Setting: Mrs. Dragoon sits at her desk, peering at two theater students. Shem and TJ sit opposite her, nervous.
Mrs. Dragoon: Boys, I've called you into my office today because something strange is going on.
Shem: Are we in trouble?
Mrs. Dragoon: (leans forward, eyeing him suspiciously) Have you done something that makes you think you might be in trouble?
Shem: (gulps) Not that I know of.
Mrs. Dragoon: Well, then, no one's in trouble—yet. (folds her hands)
Shem: (sighs) That's a relief.
TJ: Shembo, you worry too much.
Mrs. Dragoon: Shem-bo? (glances at TJ, then Shem)
TJ: It's his nickname.
Shem: No, it's not! I'm just Shem.
Mrs. Dragoon: Well, then, just Shem, what's going on with you two?
Shem: What do you mean?
Mrs. Dragoon: (drums her fingers on the desk) For a couple of years, you two have avoided each other like the plague. Now, all of a sudden you're Laurel and Hardy?
Mrs. Dragoon: Donny and Marie.
Shem: I get it. She means two people who work together like they know what the other
person's thinking before they do something. Like Batman and Robin.
TJ: Oh, I get it.
Mrs. Dragoon: So, what's up? Why the big change? Not that I mind. But, I'm strangely curious about this transformation in you, TJ. Why are you suddenly getting along with Shem? And Shem, what made you become friends with TJ?
Shem: (squirms in his seat) I, uh, well, it all started when—
TJ: I got sick.
Mrs. Dragoon: You got sick and—?
TJ: Shem helped me.
Shem: (nods) That's right.
Mrs. Dragoon: (eyes squinting) Let me get this straight. TJ, you got sick, and Shem came running to your house to help you?
TJ: Not exactly at my house. We weren't at home or school.
Shem: He turned awful green. Kind of scary.
Mrs. Dragoon: And you dropped everything and rescued him? Just like that?
Shem: (shrugs) There wasn't anyone else around. Then we got in a bit of a pickle. And—
TJ: I returned the favor by helping him. So we're even. (grins)
Mrs. Dragoon: (purses her lips) And now you're best friends?
TJ: Best might be stretching it. I tolerate him. He tolerates me.
Shem: (frowns) Actually, we've been getting along a lot better ever since we helped each other and made it back home alive—I mean, safe and sound. Not sick. That sort of thing. It's hard to explain.
Mrs. Dragoon: Try me.
TJ: Does this have anything to do with our drama grade?
Mrs. Dragoon: No.
TJ: And we're not in trouble?
Mrs. Dragoon: No. But I've seen you laughing together! And look at the way Island of Shalamar came together. It was almost miraculous the way you two worked together in practices those last two weeks and onstage for the performances. I'll never forget it.
Shem: I'm glad we don't hate each other anymore. That was wrong, and I feel badly about it. I kept being jealous of him. And he—
TJ: I was going through rough times. Mad at the world. That's improved a lot, now that I've started being thankful for my grandparents taking me into their home, instead of feeling grumpy at them. They're real nice, and my grandma's a great cook. But you know the situation with my dad, right?
Mrs. Dragoon: I do, and I'm sorry about that, TJ. You've done remarkably well to come to terms with your life and accept your grandparents' love. You're fortunate to have them.
TJ: I know. And a lot of that is because of Shem. He helped me sort through that stuff.
Shem: I did?
TJ: (nods) And since Shem and I are interested in the same things, we've been spending more time hanging out. You know, doing theater, adventures, spinning.
Shem: TJ— (shakes head discreetly)
Mrs. Dragoon: Spinning?
TJ: It used to make me puke. Spinning on a merry-go-round, going on rides at amusement parks, that sort of thing. Now, I'm practicing spinning on the playground to get used to it. The next time I go for a twirl-til-you-puke sort of ride, there won't be any problems. (laughs confidently)
Mrs. Dragoon: (confused) Huh.
Shem: So, you see, our experiences made us understand each other better and we learned how important friendship is. Hard times make you see things differently, wouldn't you agree, Mrs. Dragoon?
Mrs. Dragoon: I suppose I would. (sighs) And that's it? Sickness and working through some hard times changed your friendship forever?
Shem: (nods) May we go, Mrs. Dragoon? TJ and I have some practicing to do.
Mrs. Dragoon: (waves her hand toward the door) Yes, you may go. I'll see you in class tomorrow.
Shem & TJ: Bye, Mrs. Dragoon. (exit quickly)
Mrs. Dragoon: Goodbye. (shakes head) Something strange is going on with those two. I can smell it. What's the deal with spinning? If a merry-go-ride made me sick, you wouldn't catch me on it. I'm going to watch those boys. They're up to something suspicious, and I'm determined to find out what.