Best Defense is a Good Offense, Part 1

(by Smokehut, 20 July 2005)

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This fictional account contains adult language, drug use and sexual themes. 
If such language and themes offend you, please do not read further. The 
persons and events described in this work are purely fictional. Any 
similarity to actual persons or events is strictly coincidental. Copyright 
2005 by SMOKEHUT. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to 
reproduce this story in any form and for any purpose as long as this notice 
is reproduced and no financial remuneration is received, directly or 
indirectly, by the person reproducing or using it. 


"Mrs. Thompson, would you please send for Jimmy Cornelius? I believe he has 
`annual staff' this period?" Olin Brumfield opened the door of his office, 
leaned out and addressed his secretary. 

"Why, yes, Mr. Brumfield, right away." 

The principal of Divisadero High School returned to his desk and prepared 
for the diminutive photographer's arrival. His plan was a bit on the 
diabolical side, but it was time to take decisive action. Smoking, the 
principal had decided, had become too compelling a problem at his suburban 
school. It was time to make an example out of someone, or preferably 

The short kid arrived meekly, carrying the wariness that comes with any 
visit to the principal's office. Jimmy had no idea why the principal wanted 
to see him. 

"Sit down, Jimmy," said Brumfield. "I've got something I want to discuss 
confidentially with you." 

Brumfield read the boy's expression. "Don't worry. You haven't done 
anything wrong, son. I've just got a little plan, and I need your 

Jimmy smiled, although he maintained a bit apprehensive, if relieved. 

"First of all, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?" 

"Why, no, Mr. Brumfield. Go right ahead." 

"Jimmy, do you smoke?" 

"Of course not, Mr. Brumfield. No, sir. Not at all. Not ever." 

"Well, that's reassuring, son, but, you understand, I had to ask." 

"Not a problem," the boy said. 

"Smoking is, I think, a problem here at Divisadero High. All too often, I 
pick up a stench in the bathroom of students who have smoking on the sly. 
Sometimes I even smell it on their clothing. I think it's time to take 
action. It's in the students' best interest, you know. It's a filthy habit, 
one that will linger for the rest of their lives. We've shown videos, we've 
put up posters, but still, some students are just rebellious by nature, and 
so I've decided to take sort of an unconventional tack, and that's where 
you come in." 

"Uh, yessir." 

"I'm a big admirer of your abilities, Jimmy," Brumfield said. "The examples 
of your photography are really, uh, quite impressive. I understand you want 
to become a photojournalist." 

"Yessir. It's what I want to study in college." 

"Very good. You've got quite a bit of talent in my estimation." 


"I've got a plan that will give you a chance - a remarkable chance, I think 
- to prepare yourself for a career in journalism. I want you to go 
undercover, and I want this to be a project that only you and I know about. 
Are you willing to give it a try?" 

"I guess." 

"What I want you to do is start taking pictures surreptitiously of students 
smoking. I want you to be careful not to be detected, but if somehow you 
are discovered, you'll have my full backing. Preferably, though, I want you 
to take these photos undetected." 

"Do they all have to be on the school grounds?" Jimmy asked. 

"Well, that's what you should concentrate on," Brumfield replied. "I don't 
think we can take action against students based on what they do away from 
school grounds, but you don't have to limit yourself, I guess. You could 
take photos at, say, shopping malls, outside the Cineplex, things of that 
nature - but that's kind of a sidelight. That might alert you to students 
you might be looking for on the school grounds. I'm just thinking out loud 
here, mind you. We might be able to use those photos, in some selected 
cases, to alert parents that they might want to watch what their kids are 
doing, but maybe it would be better just to observe students at those 
places as a means of knowing which ones to watch on the school grounds. 

"But I don't care who you catch. You don't have to worry about that. I 
don't care if it's the captain of the football team or the head 
cheerleader. The bigger the fish you catch, the better. Got that." 

Jimmy nodded brightly. His apprehensions were gone. Clearly he had warmed 
to the idea. The principal reflected to himself that the kid had stars in 
his eyes. 

"If you'll work with me on this and do a good job, I feel certain we could 
do a photo spread in the school newspaper - I know you work for the annual, 
but I'll make all those arrangements - and it could be both an 
award-winning work and one that would be crucial to securing admission and, 
perhaps, a scholarship at a prestigious college. 

"Not bad, huh?" 

"No, sir, not at all," Jimmy said. "Besides - I think it would be kind of 

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