Ernest Hits the HellmouthSummery:
Ernest P. Worrell -custodian extraordinaire- would soon realize that his new hometown wasn’t exactly the paradise it had been described as, “KnowWhutImean?” Hilarity, misadventure and slapstick comedy ensue, as our reluctant hero earnestly battles against dark forces he doesn’t quite understand. Disclaimer:
I do not own, nor claim to own the characters in this story. This is all just fun, no financial profit will be gained. Ernest is the property of Bohan Carden and Cherry and Touchstone Pictures. Buffy characters and Sunnydale belong to Joss Whedon and co. Timeline:
after Ernest rides again and sometime at the beginning of season 2 in Buff.
The hot afternoon sun beat down over the quiet streets of Sunnydale, the humidity broken only by a barely noticeable breeze.
A ramshackle blue van, rusted out and looking like it just wanted to die, wheezed to a loud and sickly halt just in front of the high school. Forcing the stubborn clutch into park, Ernest P. Worrell turned and gazed at the pristine building, a wide grin peeling across his face.
“Look Rimshot! Sunnydale High! Sure looks fancy, don’t it boy?”
Rimshot, curled up in the passenger seat, perked his head up and barked in agreement
Ernest’s eyes narrowed dramatically, his voice momentarily taking on a loud and haughty British accent.
“Ah yes, the hallowed halls of education. The very core from whence the impressionable minds of America shall be molded unto success and glory! The seat of wisdom, nay, the very gateway from whence all future paths flow!”
Sliding out of the seat, Ernest hopped down and took a long look around. A few students milled in and out of the front doors, and a couple of smokers huddled around a bench, staring at him incredulously. Ernest gave them a friendly wave, but they didn’t reciprocate. Huh.
He frowned and shrugged. Well, they do say smoking kills the brain cells...
Turning back to the van, he grabbed his resume and shut the door, making sure the window was rolled down. He gave Rimshot a quick scratch behind the ear.
“Ok boy, you stay here, and hit the horn if there’s any trouble. Wish me luck now! Let’s hope this interview goes better than last time, knowwhutImean?”
Rimshot barked twice.
Pulling is cap straight and setting his shoulders back, he strode across the parking lot, trying to look more determined than he felt. Reaching the set of doors, Ernest hesitated with a nervous swallow, a sudden wave of panic rising in his chest as he stared up at the suddenly towering building. For a moment his mind flashed back to his own high-school days. Bullies! Mean teachers! Strict coach! …awkward conversations with girls… more bullies! Homework!
Ernest shook his head, pushing the memories and feelings back down.
‘This ain’t Nashville, and it ain’t yer’ high school! Now get in there and show that principal who Ernest P. Worrell is, dangit!’
Re-inspired by his own words of advice, Ernest yanked open a door and stepped into the cool interior just as a bell rang.
He found himself standing in a wide open foyer across from a double set of stairs. Within seconds, crowds of students streamed back and forth in a chaotic sea of noise and colors, opening lockers, talking and pushing through the halls. No one seemed to take any notice of him.
In between the waves of teenagers he saw a short teacher in a charcoal suit swaggering about, the students parting before him like the red sea before Moses himself. Even from across the bustling floor Ernest could hear his cold, resounding barks.
“Get rid of that hat or it’s mine, Mendez!”
“You two! No groping in the halls! Get to class.”
“You want another suspension Mr. Clarke? No? Then I suggest you take down that picture from your locker and throw it in the trash. I won’t have my school turn into some filthy rap video.”
Ernest frowned. Hmm. Maybe more like the Pharaoh. Little feller sure seemed strict.
The wildly gesturing man caught sight of him and turned from the cowering girl he had been berating. Quickly clipping across the polished floor, he paid no mind to the flocks of students fleeing his path. With eyebrows raised questioningly and lips pursed in a tight smile, he clasped his hands behind his back.
“Hello there. Can I help you? Are you a disgruntled parent perhaps? Or looking to become one?”
Ernest shook his head. “No sir, I’m Ernest, Ernest P. Worrell. I’m here about the custodial position?”
“Ah. Glad you made it, Mr. Worrell. Follow me, we can talk in my office.”
Ernest’s eyes bulged as the man turned away. This
was the principal?? Oh boy…
The short man had already begun walking away, and Ernest lurched forward to catch up.
“You can just call me Ernest,” He said as he ambled alongside the principal. “Mr. Worrell was my pa.”
The shorter man frowned, slightly shaking his head.
“Hmm. No, I think ‘Mr. Worrell’ will do fine. See, here at Sunnydale High we like to instill a modem of professionalism amongst the staff. It helps keep what I like to call ‘a healthy sense of hierarchy.’ Too much familiarity can lead to a break down of order. At Sunnydale High, we’re very big on order.”
He jerked an arm out for a handshake, along with another tight, almost strained smile.
“I’m sure you understand, Mr. Worrell. Oh, and just call me Principal Snyder.”
Ernest shook the proffered hand with a quiet gulp.*
Snyder leaned back in his leather chair; idly looking over the resume in his hands while Ernest P. Worrell shifted nervously from across the desk. The Principal skimmed over employment experience:
-Janitor at Nashville Bank
-Briarville County Sanitation engineer
-Janitor at Nashville Community College…
Snyder’s brow quirked as he caught an anomaly.
“You were a camp councilor?”
“Yes sir! Kamp Kikakee, back in ’87. I’ll tell you, Mr. Snydler, those days were among the best of my life. There was fishing, and canoeing, and swimming, and softball, and bonfires, and wood carving, and-”
Snyder cut him off with a loud, lingering cough. “Yes, well. Sounds great…and its Snyder
. My name is pronounced Snyder
Ernest nodded amiably as the principle went back to reading.
Glancing around the sparse office, Ernest noticed a plaque on the wall behind the hunched principal. It was a commendation from the Sunnydale mayor; ‘For a super-fantastic first year of instilling discipline among the youth.’
Underneath it, hanging crooked on the wall, was a small glass framed photograph of a man with a round, worried face and the saddest smile Ernest had ever seen.
In dark blue lettering it read: In memory of Principal Flutie: a fallen hero.
His attention was pulled from the curious picture as Snyder lowered the resume onto the desk with another cough. Ernest looked down at him nervously, a mix of eager anticipation and dread clenching his gut. A bead of sweat glistened across his brow
Snyder eyed Worrell shrewdly, trying to crank up the tension just a little more. Of course he was going to hire this simpleton -no one else had even applied- but it was in Snyder’s experience that a little fear and trepidation up front always helped to keep people in check in the long run.
And besides, seeing people squirm just gave him such…pleasure.
“Well Worrell, I’ve looked over your resume, and I feel that you have the experience and attitude that we’re looking for. I just have to ask a few questions…I can see from your resume that you’re from Tennessee. Can you tell me why you’re in Sunnydale, and how long you’ll be here?"
“Well sure thing, Principal Snyder. Thing is, my friends -Chuck and Bobby- they knew I was looking to move out here on the west coast. Always wanted to, but never did have a chance. They’re real big on the real-estate market, so they set me up with a nice cozy little beach-house right on the beach here in Sunnydale! You know how cheap property value here is in this town? Shoot! What a bargain!”
“Hmm.” Snyder wasn’t sure if his friends had mentioned why
the rates were so low. Well, no bother...
“And so you’ll be staying here long term then?”
“Are you a boozer, Mr. Worrell?”
“No sir. Again, that would be my pa.”
“You a druggie? Like to smoke a little pot, shoot a little heroin? Snort a little coke, maybe? Score a little crack-rock? Hmm?”
He gave an approving grunt as Ernest firmly shook his head.
“Ever gone to jail?”
Ernest’s eyes darted nervously as he struggled to answer honestly, but in a way that wouldn’t cost him the job.
“Err- well I once did jury duty, and we visited a state prison, and I sort of got swapped-accidentally- with Nash, this ugly, mean ol' bank robber. It was a little while before the, uh, situation got switched up and sorted out, knowwhutImean?”
Snyder steepled his fingers together thoughtfully. “Hmm. Well, I suppose prison exposure could count as a plus for you, help harden you up a bit. The students at this school are practically criminals themselves. You know, sometimes I even like to think of myself sort of as the warden around here.”
“Oh?” Ernest tried to not look too disturbed.
Snyder nodded, his eyes becoming slightly unfocused.
“Yeah…It’s like a little dream…Warden Snyder, in total control of Sunnydale Prison-High…no ACLU, no Geneva conventions, no sniveling bleeding heart ‘civil rights’…just me and the animals languishing in their cages…”
Ernest watched him awkwardly, unsure of what to do while the principal whispered softly and stared off into space, a slight line of drool beginning to creep from the corner of his mouth. Finally he settled for slapping a hand down loudly on the oak desk.
The principal’s eyes snapped back into focus at the noise, and he wiped a hand across his mouth. “What? Well! Uh where was I…? Ah yes. Good interview Worrell. You can begin tomorrow morning then? We can discuss your pay after I just get you to sign this little insurance disclaimer…”
He rifled through the desk drawers, pushing a stapled package of paper and a pen across the desk. Ernest scanned it in bemusement. I, the undersigned, declare that Sunnydale High and the Town Council of Sunnydale is neither legally nor financially responsible for any injury or fatality I experience, by means of or exposure to: wild animals, poison, sudden extreme temperatures, sudden tremors, mass hysteria …
(and here the list went on for four or five pages)…Sudden blindness, starvation, or here fore unlisted bizarre and unexplainable occurrences within or on Sunnydale High property, at any time.
Ernest shrugged and signed at the bottom. Legalities sure were strange in California.
Snyder filed the document away into a folder, slipping it into the desk.
“Welcome to Sunnydale High, Janitor Worrell. I’m sure you’ll fit right in…the new ones always do.”
Ernest grinned enthusiastically.
He signed some more paperwork, and then took a package detailing his custodial duties. With a final handshake, he stood to leave. The interview had gone much smoother than he had expected.
“Thanks again Principal Snyder! I won’t let you down! You’ll see, you won’t regret this!”
Snyder sank back in the chair, absently tapping a pen against his desk. He quirked a brow at the retreating denim vest as the lanky southerner sauntered out of view. Without question, the man was a complete buffoon. But that was for the better, he supposed. Couldn’t have too many intelligent staff members, prying about. Between Calendar and Giles, he already had enough of those types to keep him busy.
It would actually be nice to have a willing idiot around -especially one who was willing to clean out the school basement. He briefly wondered how long Ernest would survive.
Almost unconsciously, he glanced up at Flutie’s photograph on the wall. No, I won’t regret this Mr. Worrell. But you might…you might…