Nothing was clearer than the writing on the blue brick wall, inches from the gate. Mikey passed it first, and Zach followed close behind, stopping to read aloud every word in a deadpan voice:
“Don’t cheat. Just don’t do it; it’s not worth it.”
“Cheating will get you suspended.”
“ZERO Tolerance! Cheating is not acceptable.”
“Just say NO to cheating.”
“Friends don’t make friends cheat.”
On flyers and posters, on 12 x 8 papers with cartoon drawings of smiling children. In Gamma Green, Lunar Blue, Planetary Purple, Re-Entry Red and Stardust White. Stapled to the corkwood, right next to the advertisement for an $1,200 SAT prep class and a photo of the Save the Congo Club.
“Mikey.” Zach said, after a long moment of deliberation.
Mikey stopped and turned around.
“Why are people in school books and on school posters always smiling? What are they so happy about?”
“Maybe they got away with cheating?”
Zach moved to walk beside him, and followed him into the library. No sooner had Mikey sat down at an empty table, then Zach sat opposite him, leaned forward and said:
“I cheated on you. Nothing to smile about.”
Mikey looked up briefly, then remarked, “…That’s an interesting segway.”
“I know. But what can I say? As disappointed as I am, I won’t look back in anger. It was nice being with you, Zach.”
At this, Zach turned and gave him a sly over-the-shoulder glance. “Know what I know?”
“Your locker combination. I also know that that’s where you hide things.”
Mikey furrowed his brow, “Zach…”
“I found it. Don’t make excuses— I know you went through my things. Was that the only one, or did you make copies?”
“… Yes, it’s the only one.”
“It better be.” Zach stood up and moved towards the door. Then, he suddenly turned around and said: “If you hurt him with this; if you say even one word about it… I’m coming after you.”