True, there is no better way to humiliate a teenager than through unrequited love, but I didn’t want to bring Clark into it. I had a very bad feeling about that. Besides, I liked him, he was a nice boy who had never done anyone any harm, why should he have to be connected to anyone so gross and mean as Dolores? My protests were immediately squashed. Sam said it was just too good an opportunity and that there were always civilian casualties in warfare, and Sharon was so blinded by revenge, she no longer cared. A note was written.
I was noticing your artwork the other day in Mr. Godfried’s class and I happened to think you are quite good.
(This is the way Clark speaks, sort of formal. I like it, but most of the kids think it’s weird.)
Quite, quite good. I was wondering, quite earnestly, if you would care to met me to discuss an art project I am putting together.
Please don’t answer this missive, or speak of it to anyone. I would like to keep our rendevous clandestine. Meet me behind the backstop on the baseball field at 9:00 pm. Tonight, if you are interested.
Your’s in Art-
P.S. That pink dress you wore the other day is quite fetching.
Okay, I admit it, it was me who wrote the note, because Sam and Sharon figured only I could write it and make it sound like him. I felt even worse about writing it than I did going along with the plan, but somehow Sam and Sharon convinced me to do it, I guess half way by flattering me about what a good writer I am and the other half by telling me that Clark would never know about it because Dolores would be too embarrassed to ever confront him. Anyway, I wrote the thing and there’s no denying it. I even made it look like his signature, which I copied from one of his paintings that hangs in the auditorium – like I said, he’s really good.
Now, to get Jill to find the note and give it to Dolores. I sat behind Jill in English. I wrote on the front of the note, please deliver to Dolores Reinarz and dropped it into her backpack when she wasn’t looking. I knew she’d read it, but it didn’t matter. Jill was Dolores’s closest friend and we figured the only one of the group Dolores had confided in about Clark. She wouldn’t have told anyone else, because like I said, Clark was not considered cool by her crowd, or anyone for that matter. Sharon had added the part about the pink dress because she had overheard Dolores say that she paid a ton of money for it. Actually, her dad had paid a ton of money for it. He was rich. I can’t even imagine Dolores with a job.
Later that day, Sam passed me a note in gym:
Aabab abaaa baaab aabbb baaba abbab abbab abaab aaaab aaaaa abaaa baaba baaba baaaa aaaaa abbba baaab aabaa baaba aabab abbab baaaa 9 abbba ababb
“Fish took bait. Trap set for 9 p.m.”
It had worked. Sam had seen Jill give Dolores the note in line at the quick lunch. Sam has lunch the same period as them. They were giggling like crazy, he said.
As expected, Jill went with Dolores that night. As expected, Dolores was wearing the pink dress. That night at least five kids snuck out of their rooms on a school night to be at the baseball field at 9:00 p.m. Clark was not one of them.
Sam had arrived at the baseball field at 7 p.m. to lay the trap. He had it finished by 8 p.m. and spent the rest of the time guarding it from harm. Sam had been reading up on booby traps in a book about Vietnam. They don’t teach us about Vietnam in school; only about World War II and the Revolutionary War and Civil War and War of 1812, or whatever. I don’t know why. I guess it’s too recent and people still feel too bad about it. Our teacher, Mr. Ellsworth told us about it anyway. He was a protestor and marched on Washington. He said they actually shut down the government for one whole day and maybe that helped end the war, and for that he is very proud of his generation. I think that’s cool that people cared so much to do that. Nobody seems to care that much about stuff now-a-days. I wonder if my generation will have anything to be proud of?
So here we were at war, in a sense, with Dolores and her crew of terrorist morons. Of course we weren’t planning to kill anybody, or even really hurt them, just on humiliating and embarrassing them so they would leave the rest of us alone. Still, I was beginning to feel weird about the whole thing. Sharon didn’t feel weird about it, she felt great. And Sam… Sam was having the time of his life with the booby traps and all. It was like he’d found his calling or something. I decided I was just being wishy-washy and so I decided to ignore the sense of fear building within me. We had only just begun and here I was already wimping out. Sam would tell me I think too much, and he’s right, I do. I really, really do think too, too much. So for now I would just decide not to think and to let things take their course.
Dolores arrived at the baseball field about ten minutes after nine. Fashionably late, I suppose, so that she could make an entrance. Jill was with her. I could tell by the look on her face that she had expected Clark to be standing there waiting for her. She and Jill seemed to argue for a second then Jill went off in another direction and disappeared. Dolores walked over to the backstop. She stood in front of it for awhile looking nervous, then she walked around behind it. We were hiding in the bushes on the downward sloping hill behind the backstop. Sam had hidden fishing wires in a few places and each wire led to the trap. Finally, she stepped on one. Instantly, she was hit from all directions by a fine spray of red paint. She screamed, she shouted, she cursed a blue streak and she didn’t even hear the sound of the Polaroid camera in my hand capturing the moment.
Jill came running over from wherever she had been. Dolores was crying and cursing. (mouth like a gutter, like I said). Sam, Sharon and I were in fits of silent laughter. For a second I felt bad for her, but then I remembered all the mean things she had done and said and I felt happy.
“What’s going on?!” Dolores screamed.
“I don’t know!” screamed Jill.
Suddenly, Dolores stopped crying and asked, “Jill, why did you ask for extra red paint in art class yesterday?” (this was part of the plan, Sam had noticed her ask for it and so incorporated it.)
“What?” Jill was stunned.
“Why did you ask Mr. Godfried for extra red paint?!” Dolores screamed pointing at one of the rigged bottles above the backstop.
“It was for a project! You don’t think that I–”
“Yeah, what project?” Dolores cut her off. “Who else knew how I felt about Clark? Who else gave me a phony note? Who else is here to watch me get covered in red paint and ruin my dress? Who else wasn’t able to buy new clothes this fall because her dad lost his job?! (We hadn’t known about that.) Who else is soooo jealous of me, they would do such a mean, mean thing?!”
“I…” stammered Jill, but Dolores had already run away crying.
Jill ran after her.
Afterwards we took down the bottles and the wire and I found the crumpled note from Clark that Dolores must have discarded on the ground as she fled the scene. I picked it up, uncrumpled it and read it again to myself. How would I have felt getting a note like that from a boy I really liked and then finding out it was all a joke? Pretty bad, I thought. I crumpled the note back up and put it in my pocket. I looked at Sam and Sharon, they both looked so proud and happy. I don’t know what I felt, but it wasn’t that. I didn’t have time to figure it out though because next thing I knew, Sam and Sharon and I were all holding hands and dancing in a circle, celebrating our first victory in our secret, undeclared war.