Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 1 > Chapter 5

Come Friday, Bruno thought that he was going to be late again; his train was stopped for an eerie ten minutes in the Queensborough tunnel under the East River as IRT guards checked the track ahead after a driver's report that he'd seen somebody running through the darkness. In the end, the backup had been so heavy that they'd restarted the trains. If there was anyone sneaking around down there, he'd be brought out the quick and easy way, flattened across the front of a midtown express.

Ten minutes had somehow managed to stretch themselves out into a half-hour by the time that Bruno made it to Forty-Sixth. He'd all but missed his first class - Sherwood was really going to crack the whip over him for this. Even on the slowest days riding in the back of the cab, he'd never been so late that he couldn't sprint that last couple of blocks and dash up the stairs to dive in just as the door was being closed.

Perhaps he ought to speak to his father again . . . but no, no, forget that. The subject had been closed too firmly the last time, and Bruno couldn't see any way of opening it up again.

Well, there was no point in hurrying now; better to miss the class completely than to attempt to sidle in halfway through. Maybe he'd even get by unnoticed - although he didn't think he had much chance of that. Sherwood remembered skipped classes like other people remembered football scores.

He walked out of the dust and the heat and the noise of the street into the dust and the heat and the comparative silence of the school's main entrance hall. There was some new stuff on the music noticeboard, Bruno saw immediately; Ben Shorofsky was just walking away with a box of pins and a couple of out-dated posters in his hand. He didn't look Bruno's way; he seemed to be in a hurry. Bruno was about to cross the hall and check the board, when he saw Troy Phillips.

Troy was just arriving, his sack lunch in his hand. He didn't have the desperate look of a latecomer, and he didn't seem to be in any big hurry. Bruno waited for him.

'You just getting in?' Bruno said, but Troy didn't seem to hear the question.

'I've got a drama class today,' he said. 'I spent all last night learning the scene. I know all the words, both parts.'

'You have some kind of weird schedule?' Bruno said. 'I never see you in English or Chemistry, or-'

'I don't have to take those classes,' Troy said, and Bruno's eyes widened. There must be a way out, some kind of scheme that Troy knew. The big question was, could Bruno get in on it too? Anything that got people out from under Sherwood was going to be in big demand.

'What's the secret?' he said.

'I don't have a secret,' Troy said. 'I have tutors.'

The distant, far-off sound was the crashing of Brono's hopes. 'Tutors?'

'Special tutors.'

Bruno wanted to ask more, but the end-of-period bell drowned him out for a moment. Doors were slamming open, and the hall was suddenly filled with a flash-flood of bodies.

'You see,' Troy explained, raising his voice to be heard and clutching at his lunchbag as they were buffeted by the tide, 'I got behind in my grades because I was sick and missed a year.'

Bruno heard I don't believe this from over by the music notice board, and when he looked over he saw that a big crowd had gathered around Shorofsky's latest announcement. Whatever it said, it was causing a stir. Coco Hernandez was pushing her way towards them, and she seemed angry.

Bruno wondered what he could have done to make himself into a target; but he quickly realised it wasn't him that Coco was aiming for.

'You know,' she said to Troy, 'for somebody that's supposed to be shy, you sure must know some smart moves.'

Troy looked around, stunned. He hadn't been expecting this. 'Excuse me?'

'No, I don't think I will.'

'Coco,' Bruno said, 'What's going on?'

Coco turned to him. 'A notice just went up. The singing auditions for the festival are off.'

'I didn't ask them to do that,' Troy said quickly.

'Well, you must have done something!'

Bruno tried to bring a little calm. He felt as if he'd walked into the middle of a story where he knew nothing of what was going on around him. He said, 'Coco, why are the auditions off?'

'Because they've already made their choice.'

Oh-oh. Even though he could guess the answer, Bruno said, 'Who is it?'

Coco's gaze on Troy was like a finely-tuned laser. 'I think you ought to ask your friend.'

Troy seemed to get smaller. 'I'll be late for drama class,' he said weakly, and then after a half-second's hovering he took off so fast that he simply seemed to vanish. Bruno started to call after him, but it was too late.

He looked at Coco. She hadn't been expecting this; she was defensive, defiant.

'Im' sorry,' she said, 'but it's not fair. I had to say something.'

'Feel better?' Bruno said.

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