Through the complex bartering system used by the denizens of the fifth grade, I somehow ended up with a small pocket knife. When we were young, knives are very appealing simply because we weren't supposed to have them. Also, they were good to have in case we ever found ourselves trapped in the wilderness, struggling to survive against the forces of nature. My knife was dirty, small, and dull, but I chose to believe it was a useful tool nonetheless.
The goods possessed by young traders like ourselves were always in a transitory state. Most things brought to school were not held on to long by one person. It was only natural that at some point Marty would want my knife. He traded me a sack of ninja turtles for the folding blade.
On the day our transaction occurred, Marty also acquired another piece of contraband from another of our friends, Wayne, who offered Marty a cigarette lighter. Again, another incredibly useful item should one find themselves in a situation where death is on the line.
Death is seldom on the line in 5th grade, though, so Marty did what he could to utilize both items to the best of his ability. He went into the closet in our classroom and called my name in a hushed voice, signalling for me to watch him. He was about to perform an act of ultimate bravery. Marty set the handle of the knife on fire with the lighter.
"What's that?" the teacher's aide asked. "It smells like something burning!"
We were all inconsistent back-stabbers back then, occasionally defending our friends, and occasionally reveling in their misfortune. This would be one of the latter. I jumped from my seat and ran to the closet. Marty had thrown the knife under a pillow and was fanning the air, trying to make it less visibly smoke-filled. I picked up the pillow and grabbed the knife, which had partially melted into the floor.
"Marty set this knife on fire!" I shouted, gleeful.
Without hesitation, Marty pointed his finger at me and screamed that I had done it.
The teacher's aide had seen me run into the closet after she had smelled the smoke, so I assumed there was no possible way she would believe Marty. I was wrong. She brought us both down to the vice principal's office, and gave him the burnt knife and the lighter, which she had found under a coat in the closet. Marty was already sobbing like a little girl, while I was simply angry. Marty tearily continued to claim that I had done it, while I continued to tell him what really happened.
"Maybe I should call the police and have them fingerprint the knife. Is that what you want? Do you want me to call the police?"
"Please! Please!" sobbed Marty, "Please don't call the police! Oh my god, please!"
Even in 5th grade, I knew he wasn't going to call the police. I told him that he should.
"Oh my god, please, please, no!" pleaded Marty.
"Please, call them, Marty set the knife on fire and I shouldn't be in here. Call them so I don't have to be in trouble for something I didn't do anymore."
We sat in the office for the entire remainder of the day. Marty never confessed, and the vice principal never called the cops.
A week later, I got called into the office again. The vice principal said he had interviewed Wayne, and "I know the whole story now, I just want to hear it from you."
I stuck to my story, though I never told him that the knife was at one point mine, and before that it had belonged to Wayne. That didn't really seem necessary.
Neither one of us ever got in any trouble besides the day in the office. I stopped being Marty's friend, though, and he wasn't allowed to trade stuff with us anymore.