Priscilla and the Wimps
By: Richard Peck
Listen, there was a time when you couldn’t even go to the restroom in this school without a pass. And I’m not talking about those little pink tickets made out by some teacher. I’m talking about a pass that could cost anywhere up to a buck, sold by Monk Klutter. Not that Mighty Monk ever touched money, not in public. The gang he ran, which ran the school for him, was his collection agency. They were Klutter’s Kobras, a name spelled out in nailheads on six well-known black plastic windbreakers. Monk’s threads were more . . . subtle. A pile-lined suede battle jacket with lizard-skin flaps over tailored Levis and a pair of ostrich-skin boots, brassed-toed and suitable for kicking people around. One of his Kobras did nothing all day but walk a half step behind Monk, carrying a fitted bag with Monk’s gym shoes, a roll of restroom passes, a cash box, and a switchblade that Monk gave himself manicures with at lunch over at the Kobras’ table.
Speaking of lunch, there were a few cases of advanced malnutrition among the newer kids. The ones who were a little slow in handing over a cut of their lunch money and were therefore barred from the cafeteria. Monk ran a tight ship. I admit it. I’m five foot five, and when the Kobras slithered by, with or without Monk, I shrank. I admit this, too: I paid up on a regular basis. And I might add: so would you. This school was old Monk’s Garden of Eden.1 Unfortunately for him, there was a serpent in it. The reason Monk didn’t recognize trouble when it was staring him in the face is that the serpent in the Kobras’ Eden was a girl. Practically every guy in school could show you his scars. Fang marks from Kobras, you might say. And they were all highly visible in the shower room: lumps, lacerations,2 blue bruises, you name it. But girls usually got off with a warning. Except there was this one girl named Priscilla Roseberry. Picture a girl named Priscilla Roseberry, and you’ll be light years off . Priscilla was, hands down, the largest student in our particular institution of learning.
I’m not talking fat. I’m talking big. Even beautiful, in a bionic3 way. Priscilla wasn’t inclined toward organized crime. Otherwise, she could have put together a gang that would turn Klutter’s Kobras into garter snakes. Priscilla was basically a loner except she had one friend. A little guy named Melvin Detweiler. You talk about The Odd Couple. Melvin’s one of the smallest guys above midget status ever seen. A really nice guy, but, you know—little. They even had lockers next to each other, in the same bank as mine. I don’t know what they had going. I’m not saying this was a romance. After all, people deserve their privacy.Priscilla was sort of above everything, if you’ll pardon the pun.4 And very calm, as only the very big can be. If there was anybody who didn’t notice Klutter’s Kobras, it was Priscilla. Until one winter day after school when we were all grabbing our coats out of our lockers. And hurrying, since Klutter’s Kobras made sweeps of the halls for after-school shakedowns. Anyway, up to Melvin’s locker swaggers one of the Kobras. Never mind his name. Gang members don’t need names.
Th ey’ve got group identity. He reaches down and grabs little Melvin by the neck and slams his head against his locker door. The sound of skull against steel rippled all the way down the locker row, speeding the crowds on their way. “Okay, let’s see your pass,” snarls the Kobra. “A pass for what this time?” Melvin asks, probably still dazed. “Let’s call it a pass for very short people,” says the Kobra, “a dwarf tax.” He wheezes a little Kobra chuckle at his own wittiness. And already he’s reaching for Melvin’s wallet with the hand that isn’t circling Melvin’s windpipe. All this time, of course, Melvin and the Kobra are standing in Priscilla’s big shadow. She’s taking her time shoving her books into her locker and pulling on a very large-size coat.
Then, quicker than the eye, she brings the side of her enormous hand down in a chop that breaks the Kobra’s hold on Melvin’s throat. You could hear a pin drop in that hallway. Nobody’d ever laid a fi nger on a Kobra, let alone a hand the size of Priscilla’s. Th en Priscilla, who hardly ever says anything to anybody except Melvin, says to the Kobra, “Who’s your leader, wimp?” Th is practically blows the Kobra away. First he’s chopped by a girl, and now she’s acting like she doesn’t know Monk Klutter, the Head Honcho of the World. He’s so amazed, he tells her. “Monk Klutter.” “Never heard of him,” Priscilla mentions. “Send him to see me.” The Kobra just backs away from her like the whole situation is too big for him, which it is.Pretty soon Monk himself slides up. He jerks his head once, and his Kobras slither off down the hall. He’s going to handle this interesting case personally.
“Who is it around here doesn’t know Monk Klutter?” He’s standing inches from Priscilla, but since he’d have to look up at her, he doesn’t. “Never heard of him,” says Priscilla. Monk’s not happy with this answer, but by now he’s spotted Melvin, who’s grown smaller in spite of himself. Monk breaks his own rule by reaching for Melvin with his own hands. “Kid,” he says, “you’re going to have to educate your girlfriend.” His hands never quite make it to Melvin. In a move of pure poetry Priscilla has Monk in a hammerlock. His neck’s popping like gunfire, and his head’s bowed under the immense weight of her forearm. His suede jacket peeling back, showing pile. Priscilla’s behind him in another easy motion. And with a single mighty thrust forward, frog-marches Monk into her own locker. It’s incredible. His ostrich-skin boots click once in the air. And suddenly he’s gone, neatly wedged into the locker, a perfect fit. Priscilla bangs the door shut, twirls the lock, and strolls out of school. Melvin goes with her, of course, trotting along below her shoulder. The last stragglers leave quietly. Well, this is where fate, an even bigger force than Priscilla, steps in. It snows all that night, a blizzard. The whole town ices up. And school closes for a week.
- Garden of Eden: In the Bible, the paradise where Adam and Eve first lived.
- lacerations (las uh RAY shuhnz): cuts.
- bionic (by AHN ihk): having artificial body parts; in science fiction, bionic parts give people superhuman strength or other powers.
- pun: humorous play on words, often involving two meanings of the same word or phrase.
Finish the story using these rules
- Explains how Monk gets out of locker (cannot die or be freed by aliens)
- Has dynamic change in AT LEAST 1 character
- Must be original (no lonely custodians)
- Must have details from original story (jacket, boots)
- Effectively begins when story ends
- Makes sense
- Could actually happen
- Descriptive and sensory language
- Figurative language
- Dialogue with correct punctuation
- Transitions that show shifts in time
- Variety of words and phrases
- Resolution is present
- Little/no errors that interfere with meaning
- Can change point of view (Spectator, Kobra, Monk, Priscilla, or Melvin)
Example of good ending:
Afterward, when I got home, I collapsed and sat there like a bump on a log, wondering what was going to happen to Monk Klutter and Priscilla. Would it be recognized as an act of aggression? I ponder ceaselessly in my soft, pillowy bed for uncountable hours. Obviously, someone has to find him, right? After 7 long days of waiting, we go to school and find out what happened to Monk Klutter. I stand there, like a deer in headlights, shocked. There was an enormous, gaping hole right smack in the middle of Priscilla’s locker.
The intercom goes off as I see Monk Klutter walk out of the office with a long face. “I need Priscilla Roseberry in my office. I need Priscilla Roseberry in my office.” People stare as she walks in, perfect stride, ignoring the gawking crowd. I gotta admit, I was in awe. It took guts to stand up to Monk. The mean, old, wrinkly, assistant principal shooed us off to class, like herding buffaloes. I could barely sit through first period, I was so curious. At the end of our class the teacher spoke again, “Come on kids, let’s go to the gym for another boring assembly.” Or that’s what I thought I heard.
As soon as we strolled in, we see Monk Klutter up on the podium set up, his face still dismal from this morning.
“I’m sorry,” he begins. His one sentence received thunderous applause from the Kobras. What is going on? Monk Klutter doesn’t say sorry. Ever. He must be going insane. “I’m sorry for terrorizing all of you,” he continues, fidgeting with his suede battle jacket, “It won’t happen again. Also, if you were wondering, I used my brass toed boots to kick out of that stupid locker.” He steps down from the podium as Priscilla walks up.
“What I did last week was not appropriate. But we should learn to stand up for ourselves.” , she told us as murmurs of agreement spread like a forest fire.
This act is how our school came to be a better place. Everyone in our bank got new lockers so they would match, which you’ve gotta admit, is pretty cool. Karl, Monk Klutter’s real name, which he revealed to us later, released all his Kobras, each of them having their own identity. Priscilla began to become more social and made many friends. Karl himself dropped out of school, having to face the furious kids that wanted to get back at him. I, for that matter, finished school and went on with life to become a tale teller. What can I say, being Karl’s old favorite punching bag, I love telling the story of Priscilla and the Wimps.