"Sorry I had to keep you in my locker," Joe said to Querty as he sat down at the table with Buddy and Kip and tossed his sack lunch down. Kip and Buddy looked at each other worriedly. "But I need both my hands to work."
"I understand. I'm the one who made you bring me to work," Querty said. "Hi, guys."
"Hi..." both Buddy and Kip wanted to direct it to Joe but Querty said it and they didn't want to acknowledge Querty.
"So Joe," Buddy began. "Kip and I are going speed dating tonight and were wondering if you'd like to join us."
"Speed dating? What's that?" Querty asked.
"It's where you sit down across from a woman and talk to her for five minutes or so then you rotate to the next woman," Kip explained.
"Speed dating. One hour photo. Instant mashed potatoes. What's the rush?" Querty asked.
"Uh-oh, who woke up Andy Rooney?" Buddy chuckled.
"Shut up, fatty!" Querty snapped.
"Who are you calling fat?" Buddy leapt up and wrapped his hands around Querty's neck.
"Buddy, that's my wrist!" Joe cried.
"Buddy!" Kip began pulling Buddy off of Joe's arm. "You're strangling a sock!"
Nicki got to her journalism class and was immediately confronted by the teacher Mr. Rowlands. "Nicki, glad you're here. The moment you've been waiting for has arrived. Chris had to drop out as editor so that task now falls to you," he said.
Nicki smiled. "Really? And I start right now?"
"Mm-hmm," Mr. Rowlands said. "I know you'll do fine. Good luck. If you have any questions or concerns, you know where to reach me."
Nicki got behind the desk and began looking through the articles as the students came in. After everyone settled into working on their articles or heading off to work on their assignments, another student came in and sat down in front of Nicki.
"Yes?" Nicki asked.
"I have a story for you," the girl said.
Nicki pulled out a notebook and a pen. "Okay, let me have it."
"I'm Katie Fischer, I'm a sophomore and I know this sounds unbelievable and I don't blame you if you don't believe me but I have to tell someone. Principal Anschutz raped me."
Nicki sat in shock at her desk. "It's my first day," she said softly.
Principal Jason Anschutz had devoted the last twenty years of his life to children and was a three time winner of Principal of the Year and a Teacher of the Year award. He went to every PTO meeting and was at every school function. Nicki couldn't believe that he would've done anything like that to anyone. She had taken Katie into a private room and got her side of the story and thanked her and sent her back to class and then wondered what to do now.
She sat at the kitchen table looking over the notes she had written down. Irene came in from upstairs and saw her daughter staring blankly at the paper and sighing heavily.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"I have a problem," Nicki said.
"What about?" Irene sat down next to Nicki.
"I was made editor of the school paper today," Nicki started.
"Well, that's good. You've been wanting to be editor since school started."
"I know but now I have a problem," Nicki sighed and looked at Irene. "This girl came into the room to pitch me a story. She said the principal raped her."
"Principal Anschutz? He's such a nice guy. The couple times I met him he was more than charming," Irene said. "So this girl wants you to print the story?"
"I don't think so but I think she wanted to tell somebody. She probably figured I'd go to the police and just let them have it but if I do that I ruin someone's life and career," Nicki said.
"If he didn't do it then he should have nothing to worry about."
"Even if he didn't do it, revealing this will destroy his reputation because once the seed is planted in someone's mind then it never leaves," Nicki sighed again and sat the notebook down.
Joe came down the stairs dressed in a nice blazer and slacks. "How do I look?" Joe posed for everyone and rubbed Nicki's head.
"You look nice. Where's Querty?" Irene asked.
"He's staying home tonight. He thought speed dating sounded a bit...well, stupid."
"Probably for the best," Nicki said. "Have fun. Meet someone."
"I'll try. I'll be back around in a couple of hours."
Joe left the house, closing the door behind him. Irene and Nicki looked at each other. "They're gonna kick him out of the hotel," Irene shook her head.
Nicki stood up and gathered up her notebook and made her way to the stairs. "I'm gonna go call the police. I just hope I'm doing the right thing."
Joe, Buddy and Kip arrived at the massive hotel where the speed dating was being held. They signed in and took their seats at several rows of tables. When all the men were seated, the women came in and sat down. After a brief introduction, the time started and the men and women began talking to each other, learning as much as possible within five minutes.
The first couple of girls didn't thrill Joe and he honestly didn't thrill them but the third woman was someone he kind of liked. "I'm Joe," he said to her as she sat down.
"Hi, Joe. I'm Shirley."
"Shirley, huh?" Joe noted her beautiful long brown hair and sparkling green eyes. "Why is a pretty young woman like you doing here at speed dating?"
Shirley blushed a little. "I'm busy with my job and my volunteering and have very little time for dating. Plus I don't drink or anything I so can't meet people in bars like normal people. My friends urged me to go."
"My friends kind of urged me too," Joe chuckled. "So what else can you tell me about yourself?"
"Well, I'm a dental assitance and as I said I love to volunteer and just stay at home and read," Shirley said. "You?"
"I work at the oil refinery and mainly I just stay home with my mom and little sister," Joe realized that he just admitted that he still lived with his mom and immediately regretted what he said.
"Aw, you still live with your mom? That's so sweet," Shirley smiled and looked at Joe. The bell rang and the guys all stood up and started to move to the next girl.
"That was a really fast five minutes," Joe said to Shirley as he was pushed out of the chair and toward the woman to Shirley's right. "Hi, I'm Joe."
"Jenna," the woman said. "Hi, Joe."
Besides Shirley and Jenna, Joe met only two more women that he seemed to like, Diane and Marnie. Joe, Buddy and Kip sat in the drive-thru of the local McDonald's talking about the women they met.
"So do you think any of the women will get in touch with you?" Buddy asked.
"I'm sure this one woman will, she really liked me," Kip said.
"There were about four or so that I really liked so I'm hoping they'll email me," Joe said.
"I can't wait to get home and find out how I did," Buddy said.
Principal Anschutz wasn't at school the next day. Nicki found out that he was undergoing questioning. Nicki felt awful about what was happening but she couldn't just sit there and let him get away with it, if he did it.
Katie walked up to Nicki and pulled her into a doorway. "What did you decide to do?" she asked her.
"I went to the police. I told them I had this story and what he did. I've edited the story to conform to the standards developed for this kind of story and an officer will call me back giving me the go-ahead if Principal Anschutz did it," Nicki explained.
"So my name won't be mentioned at all?" Katie teared up and shook with nervousness.
"No. I guarantee it."
"Thank you. This means so much to me," Katie hugged Nicki and then bounded off.
Nicki looked at where Katie disappeared and smiled. Katie wasn't lying.
Nicki went back to her journalism classroom and sat down at her desk. Her cell phone rang and she answered it. "Hello?" Nicki said. "Yes? All right. Thank you."
It was a special edition that came out the next day. Principal Anschutz was allowed into the school one last time to get his things but he was escorted with three police officers. Students and teachers watched as their favorite principal gathered up his belongings and prepared to leave the school. Principal Anschutz saw Nicki, holding a copy of the newspaper she had approved to be printed.
"Nicki Shamus," he said. "I read your article."
"Th...thank you..." she stammered.
"But it is hugely inaccurate," he growled. "It's all lies. I have devoted nearly my entire life to children and this school. I don't know who told you what you were told but they were lying and when I am cleared of all this, you will be pulled off the journalism board faster than you can blink an eye."
"Okay, that's enough. Come on, Anschutz. We didn't have to bring you here to get your stuff but we were being nice and you're going back on your deal."
Nicki watched the officers shove Principal Anschutz out of the school. The doubt had reentered her mind.
Joe opened his email and saw a message from someone he didn't know. He opened it and saw that it was from Shirley, from the speed dating. He read it with a smile on his face. She was asking him out. He had to go tell Querty.
A girl becomes obsessed with one of her classmates relationships; Joe has a date with Shirley and brings Querty.