“Pauly Witty, You’re going to be late for school!” echoed up from downstairs.
“I wish,” mumbled Pauly as he kicked a pile of dirty clothes to the side, stubbing his toe on his history book. His art teacher had told him not to forget his colored pencils, but once something got lost on the floor of his bedroom it might as well have drifted out to space.
“Oh forget it,” he grumbled.
Pauly closed his door and stood at the top of the stairs, wondering what it would take to get his mom to let him stay home, maybe an earthquake or an asteroid strike. He stepped onto the first stair and felt his stomach turn at the thought of recess with Jack Morder. Jack was the toughest and meanest kid in school and for some reason he liked to remind Pauly of that fact every chance he got.
“My stomach hurts! Can I stay home?” Pauly yelled down the stairs, sliding down the first two steps with his back against the banister. No answer.
“Mom!” he yelled. Still no answer. “She must already be in the car,” he grumbled.
He jumped two steps at a time to get to the bottom of the stairs and then grabbed the muffin setting on the table before heading out the door.
Pauly stared in a daze out the car window at all the passing kids walking in the direction of Spring Brook Elementary. He quickly slouched down when he noticed Jack Morder at the end of the block stopping kids before they crossed the street. Only the top of Pauly’s head and eyes could be seen through the car window. Jack was forcing kids to hand over lunches and money before he’d let them cross the street. To Pauly’s horror the car started to slow down and then came to a complete stop right in front of Jack.
” Mom! What are you doing? Go!” yelled Pauly at the top of his lungs. His mother jumped and looked down at him with an angry expression.
“I have to stop at Stop signs, Pauly. Now, what in the world is a matter with you?”
Jack locked eyes with Pauly and mouthed loser before Pauly had a chance to duck out of sight.
“Great, he saw me,” Pauly grumbled, not sitting up until the car started moving again. “I wish you would’ve just ran that stop sign.”