AS MILES TAYLOR WALKED THE halls between fifth and sixth periods, it suddenly dawned on him that he was having a good day. A good week, even. It’d be an understatement to say the past two months had been rough, but he was starting to think being the new kid at Chapman Middle School wasn’t going to be as bad as he’d feared. Maybe—just maybe—he was going to survive. He approached his locker and slipped his backpack off his shoulders, congratulating himself on his streak of twenty-one consecutive class changes executed without incident, and counting.
That’s when he saw the Jammer.
In the world of big-time Georgia youth football, Craig “the Jammer” Logg was known as a prodigy. Legend had it that he registered his first tackle at eleven months of age, when he knocked down a toddler at daycare who mistook Craig’s mini Nerf football for a teething ring. Craig had been hitting people ever since. It was his calling. As for Craig’s parents, Coach Lineman, and all the Chapman Raiders faithful, their calling was to chant “Logg Jam! Logg Jam!” every time Craig stuffed a running back charging up the middle.
Off the field, Craig’s new favorite pastime was making Miles’s life miserable, and he excelled at that, too. More important, he knew it, and the Jammer wasn’t the sort to let talent go undemonstrated.
Miles stopped dead in his tracks, his mind screaming with alarms like a luxury car dealership caught in a baseball rainstorm. The good news was his locker was only a few feet away, whereas Craig was farther down the hallway. The better news was Craig hadn’t noticed Miles yet because he was talking with some of the other kids from the football team. If Miles was quick, he could weave his way through the crowd of loitering students, get to his locker, swap out his books, and head back the way he came without Craig ever knowing he was there.
Miles took a deep breath and made his move.
27-9-39, combination lock opened. Did he see me? Miles thought. Backpack unzipped, morning books deposited. Is he coming over here? Afternoon books retrieved, backpack zipped closed. Should I look? Don’t look! Backpack slid onto shoulders, mission completed.
Miles wasn’t positive, but he might have set a new record for fastest locker stop. Rushed as he was, he never noticed the paper cup sitting on top of his locker. It was positioned at the edge, so it would tip over the side if the locker door was shut with just the right amount of too hard. Which was exactly what Miles, in his effort to make a clean getaway, did.
A torrent of warm Coca-Cola fell on Miles’s head, followed by the hollow sound of the empty cup hitting the terrazzo floor.
Consecutive class changes executed without incident: Zero.
“There’s where I left my drink!” someone called out.
A hushed silence fell over the hallway, and Miles sensed dozens of pairs of eyes watching him. Wishing he could crawl inside his locker, he instead slowly turned around to find Craig towering over him.
Craig sported feet the size of bread loaves and a head as hard and large as a football helmet—even when he wasn’t wearing one. In between was a body huge enough to make neither look awkward. Whenever another football mom asked Mrs. Logg if Craig had been a big baby, she’d reply, “Honey, I thought I was going to die.”
Craig bent over and picked up the cup. “It was full when I put it up there,” he said. He looked down into the space where six“Clever and funny with an irresistible premise, this middle grade adventure/comic book hybrid will engage even the most reluctant reader. Somebody get me a golden cape, stat!”