There are 600 residents in the town of Clooney, and every one of them has heard of the 12-year-old prankster, Toby Johnson., TJ, to his friends. Everyone in Malcolm X Middle School knew of his practical jokes. They were all victims.
Last Monday, Miss Snow stood behind the podium and addressed the class. “Good morning class, may I have your attention, please.”
She waited for the students to calm down. Then, “Class, please stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Once the class completed reciting the pledge, Miss Snow spoke again.
“Class, your oral book reports are due this week. Tonya Jones will give her report on Ancient Greece.”
A few students groaned.
“Listen, class. We study Ancient History because it allows us to understand the impact of ancient civilizations on the modern world and learn from their mistakes. We can also learn about their unique roots and how traditional beliefs came to be. So, let’s be respectful and give Tonya our undivided attention. Remember, your turn will come up soon.”
The brightest student in TJ’s Ancient History Class, Tonya Jones, walked up to the podium, shuffling and reading a stack of index cards.
TJ and his best friend, Thomas” Froggy” Miller, sat in the back of the room.
Ten minutes into Tonya’s report, TJ leaned forward and whispered to Froggy.
“This is some boring stuff, Bro.”
“Yeah. But what can we do?”
“I got a surprise for the class.”
Froggy frowned. “I thought you liked Tonya?”
“I do, but this will be funny. You’ll see.”
Miss Snow stood up and sat on the windowsill.
“Wait one minute, Tonya. Excuse me, Toby and Thomas, do you have something to add to Tonya’s report?”
“No, Miss Snow.”
“Then I suggest you be quiet and listen. I’m sorry, you may continue, Tonya.”
Tonya spoke for a few more minutes when the sound of a fart interrupted her.
“Aw. Tha’s nasty,” Tonya said, frowning.
The class giggled. Miss Snow shook her head.
Tonya continued, and they heard another fart. The class laughed. Tonya looked embarrassed. Miss Snow asked, ” Does someone need to use the restroom?”
“Why are you looking at me?”
“I looked at the entire class, Toby. Not just you.”
The students snickered.
Miss Snow gave the class a stern look, her arms folded across her chest. “Whoever did that, you either go to the bathroom or the nurse’s office.”
She looked at each child., then turned to Tonya. “You can continue again, Miss Jones. Hopefully, no one will interrupt again.”
Tonya concluded her report when a loud fart sound echoed through the classroom. Miss Snow jumped up. Tonya’s mouth fell open, and her eyes widen. Everyone stared at TJ. As he laughed and shook hands with Froggy. Miss Snow marched over to their desk.
“Boys, that was disgusting. Who has it?”
“Have what, Miss Snow?”
“The Whoopee Cushion, Toby.”
“A prank cushion that makes rude noises. Hand it over.”
“Do I have to call Dean Stratton?”
The change of class bell rang, but no one left the classroom.
“I’m waiting, Mr. Johnson..”
“I don’t have a Whoopee Cushion. Miss Snow.”
“Okay, Mr. Johnson. I’ll call the Dean.”
“No. Don’t call him. Here it is.”
Miss Snow took the Cushion. “You lied to me, Mr. Johnson. That will earn you a two-day in-school suspension
Wednesday after school, TJ and Froggy planned to go bike riding to the local park.
TJ walked into the kitchen to see his mother.
“Mom, do you mind if Froggy and I go bike riding tom the park?”
“Do you mean Thomas?”
“Yeah, mom. Thomas.”
“Have you finished your homework?”
“We didn’t have any homework. Mom.”
“You didn’t have any homework on a Wednesday night?”
“No. I did it all in school.”
TJ’s mother took a long look at him.
“Okay, Toby, but wear your helmet.”
TJ kissed his mom, put on his helmet, then rode to the corner to meet Froggy. Tj removed his helmet.
“My mom made me wear his thing,” TJ explained as he hung his helmet on his bike’s handlebars.
“Yeah, I hear ya, man. Let go ride on the ramps.”
The two boys rode towards ramps. The boys rode up and down the ramps spinning in the air or doing wheelies, or riding on their bike's rear pegs.
“Watch, Froggy. Go going way up in the air.”
TJ peddled as hard as he could before mounting the ramp. He rode to the top and lifted up into the air. In flight, he lost control of his bike and came crashing to the ground. He banged his head on the hard rubber floor.
When TJ woke, his mother was sitting by his bedside, holding his hand.
“Don’t cry, mom. I’m okay.”
She smiled and squeezed his hand.
TJ’s dad walked over. “You gave us quite a scare, son. Why weren’t you wearing your helmet?”
“Charles, they’ll be plenty of time to interrogate the boy later. Now, let just let him rest.”
“There nothing wrong with him, mom.” TJ’s older brother Glenn added. “Nothing could hurt that rock head of his.”
“Stop teasing your brother, Glenn. He had a rough time of it.”
“Yeah, lying in bed for two days. Having everybody worry about him. What a chump. I can’t wait for you to get better so I can knuckle your head for not wearing your helmet.”
“Glenn, stop it, I said. Do you want anything, Toby?”
”A glass of water.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back. “
TJ’s father's cellphone rang. He checked it and said, “I have to take this. Watch him, Glenn, till your mother gets back.”
Glenn sat next to his brother. “Are you okay, man? We were worried about you. That was a nasty fall. It’s a good thing Froggy called us, and we sent the ambulance.”
“Yeah, I’m okay. But when I was asleep, I had a weird dream, I dream that there was a fire at Malcolm X. I tried to warn people, but no one believed me.”
“A fire at Malcolm. Did you set it?”
“No, man. But it seemed so real.”
“Naw. Malcolm is still standing. You just had a bad dream.”
Two days later, as usual, Froggy came by his house, and they walked to school. As they walked, TJ told Froggy about his dream. Froggy laughed it off.
“I can believe anything after seeing how hard you hit your head. But Malcolm is still standing.”
The boys entered the school, and students approached TJ.
“Hey, Froggy told us what happened, TJ. Are you alright?”
“I’m. er, I’m okay. I get headaches now and then, but I’m okay.”
Tonya walked through the crowd. “I glad you’re okay. But I don’t forgive you for messing with my book report.”
They smiled at each other and hugged.
As TJ and Froggy walked to class.
“You okay, TJ. You don’t look so good.”
“I don’t know, Froggy. Remember that dream I told you about? Well, that’s how it started in that crazy dream. People met me at the door, and tonya hugging me. Now, if Dean Stratton stops us in the hall and says Miss Snow is absent today. I’m gonna get scared.”
Dean Stratton stood in the hallway watching as the students walked to their homeroom classes.
“Good morning, Dean Stratton.”
Dean Stratton looked at the boys. “Oh, good morning, boys. Everything okay, TJ.”
“Yes, sir, I’m fine.”
“Well, it’s good to have you back. Have a good day.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“You see, TJ. He didn’t say anything about Miss Snow.”
“Oh, boys,” Dean Stratton called, “Miss Snow is out today. Be nice to her substitute, okay?”
The boys looked at each other.
“In your dream. When does this fire take place?”
“Right after homeroom.”
“In fifteen minutes, you better tell some, TJ.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Dean Stratton, can I talk to you for a minute, sir.”
“Sure’, He said as he walked towards them.
TJ told the Dean about his dream.
“Oh, come on, Toby. No one going to fall for that old prank. You’ll have to do better than that to fool me.”
“No, si, it’s not a prank. Everything I dreamt is coming true today.”
“What would like for me to do?”
TJ thought for a moment. “Call a fire drill.”
“No way, Toby. Your lies and pranks are not going to work today. Why don’t you just go to your homeroom.”
The boys walked away sad.
“We gotta do something, TJ.”
“Yeah, I know. If we don’t, a lot of people are going to get hurt. I have an idea.”
Tj ran down the hall and stop in front of the fire alarm.
“TJ, if you pull that alarm, you’re going to suspend or thrown out of school.”
“I know, Froggy,” Tj said as he pulled the alarm.
The students stood a safe distance in front of the school. The firemen pulled up and ran into the building.
“TJ! I know you pulled that alarm! Well, that was your last prank in this school. You are finished in this school! I’m going to see that you are immediately suspended. If you’re not, I’ll buy you lunch. What do you have to say for yourself?”
TJ stood with his head bowed.
The fire chief walked out of the building and spoke to the principal, Mr. Samuels. The principal walked offer to Dean Stratton and TJ.
“I know what you're going to say, Principal Samuels, and here’s the person responsible. Mr. Toby Johnson. He did it as a prank.
Samuels placed his hand on Toby’s shoulder and asked, “Did you pull that alarm, son.”
“Yes, I did, sir, but it wasn’t a prank.”
“I’ll say it wasn’t. The fire chief found a smothering electric fire in the basement. A few more minutes and the classrooms above it would have been engulfed in flames. A lot of people could have injured. You’re a hero, son.’
The fire chief asked, “What’s your name?”
“Toby Johnson’, Dean Stratton answered, “and I owe him lunch.”