Cora stands in front of the class, practically peeing herself from excitement, knowing her show-and-tell this afternoon is going to be the best one not only in Miss Shoenwalter’s second grade class but in ALL second grade classes EVER in the history of Edgar Allen Poe Elementary School.
Heart speeding, she reaches into her book-club tote for an old embroidered hankie.
“This,” she says, pausing for dramatic effect like a magician, “is my dog’s nose!”
She extends her left hand, and with a flourish unfolds the hankie’s edges with her right, releasing a faint memory of her grandmother’s Jean Naté.
Gretchen K., never known for her strong stomach, puts her head on her desk, shoulders heaving. Warren S., rumored to have a real live subway rat hidden in a backpack in his bedroom closet, leans over her slumped body for a closer look.
“Awesome!” he says.
“Not-so-close!” Cora says, pulling her hand back and then over her head.
“Oh, I get it!” he says. “That’s not a dog nose! It’s part of a brownie!”
Giggles, gasps, and guffaws ricochet off the concrete walls.
Warren lunges forward, almost trips on Gretchen, and wrenches the hankie and its contents from Cora’s hand.
“No! Don’t!” Cora screams. “Warren! Stop it!”
Mrs. Shoenwalter dashes forward from her observation perch at the back of the room, but her speed is no match for Warren’s. Just like Cora’s pleas are no match for his determination.
Without even looking at what he’s just managed to wrench from Cora’s grasp, Warren pops its contents into his grinning mouth and starts chewing maniacally and smacking his lips. Just as Mrs. Shoenwalter reaches him and places her hand on his left shoulder to spin him out toward the aisle to face her, he starts gagging, choking, and rolling his eyes.
Warren is a notorious showoff, clown, and disruptor of the class. Indeed, he spends so much time in the principal’s office that Principal Cordovan even jokes that he should have his own desk there complete with his name balanced in a little tray. So naturally everyone laughs as he pantomimes choking. That Warren always a goof!
“Shit! Shit!” he manages to sputter.
“Language, Warren, language!” Mrs. Shoenwalter says.
“SHIT!” he says. The front of his shirt is covered in spit and —
And this time Cora is the one sitting in a hardback chair in Principal Cordovan’s office.
Cora’s miffed, because being in Cordovan’s stinky office means she’s missing her favorite class, Art, where they’re using clay, and she’d planned to secretly mold a voodoo doll of Warren to use whenever he acted extra-jerky. Well, at least she got back at him with the dog shit “dog nose”. She couldn’t have planned it better! Yeah, everyone will remember Warren flailing like she’d done voodoo on him, but they’ll remember her more for getting him that way. Who’d’ve thought quiet Cora would be the one to give this bully his comeuppance? Just goes to show, you never can tell.