I hunch forward on the velvet stool, head in hands and unsure whether to laugh aloud or cry great, puddling tears into the Professor’s carpet. Hershel has certainly outdone himself this time. Professor Duke is looking at me expectantly, having just delivered quite the most colourful explanation of a daring plan I ever did see. Even Head Porter seems to be considering it.
“This plan…” I start, cautiously. “It’s good, really it is, but I think it might be a bit…”
“Odd around the edges?” suggests the Professor.
“Heroic?” Hershel cries.
“Insane?” I reply.
A strange kind of silence falls across the room. It is a collective silence that is being firmly aimed in my direction.
“If I understand this plan correctly,” I say “There seems to be a two-pronged attack. So, on the night before the Choir Competition you intend to make an anonymous phone call to the Hawkins College Porters’ Lodge, the gist of which will be to suggest that their Choir are in possession of performance-enhancing drugs…”
“Aha, but it is the timing of the phone call that is most important,” Hershel interrupts me. “We will call them in the wee small hours so that the Porters will disturb them just as they are in the midst of their slumber. Very disruptive, you know. We will tell them that the choral authorities will be notified first thing in the morning so they will rush right along to confiscate the evidence before their reputation is ruined.”
“I mean, are there even performance enhancing drugs for choral singers?” I ask, genuinely curious. “Is that even a thing?”
“No, of course not,” replies Organ Scholar. “But the Porters won’t know that. And they will just love the opportunity to upset the students in the middle of the night.”
“Well, night shifts can be quite boring,” Head Porter concedes, nodding treacherously. “Searching all those rooms will make the time fly by.”
“Alright, alright,” I sigh, holding up a weary hand. I can almost see the glee in the Porters’ eyes as the opportunity to wield their dubious power arises. “So they have a disturbed night and are therefore on poor form for the competition…”
“But here’s the most cunning part of the whole thingy,” says Professor Duke. “While the Porters busily search for imaginary drugs, we shall sneak a few steps into their Lodge and grab the keys to their Chapel!”
“Ah, yes, the ever present theme of breaking and entering!” I cry, clapping my hands together in faux enthusiasm. “Why is it whenever we go to Hawkins there is always an element of burglary?”
The Professor looks at me as if I am quite mad.
“Are you feeling…okay-ish? You’re a bit oddly odd tonight…not at all like yourself.”
Maybe he’s right. But then again, since when was burglary ‘like me’?
“Anyways and some, we rush to the Chapel and find their robes,” the Professor is striding about the room with great enthusiasm. “Once we find them, the itching powder goes in, yo. Then we sneak out like ninjas in the night, return the keys to the Lodge, and skip back to Old College, complete successes and everything good and proper!”
“Psychological warfare,” says Hershel, winking.
“Chemical warfare, more like” I huff.
“Only no gas masks.”
There is a brief applause from around the room and Hershel basks in the apparent glory of his own genius. I look from face to face and everyone – even Head Porter – seems disproportionately impressed. I exhale heavily, making a sound like a small horse.
“And you all think that this is a great idea, do you?”
The response is very much to the affirmative. Well, I suppose by Old College standards it is only marginally crazy. And no one has suggested disguises yet, which makes it already more sensible than The Dean’s plan for our previous break-in.
Hershel fixes me with the perfect puppy dog gaze and inclines his head imploringly to one side.
“What do you say, Deputy Head Porter? Are you in?”
Pah. What the heck.
“On one condition,” I reply, resigned to my fate. “The Dean must never, ever, ever find out about this. Okay?”