Saturday, March 5, 2011

Episode Twenty

Life is an incessant series of problems. All difficult, with brutally limited choices...and a time limit.
~Chapel the Evergreen

   Tobie drank deeply from the fountain, gulping the icy water as fast as he dared without drawing too much attention. Though with Gus glowering over him, there wasn't much call for being surreptitious.

   "Come on, man," Gus whined. "You don't have to drink all of it, ya know."

   Tobie held up a finger, taking a few more gulps, then straightened, touching the cuff of his sleeve to his mouth then delicately to his cheek. A thin line of blood dyed the white cotton. He glared at it before turning to Gus. "Alright.”.

   "Freakin’ camel..." Gus shook his head as they continued down to homeroom.

   Passing Edward just inside the classroom door, who eyed them over the attendance clipboard he griped firmly in hand, they made their way to their desks.

   Rebeca swiveled in her chair, flashing a radiant smile. "Hi Tobie," she purred. "How's Shakespeare?"

   Tobie glanced up the row. Teddy Logan and Adan Schrobrick were watching him; with ill concealed interest. "Boring. Jake and I skipped out half way through." He caught Teddy glance over his glasses at Adan.

   Rebeca's eyebrow rose, the smile deepening. "Cool. Tobie, what happened to your face?" Her hand reached out to touch his cheek.

   Tobie jerked away from her fingers, reclining further back in his chair. "Just... got shoved into an open locker during passing period."

   "Who shoved you?" Rebeca's hand quickly pushed her hair behind her ear, as if pretending Tobie's reaction hadn't happened.

   "Fight broke out. Don't worry. I took care of it."

    "I'm sure you did. So." She leaned closer, her voice an urgent whisper. "What's the deal with your friend?"

   Tobie forced his expression not to change. "Holon? What about him?" Movement caught his eye as Esther walked passed the front of the row.

   "He was late today. And Jessica K said he was bleeding in art. Had bandages up to his elbows," Rebeca chattered, eyes bright with gossip.

   Tobie propped his feet up on the back of her seat and she leaned nearer. "Gets into fights allot. He's got a nasty temper."

   “Hmm…” Rebeca squinted at Holon's empty chair as if it had somehow offended her. "Seems like such a quiet guy."

   "Yeah, well you know what they say. It's always the quiet ones. Was sent to the office last period, too."

   Rebeca's eyes widened.

   "Hey, Beca, you coming to our practice Friday?" Gus asked with mock nonchalance. "After school we're having a scrimmage."

   Rebeca tossed her hair over her shoulder. "And why would I want to do that?"

   Gus faltered. "Uh, to… cheer us on?"

   "Isn't that when you play each other?" she scoffed.

   "How about to cheer me on?" Tobie crossed his arms, grinning at Gus' scowl.

   Rebeca's smile returned as she rested an arm over her desk. "What time?"

   Gus brightened. "Probably right after practice. So, like 4:30."

   "I'll see." She tucked her knees under her desk and faced front as Lampman entered the classroom.

   "Hope everyone had fun in their respective electives." The bell rang and he set his briefcase on his desk. "Take your seats please. Mr. Logan, thank you." He opened his schedule and flipped a few pages. "Let's start with..." The door opened. Lampman paused with a sigh. "Late again, Mr. Huges."

   "Apologies, sir."

   "And no pass? Thought the Academy would've prepared you better. Take your seat. Alright, guys we have exams in a few weeks and your papers will be up for review before that. Lots to do, lots to cover. I know the holidays are coming up, but stay serious. Stay focused. I don't want to see any of you in this classroom next year for anything other then visiting a favorite prof, alright? Okay, open your English books to page 243."

   Tobie pivoted in his chair as Holon passed him. "You sweep?"

   Holon nodded as he sat and reached into his bag for his book.


   Holon shook his head. The top of "Inked Guide to Literary Analysis" edged up passed the zipper; then slipped from his grip. The book hit the floor with a bang, flipping the bag and sending notebooks skidding across to the next row of desks. Gus rocked back in his seat in surprise, jolting Esther. Rebeca and Sadie turned simultaneously in their chairs. Tobie glanced at the spilled papers and notebooks, settling under Row Four's desks, then at Holon. Two thin trickles of blood dripped down Holon's fingers. His fists closed slowly, thumb smearing the blood across his knuckles.

   "What the hell, man?" Tobie dipped, snatching up the book and a few loose sheets from under his desk. He slid them onto the desk top, glaring at Holon; still bent slightly to the side of his desk, head lowered, not moving.

   "Everything alright back there?" Lampman asked, pausing from setting up the over head.

   "Fine, sir! Everything's fine." Tobie reached into his bag and took out a small packet of tissues. "Clean yourself up," he hissed, tossing them on Holon's desk.

   "You...dropped these..."

   Tobie's glare transferred to Esther, reaching across the row with a set of three notebooks in her hand. Her gaze flicked to him, then quickly back to Holon.

   Holon pulled in his bleeding hand, shifting in his desk to take the stack.

   "If you're still bleeding, you should go to the nurse," she said, her voice almost a whisper.

   Tobie griped the back of his seat. "Mind your own business or you'll be the one bleeding." He smirked as she cringed and instantly turned forward. "We can't let this go, Hol," he said, lowering his voice as Holon straightened, setting the notebooks in his bag. "That... thing is dangerous. We need to find it and send it back."

   Holon glanced up at him, taking the tissue packet.

   "Alright, Mr. Sinclair, I think Mr. Huge's had all the assistance he requires. Eyes front."

   Tobie rolled his eyes and swung his legs under his chair. The desk behind him creaked as Holon bent forward.

   "It is gone."

   Tobie frowned at his notebook as Lampman began the lesson. "Completely?"

   "I doubt it has any interest in being here without the girl."

   Tobie shut his eyes for a brief moment, then stared up at the ceiling.

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