“Arnie Dufner and the Purple Principal!”

Chapter One

“Mr. Dufner!”

Actually, it was more like, “DOOF NERRR”. He kind of stretched-out like that so I knew it meant trouble.

“If you are trying to get my attention, you have succeeded.”

I recognized the voice without turning around. Okay, I was being dumb. But, come on, sometimes we all do dumb things when there is a cute girl around. Did I say “cute”? I didn’t mean “cute”. I’m not interested in girls at all. NOT AT ALL! It’s just that, well, you know.

“You know that is not how we behave,” Mr. Canberry said. “I guess I may need to remind you of the rules around here.”

And it’s not like I thought Mary Beth O’Malley was cute or anything. I don’t have the least bit of interest in girls; especially Mary Beth O’Malley. I mean, yeah, she sat next to me in class and smiled at me sometimes, but that doesn’t mean anything. She’s friendly; that’s all. It doesn’t mean that I—

“Mr. Dufner! Are you listening to me?”

The voice. It was Mr. Canberry. Principal Canberry. He actually had more than one voice. Sometimes he had a friendly voice, like when he stood by the door and fist-bumped us when we got to school in the mornings. Sometimes he had a sad voice, like when he was trying to make us feel better after something bad happened. But this was his Principal Voice, the ONE voice everyone in the entire school building never wanted to hear. Heck, even the teachers got a weird look on their faces when they heard that voice.

“Mr. Dufner, I think you and I need to have a little talk.”

Not the TALK!

“Detention, Mr. Dufner. My office, after school.”

Aw, nuts.

“And you too, Mr. Phillips.”

And he was gone.

I looked at Wally Phillips, my best buddy, and he looked at me. We were dead meat and we knew it.

And so did everyone else standing around in the hallway staring at us. They were all really quiet and had that look on their faces; the look that said they were sorry we got in trouble but at the same time they were really happy that it was us instead of them.

Everyone except Denton Vargas.

Denton Vargas; the meanest, toughest, nastiest, overall lousiest kid in our class. Heck, in the entire school probably. I knew kids three or four years older than us who ducked behind something when they saw Denton Vargas walking down the hall toward them. And now, the only person in the hall that didn’t have that look on their face was Denton Vargas.

He was smiling. And it was that evil smile that only Denton Vargas knew how to smile. It was a smile that said, “HAH. I’m usually the one who gets a detention and now it’s you. How does it feel, Doofus?”

He always called me Doofus. When he called me anything, I mean. He usually didn’t talk to me. He might sit there and stare at me sometimes and make me really nervous. He might laugh at me once in a while when he tried to trip me, or pushed my pencil off my desk, or made me drop my books. The only time he actually talked to me was when he would tell me he was going to catch me after school and rip my arms off or something like that. That’s when he called me Doofus.

I looked at Wally. Wally looked at me.

I looked at Mary Beth O’Malley. She smiled.

I got my books, went to my class and sat in my seat.

Denton Vargas walked by and pushed my pencil off my desk.

“Doofus!” he said.

Rats.

Chapter Two

It was like rubbing salt in a wound.

I heard someone say that once. It’s one of those things old people say. Apparently, it means when you have a cut or something and then rub some salt on it, it makes it hurt more. I’ve never actually tried it. Hey, I might be a doofus but I’m not stupid. C’mon. Like I’m going to have a cut that hurts and then do something to make it hurt even more? Yeah, right.

But I understood what it means because I was not only sitting in class, but I was sitting in history class.

I hate history.

Well, I guess sometimes I enjoyed some of the stories Ms. Allen told us when she remembered to get around to telling stories. But most of the time she just talked about dates, and names, and stuff that just made no sense at all. I mean, that’s why those things those things are called history, they’re gone. Why do I care how long dinosaurs have been gone and what happened to them? If I had a chance to actually SEE a dinosaur, well then, that would be something interesting. But they’re gone. Tell me how to bring them back and I’ll pay attention. Find me a dinosaur egg and I’ll sit right up in my seat and even take some notes.

And all those presidents? Nah. I haven’t really decided what I want to do when I grow-up, but I’ll bet you it won’t have anything at all to do with having to know the name of the twenty-third president. Or the twenty-fourth either.

And I still can’t figure out why in the world I will ever need to remember that Topeka is the capital of Kansas. And the only reason I remember that is because it sounds funny. Toe-Peek-Ah! I mean, think about it. You have a hole in your shoe and your big toe is poking out and sighing because it’s getting some fresh air. Toe-Peek-Ah! You know, if they taught all of that history stuff like that I might remember more of it.

And today? She was rambling on with something about how the earth was formed. Like I care.

Have you ever noticed how some days go really fast and some go really slow? Like days when we have a test. The clock just spins faster and faster to get to the time we have to take that test.

I hate tests.

Especially history tests.

And other days, like Fridays or just before holidays, the clock gets slower and slower. I swear, sometimes I think they stop it or even turn it backward every once in a while.

Today, time was kinda mixed up. It was going slow because I was sitting in history class, but it was going fast to get to that detention with Mr. Canberry. Unlike Denton Vargas, I had never had a detention. But I had heard rumors.

Rats.

“What do you think about that, Mr. Dufner?”

Double rats.

Ms. Allen was looking at me and so was everyone else in the room. Denton Vargas was grinning his grin because he knew for sure that I had not been listening and that I had no idea what Mrs. Allen was talking about. I heard him whisper, “Doofus”.

I put that look on my face. The one that says I’m thinking deeply about whatever it is I’m supposed to be thinking about before I give my answer.

At least it wasn’t one of those yes or no kind of questions. You only have two options with those. But this is a ‘what do you think?’ question, and I’ve been in this situation before and have learned something.

“I’m really not sure,” I said with that thoughtful look still on my face.

Everyone stared at me.

“Good answer, Mr. Dufner,” she said. “I haven’t given you all of the details yet, so it is good to wait until you hear them all before you make up your mind. That’s a good rule to remember in everything, because—”

She kept talking about something the way adults do when they find an excuse to try and teach us something about growing up. I think they’re always looking for that kind of excuse. She finally stopped, smiled at me, and went on talking about whatever it was she had been talking about before.

Once in a while, things go pretty well.

Then the bell rang.

Detention time.

Rats.

 

“Arnie Dufner and the Purple Principal!”

The Adventure Begins…