The next day at school, everyone is staring at Rafe. Probably because of his wall art. But nobody says anything.
No one except Miller, that is. He just asks Rafe how he liked his package.
Then, of course, Rafe remembers the whole night and how Miller's little delivery caused the whole series of events that led to Mom getting hurt.
So, Rafe runs at him and starts punching the snot out of him.
Of course, Miller is bigger and stronger and punches back, but Rafe makes it out alive before Mom and Mr. Dwight pull them apart. Still, surviving a rumble with Miller, even for a few seconds, is something.
Rafe'll take it.
The Big E
All right, if it wasn't clear before the fight in the hallway, it's pretty clear now—Rafe is expelled. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
And here's the best (i.e. worst) part. Mom can re-enroll him in sixth grade again next year. Oh, joy.
Just then, Mrs. Donatello comes in with a brochure and a suggestion. Maybe Rafe would do better in a non-traditional school? How about Airbrook Arts Community School for creative and unique learners?
See, Mrs. Donatello thinks Rafe has talent and he would benefit from a different school. One that might speak to his artistic inner spirit.
Sure, his academics aren't that great, but if he could show off a nice art portfolio, he could even get a scholarship.
But where is Rafe going to get an art portfolio?
It's then that Mom decides to bring out the little package Miller left on the doorstep last night.
Oh, no. Rafe's dead meat.
Mom Isn't Finished
So, all the adults are looking over the details of Operation R.A.F.E. It really explains what Rafe's been up to this year.
Mom and Mrs. Donatello think these drawings are the start of a great portfolio.
Mr. Dwight isn't so sure Rafe should get off scot-free. Mom agrees, but she knows that Rafe's always had an artist's heart. She even named him for a famous painter—Rafael Sanzio of Urbino.
And Rafe had a twin brother, too. Leo, who was named after Leonardo da Vinci. But he caught meningitis when the boys were only three years old and he died.
Leo's still with them in spirit though.
Mom's definitely right about that.
Okay, so Rafe probably owes us an explanation for why he never said anything about Leo being his brother. That's a big thing to leave out.
It's just that he never remembered much about Leo. They were so little when Leo died. One day, he just wasn't there.
Rafe started thinking about what it would be like if Leo were still around, and that's how the whole imaginary Leo thing started.
Maybe one day, he'll go away. Heck, maybe one day Rafe will have a real best friend and he won't need Leo. But Leo will always be his brother in any case.
Of course, that's all well and good, but Rafe is still totally being expelled.
The Big Catch
Mom's on board with the whole Airbrook thing. Mrs. Donatello suggests expelling Rafe for the rest of the year and then having him attend summer school to try to bring his grades up to apply to Airbrook.
Mr. Dwight and Mrs. Stricker are willing to do it, but only if Rafe is in and agrees to keep his behavior above board.
He agrees…and mentions that he'd like to paint a real mural. It'd be like an apology to the school for what he did. Apologies are always good.
Rafe's not sure if he's going to make it through the year with no rule breaking, but he's going to try his hardest.
After all, next year he could be in art school instead of repeating sixth grade at Hills Village Middle School. Anything's better than that.