Craven Danger at the Crossroads - Part Four - A Conclusion
“Please have a seat, Mr. Danger,” said principle Starch.
Craven Danger took a look at the paddle hanging over the bookcase and winced.
“Thanks,” said Craven. “I think I will, while I’m able.”
“While you’re able?” said Mr. Starch.
“I’m a big boy, Mr. Starch,” said Craven. “And I can take my big boy medicine with the best of ‘em. So let’s push this show to the third act and drop the curtain. My momma didn’t raise no sissy boy, no matter how many times Betty tells me different. I can take it.”
“I know words are coming out of your mouth, Mr. Danger,” said the principle, “but I’m not understanding a single one.”
“The paddle,” said Craven. “I know what ya plan on doin’ with it. And I just want ya ta know that there won’t be a sniffle or a sob out a me while your dishin’ out the whacks. And I also want ya to know that I give my shorts a good scrubbin‘ every night before I go ta bed. So they‘ll be no extra whacks for me.“
”Dishin’ out the whacks, as you put it, Mr. Danger, is something we don’t do here at St. Ignatius. We’re a humane and progressive institution, sir. And you can tell anyone who’s been telling you other wise that those rumors are pure folklore.”
“Then what’s the paddle for?” said Craven.
“In addition to being the principle,” said Mr. Starch. “I also coach the boys table tennis team, Mr. Danger. We’re champions in our district three years runnin’”
“Ping pong?” said Craven.
“Ping pong,” said Mr. Starch.
Why that little liar Billy Munson! thought Craven. Wait’ll I get my hands on him! I‘ll toss him in every mud hole in town!
“Then what’s my punishment?” said Craven.
“You’re punishment, as you like to put it,” said Mr. Starch, “is to apologize to Billy Munson. He was quite traumatized by that dousing in the mud puddle.”
“He was traumatized?” said Craven. “I’m the one he tried to blow up with a cupcake!”
“It’s the first I’m hearing of it, Mr. Danger,” said the principle. “I’ll certainly look into the matter. In the meantime, Mr. Danger, Billy’s one of my best ping pong players. And we’ve got a state tournament coming up. I just had him in here to let him know he needn’t worry about being man-handled by an over zealous school crossing guard. It could through off his whole game. So, I’d like to invite little Billy back to the office so the two of you can shake hands and forget this day ever happened. It would do wonders for the boy’s morale.”
His morale! thought Craven. What about mine? But there was Betty‘s voice again. ‘Try ta be reasonable, Mr. Danger.‘
“I’m a reasonable fella,” said Craven. “Despite what Betty might think. So, sure, I’ll shake hands with Billy Munson. And as long as he don’t try ta pull no funny business, I’ll forget all about almost havin’ my head blown up.”
“Miss Teasedale,” said Mr. Starch into the intercom. “Will you have Billy Munson come in now, please.”
Billy Munson came in carrying a cupcake with a lighted candle in its center.
Craven Danger had many thoughts on his mind at that moment. They mostly involved running. But Craven also had Betty on his mind, and Betty was sayin’, 'Ya face ya fears, Mr. Danger. Ya don’t run like a cockroach in the kitchen when the lights go on.’
So Craven made a grab at the cupcake and dropped it into Mr. Starch’s fish tank.
“No need ta thank me,” said Craven. ”When trouble‘s afoot, I‘m there ta lend a hand! That‘s my motto. You’re just lucky I was here, Mr. Starch, or this little hooligan coulda blown up the whole office.”
Mr. Starch walked over to the fish tank and retrieved the floating candle.
“I asked Miss Teasdale to go and get a cupcake from the cafeteria, as a sort of greeting on your first day on the job, Mr. Danger. Miss Teasedale was kind enough to honor it with a candle. And this dear boy, Billy Munson, was kind enough to bring it in.”
“Oh,” said Craven.
“So you got yourself fired, huh?” said Sidney. “And you didn’t even make it to your lunch break. You must be starvin’. I got an extra cup cake in my lunch bag if you want it, Mr. Danger. FDR didn’t eat his. He don’t seem to like banana. Go figure.”
Craven Danger closed his eyes, and all he could hear was Betty, ‘Sometimes a thing is just what it is, Mr. Danger. And it ain’t no more. I think I read somewhere that Freud said that.'
“Sure,” said Craven. “I’m so hungry I can even eat a cupcake. Although, I tell ya, it’s gonna be bitter sweet goin’ down.”
“Bitter sweet?” said Sidney. "Nah, It’s just banana.”