This story was suspenseful. The end of the first paragraph, "Mr. Weathers said Theodore is dead," was immediately followed with, "Theodore and I were friends," as the first line of the second paragraph. There is no way a person would not be hooked. Ornes captures the 8th grade classroom, school and kids realistically. While the story is about Ben, I was never sure why Theodore killed himself. We see a couple of scenes where it is obvious he is troubled but we do not learn why or how. Actually, that's okay with me.
The theme, for me, is the adage that life turns on a dime. One moment things are one way and then they're not. He weaves it in with lines like, "...like the split-second when a juggled ball hangs in the air, not rising or falling."
I'll be interested to read the One Story interview with Ornes. I'm curious as to whether or not he's done research on teen suicide. I see that he writes science articles. "Hilarious, in the Wrong Way" is number 160 of One Story.