Picking Up Slack and Back-Talk

Peta was to learn the ropes that day, mostly just observe.  After breakfast, however, he was first in the kitchen in the wash line.

"How many washing, how many drying?" he asked, clapping his hands together enthusiastically.  The students on dish duty exchanged quick glances.  Trina happened to be among them, so she cleared her throat nervously and assigned him to drying.  He not only picked up some slack, but helped finish five minutes faster.  Trina made a note of this, impressed.

"Alright, what's next?" he asked.

"Normally, it's lessons," Trina replied as they strode across the compound.  This Peta kid kept a good pace, she noted.  "But for you I think it's orientation with Miz."

"Miz?  Y'mean the shouting lady?"

"That's her," someone replied, clearly taken aback by his nickname.

Throughout the day Peta continued to surprise.  He must've whizzed through orientation, because not too long after lunch he was seen in quite a few classes, moving right along with everyone else.

"Today was easy," James muttered to some of the other students after dinner, "but he'll be whipped by tomorrow.  You watch; if he thinks he's exhausted tonight, just wait for the real work to start."  He smirked a little.  "He'll be gone by next week."


Everyone was surprised the next morning when the reveler sounded.  Except, it didn't sound scratchy and piercing, like it usually did.  No, it was had a clear, bright clip to the familiar tune.  Everyone looked to Peta's bed, wondering if he was awake.  The covers looked particularly lumpy.

"Peta!" James barked.  "Up!"  He flung back the covers, only to find it empty.  Peta came in, all smiles with his trumpet in hand.

"I've been up for an hour already, ya sleepyhead!"

Everyone was so shocked no one heard the rattle of the doorknob.

"Well!" Miz thundered.  A line was hastily made, a few heads kind of bowed.  Peta turned slowly, at ease, to face her.  "You!  Why the 'pet!" she barked, pointing to the trumpet in his hand.

He shrugged.  "With all due respect, ma'am, I didn't think the old recording of the reveler wasn't effective enough, ma'am."

Had Miz not been present, the collective gasp would've been much more audible.  No one ever talked back to Miz.  Not even James.

The great fear-inducing woman just stood there, both dumbfounded and liable to explode.

"And, by the way ma'am," he continued, "my name's not Peta.  It's pronounced Peter."

That was it, they all thought.  They waited with bated breath for the eminent detonation.

The End

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