Chaz already had the classroom stunned with his temerity of walking in smoking a cigarette. “Young man, you cannot just walk in here and -“
Chaz waited for Mr. Huggis to get close enough before he blew the smoke from his first two puffs right in his face. The math guru (and he was at that – it wasn’t a rumor that the mayor had offered the man the key to the city after his fifteenth year of teaching) closed his eyes but did not back away.
Chaz kept blowing until every drop of smoke was in the teacher’s face. “Now look here, Mr. Numbers, time is just not on our hands today. You can lock me up and toss the key if you’d like, but I will request that you wait until after I’ve done what madness this occasion has graced me with first. And, my god, what a glorious position we have placed me in today.” He flicked the cigarette out of eyeshot somewhere off to one of the inactive areas of the classroom before Mr. Huggis’s eyes opened.
“Now listen up,” Chaz went on. “There’s some shit about to go down and I think it’s high time you all know about it.” If the classroom had ever experienced a quieter moment, it wasn’t in the record books.
“I’ve decided we should have a field trip today.”
“Oh, you decided, did you?” Mr. Huggis coughed out his contempt while still waving away the smoke. He stood now on the other side of the room and crossed his arms over his chest. “No, this is ridiculous. Insane! We’ll see how Principal Davis approves of your field trip.” He used air quotes as he rushed back across the room to ht other side where the main door of the classrooms was.
“Nope, nope,” Chaz said. “Sorry, Mr. Huge; can’t do that right now. Not really what the message was.”
Mr. Huggis reached the door and yanked in frustration. In one motion, the door handle flew off and the instructor flung himself several steps back before he tripped over the metal mesh rubbish can right by his desk and landed with significant lack of grace face-down across his wooden floor. When his body stopped, the classroom roared with laughter.
Chaz let the natural reaction play out before he gave a clap and turned back to the class, exhaling another puff from his cigarette before tossing it behind him, the butt of which smacked against a well-washed blackboard and fell to the floor, rolling to stop underneath Mr. Huggis’s ear.
“So, check it out, we’re going to be descending into one of the sub-pits of Limbo today. The bossman wants us to come down, have a chat, ask some questions; he wants to meet you is what we’re going for here, so if there are no questions…”He reached into his left jean pocket and extracted a small BIC lighter as a hand shot up from the back of the class.”
Chaz nodded in the direction. “Yes?”
“Don’t you mean, Hell?”
“Ah, no it does not. It means Limbo. Limbo means Limbo. Hell is different. Hell is Spanish; Limbo is Portuguese. They’re different things, but it’s easy to confuse one for the other. You with me? Now, let’s get to it.” He held out his hand and flicked the lighter with another hand shot up from the front row. “Umm…” Peggy Dawots always wore a perfectly-pressed school uniform. Golden curls bounced in pigtails and braces flashed as her hand went up.
“Yes, Peggy.” Chaz said, dropping impatiently the hand with his lighter.
“Okay, so my best friend, Carey, his grandma saw someone once do what I think you’re going to do right now.
“None,” said the girl. “And, umm, I was wondering if it’s safe.”
“Is what safe?”
“The trip? I mean you are playing with fire, and you know what the rule is about playing with fire.”
Chaz smirked and pointed at her. “Great point. And, yes, of course I know what the rule is for playing with fire. It’s don’t-forget-to-add-gas. Right? Okay, here we go. No more questions? No one else is gonna piss on my campfire, here? Let’s just get down there, snap some Instagrammies, and come on back to the classroom to have a great rest of the day with,” he looked back. Mr. Huggris steadily rolled onto his knees. “With this guy.”
The lighter came out again and Dusty Banes’s hand shot up from three seats back from Peggy. He sneezed loudly, covering his mouth, but missing the excess which was lost in Peggy’s curls.
“Yes! Christ, for shit’s sake, Dusty, what is it? Just ask when we get down there. What?”
“Oh no,” Dusty said quietly. “No, I just sneezed.
Chaz pulled back and slouched, giving Dusty a look of incredulity. “So you didn’t just raise your hand?”
“No, I did,” Dusty said. Freckles on his pale fat face seemed to sprout more just from being in the conversational spot light.
“No, no,” Dusty said giving a humble smile. “No, my arms go up when I sneeze.”
Chaz simply stared at the kid for several seconds. Giggles bounced around the room.
“We’re going,” Chaz said.
In one quick motion the lighter was out and Chaz held it over the center of the room. “Chaal’am Taeku!” He yelled. Then let the lighter fall.
From below the floor, orange winds rose and consumed the wood from below. Within seconds a circle of heat ate the room’s floor and howled in a circle of fire and wind. The hair on the children’s heads rose and flailed about. Chaz stood there, shielded his blinking eyes with his arms and yelled to the class.
“Don’t worry; it’s not hot. It just had to get through the floor.”
“Everything’s burning!” Peggy yelled. Dusty’s wide cheeks filled into a smile and he was already volunteering before Chaz asked who the first volunteer would be.
The class stood from their desks and lined up behind Dusty one by one.
On three, here we go!” Chaz said.
“But it’s scary!”
“No, it’s not, Violet. Just looks scary. It’s cozy. Just…just go.”
Dusty jumped. The class followed.
The fiery hole into the nether sucked in on itself and closed. And Mr. Huggis stood and looked upon the quiet empty classroom. He coughed and turned toward the knobless classroom door.
Field trip indeed!