the van, his brow wrinkling at the sound of prim and proper voice. “This is Mrs. Terry. We have overpowered the students. Please advise that we have taken control of the school.”
“Great, we’re coming in,” Crank said, feeling that first tug of the bass in his forearms.
“Not exactly, Lieutenant. We have Principal Wilkins.”
The tug vanished.
“And a list of demands.
Lt. Crank felt a grin spread across his face, begrudging respect for the teach. He motioned for a pad. “Go on.”
Again with the paper rustling. “Well, we wpuld like better coffee. And a Michael Buble concert. Excuse me for a moment,” she said. Then, after some whispers, “First and foremost we would like an end to Standardized testing.”
“I’ll snap my fingers,” the Lieutenant mumbled.
“What was that?” A sharp tone on the other end. Crank felt his back straighten.
“I said I’ll get right on it.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. Oh, and we need more staples and rulers right away.”
Crank peeled the headphones from his head and then rubbed his eyes. “This is why I sent my kid to private school.”
Dusk arrived. After speaking to the mayor, Crank surveyed the parking lot. A fleet of news trucks. The parent mob was enraged. How dare you let our kids do this?
Crank massaged his neck, his tongue ragged from all the coffee. He knew he was free to walk, had he pleased. Giles, his boss had offered to man the operation. But watching that Brice Punk’s Range Rover get dragged off, Crank knew this was his dumpster fire now. He bummed a smoke from the jumpy custodian.
A helicopter rippled through the darkening sky. Crank ignored the voice in his head–the one that sounded remarkably like his wife’s–as he pulled a long-awaited drag from the smoke. But his moment was short-lived. A tech hobbling over with a phone. “Lieutenant! For you.”
“Crank.” A weasely voice on the other end. “This is Principal Wilkins. The Admins have managed to escape custody and overpower both the teachers and the student body. We have them in holding.
Lieutenant Crank stubbed out the smoke, waving his arms to all units. Get in, wrap this up, and he could be at his fishing hole in minutes. Toss in a few lines before hitting the sack. “Great work, Principal, help is on the way.”
“Not so fast Lieutenant.”
Crank felt the tug in his elbow give away.