That time Stu vanished in the middle of class….

(Happy New Year! Below is the story of the time my buddy Stu vanished in the middle of class. It’s not the full story–to hear the whole thing you’ll have to get my book, Stu Stories: The Adventures of Dirt Clod and His Sidekick Bird Bones:

Dear Reader

There are two things you need to know about my childhood friend Stu Sanderson. The first is that he was tall. Really, really tall. By eighth grade he was close to seven feet tall.

The second? His goal in life was to be legendary.


Patrick “Bird Bones” Hueller


Stu Sanderson Vanishes in the Middle of Class

Ms. Gribbs was Stu’s and my 8th grade English teacher. She had thin lips that she smeared too much lipstick on and frizzy hair that she piled on top of her head.

The other thing you need to know about Ms. Gribbs is that, well, to use the technical term, the woman was batty.

I mean this with all due respect, but she was a total nut job.

We’re talking Loony Tunes here.

I’m not saying this to be cruel. I actually liked Ms. Gribbs a lot. But that doesn’t change the fact her brain was seriously warped.

For instance, she made us sit in a circle every day.

Okay, that might not sound so crazy. You might have even had classes where you sat in a circle.

But if you did, I bet those classes didn’t have 38 kids in them.

Don’t get me wrong. Her reason for making us sit in a circle was noble. If I remember right, it had something to do with King Arthur. He supposedly had a round table so everyone felt equally involved in whatever was going on. Which is what Ms. Gribbs said she wanted, too. Equality.

Cool idea, right?

One problem: we didn’t fit in a circle. Not really. The only way Ms. Gribbs could squeeze us all in was to push the desks really close to the walls. One of the desks sat right in front of the door.

We actually had to climb over it in order to enter or exit the classroom. Even then we didn’t quite fit. Ms. Gribbs had to scooch her own desk—yep, she sat in a student desk as well—slightly inside the circle.

Which is why Stu volunteered to sit right next to her.

At first, I didn’t get it. Why would someone who aimed to make mischief want to sit so close to the teacher? Everyone knows the more mischief one plans to make, the farther he or she should sit from the teacher.

“You don’t understand, Bird Bones,” Stu said to me at lunch. Bird Bones was his nickname for me.

“Understand what?” I asked.

“The paradigm has shifted, dude.”

He really talked like that. Lots of dudes. Lots of big words like paradigm.

To this day I don’t know where he came up with these words.

“Now that Ms. G’s got us in a circle,” he continued, “the best way to get off her radar is to get out of her peripherals, dude. The closer I sit, the easier it is to do that.”

As usual, Stu was right.

To prove it, he routinely got out of his desk without Ms. Gribbs noticing. Usually he would just pace the front of the room, one long stride at a time. He’d go from the file cabinet, past the chalkboard, to the podium Ms. Gribbs had tucked away in the other corner. After touching the podium, he’d pivot around and head back.

Back and forth, back and forth.

Then, one day, he stopped.

Stopped pacing. Stopped dead in his tracks.

He was right behind Ms. Gribbs, and he stood there like that, towering over her, apparently deep in thought. He scratched his chin with his long fingers, and then—finally—nodded his head as though he’d made a decision.

He took a long step backward and began walking sideways. His shoulder blades smeared the chalk on the blackboard as he moved.

When he got to the podium, he stopped again.

There must have been some space between the podium and the wall—but it couldn’t have been much. Then again, Stu never needed much space. He may have been unbelievably tall, but he was also unbelievably skinny. The expression “paper thin” comes to mind.

In fact, that’s a perfect way to describe him in that moment.

I don’t know exactly how he did it, but in one stepping, twisting, contorting motion, Stu managed to fold himself up like origami until he was inside the podium.

It had never occurred to me the podium was hollow, so Stu’s disappearance looked like a magic trick.

He’d hunched and bent over and then—all at once—gone poof!

At some point, Ms. Gribbs turned to check on Stu….

(To read the rest of the story, get the book:

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