The nice thing about doing this as an indie is that I can do this. Here is the first chapter of my new book which should be ready in October. It is a 26700 middle grade book. I just can’t seem to write picture books anymore. Maybe in the new year.
An EARLY DRAFT of the cover.
Chapter 1: Jake Cooper
It was a Tuesday in late March, and it was the last day Jake Cooper was considered a normal person. He was skinny, had jet black hair and was a little tall for a fourth-grader.
Jake sighed as he stepped off the bus and walked into Kane Elementary School. He was ready for Spring Break. He turned down the hallway and walked into Mrs. Williams’ class. He put up his backpack, turned in his daily folder and took a seat behind Brad Cushing, the class bully, and began his morning work.
Brad looked at Jake and uttered, “Mornin’, dweeb.” No one else near Brad said anything. They kept their heads down. Jake sat down and began working.
It was 8:05 a.m.
At 9:30, Mrs. Williams started the math lesson. “Okay, we are reviewing division with decimals,” she said. “Everyone get out your notebooks. Mark and Sarah, we will see you later.”
Mark Daniels had been Jake’s best friend since the first grade. He was a little guy who wore round glasses and had sandy brown hair. Mark and Sarah Baker stood up to go to Mr. Stanford’s classroom for advanced math class. Mark had always been a whiz with numbers.
“See ya, dorks,” Brad said under his breath as they headed for the door. Sarah didn’t hear the comment, but Mark did.
“Mrs. Williams, Brad is being a jerk and calling us names,” Mark told the teacher. Like most of his classmates, he was sick of Brad’s tactics.
Brad leaned back in his chair and stared at the teacher. “I didn’t say anything!” he said. “I’m just getting my stuff out for math. Seriously, that’s all I am doing.”
Mrs. Williams looked frustrated. “Brad, stop it and get your stuff out,” she said. “Mark, I’m sorry. Just head on to class.”
Mark rolled his eyes and walked out the door.
At 11:07 a.m., the students lined up and went to lunch. Mrs. Williams escorted the class to the cafeteria and the students sat down at the long tables. Jake found a spot next to Mark.
“Did you watch The Knight last night?” Mark said, laughing out loud. “Ha! Ha! I love saying that.”
He always laughed at that joke. It never got old.
“Of course I did. It was tight when he threw the robber out the window,” Jake said. “That was my favorite part.”
“Are you kidding me, Cooper?” Mark said. He always used Jake’s last name. “The best part was when the robber held the whole bank hostage. Seriously, I wonder about you Coop … UFF!”
Mark was interrupted by the force of Brad Cushing’s elbow slamming into the back of his head. He spilled his drink and looked up at the bully, wiping away that tears the formed in the corner of his eyes.
“You nerds still talking about The Knight!?” Brad said as he took a seat at the next table. “Wait, of course you are.”
“Hey! Elementary nerd!” Jake shouted at Brad.
Mark was simultaneously holding the back of his head and wiping his drink off his lap.
Mr. Stanford came over and confronted the boys. “What’s the problem here?” he asked. “Is there a reason you are shouting across the cafeteria, Jake?”
Mr. Stanford held his hands behind his back and looked down at Jake.
Jake and Mark didn’t respond. Brad and his friends would make him pay dearly later if he ratted on him. They realized that getting into trouble for dealing with bullies was part of life in the fourth grade.
“Keep it down, you guys,” Mr. Stanford said as he walked away.
Jake looked over at two other boys, Jeff Smith and Larry Marble, who were sitting at the table. They acted as if nothing had happened and kept eating their lunches.
Brad pointed at Jake and turned around to his table.
“You okay?” Jake asked, handing Mark a paper towel.
“Yeah,” Mark said as he continued to wipe himself off.
“Hey, dorks, what would The Knight do?” Brad shouted at them from his table.
“Ignore him,” Mark advised his friend before adding, under his breath, “he would probably beat the tar out of you.”
“It’s hard to ignore him,” Jake said, looking down at the table.
Just then a spitball landed in the middle of Jake’s lunch. He looked up and saw Brad and his buddies laughing.
“Aw man!” Mark whined.
Jake looked at Mark, who was trying to keep his eyes down. He glanced at Jeff and Larry, and saw they had scooted closer together. They had no interest in being allies in this fight.
“That’s it!” Jake said, rising quickly in his seat.
“Come on, Jake. Sit down,” Mark pleaded. “Don’t make this worse by getting us into trouble.”
Jake waved his hand in frustration at his table and said, “I guess I have to take care of this alone.”
Jake turned and walked toward Brad. The boys at Brad’s table were laughing. “What do you want, you little dweeb!” Brad said, smiling.
“Shut up, poop breath,” Jake said, staring at Brad.
Then Brad stood up and leaned into Jake’s face.
Mark, Larry and Jeff just stared. The rest of the students started to notice and the room grew quiet.
“What did you call me?” Brad hissed.
Jake leaned in closer and whispered, “You heard me, poop breath.”
The students at the nearby tables knew what was coming and started to chant. “Fight! Fight!”
Mr. Stanford, who was on the other side of the cafeteria, began walking briskly toward the boys, but he was too late.
Brad swung first and landed a blow squarely in Jake’s stomach. Jake bent over in pain.
Brad took aim at Jake’s face and swung again.
Jake stood up quickly and caught Brad’s fist in mid-swing with his left hand. Jake started squeezing as hard as he could and Brad began yelping in pain from the pressure. He sounded like a little dog that had been scratched in the nose after getting too close to a cat.
“Stop it! Now!” shouted Mr. Stanford, as he ran across the cafeteria.
With his right arm, Jake grabbed Brad by the belt and picked him up. The students erupted with joy.
“Stop it! Now!” Mr. Stanford repeated as he drew closer. Shouting into his walkie-talkie, he said, “Office, I need help in the cafeteria.”
Jake lifted Brad up by the belt with his right hand while still crushing the yelping bully’s fist with his left. When Brad was dangling over his head, the cafeteria fell silent. The students had never seen anything like this except in the movies or comic books.
“Put him down!” screamed Mr. Stanford.
Jake didn’t say a word. The world seemed to disappear in a fog of anger. He leaned back and, with all the strength he could muster, flung Brad as hard as he could.
Brad flew across the cafeteria, like a screaming line drive headed for the fence, and smashed through a window that was at least 60-feet away. A loud crashing sound covered the school as the bully landed on the grass in front of the school.
The cafeteria went dead silent. Everyone was stunned.
Jake had thrown Brad through a window.
The fog lifted and Jake realized what had happened. He sat down, stared at the floor and didn’t say a word.
Mr. Stanford stuttered into his walkie-talkie, “W-w-we need a nurse outside in the front.”
“Outside? You said the fight was in the cafeteria!” came the reply over the walkie-talkie.
“Y-yes. I said outside!” Mr. Stanford insisted.
Jake looked up and saw a massive hole in the cafeteria wall where a window used to be. He saw Brad sprawled out on the ground outside. He wasn’t moving.
Mr. Stanford stepped forward.
“Jake, you need to come with me,” he said quietly.
He went without incident and 20 minutes later was sitting outside the principal’s office. He was still shaking.
The front office was busting with people. An ambulance had arrived. There were at least four police officers scurrying about. A TV crew was setting up for a live shot and several men in dark suits wearing sunglasses were talking into small microphones and listening to instructions in their earpieces.
Then Jake saw his parents hurry into the front office. Accompanied by three of the men in dark suits, they walked toward him. Jake began to weep.
His parents sat down on either side of him. His dad put his arm around Jake. For what seemed like an eternity, they sat there and didn’t say anything.
Jake’s dad leaned in and whispered. “Don’t worry, Jake. It’s going to be okay. You’re not in trouble. It seems the time has come.”
His dad paused, then moved closer and whispered in Jake’s ear. “We need to talk, son.”
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