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It was widely regarded that Tom was the biggest scoundrel at Sam Houston Middle School. This is saying a lot considering that Bill Tartus had steel toe boots and would regularly kick all people who wore green shirts on Wednesdays. The records of Tom's dastardliness are widely known: the time he let all the air out of the soccer balls, the time he painted all the windows in Mrs. Filbert's classroom black so that no one could look out the window, and of course the time that he released a skunk in the cafeteria. 


Now on the first March of every year is when the tree climbing championship took place on the playground of Sam Houston Middle School. It was reported that the first kid who ever won it was Billy the Kid himself (history teachers felt no need to correct the factual error of this rumor). 


"I swear on my left eyebrow that I will trample each and everyone of you this year. You won't be able to see me through the tree tops" Tom yelled as he led the procession of eighth graders out to the grove of oak trees. 


Now perhaps it was that his morning breakfast had been pecan pie, or perhaps it was the lucky penny he had found in his jeans that morning, but Charles T. Holz was determined that the reign of Tom was coming to an end. "Like hell you'll win Tom!" he shouted, "My great grandmother was Belle Starr and she kicked the pants off of every tree climber, even up into the Indian territories. I'll be the winner this year you just wait and see." Tom paid no heed to Charles and with good reason. Charles was about three inches shorter than him and his arms were only the width of a broom stick. The only attention Charles T. Holz ever got was when he recited all fifty states in order and so won a blue ribbon in the seventh grade. 


The boys lined up under the largest tree in the yard, spit their hands, stretched their shoulders. Anna Louisa and Susie Coleman were declared the judges and they prepared their positions on the peach box. "All right gentlemen, when we say 'shit fire' start climbing!"