A Time When It All Went Wrong by Colin Kelly

They say everyone has a double, a doppelganger, someone who’s their mirror image. What if you just met your double? What if you were a thirteen-year-old kid who’s gay and you just met your double?

Chapter 11: Pranks and Weight Training      Story Index >>

“We’ll go in through the back,” I said. As we walked in, I called out, “I’m home, Mom, and there are a couple friends with me.”

She walked into the kitchen from the family room. “Hi Tony, who are your friends?”

“This is Frank Candler, and this is Scott Sanderson. They both live near us. I have homeroom and English with Frank. Scott and I don’t have any classes together, but what’s cool is Scott is going out for the basketball team. We’re going to work on our homework together since we all have a lot of the same subjects.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you boys. You can use the dining room table to do your homework. Is it necessary that I ask if you’re hungry and would like a snack?”

“I want a snack, please,” I said. I turned and looked at Frank and Scott and raised my eyebrows to ask if they would like a snack as well.

They both grinned and nodded.

“What do we have to snack on?”

“There’s fruit in the refrigerator, bananas in the dish on the counter, frozen burritos, tortilla chips and potato chips, salsa in the refrigerator, Coke, 7Up, and root beer. This is a do-it-yourself snack shop,” she told us, then chuckled. “I have some dreary medical books to read, so I’ll be in the family room doing my homework.”

“Hey, Mom,” I said, “Scott’s dad is a doctor. Scott, why don’t you tell my mom what your dad does.”

“My dad is a Reproductive Endocrinologist. He works for Galahad Fertility Centers. He’s in charge of their Western region. We just moved here from Chicago. My mom said she’d like to talk to you. She always wants to talk to a new friend’s mother or dad. I’ll write our phone number down. If you have a piece of paper and a pen.”

“Here’s a pad and a pen,” she said. “Is this a good time to give her a call?”

“Sure. My mom’s at home now.”

“Your father’s job sounds very interesting. I’m a physician at Redwood Hospital, and most of what I do is take over cases that come in to the emergency room. I work the midnight shift, and I actually like working at that time because it gives me the entire day free. Other than when I sleep, of course.” She laughed.

“I think my dad would like to talk to you about what you do and talk about what he does. He always likes to tell people, especially other doctors, about what he does.”

Mom turned and looked at Frank. “And how about you Frank,” she said. “Should I call your mom?”

“Yeah, that would be great. We moved here a few months ago from Boulder, Colorado, and she doesn’t know very many people here yet. She’d like to talk to you.”

Mom handed Frank the pad and pen, and he wrote down his mom’s name and phone number.

“What does your father do Frank?” she asked.

“He’s in the Army. He’s in charge of recruiting for the Bay Area. His office is in downtown Oakland. My mom is an author. She writes children’s books.”

While all of this discussion was going on, I had pulled three burritos out of the freezer and put them in the microwave, and got the tortilla chips and salsa out.

“Hey, guys, I’m heating up three burritos, and they’ll be ready in a few minutes. If my mom’s interrogation is over now,” I grinned and looked at her, “let’s go get set up on the dining room table. That way we can get going on our homework and maybe have some time to do something else before you two have to go home.”

When we finished eating our burritos we got into our homework. Since all three of us had our English classes before lunch, we decided to work on our English homework first. We had a story to read and then write a commentary about what we read. We decided to do the reading and write the first draft of our commentaries and then talk about what our conclusions about the story were. It was interesting that we all agreed about some things in the story, and had very different opinions about some other things. For example, I didn’t like the story very much. Scott and Frank thought it was really good. I could see their point of view, but it certainly wasn’t the kind of story I would normally read. They thought I’d done a good job of explaining what I didn’t like in the story.

When that was finished, we decided the best thing to work on would be our World Geography assignment. This involved research, so we decided to do that together. Scott had his laptop computer with him, so he set it up and I gave him access to our WiFi as a guest so we could get on the internet. We found a lot of information about the relationships between the colonists and the Indians that would give all three of us a good start on the reports that we had to write. Scott emailed the links to me and Frank so we could go directly to the websites we’d found.

All three of us were taking Algebra 2 and Trig. I still think that sounded like two separate classes, but it wasn’t. I’d already done the assignment, and they didn’t seem to have any trouble finishing the problems they’d been given for their homework, and didn’t ask me for any help. While they solved algebra problems, I read parts one and two in the Football for Dummies book and read about half of The Art of Football.

All three of us had Biology, and we needed to start memorizing the names of the major bones in the human body. I went to the family room and asked Mom to give us a hand. She joined us and told us about how she and the other students learned the names of the bones when she took Biology in college. There were little tricks, some of which were silly, but actually helped us remember where the bones were starting at the skull down to the toes. It’s the old ‘the head bone is connected to the neck bone’ thing, but of course they’re not called head bone or neck bone. There are anatomical names for every bone, like the skull, and sometimes there are names for different parts of some bones.

We decided that we wouldn’t do Spanish or French homework. Frank and I were taking Spanish, but he was taking Spanish 2 and I was taking Spanish 3. Scott was taking French 4, and Frank and I didn’t know any French. That was all way too different, and we decided we’d do that homework on our own, at home.

By the time we were finished with our homework it was time for Frank and Scott to head home for dinner. Their mothers had told my mom that Scott and Frank should leave for home by 5:30, and she came in to remind us. After they left I still had some homework to finish. Besides my Spanish homework I had my story for Creative Writing. Neither were due until Friday, and I had a good start on both.

I had about twenty minutes before dinner would be ready, so I called Todd.

He answered in a fake English accent, “Hello, Master Todd here. May I ask who’s calling?”

“Hey, BFF, this is your twin,” I said.

“Hey yourself, BFF. You must have had a bunch of chores. I sort of expected a call about an hour and a half ago.”

“Sorry. I asked Frank and Scott if they wanted to come to my house so we could do our homework together, and they both said yes. We got most of it done.”

“Cool. Man, I wish you and I lived closer so we could do that.”

“Don’t forget about our plan to trade off Tuesdays and Thursdays. We’ll talk our folks into it when you’re here for dinner on Friday.”

“Geez, I forgot about that. We’ll have lots of time for homework, then video games, then other things.” He chuckled.

“Other things? Like what?” I asked.

“Just things I’ll think up that we can do. I’ve already thought of a couple. You’ll probably think up some, too.”

“Okay, Mister Mystery Man. I guess you’re gonna keep your ideas a secret until next Tuesday when we start our tradeoff. Right?”

“That’s true. Just wait and be amazed. Actually, that should be just wait and be shocked! So, tell me about your football class.”

I told him a summary of what we covered in the class. He laughed when I told him one of my Football 1A textbooks is Football for Dummies.

“Don’t laugh,” I told him. “Coach Kavanaugh said it’s one of the best books for teaching the basics of football. We already have homework. He told us to read parts one and two for tomorrow. It’s a great book, along with our other book which is The Art of Football. We have three other books besides those two. One is the official rule book for high school football, the other two are Offensive Football Systems and Defensive Football Systems.”

“Man, that doesn’t sound anything like what I’d have expected. I thought you’d be out on the football field doing jumping jacks and throwing and catching footballs and smashing into blocking dummies. Or you’d be having them smash into you.”

“We’ll be doing that starting next week. And we’ll start weight training, too. This week those of us who never played team football will have mostly normal classroom stuff. That’s to get us up to speed on concepts and terminology. Then next week we’ll join the other guys who moved to a different classroom today. They’re the guys who’ve played team football before, like in middle school or Pop Warner.”

“How many of you are in this basic class?”

“Nine including me. There’s like maybe twenty or twenty-five in the other group.”

“You think any of them will drop out?”

“Maybe. In fact, probably. There’s lots of reasons someone would drop out. Maybe they aren’t in shape to play, or they don’t pass their sports physical, or they don’t have time for practice after school, or their folks freak when they read all the stuff about concussions.”

“What have your folks said? Have they freaked yet?”

“No. I assume we’ll talk about it tonight.”

“Well, good luck with that. My PE class is going to have the first sex talk on Monday. Are you guys going to be doing football stuff or will you have a sex class too?”

“We’ll have the Health and Reproduction classes the next few Mondays with you guys. Don’t plan on seeing anything that’ll get you all hot and bothered. It’s all clinical stuff.”

“Hey, Tony, make sure you bring a banana on Monday. You’ll need it to learn how to roll on a condom.”

“Dufus! That’s an old joke. They won’t do that in our class.”

“I know, just pulling your leg. Still, that might be a good way to practice, don’cha think? Hey, my mom just hollered for me to go down to dinner. I’ll see you in the morning. Let’s meet like we did today, okay?”

“You got it. See you in the a. of m.”

I shut down my phone and plugged in the charger. I decided to go downstairs and wait for dinner there. Maybe I could sneak a bite of something to tide me over.


During dinner my folks told me that they wanted to talk about my going out for freshman football after we finished eating and the kitchen cleanup was done.

“Tony, let’s sit at the kitchen table and have a conversation,” Dad said.

Whoa! ‘Let’s have a conversation’ is one of those things teens never want to hear. But I needed to hear what they had to say, so we sat down and I looked across the table at my mom and dad.

“Okay, what do you think about me going out for freshman football?” I asked.

“We haven’t made up our minds,” Mom said. “I want to talk to some doctors who treat concussions in high school football players. They are very busy, but I made an appointment with two of them, both on Friday. One is a pediatric sports medicine specialist, the other a pediatric neurologist. Until I talk to them I don’t feel that we have enough information to give you a yes or no answer.”

“But Mom, isn’t pediatrics for little kids, like three or four?”

“No, it’s for any child from newborn through age eighteen.”

“I’d have thought I’d be too old to go to a pediatrician now.”

“Well, you’re not, Tony,” Dad told me. “You’re only thirteen years old, just starting your teen years. Both of the doctors your mom is going to talk to specialize in treating kids and teens who suffer from one or more concussions. You read the material that Coach Kavanaugh gave you about concussions. After reading it you should understand how important this is in making our decision about you going out for the freshman football team.”

“Thing is, Mom, what I think is that you’re going to talk to a couple doctors who always work on high school athletes who have concussions. That seems to be pretty loaded against my going out for football.”

“Please don’t think that way, Tony,” she said. “I’m also considering statistics that show the prevalence of concussions in freshman football teams. I’m considering the results both geographically and by school district, since that information is being reported now. I’ve also talked to the Director of Athletics for the school district. Trust me, I’m not going to twist the results so the conclusion would keep you from going out for the team. I will be fair.”

“Okay. When can you tell me what you decide?”

“On Saturday or Sunday. That way you can let Coach Kavanaugh know on Monday,” Dad said.

“Do you have any homework to finish for tomorrow?” Mom asked.

“No, that’s all done. I do want to work on my World Geography project, even though it’s not due for a week. I’ll head upstairs and get started on it.”

When I got to my room I shut the door and flopped down on my bed.

‘Shit!’ I thought. ‘I really wanted an answer tonight. Now I have to wait until the weekend. I know it won’t be Saturday. That’s the day when they’ll want to talk about it and think about it over and over and over.’

There wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I got up and went online to surf for a while.


Thursday morning I met Scott and Frank at the bus stop. They didn’t ask, so I didn’t say anything about my folks not deciding about me and freshman football. In fact, I couldn’t remember if I’d told them my folks were going to decide my freshman football fate. I knew that Todd would ask about it, for sure.

When we got to school I saw Heather and waved, said “See you later” to Frank and Scott, and walked over where she stood talking with some other girls.

“Hey, Tony. Meet my friends.” She named them, and their names went in one ear and out the other. That’s what my grandma often says when she’s forgotten something someone had told her, especially names. She says she usually doesn’t care about most of the new people she meets. That made me think, ‘That’s pretty harsh! Am I that way too?’

“Did you hear about Kiernan?” Heather asked. I shook my head. “He was suspended for a week, so his folks pulled him out of school and he’s going to Valley Christian.”

“They’ll straighten him out,” a blonde girl said. “They won’t put up with the kind of bullying crap he does.”

“Man, that seems like a long suspension for what he tried to do to me,” I said. “I wasn’t hurt. What happened is he damaged himself acting stupid.”

“There’s more than him trying to bump you into your locker door,” Heather said.

“Yeah,” one of the other girls said. “He called the vice principal an asshole when he told Kiernan that he’d be on a two-day suspension. So Mr. Garrison upped his suspension to a full week. Kiernan’s a dumb little shit, he was at Carver and apparently succeeded at being the same here.” She grinned, and so did I.

I looked at her, but didn’t remember seeing her at Carver.

“You went to Carver… Jennifer?”

Apparently I’d remembered her name because she replied, “Yeah. I’m a sophomore, so I’m a year ahead of you. You do look sort of familiar. I probably saw you at Carver.”

“I wonder what’s going to happen with his two hangers-on, Austin and Lance. Maybe one of them will try to take over as freshman class bully,” I said.

“I don’t think so,” another girl, whose name I really couldn’t remember, said. “My brother knows both those guys and he says they’re keeping a very low profile. Apparently someone told Mr. Garrison that they hung with Kiernan and helped bully kids. Mr. Garrison brought those two guys into his office and warned them not to try any bullying, or they’d be suspended immediately.”

“Yeah, scared the shit out of them,” yet another girl said.

“How do you know this stuff?” I asked.

“I have a spy in the office,” the last girl said. “My sister works there part-time while she’s going to SHC-squared.”

“Uh, what’s SHC-squared?” I asked.

“Sand Hills Community College,” she replied. “It’s an abbreviation because the school name is too long to say every time.”

“I never heard it called that,” I said, and I grinned. “You learn something every day. Hey, I gotta run. I’m supposed to meet a couple friends at the cafeteria. See you later, Heather. Nice meeting the rest of you, and thanks for the info about Kiernan.”

As I turned and started to walk to the cafeteria to meet Todd, I heard one of the girls say, “He’s cute!” and another reply, “Yeah, he is.”

Oh, my god, that’s all I’d need, to have a couple girls start chasing after me. I decided that I’d better go online and see if there are any suggestions about how to deflect girls who might come on to me. As if! It probably wouldn’t happen, but it’s always better to be prepared. Then again, it might be nice to have a few girls as friends, just not for boyfriend-girlfriend and dating. I wondered if there were ways of being friends with a girl and telling her that I’m not into anything more serious like dating. Yeah, coming out would solve the problem, but am I ready for that? Probably not.

I saw Todd sitting with Scott and Frank. He had a breakfast burrito. How could he eat so much and not get fat? I grinned. That shows that we’re not twins. At least not identical twins.

I joined them and said, ‘Hi,’ and we bumped fists. I sat down.

“So?” Todd said. I knew that he was asking if my folks had said yes or no about me going out for freshman football.

“They gotta think about it, and Mom’s going to talk to a couple neurosurgeons who specialize in concussions. So no decision until this weekend,” I replied.

“That’s a whatever, then. I guess.”

“Yeah,” I said. Not much else I could say.

“Frank was telling me about Prank Day,” Todd enthused. That is so freakin’ cool! We gotta come up with something totally fantastic.”

“Totally fantastic and totally anonymous,” Frank said. “We so do not want to get caught. There were some seniors at Liberty High in Denver who wrapped the signs, the Minuteman statue, it’s the school’s mascot, and most of the outdoor benches and tables in plastic wrap. They did it on a Friday night before a Monday holiday. The weather was hot, so the plastic wrap sort of melted and really stuck to everything before the school staff discovered it. The newspaper article said it cost over ten thousand dollars to get it all off. They have security cameras, so they were able to identify some of the perps and got them to name the others. They all got suspended for like two weeks, they weren’t allowed to go to their graduation ceremony, and their parents had to reimburse the school for the cleanup.”

“Well, we wouldn’t do anything like that,” Todd said.

“Yeah,” Scott added, “no plastic wrap, no paint, no Silly String, no paintball guns, nothing that takes effort to clean up.”

“How about hacking the school website?” Todd suggested. “We could change the logo or something simple to fix.”

“You do that, you’re on your own,” I said. “They can trace stuff like that. How about putting bubble bath in the fountain in the quad?”

“How much would that cost to clean up?” Scott asked. “And aren’t there security cameras in the buildings around the quad?”

I looked up at the edge of the roof of the cafeteria, then at the administration building. I saw at least five cameras.

“Not a good idea,” I said. “Look at all the cameras around here.” I pointed to both buildings.

“That sucks,” Frank said.

Scott pulled off his backpack and unzipped the front compartment. “We’ve still got about fifteen minutes before Homeroom. I’ve got my laptop, so let’s look up some pranks.”

I sat next to him so I watched the screen as he got on Google and did a search for ‘high school pranks’. Almost all were described as senior pranks, and most were way too complicated for us to try. Some seemed to be fakes because they were so ridiculous, like training pigeons to think the football field was their home and then releasing them before their homecoming game. That is so not possible.

“Hey,” Scott said, “here’s one that sounds like fun. He read it out loud: ‘Some seniors at my school last year put our rival high school up for sale on Craigslist for a million and a half bucks. It actually made it into the paper and was talked about on the radio.’ We could put Lehman High up for sale.” He grinned.

“I don’t think Craigslist would fall for that a second time,” Frank said. “Anyway, they probably check on who’s posting stuff now, especially stuff for a million and a half bucks.”

“Oh, here’s one,” Scott said. “This is one we could do and there wouldn’t be any damage. I’ll read it: ‘My friend attached an F to the art room sign so it said Fart Room.’ That’s funny!”

We all laughed at that prank.

“We don’t have an Art room,” Frank said, “we have an Art building. There are four entrances, and each has a sign that reads ‘ART’ in caps. I know this because I’m taking Art 2 during eighth period. The other thing is that each room is labeled like A-dash-number. I think there are twelve rooms, but I’ve never counted them. Anyway, we could add an F to the building name signs making them read FART, and the room labels from A-101 to F-101 and so on.”

We all busted up laughing.

“What freshmen pranks have been done here at Wilson High in the past?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Scott replied. “I’ll ask my brother if he can find out about any from some of the other juniors who’ve been here since they were freshmen.”

“If you ask him, he’ll figure out we want to do a prank,” I said.

“Yeah, and he’ll definitely want to be part of it,” Scott said.

“Let’s keep it quiet,” Todd said. “Let’s make this a freshman prank, and keep it among ourselves.”

“I agree,” I said, and so did Scott and Frank.

Todd took the last bite of his breakfast burrito, looked at the empty wrapper, then looked up at the cafeteria. He started laughing, and it took a few seconds for him to stop.

“Look at the cafeteria sign. It’s all caps too. I think we could change it to CAFARTERIA.”

We all busted up laughing again.

“Hey,” Scott said, “I have another idea. The name of our high school is Woodrow Wilson High School. But Woodrow Wilson’s name was actually Thomas Woodrow Wilson. He changed it, dropping the Thomas, after he graduated from college. We could put something over the sign out front with the name of the school so it reads ‘Thomas Wilson High School’. What do you think?”

“And underneath in smaller letters it could read, ‘Corrected for Historical Accuracy’ or something like that,” Frank suggested. 

“I think we should do that, and the Art building rename, and the cafeteria rename, as long as we can do it without being caught on the security cameras,” I said.

“That’s a good idea, a combination attack!” Todd said. “I live near school, so I’ll come by on Sunday and take some pictures of the Woodrow Wilson High School sign and the cafeteria sign. Frank, can you take pictures of the four Art building signs and a couple of the room number labels, and count the number of doors that have labels? We’ll need measurements, too. And can you do it surreptitiously using your phone so no one would remember you doing it?”

“No problemo,” Frank replied. “I’m the master of surreptitiouslyness.”

“Frank,” I stage-whispered, “that should be no problema, not no problemo. Mr. Markham wouldn’t be pleased if he overheard you.”

“Remember I asked you, ‘How about helping me with my Spanish homework’ when we were doing our homework yesterday,” Frank said. “I’ll never get the gender of Spanish words right. Anyway, I think it’s stupid that some words are masculine and some are feminine.”

“So, since problem in Spanish has a feminine ending, how would you say ‘My son has a problem’ — would it change to a masculine ending like ‘Mi hijo tiene un problemo’? Otherwise it’s like saying he has a female problem,” Frank asked.

“No, problem is always spelled problema,” I replied.

“French is the same way,” Scott said. “I agree that it’s weird.”

“We have it in English,” I said, “but it’s different words and they always are words that mean either a he or a she, like boy and girl. And we don’t use different endings, either.”

The first bell for Homeroom interrupted our conversation, so we got up and walked to the Language Arts building.

“Hey,” I said, pointing at the sign above the door, “here’s another building that would be better with a new name.”

The others looked and we started laughing, which caused other kids to turn and look at us to see what was so funny.

This Freshman Prank Day thing, if we actually did it, would be hilarious.


At lunch we clued in Heather, Greg, and Brian about our Freshman Prank Day ideas, and they laughed and all agreed that we should do it, and that they would help.

“Hey, Tony,” Scott said to me as we were taking our trays to the drop-off, “I forgot to tell you, my dad would like to talk to your mom about what he does. Also, I asked about you and Todd looking and acting like twins and getting DNA tests for the two of you. He’s interested in doing that, and he wants to meet the two of you. He also has to check about doing the DNA tests because the Galahad division that does the testing doesn’t report to him.”

“Todd’ll be at my house on Saturday,” I said. “Maybe you can bring your dad so he can see the Tony and Todd twins then.”

“That’s a good idea. I’ll talk to him tonight and find out if he’s available. What time would be good?”

“Like, maybe eleven?”

Scott smirked. “Is that in the a.m. or the p.m.?”

“For your dad, a.m. For you, p.m.”

Scott laughed, and we walked out of the cafeteria into the moving mass of teens heading to their fifth period classes.

In Spanish 3 we did more translations, this time a flash fiction story, about four hundred words long, from English to Spanish, due by the end of the period. I finished mine, and checked and rechecked the translation until the bell rang and Mr. Markham told us to stop and turn in our translations on the way out.

In Biology Mrs. Weil decided to test how many of the bones we had memorized. She brought in her laptop and connected it to the projector on the ceiling aimed at the screen in front of the whiteboard. She displayed an image of a skeleton with about fifty of the bones highlighted with blue dots, and a list of bone names along the left side. Each of us had to go up to her laptop, pick any bone with a blue dot, and drag the dot to the name of the bone in a list at the left side of the image. If you were right, the name turned blue and a line went from the bone to the name. If you were wrong, the blue dot jumped back to the bone. Then the next student went up, and so on.

I had fun with this exercise. Each of us had one turn. Since there were some bones that weren’t correctly identified — actually there were a lot of them — we had a new round doing the same thing. After that round we went again. And again. Of course, as more bones were identified that meant there were fewer left to identify and fewer names that hadn’t turned blue yet. Even if someone didn’t know the correct answer and they guessed, they had a better chance of guessing correctly as we got toward the end.

Mrs. Weil would make comments like, “Oh, my!” or “Goodness, are you sure?” or she’d just close her eyes and shake her head. Some of the students got into this, sort of like the audience does on one of the TV quiz shows my grandma likes to watch. Mrs. Weil pretended to look shocked the first couple time we made rude comments about someone’s choice, but she smiled after each one and we really got into it. I came to the conclusion that we’d been wrong about her. We all had a blast playing what she called her ‘Match the Bones’ game.

After all the bones were identified, she did something on her laptop and lots more blue dots were on the bones. There were two identical lists of names, one on each side of the skeleton.

“This will be a bit different. It will show how much you’ve been paying attention. I’ll call one of you to come up. That first person will connect the bone to the name they think is correct at the left and go sit down. Then I’ll call a second person, and they’ll connect the same bone to what they think is the correct name at the right and go sit down.

“If you’ve both picked the same name and you’re right, your bone and the name will light up. If you pick different names and one is right, your bone will light up but not the name. Then the class will vote for the name that’s correct. If the class is correct, the bone will light up. If the class is wrong, the bone won’t light up. If neither the first or second choice isn’t correct, nothing will light up and there won’t be any voting.

“Then we’ll continue with the next pair of students and continue that way until all of the bones have been correctly identified.

“You’ll also notice that there are more bones and more names. That means we’ll play this more complicated version of the ‘Match the Bone’ game on Friday. That will give you time to work on memorizing more of the names of the bones.”

She turned off her laptop just as we realized that we should have tried to memorize, or write down, the additional bone names. There was a collective groan and a lot of laughter from the class, timed perfectly with the bell announcing the end of sixth period.

As I left the classroom I made sure to leave by walking to the front, and as I passed her desk I looked at her, smiled, and gave her a thumbs-up with my left hand. She smiled and gave me a short nod of her head. As we got out into the hall, Todd, Heather, Greg, and I talked about how much fun we’d had. In our Biology class. In Mrs. Weil’s Biology class! Who woulda guessed?

The four of us split up. Todd and I went to the gym for PE. Regular Physical Education for Todd, Football 1A for me. That meant I’d visit the weight training room for a lecture by Coach Kavanaugh about safe use of the equipment, then a discussion back in the classroom about what we’d read in Football for Dummies.

I’d had the quick tour of the weight training room during PE on my first day at Wilson. We got a much more extensive tour of the equipment from Coach Kavanaugh.

There were four weight benches, each a head-to-head pair, and a huge weight rack with eight bars. That way four guys could use the weight benches, and the next four guys could pre-load their weights on their bars. Coach kept emphasizing that ”Free weights absolutely are not allowed to be used without a spotter!” Period. Not doing that would result in loss of weight training room rights for two days. Repeat offenders would be permanently banned from use of the room, which also meant they’d be off whatever team they were on.

There were vinyl and rubber hex dumbbells from two pounds to thirty pounds, a set of four kettlebells ranging from ten to twenty-five pounds, and two sets of six medicine balls ranging from four to fifteen pounds. I had never heard of any of these before, except we had medicine balls we used in PE at Carver. Those had been brown and looked very different. I hated having medicine balls thrown at me when I went to Carver. Coach explained how the medicine balls, which he called ‘meds,’ in the weight training room would be used individually for aerobic exercises.

There were exercise mats stored in a rack against one wall. We were responsible for cleaning and stowing them after use. He said cleaning was a four-step process. Open a mat, clean with a disinfectant wipe, then dry the mat with a towel. Use the mat. When we’re done, clean with a disinfectant wipe, then dry the mat with a towel. Fold the mat, neatly, and put it back in the rack so it doesn’t stick out. He said we were also responsible for cleaning the benches and the exercise machines each time after using them. Clean with a disinfectant wipe, then dry with a towel. Same-as, same-as.

Besides all of the weights, there were the exercise machines. The four treadmills were the only ones I recognized. The room also had what Coach Kavanaugh described as a combination abdomen and back machine; a combination pectoral and deltoid front and back machine; a combination gluteal and hamstring machine; a combination leg extension and curl machine; and a bicep curl machine.

As we left the room he handed us a booklet that described what muscles each of the exercise machines was designed for, and how to set up and safely use each of the exercise machines. It also described how to stack weights, how to attach weights to a bar with a collar and how to verify that it was tight. Everything had to be put away. There were cameras in the room and the coaches could watch live when they were in their offices, and they’d watch delayed video if a problem had been reported.

“This is serious equipment. We’re assuming that you’re going to treat it carefully, use it carefully, and keep it and the room clean and neat. The weight training room isn’t like your bedroom at home! We have a much higher standard here.”

There were some giggles, but not many. We could tell that he was serious.

We returned to the classroom and had a short discussion about what we’d read in parts one and two of Football for Dummies. The bell rang and I left for my last class.

Creative Writing went by real fast. We had to read a story and fill in a response sheet Ms. Porzio gave each of us, then turn it in to her on the way out. She said we’d discuss our responses on Friday. It was an okay assignment, but man, I was so glad when we heard the final bell and I could head home.


Thanks to Cole Parker for editing A Time When It All Went Wrong

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