The Legend (Scene 2)

Abe Table and the Legend of Burgess Clave continues. Here is Scene 2:

Nothing unusual about the day, I thought to myself as I climbed the stairs to Language Arts. Five hundred of us were going to the same class it seemed—the hallways and stairways were jam-packed. Other than that, and, oh, the fact that I had just promised to steal a key and break into the scariest part of my uncle’s cemetery, the day was just normal.

What was I thinking? My brain was scrambled already from the test that was coming up next period, and now I was more worried than ever that I was going to get caught, get in trouble and lose my job. Not to mention what my mom and dad were going to do. My mind was beginning to work overtime and I tripped going up the last step, spewing my binder into the upstairs hallway—which was like pitching it into a churning river.

“Table! Easy, Dude. You gotta control that massive frame of yours or you’ll run someone over,” Justin Placer said. He stood in the middle of the hallway forcing the traffic to go around like a giant boulder in the river while I grabbed my binder and the loose papers.

“Thanks, Justin,” I said after I got everything.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. Anything to help someone who may help me on my test today, right?”

I didn’t want to ‘help’ Justin. This could turn out to be a tougher day than I thought. I chuckled and shook my head. “Got to watch that sort of stuff, Justin. That could land us both in some trouble.” I was hoping my play-it-off thinking worked. The stresses of this day were mounting and I hadn’t even taken the test yet. I wondered (but wished I didn’t) how it could possibly get worse.

“That’s what I like about you, Table,” Justin said while nodding like a laid-back surfer. “You don’t pull any punches. I expected that from you.”

He fist-bumped me as we turned into the classroom. Whew! That was close. I didn’t even know what that saying meant, but I guessed it meant I was honest.

Gravy was in my Social Studies class and met me before I even sat down—a little too eager, I thought.

“Can’t wait to go tonight! Gonna be awesome,” Gravy said smiling like he just ate the last cookie in the lunch line.

“What’s gonna be awesome, Abe?” Liz said. It got worse.

I smiled on one side of my mouth and knew I shouldn’t have wondered about how it could get worse. Liz Strong was in Social Studies too.

“Yeah, Liz, no big deal. We are going to race go-carts tonight,” I lied. I didn’t know what else to do! Not only was I stressed about the test coming up, almost bullied into cheating on it, asked to steal the key to the mausoleum of Burgess Clave and lead a bunch of boys to break into it, now I was lying regularly like a card shark playing poker with a bunch of little kids. Would the day and its stresses never end?

“Dude, Liz, that’s totally not it. We are going to the mausoleum of Burgess Clave on Sleepy Knoll tonight at midnight. Abe here is getting us in,” dingbat Gravy said.

I was beyond frustration! How was I supposed to do well on my Social Studies test with stuff like this going on?! I felt like Charlie Brown at the moment.

Fortunately, Harrison rang his bell for everyone to sit down and quietly journal about the topic on the screen while he took roll. I saw that as an opportunity to calm down a bit. I breathed deeply to prepare for the onslaught of Liz Strong. She didn’t allow for much preparation.

“Abe,” Liz whispered from her seat ahead one and across the aisle. Her eyebrows were down-turned in the middle and the smirky smile she wore was like a happy face gone rogue—she was all too glad to know what the boys had planned. “Are you ghost hunting again? How’d that go for you last time?”

I thought about that for a minute and remembered the trouble Liz herself got into the last time. I wanted to get right back in her face, but I felt sorry for her. No time to worry about that now. I had to finish writing and ignore Liz if possible. Which was not.

We all had five minutes to find a partner and ask study questions with him or her from our interactive notes. I partnered with Gravy, who sat behind me, and thought I was going to be able to focus on the test.

“Better watch out up there tonight, Abe,” Liz said on her way to the pencil sharpener in the back of the room. She had a mechanical pencil in her hands. She didn’t even look at me when she said it.

How was I supposed to concentrate on the test? I didn’t put it past Liz to show up and try one of her typical tricks tonight. And thinking about what she had to say or what she might do was going to positively derail my chances of doing well on this ridiculous test.

When she came back by I couldn’t help himself. “You better watch out, Liz. My uncle’s not too friendly with uninvited guests after hours.”

“Good,” she said, “I hope he’s invited you and your gullible friends.”

She always got the last word and she was mean, but smart.

The test came and went and I wasn’t sure it was my best, but I had other worries now that it was over: the break in of the mausoleum of Burgess Clave. Why had I agreed to do this? Mr. Harrison invited my row and Liz’s to go to the library and meet with the media center coordinator. He had arranged to have a bunch of historical documents about Industrial America available for us. It was a whole process that we’d done for other topics. It was at the library, once we were in table groups—and Liz purposefully joined mine and Gravy’s—that Liz took over.

“Ever hear the actual legend of Burgess Clave, Elijah?” Liz used Gravy’s real name. She preyed on the weak. Gravy shook his head. He probably hadn’t. “He shows up now and then at the edge of the woods behind the mausoleum. Not all the time, mind you. Just sometimes. Chances are you won’t see him tonight if you go up there.”

He was listening and I was waiting for the spooky music to start playing. I’d heard the legend, of course, because my uncle owns the place.

“Chances are we won’t see him because ghosts don’t exist,” Gravy said.

“Suit yourself… Abe, here knows that’s not true. Why, the ghost of Burgess Clave has been seen on that hill before,” Liz said. She paused a bit before she continued, like she was thinking of the nicest way to break the news to poor Gravy. “Clave was rich, Elijah. He was worth a ton, but some of his closest people swindled him out of all his money.” She paused again.

I was about to interrupt when she picked up the little yarn she spun. I thought of a kitten chasing a piece of string. I wasn’t sure who was on the other end: Liz or Gravy.

“So, now, he appears only when someone who is dishonest shows up… someone who has stolen something or is trespassing maybe. He wants revenge against all thieves and trespassers,” Liz said. “I’d think twice about going up there at night.” Then she popped up and left the table.

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