Jeremy glared at the snack machine, willing it to drop the dangling potato chips. The chips perched on the tip of the curved wire, teasing him with their nearness, yet refusing to budge. Damn! That was his last dollar! He banged on the front of the machine. Nothing. He jabbed the coin return. Still nothing.
He shuffled to the fridge like a polar bear at a garbage dump in Anchorage, praying someone had left a few morsels from lunch. He pawed through throw-away containers and plastic bags. Some of the stuff looked like it'd vacationed there over the summer. Freezer yielded the same results. He wasn't that hungry.
Jeremy gravitated back to the snack machine. This time he pummeled it with his fist, cursing at the taunting chips. Then his eyes drifted to the can beside the coffee urn. People were supposed to pop a quarter for coffee. Few did. He sidled to the sink and snatched up the can, tumbling blessed change into his hand: 65 cents! He was in luck! He'd return the money in the morning.
He zipped back to the snack machine, carefully inserted 60 cents, and jabbed B5 again, whistling cheerfully. The machine went er-er-er . And stopped. The chips still taunted him.
Jeremy stared at his reflection in the snack machine front: He saw a burly guy with unruly, curly black hair and a beard to match. His eyes narrowed into chips of obsidian. He punched the glass with his fist, watching his reflection wobble. For good measure, he kicked the machine, cursing as he stubbed his big toe. Damn. Shouldn't've worn sandals! He opened the teachers' lounge door and limped down the hall to his classroom, his stomach growling in protest.
This Tuesday had been a long day. Less than a week before the brats came back to school. What with meetings and conferences, he hadn't been able to get done a third of what he needed to in his classroom; so he hadn't taken the time to go out for lunch. Hadn't eaten since that bagel and cream cheese at 7. Long damn day.
Teaching science was a drag sometimes, particularly when he wanted to set up "life" exhibits for the ungrateful little bastards, who didn't give a rat's ass about anything but the opposite sex and the latest sighting of their current stupid "heroes." God, he hated middle school and the raging hormones within. The terrarium and aquarium had taken much longer than he'd anticipated, and he still wasn't through. He didn't know why he bothered.
He glanced at his watch. Nearly 5. Hell. Maybe he'd call it quits for the day. He'd just grab his red-tailed boa, Matilda and head home; he'd finish her terrarium tomorrow. Fortunately, he'd walked in, not ridden his bike. He chuckled as he recalled Taylor's begging him to leave Matilda with her, for "company." How much company could a snake be , he wondered. A flash of bright red, green, yellow, and blue streaking around a far corner caught his eye and snapped him out of his reverie. Damn kids. Probably messing with his stuff. He glanced at the ceiling. Cameras were supposed to be installed this year. About damn time.
He loped down the hall to give the little fuckers a piece of his mind. At the last classroom on the left, he heard a noise. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Shit! What if they weren't all gone, what if they were lying in wait for some stupid adult (him) to wheel around the corner to ambush and rob? He flattened himself against the wall, looking in vain for something to use as a weapon. No such luck. The custodians had removed all the mops and brooms. He inwardly cursed. Fine time for them to finally start doing their job .
Jeremy inched toward the door and peered cautiously into the classroom. One bank of lights was off. He flipped the switch. Room looked empty. His hear