No Bad Deed Goes Unrewarded

by Kristen Bealer

Mack was fuming as he walked to school. How dare she? he thought as he stormed down the street. It's bad enough that she decided to dump me completely out of nowhere, but over the phone? First thing in the morning? She couldn't even wait another hour to tell me to my face? He snorted to himself. "No, of course not," he ranted out loud. "Perfect Jodie is far too busy with all of her school activities and volunteer work to spend time with me. Even two minutes to break up with me is two minutes too long for her precious packed schedule."

At last the rage, which had been building for years, boiled over and Mack felt something deep inside him shift. He stopped walking as a truly malevolent expression possession of his face. "That's it; I'm done with being Mr. Nice Guy," he growled. He looked up and saw that he was standing outside of Daria Morgendorffer's house. "She thought I didn't hear her the other day when she made that crack about me being Jodie's personal doormat," he muttered. "Let's see how she likes a little Ding-Dong-Ditch!"

Sneaking up to the front door, he jabbed the doorbell and then quickly darted around the corner of the house to wait. The door opened and Daria's head poked out, looking around in bewilderment. Just as Mack was stifling his laughter, Daria let out a startled cry. "The leaves!" she exclaimed, running for the garden hose and turning it on. She sprayed a pile of leaves next to the house, in which a carelessly-thrown cigarette had been smoldering, just as the flames had begun to reach the house.

Once the fire was out, she turned to shut off the hose and noticed Mack. "You're the one who rang the doorbell!" She ran over and grabbed his hand, shaking it in gratitude. "Mack, you're a hero. I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't raised the alarm!"

"Uh, no problem," Mack stammered before walking the rest of the way to school in confusion. The first person he saw was Mr. O'Neill, who had somehow already heard the news about him and Jodie. He cornered him for ten minutes for a one-sided conversation about feelings and heartbreak that left the teacher in tears and Mack's temper flaring.

Watching the man continue down the hall, Mack chose his next victim. After a brief stop outside, he checked to make sure Mr. O'Neill hadn't returned to his classroom yet before making his way to the teacher's desk. He opened a drawer and dropped something inside before creeping back out of the room again to wait unseen.

He saw Mr. O'Neill go in a few minutes later and waited only a short time before the expected shout came. "Yeah, I bet you don't like seeing a surprise garter snake when you're looking for a pencil," Mack laughed to himself.

"This is perfect!" Mr. O'Neill continued, and Mack's laughter died. He peeked into the room to see O'Neill carefully lift the snake out of the drawer and smiling at it. "Janet told me she's been looking for a snake to use in a class project. She'll be so pleased; I can't wait to show her!"

Mack stepped out of the way just in time to avoid being knocked over by the excited teacher and groaned. Then he turned around to see Kevin enter the school. "All right," he said to himself. "Enough messing around. Time for the straightforward approach."

"Hey, Mack--!" Kevin called out, but before he could complete his greeting he found himself hauled off his feet and pinned against a row of lockers.

"If you ever call me 'Mack Daddy' again, I'm going to reach down your throat, pull out your intestines, and strangle you with them!"

Kevin, still not getting it, just chuckled. "What are intestines?"

"Seriously?!" Mack exploded. "You have got to be the dumbest person on the face of the planet. I could probably explain the human digestive system to the locker behind you and have better luck getting the knowledge to sink in. If you ever tried actually turning your brain on and giving the slightest effort to learning anything, the whole world would probably die of shock." His anger temporarily appeased, he lowered Kevin back down to the ground.

"Wow." Kevin blinked at Mack in surprise. "I...I never realized just how much I've been letting my academics slide." Kevin took a deep breath. "You're right. I need to really start buckling down or else I'm never going to graduate." He grabbed Mack in a sudden hug. "Thanks for the wake-up call. I only wish you'd come down on me like this a long time ago." He released him and hurried away, adding, "I owe you big time, Mack Daddy!"

Mack's jaw dropped. "I am not giving up yet," he muttered, looking around for his next opportunity. He spotted Brittany, digging around in her locker with her pom-poms lying on the floor at her feet. Mack grinned and slipped closer. She'd almost driven him insane the day before with a long, rambling story about her hair that had left him longing for a quick and merciful death. Now it was time for revenge. He reached out and snatched one of the pom-poms, hiding it quickly in a nearby janitor's closet. Then he waited.

When Brittany reached down and found she only had one pom-pom, at first she just frowned. Mack guessed she was probably trying to count them to be sure. Next she began looking around the floor, in her locker, and everywhere she could find. Mack was trying to stifle his laughter until she stood up with an excited squeak. "Oh, wow!" she cried. "I just found a fifty-dollar bill! This is, like, the best day ever!"

Mack turned toward the nearest wall and started banging his head repeatedly against it. "This is getting ridiculous," he grumbled, feeling desperate to ruin someone's day. When Mr. DeMartino walked past, he didn't even hesitate before sticking his foot out and tripping him. He was rewarded by the sight of the teacher actually flipping up into the air and landing--hard--flat on his back.

"Gee, are you all right?" Mack asked, feigning concern but celebrating on the inside.

Still motionless on the floor, Mr. DeMartino looked up at him with wide eyes. "All right? All right?" He leaped to his feet in a single motion and stretched his arms toward the ceiling. "I'm better than all right! My back has been killing me for weeks, and that fall straightened it out in an instant. I feel twenty years younger!" And with that, Mr. DeMartino danced down the hall, stopping along the way to jump into the air and click his heels together.

Mack stared after him, teeth grinding so hard other students could hear them. "Time for the big guns," he vowed, beginning the search for the one person he knew, without a doubt, wouldn't be happy with anything he did to them.

He found her in the teacher's lounge: Janet Barch. She was grading tests at a table, her purse hanging unnoticed from her chair. Sneaking in, Mack reached in and fished out her cell phone. A minute later he slipped it back inside and then returned to the doorway and knocked on the frame.

Barch looked up at him in annoyance that only doubled when she saw who it was. "What do you want?" she demanded.

"Mr. O'Neill asked me to have you call him right away," he said. "It's an emergency and he said it can't even wait for you to come find him."

Looking suspicious but getting out her phone, Barch hit the speed dial for O'Neill and waited for an answer. "What's going on?" she asked in a much gentler voice. "I heard--wait, who is this?"

Mack couldn't help rubbing his hands together with glee. He'd found her ex-husband's phone number (listed as "HELLSPAWN--DO NOT ANSWER) and swapped it for Mr. O'Neill's.

Ms. Barch's face twisted with sudden fury as she clutched the phone to her ear. "I would never--what?" Her anger faded into surprise and confusion. "You mean--but I thought...." She was silent, listening. Suddenly, tears filled her eyes. "I never thought I would hear you apologize, and it means more to me than you can imagine! Yes, I forgive you!" She ended the call and looked up at Mack with a calm, happy smile. "Closure," she breathed. "And it's all thanks to you!"

With a howl of frustration, Mack stormed off. He quickly sought out privacy, unwilling to let anyone see how upset he was. He found the nearest men's restroom and locked himself inside a stall, then took a few deep breaths. At last he was able to think straight.

You've been going at this all wrong, he realized. You're going after the wrong people. Jodie's the one you should be taking revenge on, so that's the person you should focus on. But how?

He stared at the stall's door for a few minutes before the obvious answer finally came to him. "Of course," he whispered, a crafty smile forming. He fished a coin out of his pocket and scratched a message into the door.

For a good time, see Jodie Landon.

Mack knew it was crude and childish, but he was willing to try anything now. He exited the stall, whistling. Ted Dewitt-Clinton, who had been waiting, went in.

As soon as he left the bathroom, Mack spotted Jodie walking in his direction. He was just trying to decide if he should devise another scheme against her when she saw him and hurried over. "Mack!" she exclaimed. "I'm so glad I found you! I've been thinking about it all morning and I realized that I made a huge mistake. I'm driving myself insane trying to meet my parents' expectations and it's time I started relaxing and doing what I want to do. What I'm trying to say is that I should never have broken things off with--"

"Excuse me, are you Jodie Landon?" Ted interrupted.

"Yes. Can I help you?"

"Oh, I hope so! I heard you like to have a good time, and in a crazy coincidence, so do I! Perhaps you'd care to join me at the arcade after school? The virtual reality game is really excellent, and afterward I'd be happy to buy you some of this delicious food called pizza. Are you interested?"

Jodie looked at Ted, and then at Mack, and finally at Ted again. "That...actually sounds really fun. Sure, why not? I'd love to!" Linking arms with Ted, Jodie walked away without even glancing at Mack.

Mack watched her leave, unable to react. When the power of speech finally returned, he just shook his head. "That's it; I'm back to being Mr. Nice Guy."