I don’t have any idea how I’m always in the wrong place at the right time, but it happens to me all the time.
It wasn’t until my second trip to the office that same day that I found out the truth about everything. Including Ben, William Fry and even the disappearing Borland. Of course, I didn’t get there right away. I ran into Liz first. Or she ran into me. In the hallway by our lockers.
“Abe, you won’t believe this!” She was panicked like a vampire a minute before sunrise. “I went with Katie DeFlorence to get a volleyball pumped up for PE, except Mrs. Fontain’s pump broke and we had to go to Mr. Aimes’s office and you know that back section by the door to the engine room (she meant the boilers)?”
My mind was fading fast because she was giving way too much detail for me to pay attention.
“Abe, listen! There were black plastic bags lining the wall piled 2 or 3 deep. I saw a hand hanging out of one!” She squealed.
“What?” I said.
“I did! I’m not kidding!”
Ray chimed in. “C’mon, Liz. This all has something to do with Ben and that kid Fry. There are no aliens invading our school. And Aimes sure isn’t collecting them, either.”
I wasn’t so sure Ray was right! Liz didn’t just make stuff up for the fun… well, okay, she did sometimes make stuff up to fool us. But, she was way too into this! Either she was really a good actor or she saw bags with hands.
Liz grabbed Ray’s hand and mine and started running us back to Aimes’s office like we were at the roller skating rink. We had to run right by the glass window office. Like we weren’t obvious! 3 kids running by the office holding hands! Yeah, well, they chased us down but we made it to Aimes’s office first. It was at the edge of the cafeteria.
“Hello?” Liz said as she peeked in the door.
I was scared and curious at the same time. I didn’t want to see the hand but I wouldn’t have missed this chance if you paid me a ten dollar bill.
It was dark over by the door to the natural gas boiler room. I could just make out the bags. Liz started walking in and we were NOT holding her hand anymore. I could see something… it looked like…
“They want you guys in the office.”
AHHH! We all jumped at the voice from the door behind us. I got out of there and Liz and Ray were right with me.
Back in the office, things had changed. It was quiet and Ben Flatbush was sitting in a chair filling out a yellow statement sheet, his pencil clicking on the clipboard as fast as he could make it go.
“Sit down, crew, and wait for Mr. Borland to call you into his office,” Mrs. Green said.
Mrs. Jensen, the other office lady, said to Mrs. Green, “You know, we are going to have to get some evidence, right?”
“We already have it, thanks to Mr. Borland. It’s in the bags.”
What? They really were taking over! There really was a hand in the bag! Ray and Liz looked at me with big eyes that said, “THEY ARE CRAZY ALIENS!”
I looked over at Ben, but he kept clicking on the yellow sheet. Like he didn’t even hear what she said. That should have been my first clue. But, I didn’t catch it and opened my big mouth instead. And I guess I was pretty funny because those office ladies laughed a lot.
“Hey, Mrs. Green, I have to ask you something kinda weird.” She nodded. “Are you an alien?”
And so the laughter began.
“Am I (laugh, laugh) an alien? (laugh)”
“I’ve been called worse,” she said. Then Mrs. Jensen laughed.
I wasn’t sure what was so funny.
“Not the craziest question, Abe, but why do you ask?”
“Well, it’s a long story. See we… well, Ben thought aliens were taking over our school…”
“No I didn’t,” Ben said. Straight-faced. I’m sure I looked as dumbfounded as Ray and Liz. Like what? He continued. “I just had to get help and didn’t know how to do it.”
As if things couldn’t get stranger, Mr. Borland came out with a sobbing William Fry. “Mrs. Jensen, could you help Mr. Fry in the health room? Everyone else, with me in the office.”
We trailed in like baby ducks, but I was not at all sure what was going on. Even Ben came in.
Borland brought an end to the alien takeover in a few short sentences.
“Kids, listen to me. Abe, your Monster Deck is on my desk. Help yourself.” The deck was in a few plastic bags. “Okay, Here’s what is going on. Ben here was being bullied by William, who wanted a Monster Deck. Your Monster Deck, Abe. Ben, being the bright 6th grader he is, got the deck from your binder and then kept a few cards before giving the deck to William. He didn’t want to get in more hot water with a bully by tattling, so he made a plan to make you think aliens were taking over by placing a few cards here and there at the right time. And I guess it kind of worked. He wanted to bring light to what was going on indirectly.”
“But what about the hand in the bag in Aimes’s office? Isn’t that part of an alien takeover?” Sometimes I surprised myself at the stupid stuff I was capable of saying.
Borland laughed. Seems like everyone was getting a chuckle out of all of this. “Those are old mannequins we are sending to the warehouse. Leftovers from when we taught sewing years ago.”
I was feeling kinda dumb, but I asked anyway: “What about you disappearing in the janitor’s closet?” He must have known what I was talking about.
“You mean just a few minutes ago?”
“There is an electric motor well behind the elevator and the only way to get to it is behind the closet in that room. It hasn’t been working right. I was checking it with Mr. Aimes. Okay. Anyway, problem solved. You’ve got your deck back and William isn’t going to be bothering anyone anymore.” Borland stood to shew the ducks out.
As we were going out the glass door of the front office I turned back to Mrs. Green. “And the evidence in the bags?”
She laughed. “Abe, William kept your deck in separate sandwich bags from his lunch.”
The three of us left for our lockers when I noticed the fourth. Ben.
“Abe, can I join Monster Investigations? I’m pretty okay at stuff like this.”
We all smiled. “Yeah, you are, Ben. I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”
Liz finished my thoughts, of course. “Ben, you might be better than me at this. I’d say you are a real monster.” She smiled and held up one of my Monster Deck cards: the Alien 74.
I knew right then that Ben would fit in. Alien or not.