The Puget Posse

Chapter 52-Springing the Trap

Welcome back. The time has come to bring Operation Bullfrog to fruition. The Posse could give lessons to Machiavelli as they get ready to bring down Jeremiah.
 
All the disclaimers apply, like the one about being 18 to read this.
 
And please email me. There have been very few emails lately, and they are the salary for us writers. You can write me, Douglas, at thehakaanen@hotmail.com
 
 
 
CHAPTER 52    
SPRINGING THE TRAP
 

<Monday, May 6>

 
Like all adolescent and preadolescent boys, the members of the Posse had their secrets. The secrets were mostly things they kept from their parents or other adults. While the boys had their secrets from each other, for the most part the Posse boys were pretty open with each other. Neville was probably the most reticent of the group, but he had opened up considerably since the formation of the Posse.
 
The entire Posse and their two deputies sat together at lunch. They were together for a few reasons. First, they wanted to share their weekend with each other, including their thoughts on Patrick’s erotic birthday dance.
 
Secondly, they wanted to be around Ellis to keep his spirits up. This was the week he would turn on Jeremiah and Alden, starting Operation Bullfrog for real. He was unhappy because the fifth grade senate and council meetings were delayed a couple of days due to the absence of Mr. Vargas; he wanted to get the whole business over with.
 
Thirdly, they wanted Jeremiah and Alden to know that the Posse stood together. Today was the first day to sign up for the student council election. Jeremiah had made a big deal about being the first to sign up and the Posse was willing to let him do so. They sat together to give him the message that they had more important things to do than sign up right away to run for office—there was plenty of time left to do that.
 
Their first topic of lunch conversation was Patrick’s birthday hat dance. Patrick’s stock, which was already very high, shot up even more after the near striptease. The boys had ambivalent feelings about his going only so far as to expose his underpants.
 
“As long as you showed us that much,” Mark insisted, “you could have at least taken your shorts off and thrown them into the crowd.”
 
“I saw my dad starting to stand up,” Patrick confessed. “I thought he was going to stop me, so I stopped myself.”
 
“Parents always get in the way of fun,” Matthew observed.
 
“Besides, I stripped down to my underpants after the dance,” Patrick pointed out with a hint of pride in his voice.
 
The parents did have a different take on the dance than the boys, of course. While Shelley and Kristy were a bit stunned by Patrick’s dance, they also saw it as boys being boys, especially Kristy, who was used to such shenanigans from her sons. Most of the boys’ parents would have been amused if they’d watched the show, but would probably have become upset if he had gone any further. Neville’s father would have been one of the parents upset about the entire scene, which was why Shelley and Neville had no intention of telling him about it.
 
Yet, while the dance was unquestionably erotic, there was also a touch of innocence about it that most of the adults would have recognized. To them, their boys were still a few years away from being truly sexual, even though some of them had had “the talk” with their sons. If the parents had known the things that went on in their sons’ bedrooms, their entire outlook would have changed, including how they saw Patrick’s dance.
 
The next topic was what went on in the various bedrooms overnight. The boys whispered conspiratorially, egging each other to reveal how much messing around they did. It didn’t take much to get the twins to talk.
 
“Yeah, we messed around,” Mark boasted. As far the boys were concerned, if they just said they were “messing around” then they weren’t really having sex. For them, it made a difference, at least at their current stage of maturity.
 
“Yeah, we made sure Clayton knew everything about jerking off on Friday,” Matthew said.
 
“We helped him,” Mark added, not needing to say how they helped him. The rest of the Posse understood.
 
“Clayton thought Patrick’s dance rocked,” Matthew continued. “He wants to come to the next birthday party.”
 
“We told Clayton and Peter all about blow jobs, too,” Mark said with obvious pride. “I did Clayton and Matthew did Peter. Then they did us in return. They really got into it.”
 
“Yeah,” Matthew added. “Then me and Mark showed them about sixty-nining and they did it, too. They both still shoot blanks, though.”
 
“They want to spend the night more often,” Mark said.
 
“What about you guys,” Matthew whispered to Patrick and Misha.
 
Patrick and Misha looked at each other. Patrick nodded, indicating he wanted Misha to do the talking. Patrick knew Misha would make his comments quick and simple instead of supplying a lot of embellishments and detail.
 
“We messed around,” Misha admitted. “We kissed and humped.”
 
“Cool,” Mark said, knowing Misha had said all he was going to say on the subject. “Me and Mattie went bat shit crazy humping each other earlier in the week.”
 
“You didn’t do the nasty did you?” Neville asked with a combination of horror and curiosity.
 
“No, we just rubbed each other with our dicks, but it was like a wrestling match,” Mark said, trying to minimize the level of sexual passion they had achieved.
 
“It was totally nuts. I still have a couple of bruises from it,” Matthew added.
 
They all looked at Neville and Ellis. Neville blushed a deep red, remembering what they had done on Friday night. After the parents went to bed, Neville, Ellis, Evan, and Dylan had gone to Dylan’s room and got naked in a hurry. The talk went briefly to girls, then to the serious business of messing around with other boys. Neville was the one who had broached the subject of girls, but it didn’t go far since the other three boys didn’t hold the same interest in the opposite sex that Neville did.
 
Evan and Dylan sat next to each other on Dylan’s bed. They were both boned up and slowly masturbating while the four boys chatted. Neville and Ellis were playing with their little hairless boners. The two sixth graders really got Ellis’s attention when they exchanged kisses and started stroking each other.
 
“Wow, that is hot,” Ellis blurted out, using the terminology he’d learned from Barry and Barry’s friends when they’d messed around. “I can’t believe you do that stuff,” he said to Evan.
 
“Why not?” Evan asked. “It’s fun.”
 
“Because your dad is a teacher.”
 
“Big deal. He’s a teacher and I’m horny, so there.”
 
“Besides, me and Evan are kinda like, you know…we’re like….” Dylan was at a loss for words, afraid he was revealing too much to Ellis, a boy he hardly knew.
 
“We’re boyfriends,” Evan said matter-of-factly. He then planted a hard, deep hiss on Dylan’s lips and the two eleven-year-olds rolled around on the bed for a few seconds kissing.
 
“You guys should kiss too,” Dylan told them.
 
“Are you, like, gay?” Ellis asked.
 
“We’re just boyfriends,” Evan said, as if that explained everything.
 
“And because we’re boyfriends, we want to fuck.” Dylan explained. “You guys can watch if you want.”
 
“No”. “Yes.” Neville and Ellis shouted out opposite answers instantly.
 
Neville finally decided that he and Ellis should go to his room and let the two sixth graders do their thing. When they got to Neville’s room, Ellis said, “I bet they’re gay.”
 
Neville agreed. “My step-brother is a pouf.”
 
Ellis figured that being a pouf meant being gay. If that was the case, he was ready to call himself a pouf.
 
“Hey, Neville, wake up,” Matthew said as he poked his arm to get his attention.
 
“Oh, sorry. We messed around a little bit,” Neville said as his thoughts returned to the room.
 
“BJ’s,” Ellis whispered. Nobody pursued the subject further.
 
Will was the last target. “My brother had some friends overnight on Friday and they let me mess around. I sucked my brother and two other guys and his other friend, did, you know, he did me.”
 
“Like, he did the nasty?” Matthew whispered in awe.
 
“Mostly between my legs,” Will admitted. “But a couple of times he rubbed himself in my crack and he blew his wad all over my butt.”
 
“Then I guess we’re all still virgins,” Mark proclaimed. Neither Ellis nor Misha said anything to dispute him—the time for revealing their lost virginity had not yet arrived.
 
All seven boys were rock hard, and some hands were in the crotch area of their uniform pants. They were ready to whisper more sexual things when Jeremiah came strutting by.
 
“I am now the first candidate for sixth grade president,” he said. “The handbook says we only need one second with us when we sign up, but I had twelve seconds, the most ever.”
 
The five Posse members and two deputies made a show of stifling yawns.
 
Jeremiah ignored their behavior and went on. “There’s no use in you guys trying to run, cuz there is no way you can win. And don’t bother with sergeant-at-arms. Alden says he won’t lose this time.” He looked down at Ellis. “Plus we got Ellis running for treasurer. Plus Conrad’s running for vice president, and everybody likes Conrad. This time I’m gonna totally rule over your stupid Posse.” What Jeremiah said about Conrad was true, but he didn’t realize that his Fireball group didn’t have Ellis in their back pocket.
 
He walked away from the Posse’s table, certain he’d left them seething. Instead, they had looks of confidence about them. Ellis took a deep breath, knowing the entire operation rested on his shoulders. While he wished the council meeting hadn’t been delayed, he also felt confident he would successfully get Operation Bullfrog off to a good start. One of the big reasons for his feeling of confidence was that he knew the six boys sitting with him at the table had his back.
 
After they finished eating, they went out to the playfield and gathered at the fence along the cliff. There were just six of them now; Ellis had joined Jeremiah’s group so he could congratulate him on his little coup.
 
“Is that stupid Posse all scared?” Jeremiah asked.
 
“Big time,” Ellis confirmed.
 
“I bet they almost shit their pants when they found out I had twelve seconds when I signed up. A record twelve,” he bragged.
 
“Is Mark still going to run?” Alden asked. He refused to stroke Jeremiah’s ego.  
 
“He says he is,” Ellis acknowledged.
 
“Then he can’t be too scared,” Alden said. “I don’t trust him.”
 
“What can he do?” Jeremiah asked. “When all twelve of my seconds get their friends to vote for me there is no way I can lose.”
 
Ellis quietly listened to Jeremiah bragging about how his group ruled. In a couple of days, he would no longer be a part of Jeremiah’s group, even working undercover.
 
At the fence the Posse finished their plans for signing up to run for office. “Mark is running for president,” Patrick declared. “I’m running for vice-president and Misha is running for sergeant-at-arms.”
 
“Don’t forget Ellis running for treasurer,” Matthew said. The group looked at Neville who turned his head, avoiding eye contact. “Well, Neville?”
 
“Yes, I will run for secretary, but I don’t like it.”
 
“You will be a great secretary, Neville,” Patrick told him. “We need you to help the Posse.”
 
“Somebody else could do it.” Neville glared at Matthew.
 
“I’m not running so everybody doesn’t mix me up with Mark,” Matthew stated, making sure everybody understood that he was sacrificing himself for his twin. “I’ll run for the student senate in next year’s homeroom,” he clarified. “It’s all good.”
 
But it wasn’t all good. He resented having to stay out of the student council race because his brother didn’t want anybody to confuse the two of them. He wanted to be sergeant-at-arms again; he loved that office. But Mark convinced the Posse that Misha would be better for the same reason—so nobody would mix him up with his brother. Neville wasn’t excited about running for secretary; there was no way he wanted that boring job. Vice president would be okay, Matthew thought. Then everybody could really get Mark and him mixed up, which was supposed to be the fun part of being twins. In spite of his resentment, Matthew understood only one of them could be “in charge” and was willing to swallow his feelings to help his brother bring down Jeremiah and Alden.
 
“Hey, Patrick,” Mark said as the end of lunch break approached.
 
“Yeah, what?” Patrick asked.
 
Mark looked at the path that twisted down the cliff to the railroad tracks. “What about Luna?” he asked. 
 
“Luna?” Patrick was momentarily confused. Then he got it. “Oh, Luna. The next day me, Misha, and you and Matthew don’t have baseball or softball.”
 
“That will be after we’re in high school,” Mark said sarcastically.
 
“Everybody should look at their calendars and then we will know,” the ever practical Misha said.
 
“We can even call it Operation Luna,” Patrick suggested. Of course they were referring to Patrick mooning a passing passenger train to pay off his soccer bet.
 
The bell rang and the boys ran for the building. Jeremiah, Alden, and Tony watched them go by. “Losers,” Jeremiah said, just loud enough for the Posse to hear.
 

++++++++++++

 

<Tuesday, May 7>

 
Patrick was enjoying dinner with his father, Uncle Ted and Grannana. Maxine had cooked up a dinner of pork roast, boiled red potatoes, and green beans along with a tossed salad. Ted had broken up with Rolando, his latest boyfriend. He and Brian had talked about that during the half-hour before dinner. Brian suggested that his uncle might want to find somebody closer to his own age, since chasing twenty-somethings never led to a lasting relationship with him.
 
“If I could, I’d be dating them younger,” Ted said with a laugh.
 
“Uncle Ted, you’re incorrigible.”
 
“You enjoyed our relationship at the time.”
 
“No argument there.”
 
“I’ve never seen a twelve-year-old who enjoyed sex like you did.” Brian laughed and diplomatically didn’t ask how much experience his uncle actually had with twelve-year-old boys.
 
When they sat down to dinner, Patrick ended up being the focus of the conversation.
 
“So, you’re ten years old tomorrow,” Ted said. “That is a very important age.”
 
“It is for me,” Patrick told him. “I’m tired of being the only nine-year-old in my school. Starting next year I will never be the youngest kid in that school again.”
 
“Oh, you didn’t hear that the Puget Academy will no longer be enrolling fifth graders,” Uncle Ted said with a straight face.
 
Brian could tell Ted had successfully pulled Patrick’s leg from the way his jaw dropped. He had to battle to keep a straight face.
 
“Dad, is that really true?”
 
“You mean you don’t believe your Uncle Ted?” Brian asked, battling a smile.
 
“But our amendment and a lot of the stuff the Posse worked on was about having the fifth graders at the school. It’s not fair.” Then he saw the breaking smiles on the faces of his father and uncle and went into instant pout. “That was really lame,” he huffed.
 
Brian and Ted both broke out into loud laughter. Maxine looked at them with a frown. “You two should be ashamed. Tomorrow is the boy’s birthday, and that’s what you do to him.”
 
“Yeah, you’re right, Grannana,” Brian said. “We’re sorry, Patrick, but your Uncle started it.”
 
“I’m sorry, too,” Ted said. “But not totally.”
 
“You’re both mean.”
 
“Isn’t tomorrow a big day in another way, too?” Brian asked, quickly steering the subject in a new direction.
 
“Yes, I wanted to ask you about that. I mean, I know it’s last minute, but I want to be sure we’ve got things right,” Patrick said.
 
“From everything you’ve told me, you’ve got it perfect.”
 
“Anybody for chocolate ice cream?” Maxine asked. After being met by a loud trio of yesses, she left for the kitchen to dish up dessert.
 
“That’s what Mr. Vargas told us, today,” Patrick said. “He said we have the rules all figured out.”
 
“Who is us?”
 
“Me, Mark, and Ellis went to meet with him. The rule book says…”
 
“You mean the handbook,” Brian corrected.
 
“Whatever. It says, ‘the president shall appoint a committee from members of the student council and student senate’. We want to change ‘shall’ to ‘must’ because Jeremiah said he didn’t have to since the Valentine’s party.”
 
“Shall is pretty much the same as must,” Brian said.
 
“We will change it to must. Mr. Vargas says we can vote to change the rulebook, I mean the handbook, but he has to approve. And then the change is just for this year.”
 
“And why are you trying to make this change again?” Maxine asked as she brought in the ice cream. She might have been out in the kitchen, but she didn’t miss a word. She was only hard of hearing when it suited her.
 
“So Jeremiah doesn’t pick nobody but his friends for the end of the year party.”
 
“Anybody,” Maxine corrected, “so he doesn’t pick anybody.”
 
“Anybody,” Patrick said automatically. Patrick didn’t bother to mention the other reason for changing the wording—so that Ellis could propose the change and get Jeremiah mad at him.
 
“It sounds to me like Mr. Vargas explained everything just fine,” Brian said. “Why do you need my opinion?”
 
“Because, Mr. Vargas is a teacher and you’re my dad.”
 
“I guess that explains everything,” Ted said with a chuckle.
 

<Wednesday, May 8>

 
Patrick heard his alarm clock radio slowly rise in volume. Usually, the alarm waking him would present a negative start to the morning. Like any normal boy he would much rather sleep in than be forced to wake up long before he was ready to do so. But, today was his birthday and he couldn’t get out of bed fast enough. His father had promised him a special present just after the school year started, and he was excited to see if he’d followed through.
 
He dashed into the living room, not bothering to cover his naked body. His father and Grannana were sitting on the couch. They rose and each one gave him a big, loving, and heartfelt hug. He opened a couple of envelopes containing money, and some packages containing the obligatory underwear and socks, along with some t-shirts and shorts. The entire time he looked all around the room, hoping to see the package he was positive he was going to see.
 
“As if you need underpants,” Maxine said to her naked great-grandson.
 
“The underpants he got on Saturday should be about all he needs,” Brian observed.
 
Patrick looked around to see if there was anything else but, seeing nothing, started for the hallway, trying to hide his disappointment at not receiving a special present we was certain would be there.
 
“Oh, wait,” Brian called out, “you didn’t open all of your presents.”
 
“There’s nothing else here,” Patrick said.
 
Brian looked around the room and saw nothing. “How old are you today?” he asked.
 
“Daaaaaaad, you know I’m ten.” He held up all ten fingers to emphasize the point, his face beaming.
 
“And what did I say you’d get when you turned ten?”
 
“I don’t know,” Patrick said shyly, afraid he’d end up being really disappointed if he didn’t get what he was expecting.
 
“Of course you do. Now where is it? I wonder if it slipped between the cushions or something.”
 
“If it’s what you said I was getting, there is no way it could slip between the cushions.”
 
“Grannana, do you have any idea where I put the present?” Brian asked.
 
“No, I don’t,” she answered with an impish smile. “It wasn’t that big, so it could have easily been misplaced.”
 
“Not that big?” Patrick said, feeling some disappointment again. “Come on, guys,” he whined, “I know you know where it is.”
 
Brian smiled and ruffled his son’s hair. “Shall I get it?” he asked Maxine.
 
“Yes, before the poor boy wets his pants.”
 
Patrick looked down at his naked body and then blushed, knowing he’d been had in more ways than one. “Guys…”
 
Brian went to Maxine’s bedroom and brought out a long package, loosely wrapped in plain packing paper. He set it on the coffee table. Patrick tore off the paper, seeing a black case. The shape told him what was inside and he was almost shaking when he opened the case. He looked down at a beautiful instrument—an acoustic guitar. He shrieked with delight. While his father had been giving him lessons on his own electric guitar, Patrick had wanted a guitar of his own so he could accompany his singing.
 
“Do you like it?” Brian asked.
 
“No, I love it,” Patrick said excitedly. “It’s perfect.” He took it out of the case and plucked the strings. “Wow, it’s a Fender.” What he received from both his father and Grannana was a Fender FA-100 acoustic guitar. He set the guitar back in the case and hugged his father and then hugged his Grannana. The ten-year-old couldn’t be happier. “I can’t wait to come home and play it.”
 
He showered and was finishing his breakfast when the twins came barging in. “Happy birthday, Wombat,” Mark and Matthew shouted in unison. Patrick was certain they’d practiced beforehand.
 
When Patrick got up to put away his dishes, Mark grabbed his cock and balls. “Nope, they haven’t grown any since last time I touched them,” he said.
 
“Yeah, but you’re going to get more and more boners,” Matthew said.
 
“It sounds like you’re an expert,” Brian told him as the boys passed through the living room.
 
“Oh, hi, Mr. Gardner,” Mark said without a trace of shyness. “Yeah, me and Matthew both know all about boners.”
 
“Mathew and I,” Maxine said as she gave his ample boy rear end a swat with her broom.
 
“Hey, why are you brooming me?” Mark said defensively. “I didn’t do nothing.”
 
“Anything,” Maxine admonished, giving him another two swats before he could skip away. “Those are for bad grammar and for molesting my great-grandson.”
 
“I wasn’t molesting him,” Mark protested, “I was testing to see if his junk grew any because he’s ten.”
 
“Go get dressed before your bus gets here,” Maxine chided. “And it is only a brooming if I have a broom in my hand and swat you with it.”
 
When the boys got to Patrick’s room they became very serious. “I hope Ellis is ready for today,” Mark said expressing concern about the day’s plans.
 
“He is,” Matthew told him. “We’ve all been helping him and encouraging him.”
 
“If he doesn’t get it right, then Operation Bullfrog probably won’t work,” Patrick observed.
 
“No worries,” Mark said confidently. “I have a Plan B all set to go but we won’t need it, so I don’t need to tell you what it is.”
 
Patrick showed the boys his guitar after he finished dressing. They were suitably impressed, telling him they couldn’t wait to listen to him play it.
 
The boys were out on the front porch just as the bus pulled up. As far as the three were concerned, this was going to be the biggest day in the history of The Puget Posse. Will gave them a knowing look when he got on the bus.
 
The four of them all tried to act casual when Jeremiah and Tony boarded. Jeremiah sneered at the four Posse boys as he took his regular seat across the aisle and a row behind Mark and Matthew. “Don’t think of running for anything boys,” Jeremiah bragged. “This year I’ve got everything so organized you don’t stand a chance.” What he neglected to say was that Alden was the one who got Jeremiah’s political machine clicking.
 
Mrs. Deaver noticed the out-of-character silence after Jeremiah chided the four Posse boys. From their demeanor when they boarded the bus, she suspected something was up. Their behavior after Jeremiah’s comment solidified that suspicion.
 
The five Posse members and their two deputies tried to act casual all morning, but couldn’t fully pull it off. Mr. Vargas had told Mr. Jackson that something was planned for the fifth grade student council meeting. It had to do with the Posse challenging Jeremiah’s authority as class president, but neither teacher knew exactly what was planned, other than it had to do with the wording in the handbook regarding presidential appointments. Mr. Jackson decided to eat his lunch in the student council chamber; he was extremely interested to see what the Posse had in mind. From what he’d learned about those boys during the school year, he was expecting something spectacular.
 
The meeting started our routinely. Misha read the minutes and they were approved. Ellis gave his treasurer’s report. There were no committee or officers’ reports. They disposed of one piece of old business, passing the budget for the end-of-the-year party.
 
The only piece of new business was the naming of the planning committee for the party. Jeremiah told the council who he had appointed to the committee. Nobody was surprised that the five committee members were his supporters, or that Alden was the chair. After reading the names, Jeremiah grinned and picked up his gavel. “If there is no more business…”
 
Before he could say more, Patrick spoke up. “Don’t we need to vote on the committee?” Patrick already knew the answer, but asking the question was part of the plan. It was here that Jeremiah would get his last moment of triumph before Operation Bullfrog brought him down.
 
“Nope,” he said confidently. “The handbook says no vote is needed and Mr. Vargas agrees. There won’t be a vote. So there.”
 
He picked up the gavel again, saying, “If there is no more new business…”
 
This time Ellis interrupted. “Mr. President, I have some new business.” He sounded nervous, and his legs were shaking under the table.
 
“I don’t see any more new business on the agenda.”
 
“New business doesn’t need to be on the agenda,” Ellis said, still sounding and feeling a bit nervous. “That’s in the handbook, too.” Then he took a deep breath and said in a surprisingly assertive voice. “Mr. Vargas agreed with me.” He stared directly at Jeremiah. “So there,” he finished with a flourish, obviously mocking Jeremiah.
 
Jeremiah glared at Ellis. His look said, What the fuck are you doing, Ellis? You’re supposed to be totally on my side. I’ve got the picture, remember?
 
Ellis knew exactly what the look said, but continued on. “I think we should change how a committee is picked,” he said.
 
“You can’t change it,” Jeremiah argued. “It’s in the handbook.”
 
“We can change it if the council agrees.”
 
Jeremiah looked to the back of the small council chamber. “Is that true, Mr. Vargas?”
 
“It is if eighty percent of the council agrees. That means four out of five of you. The president is eligible to vote on this issue.” He gave Jeremiah a teacher smile and said, “That’s in the constitution.”
 
Ellis then read the change that the Posse was proposing. “That means that Jeremiah has to name guys who are on the council or in the senate,” Ellis said defiantly.
 
“So?” Jeremiah asked. “I already told you who was on the committee, so you’re too late with that. It’s like post office fact or something.”
 
“That is ex post facto,” Patrick corrected. “And we think your committee is no good, because the handbook says you should use guys on the council or the senate first.”
 
“Yeah, and you didn’t do that,” Matthew chimed in. “What he’s saying, is that your committee is bogus.”
 
“We’re just saying you need to pick the committee the right way,” Ellis affirmed.
 
“I call for the question,” Misha said, remembering his parliamentary procedure.
 
“No!” Jeremiah exclaimed. He banged his gavel on the table. “The meeting is adjourned.”
 
“Point of order,” Misha said in his usual understated manner. “We are talking business, so you need a vote to adjourn.” The entire Posse was pleased that even with the stress Misha didn’t revert to his fractured syntax.
 
“Okay, then the meeting isn’t adjourned,” Jeremiah sulked. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Vargas were fascinated at how the events were unfolding. Mr. Vargas, for one, had never seen a group of fifth graders grasp meeting procedure the way the Posse had. Usually the eighth graders had it down and sometimes the seventh graders did, but the younger grades never really mastered the art of running a meeting.
 
“Where did we leave off?” Jeremiah asked. He was obviously flustered. If Patrick, Matthew, or Misha had turned on him, he was certain he could have handled it. But, Ellis taking the lead had stunned him.
 
“I asked for the question,” Misha reminded everybody.
 
“That means we need to vote, right?” Jeremiah asked lamely.
 
“That is correct.”
 
Jeremiah scribbled something on a piece of paper, folded the paper, and shoved it past Patrick to where Ellis was sitting. Ellis opened the paper and read what Jeremiah had written. “You better vote no,” was all it said.
 
Ellis looked at Jeremiah and gave him a big smile, which was not at all the reaction that Jeremiah had expected. No matter, he thought, even if Ellis votes no, I’m still going to show the picture. This wouldn’t have happened without Ellis. Jeremiah looked to where Alden had been sitting, but Alden had left the room. The only students in the room other than the council members were Mark and Will.
 
The vote was taken. Four yes votes were needed to change the wording and force Jeremiah to name a new committee. The vote was four to one for the proposal, with Jeremiah being the only no vote. Even after Ellis’s act of rebellion, Jeremiah expected him to vote no.
 
Jeremiah looked pleadingly at Mr. Vargas. “But I told everybody they’d be on the committee,” he whined. “They can’t change the handbook after I told everybody, can they?”
 
“What they did, Jeremiah, was say that you didn’t follow the handbook. If you didn’t follow the handbook, then your committee is invalid.”
 
“Did I follow it?”
 
“They said you didn’t, and that’s what counts.”
 
“Can I tell somebody else to pick the committee?”
 
“Of course.”
 
“Fine, then. Patrick, you pick it.” He banged his gavel down. “Meeting adjourned.” This time, nobody protested as Jeremiah stomped out of the room.
 
As soon as Jeremiah was out of the room, the Posse surrounded Ellis. They all wanted to touch him, to hug him, to tell him what a great job he’d done.
 
Mark was bubbling with excitement. “You were awesome, Ellis. You showed Jeremiah who the boss was.” For Ellis, praise like that from Mark was high praise indeed.
 
The boys left the council chamber for the playground, their work finished. Now it was time to play. The next move would be up to Jeremiah, and they were all hoping he’d react the way they thought he would.
 
Mr. Vargas and Mr. Jackson watched the happy group leave. “That was interesting,” Mr. Jackson said. “I’m not exactly sure what happened, but it was interesting.”
 
“I can tell you this much,” Mr. Vargas replied. “Everything you saw happening was very carefully choreographed. It wasn’t something those boys did on a whim—it was planned, right down to Ellis being the primary spokesman.”
 
“I never thought of Ellis as being assertive, but he certainly was today,” Mr. Jackson observed. “So why on Earth did they make Ellis the spokesperson? I had the impression he was Jeremiah’s toady.”
 
“I don’t know, but it would be interesting to find out. I do know that Ellis has been cowed by Jeremiah all year, so it was fascinating to watch him go toe-to-toe with his tormentor.”
 
“Jeremiah has a lot of students buffaloed. They think he’s better than he really is.”
 
“The Posse hasn’t been buffaloed, which is why Jeremiah hasn’t been a total despot.”
 
Mr. Jackson had a bemused look on his face as the two teachers entered the staff lounge. “I wonder if those boys have ever read Machiavelli?” he asked half seriously.
 
“I doubt they’d ever heard of him.”
 
“I wouldn’t be too sure. Patrick has fooled me all year with what he knows and understands.”
 
“I will say this much, I have a feeling that by the time this little drama plays itself out Senor Machiavelli might be able to take some lessons from that group of preteens.”
 
Out on the playground, Jeremiah confronted Alden.
 
“Where did you go? You left me all alone in there!” Jeremiah growled in anger.
 
“There wasn’t anything I could do. You’re the president.”
 
“You’re supposed to be a friend. Friends are supposed to stick together.”
 
“I needed to think.” Alden said.
 
“About what?”
 
“About the picture. We better not show it.”
 
“Why not? Ellis dissed us big time.”
 
“Just give it back to him. I guess he doesn’t care anymore if we show it or not.”
 
“I don’t care what he cares about. I’m showing the sucker. You told me it would embarrass the…the…the shit out of him.” Saying “shit” made Jeremiah feel more in control of the situation.
 
“Answer this. Who are you going to say gave it to you? How did you get a pic of Ellis all naked with a boner and wearing makeup.”
 
Alden’s question stopped Jeremiah. He hadn’t thought about that angle, and obviously Alden hadn’t either until now. They looked at each other. Jeremiah now understood that while Alden was his ally, he wasn’t his friend. Alden had always seen Jeremiah as his way of being close to power without the responsibility of power. To him, Jeremiah was an ignorant idiot who had a natural charm about him that could win people over who didn’t like or respect him. He was a salesman, just like his father.
 
It was one of the ironies of the Puget Academy that even though each boy had to pass a grueling exam to gain entry, they still could look at a fellow student and think him dumb, stupid, ignorant, an idiot, etc. Their perception was, of course, all relative.
 
Jeremiah watched the Posse come out of the cafeteria door and out on the playground. As the group chatted happily away, his face lit up.
 
“Wait, I’ve got it,” Jeremiah said, still watching the group. “I know who to say gave me the picture.”
 
Alden looked at what Jeremiah was studying and broke into an evil grin. He knew what Jeremiah was thinking. A big reason Alden followed Jeremiah was because Jeremiah, even though he was stupid, was evil, just like he was.
 
“Funny how one of the twins lost that memory card and I just happened to find it. Tomorrow at lunch you and me and our home boys are all going to look at the picture on my laptop.”
 
“Are you going to check it out first?” Alden asked.
 
That was when Jeremiah made his fatal mistake. “Nope. I’m gonna even leave it in the envelope, which is where I found it. I’m gonna tell everybody I don’t know what’s on it either. It might be nothing. But when they see Ellis, I think they’ll figure out why I’m showing that pic of Ellis and will know not to mess with you and me.”
 
Alden and Jeremiah were bright, if malevolent, boys who often felt that the world was created for their benefit. They saw Jeremiah’s idea as a way to bring down the Posse yet one more time. The picture would destroy Ellis. Jeremiah and Alden agreed that by saying the picture belonged to one of the twins, they were once again proving that Mark and Matthew were bullies. It would become obvious to everybody that the twins took the picture to blackmail Ellis, and that was the reason he turned on Jeremiah at the meeting.
 
Their hastily concocted plan had more than a few holes in it, but Alden and Jeremiah didn’t see much of the illogic in it. What they saw was another chance to impugn the reputations of the twins without implicating themselves in any wrongdoing. By the time the bell rang ending their lunch period the bad blood between Alden and Jeremiah had been temporarily forgotten.
 

++++++++++++

 
When the Posse came out onto the playfield, they noticed Alden and Jeremiah looking at them.
 
“I wonder what they’re talking about?” Patrick asked.
 
“Probably about what Ellis did,” Mark said.
 
“And how they’re going to show the picture,” Matthew added.
 
“They might not show the picture,” Misha reflected.
 
“Why not? Ellis totally screwed Jeremiah and totally pissed him off,” Mark said. “Why wouldn’t they show it?”
 
“Where did the picture come from?” Misha, the master of strategy asked.
 
“Well, from Ellis’s camera, and Alden used it to take the picture.”
 
“Yes, and how did Alden manage to get Ellis to pose for that picture?” Neville asked as he saw where Misha was heading. “And is he going to admit taking it? So, they might not show the picture because they cannot say where it came from.” Misha finished what they were all thinking.
 
“That’s cool,” Matthew said. “Ellis still made Jeremiah look like a dork in the meeting.”
 
“And how many people know what happened in the meeting?” Patrick asked. “How many of them even care?”
 
“Probably not a lot,” Matthew confessed. “But they’ll know after we tell them.”
 
“But will they care?” Patrick repeated. Nobody answered.
 
“For Operation Bullfrog to work, we need for Jeremiah to show everybody the picture,” Ellis said.
 
“No worries,” Mark said with a confident grin. “Like I said before, I got it all under control. If Jeremiah doesn’t show the picture, I have my Plan B.” He didn’t bother to tell anybody he was still waiting for some kind of inspiration to tell him what Plan B was.
 
Next: He Was a Good Friend of Mine