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Scientific Crap


Heidi H. Baker

My aunt Wanda is going to kill me. She says since I am a month older, I am responsible. Saul, my cousin, is being handcuffed by the sheriff. I can see them from here, alternately bathed in red and blue. When Saul had proposed this adventure in retaliation for the poor science grade, I had gone through a list of what-could-go-wrongs. Being arrested had been at the top of my list, but I certainly didn’t feel like standing up from my cozy ditch just to say, “I told you so!” On the other hand, having my head tucked under the doorframe of the police cruiser would be preferable to facing Aunt Wanda.

Saul’s eyes reflect the glow of camera lights more than I expect. One of the perks of living in a small town is that it is always a slow news day, so anything different is news. Plus, the local camera man lives next to our science teacher, Mr. Jeppson, and all the neighbors are outside. Nosiness aside, this could be good. If Aunt Wanda sees this fiasco on TV, I won’t have to be the one to break it to her. I will still have to explain why I couldn’t keep Saul in line. Again. Actually, I like the fun we have. We only get caught occasionally, but this is huge.

Saul is straining to look out of the cruiser at Mr. Jeppson’s front lawn, which is now being surrounded by yellow evidence tape. Saul’s eyes are really wide, and his lips pulled taut against his jaw, a look I have seen before, just before the beaker exploded in the science lab, netting Saul an unprecedented “D” on his report card. His reaction makes me look back at the huge pile of crap we had dumped there. I can see it partially through the weeds, and there is neon green glow coming from the top of the pile. Smoke begins to rise in the same science-fiction-neon-green, and the glow starts to spread.

Even at this distance I can hear cussing. Civilians, a.k.a. nosy neighbors, are being herded towards their homes, and the officer who had been interviewing Mr. Jeppson points him towards his front door and runs toward the other officers, hollering for people to “get inside.” Mr. Jeppson, however, doesn’t go inside. Instead, he walks closer to the glowing, smoking pile. He bends momentarily to pick up the baseball bat he had swung at Saul and me when he came out of the house and moves directly in front of the pile and reaches out to it. He covers his mouth with his empty hand and leans into the smoke and jabs just below center at the edge of the glow.

When Aunt Wanda comes to bail us out, maybe she won’t yell too loudly. Saul was protected in the police cruiser, but I stood up to see what was happening. I don’t smell very good.

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