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I couldn't wait to see everyone's reaction to the news, which would probably be all over the school by the time I got there. I hadn't even made it through the parking lot when it started. Kenny York, under the hood of his '74 Camaro, had a cell phone pressed to his ear with one shoulder while fiddling with his engine.

"They did what? In the gym?" He pulled out a screw, studied it, then dropped it into his back pocket. "Christ, dude, for real? Damn, that takes balls."

I turned my head and smiled. I liked being part of the action for once.

My pride came crashing down when I saw the row of teachers lined up like soldiers at the school entrance. They parted to let a few kids in, then moved back into formation. It was a scare tactic—I knew that—but it worked. As soon as I made it through, hall monitors ushered me into the auditorium.

Nora sat in the last row, observing the commotion around her. Her eyes were big and bright as they swept past me, taking in the crowd. They latched onto Mr. Reid as he moved down the aisle to the stage. He pulled a pencil from his blazer and tapped three times on the microphone. Feedback shrieked through the room. The crowd fell silent, as if someone had hit the mute button. Nora's lips curled into a half-smile.

"Can everyone hear me?" Mr. Reid yelled into the microphone. The first two rows covered their ears. "I'm sure by now many of you know that a serious act of vandalism occurred last night. The damage was extensive. A great deal of athletic equipment was destroyed. For those of you taking gym this week, you'll meet in the auditorium for an extra study period until further notice."

Groans erupted from the jock section.

"I can assure you that we'll find the perpetrators," Mr. Reid added, causing the same jocks to cheer.

I swallowed, hoping to dislodge the rock in my throat. Next to the principal, a couple of teachers scanned the crowd, alert for unusual reactions. I wanted to check out Nora again, but I didn't dare take my eyes off the stage.

"I'm asking for your help. If anyone has heard or seen anything suspicious, please report it to me at once. For those responsible, I urge you to turn yourselves in." He gestured toward the back of the room.

Everyone twisted in their seats to gape at the two policemen looking back. Someone dropped a pen. It gathered speed as it rolled down the sloped auditorium. I tried to focus on my breathing. In-out. In-out. In-out. Now would be a bad time to pass out.

"The extent of your punishment will increase with each hour that Officer Price and Officer Henderson spend on this crime." Each cop waved stiffly when Mr. Reid mentioned his name.

Seniors were supposed to do these kinds of things before graduation, I told myself. It was a prank. This would all blow over by the afternoon.

Mr. Reid muttered "Thank you," walked up the aisle, and exited the auditorium, the cops behind him. The noise swelled to a roar as kids pushed out of their rows.

What kind of punishment was he talking about, anyway? Suspension? Payment for damages? Would the cops actually arrest us?

Stupid people get caught, Justin had said.

We aren't stupid, I thought to myself, repeating it like a mantra.

A few heads in front of me, slick black spikes bobbed up and down. I wanted to push everyone aside to get to Justin. His disregard for Mr. Reid's dramatics might help me get some perspective.

Behind me, Greg Jacobs, football god of Kennedy High, said, "If I get my hands on those jerks, I'll kick them right through the goalposts."

I tried to muster some anger. If the orchestra room had been vandalized, the jocks would have yawned.

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