Our high school chemistry teacher flipped the fan switch in the chemistry lab, and a loud pop sounded.

“Oh, shoot!” he exclaimed. “We can’t do the experiment without the fan.”

“Hey,” Brent said. “My dad is an electrician, and I can wire almost anything. Do you want me to take a look at it?”

Mr. Hatsker shook his head. “Probably not, Brent. I’ll acquisition the school to get it fixed.”

“Are you sure?” Brent said. “I’m sure I could have it fixed in minutes.”

“I better not,” Mr. Hatsker said. “I probably need to go through the right channels.”

“What about the due date on our lab project?” Marcy asked. “There is no way we can have it done by Friday.”

“I will move that back a few days,” Mr. Hatsker replied

Mr. Hatsker called the principal to come down, and they discussed the situation.

“Well, we can definitely have the district repairman come look at it,” the principal said. “But I can’t guarantee any time table on it. They are doing some remodeling at the district office.”

“My lab should come first,” Mr. Hatsker replied. “The problems with the lab have already put me a couple of weeks behind this semester.”

The principal shrugged. “I will do my best.”

Mr. Hatsker started us working on some new material in the book. We hadn’t been at it very long when the principal came back. “I hate to tell you this, but they can’t do it for a couple of weeks.”

“A couple of weeks!” Mr. Hatsker exclaimed. “We can’t wait a couple of weeks. We need it now.”

The bell rang, and we gathered our books to leave. Brent hung around behind as the rest of us headed to lunch. As lunch was coming to an end, he joined us to quickly wolf down some food.

“Where have you been?” I asked.

He leaned over and whispered. “I fixed the fan in the chemistry room.”

“I don’t know if I am happy about that or not,” I told him. “Now we’ll have to do our lab projects.”

“Beats studying from the book all class period,” he replied.

The next day Mr. Hatsker started to lecture.

“Aren’t we going to go to the lab?” Brent asked.

“There’s nothing we can do until the fan is fixed,” Mr. Hatsker replied.

“But I think it is,” Brent said.

Mr. Hatsker looked at him suspiciously, but we all traipsed into the lab to check it out. He flipped the switch, and sure enough the fan spun, rattled, and came to life. Mr. Hatsker shrugged and told us to all get busy. We pulled out the sulphuric acid at our stations and started to work. Soon, those of us closest to the fan started to cough and choke, and before long, everyone was.

“The fan is blowing backward!” Mr. Hatsker yelled. “Everyone, outside!”

He pulled the fire alarm as we headed out the door. I was the last student out, and I could hear screaming coming through a door in the chemistry lab that always remained locked. I had always thought it was a closet. Through my choking, I asked Mr. Hatsker where it led.

“It is a second entrance to the dark room used by the year book class to develop pictures,” he answered through his own coughing.

Within minutes, students were pouring out of every door, happy to be out of school. When they found it was because Brent wired the fan backward, they were high-fiving him.

But there was one person who wasn’t happy. The yearbook advisor, coughing and choking, was marching determinedly in the direction of our celebrating, and she wasn’t smiling. Brent saw her coming and tried to calm everyone’s exuberance.

“Just act normal and remember, you don’t know anything about any fan. We can just say it’s a fire drill.”

Just then a fire truck rushed up. Firemen jumped off, donned gas masks, and rushed into the building.

“A very realistic fire drill,” Brent added.


Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at da***@da*********.com ; or visit his website