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Authors: Eric Walters

Just Deserts

 

PUFFIN CANADA

JUST DESERTS

ERIC WALTERS
is the highly acclaimed and best-selling author of over sixty novels for children and young adults. His novels have won the Silver Birch Award, the Red Maple Award, as well as numerous other prizes, including the White Pine, Snow Willow, Tiny Torgi, Ruth Schwartz and IODE Violet Downey Book Awards, and have received honours from the Canadian Library Association Book Awards, The Children's Book Centre and UNESCO's international award for Literature in Service of Tolerance.

To find out more about Eric and his novels, or to arrange for him to speak at your school, visit his website at
www.ericwalters.net
.

Also by Eric Walters from Penguin Canada

The Bully Boys

The Hydrofoil Mystery

Trapped in Ice

Camp X

Royal Ransom

Run

Camp 30

Elixir

Shattered

Camp X: Fool's Gold

Sketches

The Pole

The Falls

Voyageur

Black and White

Wounded

Camp X: Shell Shocked

Camp X: Trouble in

Paradise

Fly Boy

Just Deserts

ERIC WALTERS
with Ray Zahab

PUFFIN CANADA

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published 2011

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (WEB)

Copyright © Eric Walters, 2011

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Manufactured in Canada.

LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION

Walters, Eric, 1957-

Just deserts / Eric Walters and Ray Zahab.

ISBN 978-0-14-317935-1

I. Title.

PS8595.A598J98 2011          jC813'.54            C2011-902082-3

Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at
www.penguin.ca

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see
www.penguin.ca/corporatesales
or call 1-800-810-3104, ext. 2477 or 2474

For my wife Kathy and for my friend and fellow runner Patrick Doyle

CHAPTER ONE

WHAT WAS THAT SOUND
, and why was it
so
loud? It felt like somebody was pounding on the inside of my head with a sledgehammer or—no … it was the door. Okay, now I had
three
questions:
who
was pounding on the door,
why
were they pounding so hard, and finally, was the person who was doing the pounding small enough that I could inflict serious injury on him?

The pounding kept coming, and it was getting even louder. Each crash against the door sent a corresponding pain shooting into my head, like a knife being plunged into my brain.

“Ethan, open up!”

The voice was familiar, although at that moment I couldn't quite place its owner. All I knew was that I truly wanted to kill him … assuming I could do it really quietly.

Instead I rolled over and pulled the pillow over my head, but the pounding came again, and the pillow was about as helpful as a Band-Aid on a shotgun
wound. That's what it felt like, as if somebody had shot me in the head. I would have almost welcomed that. One shot to the head to end the pain.

I really had to stop drinking. Or at least stop drinking so much—that was more realistic. I'd remind myself not to drink so much. Then again, if drinking killed brain cells, obviously I wouldn't remember the reminder, so—

“Ethan, wake up!” the voice bellowed.

Why wasn't he giving up? Wait, it was a different voice now. Either there were two of them, or they were pounding in relays.

There was only one way to make it stop. I'd have to kill him … them. On the bright side, it would be justifiable homicide. Pounding on the door of a guy who was suffering a blinding, head-splitting hangover was definitely asking for it. Or I could plead temporary insanity—the insanity of the person trying to wake me up!

He pounded again, and I rolled over and tried to jump out of bed. The sudden change of elevation sent my head reeling and my stomach lurching. I put a hand down on the night table to steady myself and looked at the clock. It was just before eight-thirty—eight-thirty in the morning! What sort of heartless, brainless idiot would pound on my door at this time on a Sunday morning?

I staggered forward and— “Ugggh!”

I looked down and lifted up my foot. Vomit dripped off my toes into a puddle on the floor. I could only hope that it was at least
my
vomit. Somehow that would make it a little less disgusting.

I dropped my foot to the carpet and dragged it along, trying to wipe off the vestiges of puke that clung to it. It wasn't like it was going to do much damage to this carpet. It was worn, ugly and tasteless—like everything else at this school.

There was the sound of a key clicking against the lock—whoever it was, he was trying to get into my room. Saved me the trouble of staggering over to open the door.

Donovan, followed by Clive, poked his head into my room. I knew them, but that didn't mean I liked them or would spare them from death or—

“Are you all right?” Donovan asked.

“One of us is going to be fine,” I snapped. “Do you know what time it is?”

“It's just before nine in the morning,” Clive answered.

“And don't you think that might be a little early to be banging on somebody's dormitory door on a Sunday morning?”

“Sunday?” Donovan sounded confused.

“It's
Monday
morning,” Clive said.

“Yeah, right, it's Monday … quit screwing around.”

“No, seriously, it's Monday.”

“It is,” Donovan added. “Honestly.”

“This isn't April first, and I'm no fool,” I snapped. Bad enough waking me up without trying to make me look like an idiot. “Go away and leave me alone, and don't come back until it really
is
Monday.”

“No, it
is
Monday,” Donovan insisted.

He stepped back and pushed the door wide open. Beyond him, I could see that the hallway was filled with students in uniform, carrying books, on their way to classes.

I was shocked.

“But what happened to Sunday?” I gasped.

“Sunday happened. You missed it. You must have slept through it or something.”

Sleep, no.
Something,
yes. I remembered Saturday night, being out at a party and … I didn't really remember getting home, but obviously I had. But zoning out all of Sunday? I'd passed out before, even forgot part of an evening, but to lose an entire day … that was different.

Either way, it didn't really matter. Class was going to be starting in less than thirty minutes, and I'd already been warned that the next time I was late I'd be facing major disciplinary action.

So the guys hadn't been harassing me so much as helping me. I could have thanked them, maybe, but … whatever. It wasn't like they were my friends.

“I'd better get dressed fast and get to class before—”

“No, you're not supposed to go to class,” Donovan said.

Now I was even more confused.

“Headmaster McWilliams wants to see you,” Clive explained.

“In his office,” Donovan added.

“Why does he want to see me?”

“He didn't exactly tell us, but he didn't look particularly happy.”

“Does he
ever
look happy?” I asked.

“Never,” Donovan agreed. “But I've been around here for five years, and I've learned that keeping him waiting is not going to make him any happier.”

“Well, I guess he'll learn that you don't always get what you want,” I said, trying to sound casual. “Tell him I'll be there when I'm ready.”

They both looked shocked.

“You want us to tell him
that
?” Clive asked.

“Don't worry about it. He'll figure it out when I'm not there immediately. Just go to class and I'll take care of it.”

I could tell by their expressions that they were surprised
and
impressed.

“I need to get dressed, and I'm not planning on putting on a show, so you two have to leave,” I said as I shooed them out, closing the door behind them.

I slumped against the door. Damn, this was serious. But how serious, and what was the headmaster upset about? It wasn't that I hadn't done anything wrong. The question was, what had he found out about? Drinking alcohol, on or off school premises, was a big deal if you got caught. It was very definitely against the rules, so that could be a problem … and I guess whatever happened on the day I couldn't remember. But really, other than vomiting, I'd probably just slept Sunday away.

In any event, what I needed to do was to get to his office as quickly as possible, looking as together as possible. Unfortunately the two things worked against each other. I had a choice: be fast or be presentable. I'd at least have to be in uniform, have my tie on straight—he was a fanatic about fixing people's ties. I thought it had to do with the fact that he liked to wrap his hands around people's necks, like he was choking the life out of them—that was something he really enjoyed doing.

I'd wash my face, throw on my uniform, fix my tie, but first … I ran off to the washroom, practically tumbling over but staying on my feet. I dropped to my knees in front of the toilet and hurled! My whole body convulsed, but nothing much came out. I still wasn't sure what I'd done the day before, but I could safely assume that eating wasn't a big part of it.

I put a hand against the toilet and pushed myself
up. I needed to at least rinse out my mouth or brush my teeth or— I caught sight of myself in the mirror above the sink. Very funny. There was a large black moustache drawn on my face.

I grabbed a face cloth and rubbed soap on it, and then started to scrub my face. I lathered it up good and then rinsed it away. The soap was gone. The moustache remained. This was going to take time. Time I didn't have. But it wasn't like I could show up to see the headmaster with this
thing
on my face. Especially since it looked suspiciously like
his
moustache.

CHAPTER TWO

I SAT THERE
on the very uncomfortable fauxantique chair, pretending not to look at the headmaster's secretary as she perched behind her big desk just outside his office, faking work. The dark, “important” pictures on the walls—like the furniture, and everything else in the room—were just a clumsy attempt to make a statement. It was all intended to create the impression that our headmaster was a significant person, a person of substance. In truth, though, the accoutrements in our family's chauffeur's quarters were more impressive. If this office was supposed to be intimidating to students, it wasn't working on me.

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