Thirty Two: The Plan

Mid-December – Finals week
Alley


I tapped my feet nervously against the dirty tile floor. I cast quick glances back over my shoulder every few seconds or so, scanning the room. I checked my watch. Almost five o’clock. He always strolled in dangerously close to starting time, so I don’t know why I bothered. Sitting back into the cushioned auditorium seat, I sighed deeply and rubbed my temple, cursing Taylor and his overactive imagination. At the time, it sounded like a good plan. Hell, it was a good plan, a great one, even. I just hoped everything followed through.

“Hey.” A slow, sly voice spoke up from behind me as I was looking over my right shoulder. Cringing, I turned around.

“Hey,” I managed to croak out. Jay smiled in return, sitting down next to me. Ugh. I felt sick. How could I have ever been attracted to that?

Remember the plan, Allison. Don’t blow it now, I silently reprimanded myself. I mentally recalled Taylor’s breathless explanation of “the plan.”

“Well, he doesn’t know that you know that he copied off of you, does he?” Taylor had asked. “I mean, he just thinks you threw that little fit because he tried to put the moves on you. Correct?”

“Yeah, I think so,” I had said, slowly. “Why?”

“Well… you said he needed to fail really badly in order to fail the class. But chances are, he could probably manage to swing a passing grade on his own. But, what if you could guarantee that he would fail miserably?”

“That would be wonderful. But how do you propose I do that?”

“OK, well, you’re not going to like this first part. But what you could do is get his trust again – start talking to him again, act like you made a mistake. I mean, you don’t have to go overboard, but just enough so that he thinks he can pull it off again. Then, he’ll sit by you during the test, and follow your answers. But, you could put all the wrong answers… the ones you know are wrong. He’ll put them down, too, and then he’s guaranteed an F!!!!”

I had remained silent for a moment before speaking again. “But then I would have all the wrong answers, too…” I bit my lip, thinking.
“Ah!” Taylor had said triumphantly. “When you’re done, act like you’re checking your answers over again. Chances are, he’ll get up to leave, and after he does, change all your answers back.”

“That would involve a lot of erasing. But, I could just ask for a new scantron sheet…. like, tell them I screwed mine up or something…”

“See? There you go!”

I rehashed it all in my brain several times, searching for weak links. Sure, there were a few risks involved, but God, it would feel good to see that bastard get what he deserved… And Taylor!!!! Thinking of this whole thing all by himself! It seemed there actually was something going on beneath that fluffy blond hair and pretty blue eyes.

“I’ll do it,” I’d finally said, grinning.

So here I was, getting ready to actually begin. Of course, it was easier said than done. I’d been forced to bite back my pride and talk to Jay again, something I found more unpleasant than being stabbed in the neck, quite frankly. And the smirk he always had on his face… his thinking that I’d just come simpering back to him was almost unbearable. But then I would think of Taylor’s plan, and smile evilly to myself, knowing everything would be alright.

“So, babe…. what’s going on?”

You’re about to make me vomit all over my new shoes, that’s what’s going on, I thought. “Ah, nothing.” I tried not to speak more than necessary.

“Yep, same here, as always.” He peered over at me. “You ready for this test?”

I bit back a snicker. “Oh, yeah!!! Man, I studied for hours. I’ve got a really good feeling about this one.”

“Ah, good, good,” he nodded approvingly. “Me too.”

“That’s good,” I said airily.

“Alright class,” barked Tanenbaum. “Let’s get started.” His assistants began passing out the scantron test sheets.

The chunk of sheets came our way. Instead of simply taking one off the top, I slyly managed to take two without anyone noticing, including Jay. I figured getting the extra sheet now would be easier than later.

I had decided how I would be choosing the wrong answers. They wouldn’t be random. I would first mentally choose the right answer, and then mark the one right after it. Thus, if the answer was A, I would put B, etc, etc. If the answer was D, I would put A. That way it would be easier to go back and find the right ones when I started my “real” test.

I squinted at the blackboard, filling in all the necessary information. We were sitting in the back of the room this time, which was a change for me. But I didn’t want the professor to see me fixing my test. He might think I was cheating or something, and that would be bitter irony.

Next to be passed out was the actual test. I was relieved to see that Tanenbaum had given the same test to everyone, and not passed out different versions, as some professors often did. Perfect. I closed my eyes and said a quick mental prayer before beginning.

I had no trouble. I took great care to make sure I was marking the answer that followed the correct one. I didn’t know if Jay would “change” some of the ones on his test like he had done before, but I figured if he did, he wouldn’t change many. And anyway, it wasn’t guaranteed that he would change them to the right answer. At one point, I sneaked a glance from the corner of my eye his way, and noted with delight that he was indeed copying me answer for answer.

I finished, and sat for a minute, wondering if he planned on getting up anytime soon. I flipped the test back to the first page and pretended to read over the questions again. Come on, come on, I thought. Get up and leave.

“Hey,” he whispered finally, shuffling his papers. “I’m done. Catch ya later. Oh, and thanks.” He smirked again.

I smiled sweetly back at him. “You’re welcome. I’m just gonna check over my answers again.”

“Yep, good idea. Wouldn’t want you to miss one because of some silly mistake, would we?” He cackled at that. I scowled inwardly.

“No, we certainly wouldn’t. Goodbye,” I said coolly. He grabbed his stuff, shuffled out into the aisle and to the front of the room. After handing the test to the professor, he headed out of the room, offering me a casual flick of the hand as a wave just before he disappeared through the door. I flipped him off, but he didn’t see me. Damn.

Yes! I thought. Now to the final part. Glancing around the room to make sure no one was looking, I quickly filled in the answers on my second answer sheet. I crumpled up the first one, stuffing it into my backpack. Another quick read-through of the test indicated that everything was the way it was supposed to be. I grabbed my stuff, headed to the front of the room, and handed in my test, barely able to control my smile.

***Two Days Later***

I paced back and forth in my living room. The test scores were supposed to be posted today. Jay would most likely be checking the postings at 1:30, when he got out of another exam. I glanced at the clock. It was 12:30 now.

“Will you stop that? You’re making me nervous,” snapped Taylor, eyeing me from the couch. “Sit down!”

“Sorry, sorry…. just jittery…. excited… all that jazz.” I grinned at him.

“So when you going over there?”

“I’ll probably leave here in about 15 minutes…. I want to get there early to check my score,  and then lurk somewhere until he arrives so I can see his reaction.”

“You’re what?!” Taylor looked shocked. “He’ll probably be really, really pissed off, Al. I wouldn’t recommend coming within 100 yards of him anytime soon.”

“I know! I’m going to hide. But I just want to see the crushing look of defeat on his face.”

“You’re sadistic.” He rolled his eyes and sat up. “And I’m going with you.”

“Why?”

“I want to see the fruits of my labor…. and I have a bone to pick with him, also, dear. It’ll be nice to see that 'crushing look of defeat' on his face, as you put it. No one messes with Taylor Hanson!” He widened his eyes slightly and waved his finger from side to side.

“Or Allison Krzyzewski.” I grinned, and held up my hand for a high-five. He smacked it soundly.

“True, my dear, true.”

I sat down next to him a few minutes later and leaned my head on his shoulder, enjoying our silence. I was feeling better now than I had in ages. Christmas was coming, I was done with finals, and I’d gotten my sweet revenge. Life was good.

“Taylor?” I yawned, moving my head so I could see the clock, and then him.

“Yeah?” He yawned also, and then smacked me. “Stop that. They’re contagious.”

I laughed softly. “Sorry. I just wanted to say thanks.”

“Thanks? For what?”

“For… everything, really. For being a good friend.”

“Um, well, you’re welcome,” he said, looking flustered. “Although I think I should be the one doing the thanking around here. I’m the one intruding on your life.”

“You’re not intruding.” I pinched his leg.

He chuckled. “Yes, I am.”

“Well, you’re a welcome intrusion, then. A bright beam in my otherwise dark life.” I moved my arms out in front of me dramatically. “My world was boring and bland before you came along, Taylor.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty obvious.” I pinched him again and he laughed.

“Oh, and yours was so much better before this, Mr. Rock Star?” I asked.

“No,” he said, suddenly turning serious. I swear, sometimes he was like Jekyll and Hyde, the way his mood could swing sometimes. “Actually, it wasn’t.”

“Oh, come on,” I said. “You’re stuck in hickville with a crazy, neurotic geek, who is your only means of friendship. And she can’t cook for shit.”

“Well, you got the last part right.”

I didn’t argue. “But…” I began, fiddling with a loose button on my shirt.

“But what?”

“But being in a band can’t be that bad. To get to travel the world! That would be so wonderful,” I said softly. “To see everything, and learn about the world and other cultures… I’ve always wanted to do that.”

“Why don’t you?”

I scoffed at him. “Taylor… I’ll never leave this town. I’ll stay here just like my parents did, and their parents, and so on. I’ll probably get a job as a pharmacist here. It’s good money, sure. But it’s not the type of job that would allow me to just… up and leave. I’ll be tied to it, because there will be obligations. You don’t know how lucky you are, to have the freedom that you do.”

“Wow,” he said after a long pause. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, which I doubt it will, being in a band isn’t always fun.”

“I know,” I said. “But you know what I think the perfect job would be?”

“What?”

“Someone who gets to travel with the band, but isn’t part of it.”

He laughed. “Like a roadie? That’s not very glamorous, or fun.” He peered at me with a smile. “And I doubt that you could handle the physical workload.”

I rolled my eyes. “No…. like, I don’t know…. I can’t really think of anything specific right now. But someone who traveled with them… they would get to see the world, visit the sites, go to all the elite parties and functions, meet other musicians…” I trailed off, suddenly very aware of how silly I sounded. “But they wouldn’t have to deal with being recognized or harassed, really.”

“You’ve really thought about this, haven’t you?”

“Um,” I said sheepishly. “Kind of.” I cleared my throat, anxious to change the subject. Taylor probably thought I was a nut. “Well, we should get going. I want to make sure I get there first.”

“Yeah… that’s probably wise.” He stood up and stretched.

“Come on.” I grabbed his arm and dragged him behind me towards the door. “This is gonna be good.