Coach Amos

Read Coach Amos for Free Online

Book: Read Coach Amos for Free Online
Authors: Gary Paulsen
Amos Binder was sitting on a bench in the hall outside the principal’s office. He had chewed off every fingernail on both hands down to the nub.
    His lifetime best friend, Duncan—Dunc—Culpepper was waiting with him. “Don’t worry, Amos. It can’t be that bad.”
    “You didn’t see Ms. Fishbeck after the accident. I’ve never seen anybody so mad. She told her secretary it was too bad public hanging is illegal.”
    “Tell me again how it happened.”
    “I was on my way to Mr. Finsky’s English class. I had plenty of time, so I stoppedover there to get a drink.” Amos pointed at a water fountain across from the principal’s office.
    “Then what?”
    “Then I heard the phone. I knew I had to get it on the outside chance it was Melissa calling to tell me why she wasn’t in school today.”
    “
Outside
would definitely be the word for it all right.”
    Amos’s girlfriend was Melissa Hansen. Only she didn’t know it. In fact, she didn’t know him. To Melissa, Amos sort of blended in with things: the wallpaper, the wall, the scenery.… But he was sure, every time a phone rang, any phone, that Melissa had finally discovered her love for him and had decided to call.
    “Anyway,” Amos continued, “you know how she likes me to get it on that all-important first ring.”
    Dunc nodded. He knew that since Melissa had never called Amos, she couldn’t care less what ring he answered it on. “How much damage did you do this time?”
    “Well, it all depends on how you look atit. I don’t know if the office door counts. That could have happened to anybody. The glass in that door was just waiting to fall out. And I didn’t actually ruin the secretary’s desk. She was pouring toner into the copy machine when I pole-vaulted over the counter with the coat rack. I guess she got a little excited and forgot where she was pouring it. It really did a job on her computer.”
    “Is that it?”
    “The rest wasn’t totally my fault, either. My sights were set on the phone. My jump was classic. Only I forgot about the aquarium on the other side of the counter. I caught it with the toe of my tennis shoe. All fifty gallons tipped over on the brand-new carpeting that the student council just bought. Good carpet—it soaked every bit of that water up in nothing flat.”
    “Did you ever make it to the phone?”
    Amos shook his head. “Mrs. Snipe, the secretary, lost it completely and pulled the phone out of the wall when she went for the principal.”
    Dunc stood up. “Well, I’ll come to your funeral. See ya.”
    “Wait.” Amos grabbed his arm. “I thought you were going to help me get through this.”
    “The way I see it, she’s going to kill you. No way around it. It might be better if I wait for you outside. I can’t stand the sight of blood.”
    “That’s what I like about you, Dunc. You always know how to reassure a guy.”
    “Mr. Binder.”
    Amos looked up. A tall woman with beady eyes and glasses that slid halfway down her long thin nose was standing in the door, thumping a ruler into the palm of her hand. It sounded like a guillotine hitting meat.
    “Yes, Ms. Fishbeck. I’m coming.” Amos slowly stood up. He took a step toward the office lobby, turned, and dived for Dunc’s legs. “Please don’t leave me.”
    “Amos, let go. I can’t walk.”
    “That’s the idea.”
    “Amos.”
    “I’ll never ask you for anything as long as I live—which may not be long—just comein with me. She won’t be able to do anything violent if you’re watching.”
    Dunc sighed. “Oh, all right. But”—he held up one finger—“I’ll sit in the lobby.”
    “Ye-es!” Amos pulled him in the door and whispered, “If you hear anything that sounds the least little bit like child abuse, don’t hesitate to call the police.”
    “I’m waiting, Mr. Binder,” Ms. Fishbeck snapped.
    Amos took a couple of steps toward her office. He turned and gave Dunc his most pitiful look.
    Dunc motioned for him to go on.
    Amos

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