by Richard Norway
“Shit, why me? What did
I ever do to him?”
“Look El, you’re the
one that just HAD to piss him off by the way you treated him.”
”Yeah Colin, go ahead
and take Jason’s side.”
“I’m not taking
anyone’s side! I’m trying to tell you that he’s going to fight you
tomorrow because of the way you treat him. You treat him like shit
and he never deserved that”
“Yeah, like what did I
ever do to him?”
“Like what? Like WHAT?
You’ve got to be kidding. When was the last time you ever just said
‘hello’ to him, just for no reason?
“Well, why should I?
Everyone makes fun of him.”
“Why? Because he’s a
“I can’t believe you
Colin got off of
Elliot’s bed and started walking around the room, his hands on his
hips, pissed. Finally he stopped and turned toward his friend.
“Look El, do you
remember what you did to him yesterday?”
“Yeah, I told him that
he needed to get a life. And he does. He never joins us in B Ball.
All he ever does is read his books.”
“Well, that’s just not
normal Colin. Guys should hang together. He just never does
“El, how long have you
“We grew up together
since we were like three when I moved in next door to him.”
“Has he been a friend
“Well, yeah. We grew up
together, and played together.”
“So what’s changed
between you and him?”
“Ever since we got in
high school, he’s just been weird. He’s just changed.”
“What do you mean, like
how? You’ve seen him. He’s just avoiding me.”
“Yeah, right. You’re
“I am not!”
“Get off it, you
dipshit. Elliot, you really are avoiding Jason. It seems like you’re
trying your damndest to put a space between you two.”
Elliot stayed on his
bed, but turned his face from Colin. Several moments passed between
the two boys.
Elliot finally turned
his eyes back toward Colin.
“You think so? Have I
really been doing that?”
“Yeah, man. You have.”
Elliot stopped and
thought for a moment, not turning his gaze off his friend Colin,
starring at him.
“I’ve been a shit,
“Yeah, big time.”
“Jason’s going to kick
my butt tomorrow, isn’t he.”
“Yeah, there’s a good
chance of that. He’s got you by two inches and like twenty pounds,
“Shit. Tomorrow’s my
birthday, you know? Why of all days does he have to do it then.”
“Oh man, you know why.
Just try to be his friend from now on. He’s been trying to be yours,
but you’ve been so wrapped up in ‘image.’ So what if he’s a little
bit different than you. So what if he likes to read more than the
comic books that you read. He’s still a friend, right?”
“Yeah. He’s been there
for me.” Elliot looked out the window.
“He’s always been there
for you. Didn’t you know that?”
“Yeah, I guess I did.
There was this one time. Just after my mom died, Jason came by to
Elliot got off the bed
and walked to the window, looking at the oak tree wavering in the
wind. He paused for a moment, not letting his eyes waver from that
“Colin, other than you
he was the only one from school who ever came to see me.”
Colin moved to his
friend and put his arm over his shoulder.
“See what I mean El? He
really wants to be your friend.”
Elliot turned abruptly,
throwing Colin’s arm off of him.
“But he wants to fight
me. He wants to kick my butt tomorrow.”
“Yeah, and you deserve
“I know, but shit. I
don’t want to fight him.”
“What? The whole school
heard what he said. I don’t know how to get out of this.”
“So, where are you
supposed to meet?”
“At his house, next
door, an hour after school lets out. I guess his parents won’t be
home so he can annihilate me.”
“You want me there
tomorrow with you?”
“Yeah. And bring a big
rag to wipe up my blood.”
When the last class
bell rang and it was time to go home, Elliot hung back. He knew what
was coming. Jason earned the right to pound him, he knew it, and he
knew that Jason could do it.
Slowly he got up from
his desk and started his long and lonely trek home. His eyes filled
with relief as Colin come up beside him.
Elliot looked at his
friend. “Thanks man. Thanks for being here.”
“What are friends for,
Elliot turned and
started the walk down death row. Slowly his home came into view and
then Jason’s home next door. Elliot’s heartbeat increased. He knew
that it was time to face the music and that he was about to have the
shit beaten out of him, but he also knew that his friend Colin was
there with him.
“Colin? I don’t want to
“I know. Well, I
figured that you didn’t. What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to apologize
“For being a dick?”
“Yeah. I have been. I
hope I get a chance to say what I have to say first. Then Jason can
give me a black eye after.”
“I hope you get two
“Don’t you deserve
“Why don’t you go home?
You’re not helping much.”
Colin put his arm
around Elliot’s shoulder and guided him toward his doom.
“Come on, man. Let’s
just get this over with.”
The two boys walked up
to Jason’s front door, Elliot pulling back slightly before Colin
rang the door bell.
The door opened in an
instant. Jason stood silently observing his ‘guests’ for a moment
with an evil and foreboding grin before he spoke.
Stepping aside, Jason
swept his hand in a welcoming gesture for his friends to enter.
filled Elliot. He couldn’t move. Finally Colin grabbed his hand and
pulled him into the house.
The house erupted with
the sounds of “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy
Birthday dear Elliot. Happy Birthday to you.” It was all of his
Elliot turned toward
Jason grinned. “Yeah.
Aren’t I though.”