“And you didn’t call be – cause . . . ” Annie tilted her head towards Rune, a smile playful yet expectant on her face. Your turn — make it good.
Telling the truth was out of the question, she would certainly verify any lie he told, and she had little patience for apologies. If he were to have any chance in the future with Annie, Rune had to come up with something clever. His eyes drifted upward as his brain scrambled for ideas; he saw a hand-drawn poster above the soda machines in the cafeteria. AFS CAR WASH. SATURDAY NOON – 2 PM. Rune focused his eyes back on Annie’s, and wiped his greasy hair from his forehead.
“I was washing my mom’s car — ” he’d actually done it over a month ago, but veracity was not important to the story he was about to tell — “when I heard this noise from the drain at the bottom of the driveway. At first I ignored it, but when I heard it again, I realized it sounded like a human voice.”
Confusion swept over Annie’s face like a cloud. Rune’s voice rose with excitement. “So I walk over and lean down — ” he bent sideways, cupped a hand up to his ear — “it was a human voice, and it was calling for help!”
Annie looked back at him like she was watching a car collision. Rune turned his face toward the cafeteria floor. “ARE YOU ALL RIGHT? I cried.” He contorted his face in pain and weakness as he looked up at Annie. “Yes — ” his horse whisper barely audible — “but . . . very weak . . . down here for days . . . no food. I tugged at the grate above the drain, but to no avail! I knew I needed to get help!”
“How noble of you.”
“Ah, but mine was but a small role in this saga!” He now raised his right index finger like it was a beacon. “It was only through the combined efforts of the police, fire department, and the fortuitous arrival of a band of spelunkers — ” Annie smiled briefly, then dismissed the expression as if embarrassed — “that we were able to rescue that poor man, in addition to the three puppies he had tried to save, leading to his condition.”
“Puppies?” Annie pursed her lips. “What breed?”
“Dalmatians.” Rune was impressed at his alacrity.
“Hmmm.” Annie shook her head, then turned towards the center of the large room, where the other members of the Bark Bay High School fencing team were practicing. “Goldens would have been better.” And winked as she walked away.