This bonus chapter explains how Security Team Tiny got his job at Old Endings Preparatory, as well as his name:
Security Team Tiny here, and I survey the scene. Yes, I’m the #1 member of the security team at Old Endings Preparatory. Some folks are silly enough to think I’m just another kid, but they’re wrong, and I’m okay with that. See, I don’t look like a security guard, because I’m an undercover security guard. I can promise you that you won’t see me climbing up a rope and trying to get away from Fib the Lion, because I’m no student. Plus, Fib and I have an understanding, and he would never bite the paw that feeds him. For the record, Tiny isn’t my real name. It’s a code name I go by because, since I started working at Old Endings Preparatory, I’ve put on a little bit of weight. Let’s just say I’m husky and happy, but who wants to be called Mr. Husky N. Happy? Not me.
You’re probably wondering why a school would need a security team. Before you go thinking things are bad around here, please remember that even libraries have security systems. At Old Endings Preparatory, I’m part of the security team and there’s nothing to be alarmed about.
Your next question probably has something to do with trying to figure out how I managed to get my job. Well, it all started a while ago, when the school got a new student who couldn’t cook very well, and she had to repeat 5th grade over again because of it. I think her name is Tablespoon, or Spatula, or Whisk, or something that has to do with a kitchen. Sorry, but I’m bad with names, yet I don’t forget faces, and I can smell food from a mile away!
Anyway, after a few weeks of her trying to cook to pass 5th grade, the school found out that she was trying to smuggle food in and take credit for it. That’s when they hired me to make sure no outside food was brought in to school. It’s my job, and I love to do it. You might be curious to know how I developed a reputation of catching people with food. Well, I’m a kid, and I’ve been a kid all my life. And, if you know anything about kids, you know that we specialize in finding treats we can eat. I’ve never met a cookie jar I couldn’t get my hand in and out of without getting in trouble. I’m that good, and snacks are my specialty. Before coming to O.E.P., I used to do the same job at the movies. Because of me, our concession stands were sold out by the end of every night. Nobody, and I mean nobody, could ever get food past me.
I’m sure you’re interested in finding out how a kid like me could get a job at the movies. Well, I ended up getting that job because of an unofficial bathroom investigation I did. See, when you’re a kid, getting access into both bathrooms is no problem. When you’re a kid, your mother or father can bring you into the bathrooms without anyone saying a word. When my mother brought me into the ladies' room, she always made me cover my eyes so I couldn’t see anything. The only time I could open my eyes was after I was inside the bathroom stall. While I was in the restroom, I relied on some of my other senses to help me. I could hear women washing their hands and using the hand dryer, and I listened to make sure I knew what was going on around me.
On one particular trip to the movies, my mother took me into the bathroom right after she told me we did not have the money to get any candy from the concession stands. Of course, I was upset. If I didn’t know that my mother would take us back home if I showed any signs of pouting, my lower lip would have been poked out all the way down to Antarctica. If I managed to hide my disappointment about not getting any candy until I was inside the stall, I would still have to keep my lip up because it would have probably touched the toilet seat. YUCK!!!
As we waited inside the bathroom for my turn to handle my business, the lady in front of us walked into the stall. Instantly, I heard the magical sound that only candy wrappers make. I tried to contain myself, but I screamed, “Mom, that lady has candy! I wish I had some candy, but they don’t sell that kind here. She has Sour Boppers! Mom, you know I love SOUR BOPPERS!”
Even at that young age, I was a candy expert. Candy wrappers have always been music to my ears. I’ve always known the sounds that each wrapper creates, and the crackle of Sour Boppers opening always makes me want to pounce on a package. Right after I made my announcement about the lady with the candy, the manager at the movie theater (who just happened to be in the bathroom) knocked on the stall door and politely asked the lady hiding the candy to flush the Sour Boppers down the toilet, or immediately leave the movie theater. I thought I was going to hear the sound of the flush, and I knew some fish would be lucky enough to enjoy some Sour Boppers. Instead, the lady refused to waste her Sour Boppers. I couldn’t blame her for not flushing, but I did not like the sound she made after she opened the stall door and walked past me. I could hear the crunch of her biting a Sour Bopper without even bothering to wash her hands.While I handled my business in the stall, my mother and the manager talked. After washing my hands and leaving the bathroom, the manager met us outside the bathroom with a bucket of extra buttery popcorn and licorice. Of course I would have rather had some Sour Boppers, but the food she gave us was better than nothing. While my mother was thanking the manager, I started thinking out loud. I asked, “Ma’am, if I can catch people bringing in food, can I eat free snacks and watch free movies?”
“Yes!” replied the manager, and from that day on, I was on a mission to keep illegal food out of the movie theater. The manager and I came up with an idea for me to act like I was lost and hungry all the time. I would be inside one of the movie theaters quietly begging customers for food, drinks, or even Breath Mints. People would pull stuff out of their pockets, purses, hats, boots, and just about anywhere else you could think of, and then hand it over to me. I’d even ask the kids sitting next to me if they would share just one piece of candy with 'poor me.' After people would give me something to help me out, I’d STOP them from eating, DROP their food on the floor, and a moment later, they’d be out the DOOR. See, the sound of the food hitting the floor and my apology for dropping it was the signal for the manager to come up to us, walk the rule-breaking customers to the exit door in the front of the movie theater, and kick them out of the theater for bringing in illegal food.
But the begging for food scheme only lasted for a few months. Eventually people caught on to my little hoax and started refusing to talk to any strange kids. Plus, by then, I had watched all of the movies I was old enough to see, and the movie theater never did start selling Sour Boppers. Lucky for me, that’s when the good folks at Old Endings Preparatory requested my services. Once O.E.P. made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, I came to work at the school. Immediately they recognized that my nose knew how to pick up on the scent of food.
For the first few months, I’d catch that foodie fifth grader trying to get food delivered, or she would hide food on her that was wrapped in pepper so my nose couldn’t tell exactly what it was. If I did smell anything, I’d sneeze. That’s when I realized that if I smelled pepper, she was probably hiding the smell of cookies or pizza. On special occasions, she’d pay people by giving them half of the food they could smuggle into the building for her. On those days she would come to school smelling fine, but someone else would have me in peppery pursuit of the food. Clearly, she thought she was slick, and it was my job to catch on and make sure she actually cooked to pass the class. So, I’d show my badge, use my authority, and make sure anyone sneaky never tried to bring outside food inside the school again.
Sometimes Frying Pan (I think that might have been her name) would bring me food just because. She would hand it over without any question, but I realized she was only trying to soften me up so I’d miss the little bag of brownies she had tucked in her sock. Yep, I’d catch those without any problems, too. The real problems I had were trying to figure out what to do with all the food I kept confiscating. In most schools, the items taken from students go into a box until June, and the Principal gives it back on the last day of school. With food, that wasn’t going to happen. But I couldn’t just let all that good food she was trying to get in the building go to waste. I mean, who throws away cookies, cakes, pies, and steaks? Certainly not me, so I ended up eating everything she tried to sneak in. I.Mean.EVERYTHING!
That is, I ate everything before they hired Fib the Lion. Once he showed up, I started sharing with him. After all, he’s the second undercover member of the security team. What I share with Fib isn’t quite what you think it is. Normally, a lion would devour a piece of meat quicker than you can melt a marshmallow in a microwave minute. Not Fib. From what I found out about Fib, he’s not much of a meat-eater anymore. I guess he had an issue with trying to bite a guy and ended up gnawing on his plastic leg instead of a healthy portion of calf muscle cake. I guess that’s how Fib ended up here, so every time I try to offer him some of the meat that I don’t eat, he runs away. He’ll eat the sweet treats and even some baby carrots, but Fib’s tongue won’t touch meat anymore. So, I eat the meat, and I put the leftover bones on the floor by the bathroom door. Together, Fib and I fool everyone into thinking that he still munches on meat, like every other lion in the world. And, the security of his secret is safe with me, Tiny (the #1 member of the undercover security team at Old Endings Preparatory).
(Originally published Nov 22, 2012.)