The officer shoves me into the back seat of the police car while I’m still screaming and my pants are wet and my hands are cuffed and oh god Susie is going to tell everyone what happened and my parents are going to be so mad and -
I bet you’re wondering how I ended up in this situation. It all started with an innocent Truth or Dare game just a few hours ago. Let’s rewind.
We’re all gathered around in my living room, right? Me and Chris and Maisey and Armand. And, somehow, I had managed to get THE cutest and most popular girl in school to join us, too: Susie McAlister. We were planning to watch a movie, a rated R movie because my parents were out of town and couldn’t stop us.
But Susie suggested playing Truth or Dare, and no one, I mean absolutely, positively no one, tells Susie McAlister “no.” I mentioned she’s cute, right? Like, super cute. I’m not going to do anything that makes Susie think I’m uncool. And I’m thinking maybe, if I play my cards right, she’ll be my girlfriend one day.
I was lost in a daydream about kissing Susie and missed what Chris asked Maisey to say, but she had picked Truth and I knew Maisey well enough to know whatever secrets she had anyway. Maisey picked Armand, of course, because everyone knew she had a crush on him except, naturally, Armand. It’s not like she wasn’t making it super obvious with her eyelash fluttering and hair twirling.
Well, he picked Dare, and Maisey was super sad because she was probably going to ask if he liked anyone in the room as, like, more than a friend. But Armand went and ruined her plans and chose Dare, so she had to come up with something good on the fly.
There is nothing like the pressure of having to decide the first Dare in a game. The first Dare always sets the tone for the whole game, so it has to be good. I was glad I wasn’t in Maisey’s spot because, let’s face it, my creativity isn’t my strongest skill, and anyway I’d probably just try to Dare Susie to kiss me, and that’s the least cool way to get a first kiss.
Maisey thought long and hard about a Dare for Armand, and while she was thinking of one, I went into the kitchen to make some popcorn. I was trying to listen to Maisey’s Dare, but when the kernels started popping in the microwave, the noise drowned out everything else.
I took the popcorn out of the microwave after the beep, and when I turned around, Susie was standing in front of me.
“H-hi, Susie. Did you need a Coke or anything?”
“No. I just wanted to say I have big plans for you,” she said, running a finger slowly down my chest and meeting my gaze with a wicked smile. “So I hope, when it’s time, you pick Dare.” She gave me a wink and sauntered back out the door.
My breath had caught in my throat and my heart was hammering and I had absolutely dropped the popcorn bag on the floor. I picked it up and took it to the living room because it’s not like any of the popcorn fell out of the bag, so it wasn’t gross or anything.
I saw everyone except Armand at the living room window giggling. Just as I was wondering where Armand had gone, he burst back in the door, frantically pulling his pants back on. But we all saw his weird superhero underwear. Apparently, Maisey dared him to go running down the street naked, but he had argued to keep his briefs on. Maisey was probably really disappointed because I’m pretty sure she’s a pervert, but I think it was smart of Armand not to be completely naked. I don’t need the neighbors calling my parents because Armand’s dingus was flopping around.
When a game of Truth or Dare has streaking as the first Dare, you know things are going to get out of hand but Susie McAlister was there and it was way too late to calm things down now. I was a little nervous when Armand finished putting his clothes back on but also I was glad he did because Maisey was making grabby hands at him and it was creepy but honestly even creepier because Armand had no idea it was happening.
Armand turned to Chris. “Truth or Dare?”
Chris grinned and shoved a handful of popcorn in his mouth and then spoke through the half-chewed popcorn because Chris is kind of gross. “Dare.”
Armand rubbed his hands together like a movie villain. You know what I’m talking about. And then, he said, “I Dare you to go to Principal Gates’ house, and...” Armand took a dramatic pause before continuing, “take a huge dump on his porch!”
We all gasped. That was, like, WAY worse than running around in your underwear - even when your underwear was as embarrassingly dumb as Armand’s. And Chris’ mom was dating Principal Gates which no one was supposed to know but we all totally did.
“I’m not doing that,” Chris said. “That’s ridiculous. Give me another one.”
Armand glared at him. “You picked Dare. You have to do it.”
“No way.” Chris glared back. “I pick Truth.”
“It’s too late. You better do my Dare. Or else.” Armand thought for a moment. “Or else you’re a butt waffle.”
“Oh my god!” cried Susie. “A butt waffle! Chris is a butt waffle!” She threw a few kernels of popcorn at him.
“Hey!” he yelled angrily when one bounced off his face. “Am not! Armand’s Dare is just stupid.”
Maisey leaned on Armand. “Nah, I think you’re just being a butt waffle.”
I started laughing. I could tell that Chris was getting really upset because “butt waffle” was pretty much the ultimate insult, but I couldn’t help myself. And besides, Susie was laughing, and I wanted her to think I was cool.
“You guys are being unfair!” Chris declared. His eyes brimmed with tears as he stood up.
But in a high stakes game of Truth or Dare like this, you don’t back away from a Dare without consequence. As we all started chanting “Butt Waffle!” at him, Chris stalked to the other side of the room and sat down heavily. He tried very hard not to cry, but he wasn’t able to keep the tears from spilling over. That’s really saying something because crying was not going to help his reputation and he totally knew it.
“Whatever,” Susie said dismissively. “We’ll just skip him. My turn now.”
She looked me dead in the eye. “Truth or Dare?”
Now let me tell you, there are only two kinds of people in this world: the people who are in love with Susie McAlister and would do anything she asked and the people who are idiots. I bet you can guess which kind of person I am, and she had promised big plans for me after all, so there really wasn’t a choice here.
Her eyes lit up, and her grin made my heart grow three sizes but, like, only figuratively because otherwise I would have died.
“I Dare you to rob a bank.”
I thought she was joking.
Maisey snorted. “It’s, like, 9 pm. There aren’t any banks open.”
“Well, a convenience store, then.” Susie had not broken eye contact with me. “What about Pap’s on the corner?”
Yeah, she was absolutely not joking. “I dunno,” I said, “that seems like a really bad idea.”
“Really?” Susie raised an eyebrow at me. “Are you some kind of...” - dramatic pause - “butt waffle?”
The group went silent. All I could hear was the quiet sniffling from Chris in the corner. It had been at least 10 minutes, and he still hadn’t recovered from the insult. I could NOT be a butt waffle. No way. Not in front of Susie McAlister.
“I’ll do it.”
“You can’t be serious,” Armand said. “You’re going to get in huge trouble.”
I stood up resolutely. “Then I just won’t get caught, okay?”
As I paced back and forth in the living room, planning out loud and also eating popcorn and hoping that no one could tell I was a little nervous, I could feel Susie’s beautiful eyes on me. Her interest in me made me bolder than I would have been otherwise. The plan came together quickly. I was going to walk into Pap’s and demand money from the register, but I’d need a disguise and maybe a weapon.
I grabbed my mom’s giant sunglasses that make her look like a bug but I will never say that to her because she’d cry, and I also took my dad’s Cubs hat. Susie told me I looked unrecognizable, and I believed her. When Susie McAlister tells you something, you believe her, you know?
I decided not to bring a weapon because I was worried that I would get scared and hurt someone - probably myself, if I’m being honest - but also, like, I’d get in so much more trouble if I got caught and had a weapon. I was pretty sure I could pretend I had a knife in my pocket, and anyway, if Old Pap was working, he’s super old and probably wouldn’t try to fight me.
I started walking down the street, Maisey and Armand following behind and whispering about how I was totally going to jail and they would never see me again and probably one of the other inmates would beat me up for going to jail for a dumb reason. Chris had stayed behind, and I’m pretty sure he was planning to go home while we were gone and hide in his room from the absolute shame.
Susie ran up beside me and slipped her hand in mine. “You’re so cool,” she told me. And then she kissed me on the cheek.
I would have robbed five different convenience stores for another kiss from Susie McAlister.
But I didn’t tell her that, and anyway, she’d only asked me to rob one and I didn’t want to give her any ideas. When we got closer to Pap’s, the others stopped and hid behind some bushes where they could still see what was happening.
I took a deep breath, adjusted the stupid sunglasses, and approached the door. I could see Old Pap behind the register, and I didn’t see any cars in the lot. That’s probably because it was about 9:30 and honestly no one goes to a convenience store at 9:30 except maybe college kids. And I guess robbers, too, because that’s what I was doing.
The bell above the door rings as I walk in. Old Pap looks up and kind of grunts a hello like he always does. He’s kind of mean, but I’d be mean too if I had to put up with customers all day. Anyway, I walked right up to him and gave him my best glare, but he probably couldn’t see it because of those really big sunglasses.
“Give me all the money in the register.”
Old Pap blinked slowly at me, and I think I saw a flicker of recognition in his eyes and that’s also when I realized that I hadn’t thought to disguise my voice. So I really quickly said in a much lower voice this time, “Gimme the money, old man.”
Old Pap kind of cocked his head to the side and frowned at me. “Look, kid, you don’t wanna do this, okay?”
I think that must have been the moment that he pushed the panic button under the counter top, but I didn’t see him do it because I was so busy trying not to pee myself in terror. Robbing convenience stores was really scary, and also I felt bad even though Old Pap was kind of a jerk sometimes.
But instead of agreeing with him that I didn’t want to do this, because I really didn’t, except I also really DID because Susie was watching, I squared my shoulders and straightened my spine so I’d look bigger. And then I said, “I’ve got a weapon.”
And I don’t remember how long Old Pap and I looked at each other in silence, but I do remember that neither of us said anything else or moved or did anything at all except breathe. Well, I mean, breathe and squeeze up my insides because, again, my bladder really wanted to send an important message.
And then I see the door swing open, and two cops come in with their guns drawn and my bladder was like, “Here we go!” And I started screaming because what else are you going to do when you realize you’re about to be in the biggest trouble of your life and also that you wet your pants and Susie McAlister is going to know about it and never kiss you again?
It wasn’t hard for the cops to figure out that I was a terrible robber and also not going to put up a fight, and then they put me in handcuffs just in case I wasn’t lying about the weapon. As they were dragging me out the door, I heard Old Pap mutter that he was going to tell my parents what I’d done and I started crying because I was sure my disguise would work even though I forgot about the voice part at first.
So we can unfreeze the frame now because you’re all caught up. And here I am, in the back of a police car, on my way to jail. I can see Susie in the rearview mirror with the biggest grin on her face and I wonder if maybe I shouldn’t have said Dare.
But at least I’m not a butt waffle like Chris.