Johnny America


Play­ing Hooky


Once in high school I tried to call my­self in sick to school. Some­how I thought they would­n’t know the voice of a 17 year old kid who is, af­ter all, al­most an adult — phys­i­cal­ly, any­way — from that of my fa­ther, a man al­most 50 years old. I called and told the sec­re­tary that Abra­ham Far­rar would­n’t be in that day, as he had a ter­ri­ble case of in­fluen­za. She asked me to hold on, please. Then the as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal Mr. Pellinham an­swered the phone. “Hel­lo, Mr. Far­rar?” He was play­ing with me; I knew I was sunk. But I could­n’t back out now.


“This is­n’t Abraham?”


“What’s your work num­ber, Mr. Far­rar? I’d like to give you a call back there.”

“Uh…” I fal­tered. “I’ll be in meet­ings all day today.”

“Oh, so you’re not at…” I heard typ­ing, “829−9008?” He was tena­cious, like a bulldog.

I paused. I paused too long, and he said, “Abra­ham, I’d like you to come in­to my of­fice first thing to­mor­row morning.”

I hung up the phone. It was a frigid morn­ing out. I had ten min­utes be­fore the time I usu­al­ly left for school.

My bed was no longer the warm temptress it had seemed be­fore I made the call. There was still time to go to school, and prob­a­bly to avoid de­ten­tion, but then would I still have to go to Mr. Pellinham’s office?

I de­cid­ed not to go; the dam­age was done. I went down­stairs to the kitchen and poured my­self some ce­re­al. The house was too qui­et; all but the nois­es I made, so I turned on car­toons to cov­er it. It was­n’t fun — I felt sick. And I hat­ed Mr. Pellinham for ru­in­ing my day off.

Filed under Fiction on February 19th, 2004

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Reader Comments

elliott wrote:

oh emi­ly
you can do bet­ter than that

Emily wrote:

Dear El­liott,
Sor­ry to disappoint.

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