Callum B. Downes

Prank Number 10

After a while, the music got louder and louder. A bed was made right in front of Billy’s branches and Livy sat down in the middle of it. This was His chance. Now was the perfect moment for prank number 10.

Livy threw her arms to either side and belted out one last line from the bottom of her stomach. “I know I’m gonna like it here!”

The music was cut short. The crowd gasped in unison. Livy’s hands went from the air above, to her head below. As she felt her natural hair beneath her fingertips, her famous smile dropped into a Barley Bay public school history-making frown. She reached up above, swiping and grasping frantically for her red wig, which was dangling on the branch of a pot plant above her, like bait on a fishing line. Billy was enjoying being the fisherman, dipping the wig up and down in front of her like a yo-yo. The frustrated growls escaping through Livy’s grinding teeth were priceless, and Billy couldn’t help but giggle beneath his disguise.

She jumped on the bed for some extra height and reached towards the lights above. She managed to snatch the wig back between her fingertips. When her feet reached the mattress below, the entire bed frame collapsed, sending her to the floor with a loud crash. The crowd gasped in unison. Livy shot up onto her feet with a sheet draped over her body, like a kid at Halloween whose parents forgot to buy them a costume. She let out a blood-curdling scream and stamped her feet off the stage. The crowd broke out into a low mumbling, which grew louder with each re-enactment of the event.

Mrs Garrick stood in front of the rubble of sheets and wooden planks. She waited until the crowd was near silent before she began speaking. “Apologies ladies and gentlemen, it seems we have an intruder on the stage. Do not be alarmed, I can assure you that Olivia is okay, and that the show will go on.”

A mac-truck hit Billy in the guts, his eyes pooped out of his skull and his heart plummeted to the floor below. He’d been busted.

Author’s Note: The moment when Billy takes his new powers too far and uses them to get revenge on his big sister, Livy. Set during the annual school musical: Annie, Billy’s moment of glory is about to be cut short and things will never be the same again. The scene captures the essence of every boys most regretful life stage, when they are figuring out how there actions can really affect those around them, for better or worse…


Empty Praise

Praised be the fighting man,
A sculpture full of scars.
Crushing hopes got him here,
Amongst the pavement stars.

All hail the stronger man,
A tower to behold.
His lighting jab and light of foot
Admired by young and old.

Here’s to the winning man,
A golden belt he flaunts.
Golden crowns, golden feet,
With gold, his foes he taunts.
Lest forget the prouder man,
Whose tongue was smooth as silk.
His words went before him,
And the truth would count for nil.

Praised be the fighting man,
He’s humble in defeat.
A good and proper gentlemen,
A liar and a cheat. ⠀

All hail the stronger man,
Who rises from the pit.
A lesser man would soften,
Taking time-out for the kids. ⠀

Here’s to the winning man,
Too great to count the loss.
Here’s to the drunkenness,
To many wives he lost. ⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Lest forget the prouder man,
His history joins the few.
Praise to the lonely man,
We truly never knew. ⠀⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
– Do you live to praise, or be praised? A question well worth asking yourself.

More of my poetry @sowmagazine




Schoolyard Gossip

There was no time to lose. The bell had just signalled the end of lunch and the main event was about to begin. Billy figured he had about 15 minutes or so before parents started arriving at the doors for the musical. For the entire lunch break, he’d been hiding in the bushes outside the toilet, overhearing conversations about Daniel Norman and Harvey Taylor. From what he could gather from the broken fragments of gossip he could hear, Daniel had chased Harvey into the front office, pinning him up against the principal’s door and shoving mushy toilet paper down his pants. It didn’t take long for Mrs Garrick to round them up into to her office, where apparently Daniel began pelting toilet paper bombs at her. Billy wasn’t sure if the last part was true. After all, schoolyard rumours had a way of being totally exaggerated. Like the time Mrs Rueben, for some unknown reason, got fired from her job as a kindergarten teacher, and as some sort of revenge, invaded the school grounds and began spray painting the message “Clag glue is poison” on all the classroom doors. Word on the street is, the cops arrived to arrest her and she resisted by biting the neck of one of the police officers, kind of like a vampire. So naturally the cops had to Taser her 15 times before they were finally able to escort her into the police car. Billy reckoned he could believe the part about the neck biting, but 15 blows from a Taser gun would surely kill a lady of her size.

It had been a few minutes since the bell had gone and the teachers on playground duty had bribed and threatened the last of the straggling students into the classrooms. The coast was clear. Billy crept out of the bushes, peered left and right to be sure and started to waddle his pot plant body awkwardly across the main quadrangle to the hall. It was with remarkable luck that Billy wasn’t caught. Never before had the quad been so deserted and quiet. Upon reaching the door, he came to a screeching halt.

“Oi, where do you think you’re going with that?!” Yelled a voice from the staff room, which was just up the stairs to his left.

‘Statue Boy’ redefines himself

I’ve reached the 20 000 word milestone! Thanks for all the support thus far. Here’s a rough draft of what I wrote tonight. It captures the moment when Billy redefines his identity for the first time.

He reached the school about ten minutes late, so he made up an excuse about delivering a pot plant for the musical and Mr C didn’t question it. All morning, Billy plotted the various practical jokes he was going to pull during the day with his new disguise and freezing talents. The possibilities were endless. He decided to scribble a list of plausible pranks instead of doing his handwriting. Everyone knew handwriting was a waste of time anyway, especially Mr C, who often didn’t have a clue how to execute the various joins of cursive himself. The list looked like this:

1 . Lock Daniel Norman in the toilets and throw soggy toilet paper at him

  1. Throw water bombs at the principal during assembly
  2. Super glue the teacher’s coffee mugs to their desks
  3. Ring the bell early for recess, lunch and home time
  4. Tip bins over when classes are walking in lines
  5. Fart in the library. Very loudly.
  6. Place firecrackers in the teacher’s pigeon holes
  7. Turn everyone’s bags inside out
  8. Go in the girls toilets
  9. Ruin the school musical by pulling Livy’s…

“Billy! You should know this. Could you share with the class what you think?” Requested Mr C.

The eyes of the entire class were on him and he froze up… Again. A few of them started to giggle under their breath.

“Why so stuck, Billy?” Jeered Daniel Norman. Everybody burst out in laughter. Even Mr C found it hard to hold back a smile.

“May I go to the toilet, sir?” Asked Billy politely as ever.

“Off you go then, be quick.”

It was almost lunch time and Billy was surprised Mr C had let him go. He had timed it perfectly to strike number one off his list of gags. He had placed the pot plant inside the boy’s toilets when he arrived to school earlier and had hidden a pile of sopping wet toilet paper within the suit. He slipped the suit on when he got there, waiting expectantly for Daniel Norman. Without fail, Daniel Norman would run straight to the toilets as soon as the bell rang, leaving a two or three minute window for Billy to commit his crime.

The bell clanged right on time and Billy began to slide his feet back and forth in nervous anticipation. He’d never sought revenge on anyone before and the thought of it sent his hairs up in the air like meerkats preparing for an invasion from a pack of Hyenas. His eyes were like a meerkat’s too. Wide and alert.

Daniel Norman burst through the doorway and Billy hoped he’d stopped shuffling his feet in time. It probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as the big bully was already in full stream, emptying the contents of his bladder over everything apart from the toilet bowl itself.

It was time to attack. Billy reached out from under the plant costume and began unleashing a barrage of mushy projectiles over the cubicle wall. The profanities, swear words and cries for Mummy escaping Daniel Norman’s lungs would have been sweet enough for Billy, but the best part was yet to come. Frozen in the guise of a pot plant in the corner of the boy’s toilet, Billy watched as Daniel Norman’s reputation was flushed down the toilet along with a small percentage of his urine.

The bully flung the cubicle door open in rage and scoped out the room in search of the culprit.

Harvey Taylor from the year below was the unfortunate sod who walked in at this very moment.

“You!” Roared Daniel Norman, pointing an accusing finger in Harvey’s direction.

Harvey wasn’t sure what to do. Did he laugh and run, or did he scream and run, or did he just run and worry about the other bits later? He didn’t know, because the sight he beheld was something quite extraordinary. There in front of him was a figure, who sounded like Daniel Norman, but looked like a giant snowman. From head to toe, he was covered in dripping wet bog rolls. Some had landed directly in his gob, so that he was sort of chewing on them in hilarious dissatisfaction, like a cow.

Billy couldn’t hold it in any longer. He let out an unmistakable laugh. He clamped a hand over his mouth quickly, but it was too late. Both Harvey and Daniel were glaring directly at the pot plant and Billy could hear confused thoughts spilling out loudly from their brains. Harvey used this distraction as a chance to make for the doorway. Daniel Norman snapped out of his stupor and charged on out after him. The hot pursuit that followed went down in Barley Bay Public’s history books. Tales of Daniel, ‘the sodden snowman’, chasing ‘heroic Harvey’ around the schoolyard, were shared years later. But there was one key detail that went unexplained all those years. Who threw the toilet paper in the first place? It was a juicy twist in the narrative to which only one was privy. Billy Baker, ‘boy statue’, thrower of sticky, spongy saturated snow. The hidden protagonist in this tiny school’s greatest mystery.

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