Thirteen year old Carlos Garcia HATED algebra with a passion. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t interesting, and he was pretty sure that he was NEVER going to use it once he grew up. Which is why he was now trapped in his room with one of his best friends trying to tutor him on the subject. Logan LOVED algebra and was trying to convince Carlos that it was one of the necessities of life. Of course in Logan’s case, it was. The genius teen was planning on going to medical school with aspirations of being one of the greatest neurologists of all time.
“Carlos, are you listening?” Logan asked for the third time.
Carlos rolled his eyes, “Maybe?”
“This test counts for three quarters of our final grade. Didn’t Mama G say if you don’t pass you’ll be spending ALL of summer break in summer school?”
“But Logie…it’s SO BORING!” Carlos whined.
“It’s not boring and if you pay attention you’ll do just fine,” Logan said. He hated how everyone assumed that Carlos was stupid just because he was a fun-loving daredevil. Carlos actually did very well with his studies… when he paid attention. The trick was to make it interesting, and while Logan could make the other subjects fun for his friend, he just couldn’t manage it with algebra. He decided to try negotiating as he looked over at Carlos, who was sitting there drawing little sad faces in all the ‘0’s.
“Tell you what, if you start concentrating and finish the next two pages with at least eighty percent right, we’ll take a break and go do something fun.”
“Like what?” Carlos asked suspiciously. Logan and Carlos didn’t always agree on what was fun. For instance, Logan thought school was fun and Carlos completely disagreed with that.
“Your choice,” Logan smiled.
Carlos thought for a moment, “Well…it’s been a long time since we took Wagonny out.”
Wagonny was the slatted red wagon that Logan had been given as a Christmas present when he was five. The boys use to pull it everywhere when they were little, and when they were older, they got a little more daring. They use to ride Wagonny down what is now known as Broken Arm Hill, so dubbed for obvious reasons. First Logan and then Carlos had taken a tumble when they failed to make the turn at the bottom of the hill and each sported a cast for six weeks. They’d been banned from riding down hills after the incident last year in which Carlos, Logan, Kendall, and James had all piled in and crashed into a tree. All four ended up at the ER with multiple cuts and contusions and James with a piece of wood through his calf. He’d been sitting on the bottom with his long legs stretched out the length of the wagon with his three shorter friends sitting on top of him, so they’d all fit in at once. He had to have surgery to remove the 2″x3″ of wood and their parents had banned them from riding in it together. Logan had to beg his mom not to throw Wagonny away by promising that they’d be more careful in the future.
“Do you not remember what happened last year?” Logan asked.
“It’s not like we’re all going to ride together, it’s just you and me,” Carlos said.
“I don’t know, I don’t want my mom to throw Wagonny in the dumpster,” Logan said.
“She won’t, we’re keeping our promise to not have all four of us ride at once.”
“That’s true,” Logan said, pondering Carlos’ request. While people always underestimated Carlos’ intelligence, they also underestimated Logan’s willingness to take risks. He was actually quite the daredevil, often having to be talked out of doing something potentially dangerous by Kendall, who was the most responsible of the four friends.
“Well?” Carlos asked.
“Alright, it’s a deal. But you have to get eighty out of a hundred right,” Logan said.
Carlos nodded and started working on the problems. Half an hour later he’d finished and was watching Logan anxiously as he graded his paper. Logan shook his head as he went through the problems, “I can’t believe this.”
“What?” Carlos asked.
“You got ninety-eight out of a hundred…WHY can’t you do that in school?”
‘There’s nothing fun in school, now come on!” Carlos grinned as he pulled Logan out of his room.
They walked to the next block over and went around to the back of Logan’s house to the little shed where they kept gardening tools and Logan’s outdoor toys. After a few minutes of rearranging things they pulled Wagonny out. Logan carefully pulled the tarp off, “Still in great shape!”
Carlos nodded in agreement as he grabbed a can of WD-40 and carefully sprayed the axle and wheels, taking care to wipe off the excess. “She’s ready!”
Logan grabbed his bike helmet and they made their way down the alley to the main street and then walked to the school, pulling Wagonny along with them. They walked past the school about six blocks and then up the dirt road of a fairly steep, curving hill. It was a popular sledding hill in winter as there was very little traffic on the rural road.
Logan strapped on his helmet and steadied Wagonny as Carlos got in. He carefully got in, sitting in front of Carlos and holding tightly to the handle.”Are we ready?” Logan asked.
“Yup!” Carlos yelled, pushing off with his right foot.
Both boys whooped and shrieked in delight as they flew down the hill. After they stopped they both jumped out. “Do you want to go again?” Logan asked.
“That’s something you never have to ask!” Carlos grinned as he started pulling Wagonny back up the hill.
Logan laughed and followed Carlos up the hill. They went down three more times, alternating who steered. Logan looked at his watch, ” We better get back, it’s nearly time for dinner.”
“Awww, one more time?” Carlos begged, pushing out his lower lip.
“Okay, but I steer this time,” Logan said.
“Deal!” Carlos smiled as he started pulling Wagonny up the hill again.
They got to the top and Logan climbed in front of Carlos, “Okay, push off!”
Carlos pushed off and they started off down the hill again, laughing and shouting. They were about halfway down when Logan veered a little too far off the road and the front left wheel caught on the grass. He quickly put his foot out to try and push out, but it was too late. Wagonny flipped, back over front, and both boys went tumbling down the road.