“You don’t have enough points, sir.”

Nick shot up from his cross-legged position on the tree house floor, enraged. “Count the points again, dimwad!” He paced the six feet of wood planks.

Billy scowled, but he huffed noisily and began to count up the points again in his notebook. “I’ve been keeping track, sir, since you started this stupid initiation.” He straightened his coke-bottle glasses and recounted the records out loud. “You got all the Truth points except you missed one because you didn’t have proof that you saw Miss Lasorda’s underwear, you only had proof of Miss Jade’s. You got the points for the prank call to Domino’s, the five-finger discount at 7-Eleven, and the ‘power outage’ at the arcade. You got points for the bubble bath in the city pool, but it wasn’t enough to cover the points lost from the attempt to lure the mayor’s daughter out of her bedroom window.”

Jason snorted. Nick gave him the finger.

Billy shook his head and continued, “But even though you got fifteen points for walking in the Fourth of July parade in your underwear, you were docked two because you wore clown makeup.”

“Told you not to wear the make-up,” Jason mumbled.

“What do you know? You didn’t even get to Round Two, moron!”

Billy slammed the notebook shut. “Stop getting mad at us, Nick. We don’t have time for that. School starts next week and you don’t have enough points to get in The System. If one of us doesn’t get in—well, you know what that means. You’re going to have to do something pretty rotten to get nine more points to qualify. The big points are racked up if you breach the school. So, what’s it going to be, sir?”

Nick stopped pacing and folded his arms to think. Legends of major blunders for last-minute points had infiltrated the elementary school for years. Most of those idiots ended up on the receiving end of Sister John Ann’s infamous paddle and made them a target on her radar for the next six years of school. The curse of having middle and high school combined meant Sister John Ann forever.

“Has anyone ever ‘tagged’ the Church?” Nick wondered.

Billy was the history whiz. “Not since that Marco kid made out with Sandy Dean in the front pew. They said he was forced to sit in the front at mass the whole year long. Next to Sister John Ann.” He shuttered.

“But what about points? Was he rewarded?”

“The stunt itself was valued at twenty points. Are you going to go for more points? What are you thinking?”

“If I’m going to get in it’s not going to be by the skin of my teeth,” Nick breathed. Then his boyish face looked suddenly devious. “You know the private confessional? The one all the students use for Reconciliation to avoid actually seeing Father Monroe?”

“Oh my gosh!” Jason’s eyes popped and his mouth flew open.

Billy coughed; spittle squirted out of his mouth onto the notebook. He brushed it off with his hand. “Are you trying to become a legend?”

Nick ignored the question. “Check this out.” He cleared his throat and maneuvered his mouth. A rough voice emerged, “Sorry, I have a cold today, (cough, cough). Do five Hail Marys and ten Our Fathers, (cough, cough).” His friends smiled.

Nick and Billy worked on the scheme’s details for hours that turned into days. Jason was useless. With every detail checked off the planning list by Saturday, Nick sneaked into the confessional at the prearranged time to await fellow students and their dark, juicy secrets.

The first sinner entered the private confessional concealed by a screen. Nick strained his ears and could sense they kneeled down and moved their hand—performing a sign of the cross, presumably.

“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” they began; the voice sounded old, familiar. “It has been forever since my last confession. Since then I accuse myself of not stopping a student from pretending to be me to rack up points. Said student will be serving his blessed sentence for the entire school year.”

Nick said a prayer.


(writing prompt provided by WD Your Story Competition #75)