In parts 1 and 2 (Aug. 21 and Sept. 5 respectively) Freddy upgrades his name to Fred on the first day of his fifth grade year. The plan is for his last year in elementary school to be his best. But when he meets an unexpected helper and situations don’t go his way, can it still be the best year yet?
A week later, Omar confronted his friend, standing in a bush looking lost. “Freddy, I mean Fred, you better stop that. People are talking.” He held up a poster with “Fred for President” in blue, vandalized with a black sharpie, “crazy bacon-scented plant lover” inserted with a carrot after Fred’s name.
“I didn’t write that part in black.”
“Of course you didn’t, dork.”
“Let me explain… I, um, lost something… or, um, someone. And they said they’d help me with the election.”
“Yeah, you need help. But you ain’t gonna find it in that bush.”
Hanging upside down from a tree branch, Fred’s angel called out, “Get out of there; and get ready for your speech. You’re up in 10 minutes.”
“Where have you been? You said you’d help me!”
Omar jumped, “Whoa, what’s that?”
Fred’s angel landed upright in front of Omar and turned cordial. “Hello. My name is Derf, that’s ‘Fred’ backwards. I’m Fred’s angel. Now, if you’ll excuse us; we’re late.”
Derf began to coach Fred, “Just give your speech. I have it all under control. By the way, did you like what I wrote on your poster?”
“What? People think I’m crazy. And it’s all your fault”
Omar trailed behind, “What’s going on?”
Fred’s teacher, Mrs. Wandawho stepped right on top of Derf. As he disappeared, she scooted Fred onto the stage. Lights blinded him; silence numbed his ears. Fred even thought he heard crickets.
A heckler (that sounded oddly like his angel) interrupted the quiet, “What did the plants tell you to say?” The auditorium erupted in laughter.
Fred was not about to lose control. “Hey! Uhhhh, vote for me because… because I’m a plant whisperer. I have a green thumb; and I can make our campus beautiful.”
The crowd went silent again. Then from the same corner as the heckler, a gum ball flew through the air, missing Fred’s head by an inch. And then another was hurled at him from the other side. Before Fred knew it, the gum balls that were handed out by another candidate were being pelted at him. He was being booed off the stage.
Fred caught one in his mouth and chomped it down in size. The gum ball attack ceased as a collective gasp held the auditorium’s breath. Then one was thrown gently at his head and he caught it with his mouth, chomping that one. Then another. And another.
Soon it became a game of “catch the gum ball.” The mocking laughter turned into a fun cheering one. Kids started to count the number of gum balls entering Fred’s mouth. “sixteen, seventeen, eighteen…” Then the kids chanted “guru, guru, guru…” He was being pronounced “guru of gum.”
In the following week, Fred discovered that being “crazy” was a good thing in the musical theatre world. Though Fred wasn’t the lead, he had fun appearing and disappearing into smoke that surrounded a lamp. He even received personal pointers from Derf, “I know, it’s so cool to reappear, standing like this.”
And Fred was genuinely happy for Omar. “Congratulations for getting the lead.”
“Dude, don’t rub it in. You know I don’t want to even pretend to kiss Telly. Just my luck that she’s the princess.”
As Fred, the new class president, chewed on bacon that the cafeteria started selling, thanks to him, he walked through his handiwork: a beautiful campus with gardens of flowers, shrubs, and trees. And occasionally, he would hear a friendly echo through the trees, “This is your year so don’t you fear!”