In the Grassy Knoll Institutes ongoing battle against Catholic nuns of the 1960’s, I came up with yet another ingenious plan to drive the nuns crazy. It was a simple stunt with no harm ever coming to any child, animal or property, but plenty of aggravation for the nuns. After all, fair is fair and the nuns needed a little dose to bring the score even.
My plan was simple, the execution quick, and the devastation monumental. The delivery method still posed a problem for I needed to be alone to deliver the package. I needed to think this out for I feared if any witnesses were present; the nuns would surely be able to squeeze that information from the spineless witness.
So I started mapping out the movements of the nuns each day and the daily lunch and recess period. I soon found a pattern I could use. When we finished our lunch, we then went out on the playground for 20 minutes. Child after child would file out one by one as they finished. For the first five minutes of lunch, when all of us were still eating, the nun in charge would get up, excuse herself, and then go and do nun things for 30 minutes while we ate.
I would get up when a few kids were left and instead of going outside, I would sneak down the hallway and into the bathroom. I would stay there for a couple of minutes and then back track back to my room. I would walk by casually and if no one was left in the room, I would re-enter the room and quickly go to my notebook and grab a few pieces of standard notebook paper making ever sure they were completely blank so as not to leave any incriminating evidence behind. I would then tear the paper into tiny little pieces and drop them into the overhead heater and air vents.
If perchance the motor was running pumping out air or heat during lunch, I would abort the mission and go outside. But, on that particular day, the vent motor was off, I shoved several sheets of confetti sized paper down in the four vents. The vents were screened so you couldn’t get your fingers stuck and also hid the paper from view.
Now, let me describe the vents for you. Each classroom had one wall that had our lockers on the bottom and very tall windows reaching the ceiling on top. There was a shelf alongside the entire wall about five feet tall. The windows were recessed so if anyone felt the urge to jump out, they would have to climb up the wall, and stand on the ledge, and then open the windows to climb out. This was also the area that housed the room heater and air circulator. You could not see down the vents as the screens obscured the view and it was pretty dark down there.
OK, back to the story. I quickly shoved the paper down the vents and then quickly exited the room and blended into the crowd with the rest of the kids on the playground. Then, all I had to do was wait. The recess bell rang and all the kids lined up in single file according to classroom and proceeded to file inside the school in an orderly fashion not saying a word. Wait. All I had to do was wait. And to my surprise, the wait would be mere minutes.
The nun in charge, feeling a chill, walked over to the heater and turned the switch on. My plan was implemented in a moment. The heater churned to life and in an instant tiny confetti paper shot out and up scaring the hell out of the nun. The nun actually gasped and jumped back as if the confetti was stinging her. The entire class roared with laughter for almost a minute until the nun got her wits about her and turned off the switch to the heater. My plan had worked perfectly and only later would I realize that there was an added bonus.
As all nun investigations go, this one would be long and drawn out making the Spanish inquisition seem like a short movie at the Caans film festival. The janitor was summoned to clean out the heater and examine any remaining evidence. Which, by the mess on the floor, was minimal at best. The nuns started out tough, claiming that after examining all the evidence, they knew the child responsible. The nuns were staring directly at me as they spoke in unison. Damn that nun radar. But I was safe. There were no witnesses, no evidence to link me, I was in the clear baby.
The nuns gave us one last chance to fess up before they called the parents for the one responsible. No one fussed up. No one dared. Silence from the kids and the nuns. After five more minutes of silence, and the bonus that no lessons were being taught in class and finally the nuns spoke again. A firm speech that God saw the child that did this terrible thing and it was the Catholic thing to do to confess their sin. No freakin way baby.
Another nun appeared in the room, now there were three of them, almost a gaggle, and they quickly huddled and then called alphabetically one by one each child out into the hallway to interrogate them. The door slammed as two nuns were now in the hall and one nun stayed to observe our mannerisms. I heard yelling, big time yelling and ranting about heart attacks, Jesus, mortal sin, and other intimidation tactics used on second graders of Catholic school.
My name was called sixth, and the nuns really tried to brow beat me. I simply took the tirades in stride knowing I had beaten the nuns this time. I was returned to my seat unscathed but a little hard of hearing. Each child had a turn with the dueling nuns but still no one confessed.
Frustrated, the nuns gave up but continued their inquisition for three days till finally they announced that even though they knew who the culprit was, they were not going to single him/her out. They were going to make the culprit have to live with the terrible mortal sin on their soul until they confessed it to the priest in confession on Friday.
So, that was their ploy, their way of extracting information. Let the priests do the dirty work and then sing like stool pigeons to the nuns of the crimes we confessed. No way was I going to fess this one up even knowing that I was endangering my mortal soul and if perchance I would die, I would go straight to hell. I would have to be careful playing outside until I could visit a neighboring church and go to confession there so as not to divulge my identity. I carried that sin on my soul for two weeks. Damn the nuns to hell.
The confetti bandit struck several more times that year and the nuns never did catch me on this one. After I graduated from grade school and in the safe harbor of high school, I sent the nuns a letter from the confetti bandit letting them know that I was still on the loose and that some day I would pass down my knowledge to my children and that the bandit would be reborn.
I knew the nuns would be ready…
LURKING ON THE GRASSY KNOLL