The weather was still warm enough for outdoors play, and after the usual troubles at lunch, Jeanne, Gene, and Tegan sat on the steps they considered their own, watching the other children run and play. “This sucks,” Gene said.
“Yeah, we know,” Tegan replied, rolling her eyes.
“No, I mean, this really sucks,” he said. “Rob is probably in a lot of trouble right now.”
“Or he’s sick,” Tegan said. “That could happen.”
“I don’t think he’s sick,” Jeanne said. “I think he’s just skipping school. It’s no big deal.”
“It is if he gets caught,” Gene protested, but his enthusiasm died as the sentence ended. “But he wouldn’t get caught.”
“He’s too smart to get caught,” Tegan nodded.
“If he’s so smart, then how come he can’t outsmart Deacon?” Jeanne said.
“The same reason we can’t,” Gene sighed. “Deacon has the teachers on his side.”
“How does he do that, I wonder?” Jeanne said, leaning against the chain-link fence. “Everyone knows he’s mean. But the teachers just kind of ignore it.”
“I heard his dad is someone really important,” Tegan said. “Like the mayor or something.”
“The mayor’s kid wouldn’t go to Seneca,” Gene said, scoffing. “He’d probably go to some really rich kid’s school.”
“I don’t know about that,” Tegan said. “It’s like how Mr. Walsh said people get votes. They stay connected to the people whose votes they need. If Deacon is the mayor’s kid, then it kind of makes sense that he wouldn’t want to give the idea that he doesn’t have an interest in all of the city.”
“Even Seneca?” Jeanne said.
“Especially Seneca,” Tegan said. “There’s, like, a zillion kids here.”
“Kids can’t vote,” Gene pointed out.
“But their parents can,” Tegan said, her voice trying not to snap. “Their parents would have to see that the mayor’s kid goes here, so it’s going to get a lot of attention.”
“Yeah, but just because Deacon’s the mayor’s kid–” Jeanne began.
“We don’t know that for sure,” Gene interrupted.
“If Deacon is the mayor’s kid,” Jeanne said, “that doesn’t mean he’s magically in charge of the school. He might be the mayor’s kid out there, but in here he’s just like us.”
“You mean, he’s no better than anyone else,” Tegan said. “I don’t like calling him just like us.”
“Okay, then,” Gene said, “he’s equal. That better?”
“Close enough,” Tegan scoffed. “I still think he’s a little turd.”
“Well, yeah,” Jeanne grinned. “But at least he’s not the big turd he thinks he is.” Gene and Tegan giggled at this, and for a moment, Deacon was taken down a notch in their minds.