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Walter walked in--actually, crawled in, his shoulders hunched like he was trying to fold himself up. He plopped down into his chair and immediately adopted a position of introversion. Head down, hands up near his face. He carried a soft cover book and opened it as if his life depended on the sentence where he'd left off.
"Damn," Willy muttered. "You couldn't stay home today, could you?"
Hugh brightened, malicious, and sat up. The morning played itself out like a bad rerun. Maybe even Walter had tried to convince himself, much like Willy was trying to do, that nothing could happen today. It was the last day, and everyone had vacation on their mind.
Pat and Brian shared the same homeroom as Willy and Hugh. This was how they had all become friends in the beginning of the year. It was a demented kind of closeness, born out of something other than enjoyment or genuine friendship. Brian came from a home made of most people's nightmares. He was the worst bully in the school. He frightened all kids who feared catching his attention. No one, other than the teachers, and Pat, Hugh, or Willy wanted to meet his eyes. The teachers did it to challenge Brian, often souring his mood from the moment he walked into the school each day. Making friends with Brian had seemed like a smart move to Willy at first; better to befriend the beast than to be pursued--or so he had thought. He'd spent most of this year regretting that poison bit of logic. Brian was nothing but bad, bad news. Willy thought of the old proverb "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer," and he felt this year had made him come to realize the meaning of those words.
Early in the year somethinghappened that made Willy's and Hugh's blood chill. They'd talked about it with each other when Pat and Brian weren't around. Even Pat, who'd almost always went along with anything Brian did, started to question the situation they, especially Brian, had created with Walter. It had become more than ugly. It had become dangerous.
It began when Walter caught Brian's and Pat's attention in class one morning, back at the end of September. It hadn't been anything big that had started the whole affair, and certainly nothing Walter or Willy had ever thought would end up turning so revolting. If Willy had known back then what he would come to experience with Brian later this year, he would have asked his parents permission to change schools, even if it meant catching the seven-thirty bus from Chambers all the way over to the high school in Cherry Hill.
Posted December 28, 2010
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