One quiet afternoon, Pete and Katie sat down in a café drinking a mug of coffee each, absorbed with each other.
“You remember when we first met?” Katie asked Pete in a very sentimental way.
Pete remembered when he first met Katie. Pete and Chris had to attend school during the holidays to show the new students coming to school as part of a social service requirement. However they resented it, the teachers were adamant that these two unruly and noisy pupils should attend this day – informed the headmaster, deputy headmistress, their parents, all the teachers they knew – Pete and Chris found no way out. So in August, the two trudged along to the school gates, to be quickly pulled in by the teacher in charge. “You two aren’t escaping this day easily, ok? We’ve got about 3 teachers on the look out for you two.” Pete and Chris frowned and dragged themselves towards the middle of the great crowd in order to make the teachers lose track of them.
“Fuck man, how did we get into this?” Chris grumbled, “Wish I was in bed – so damned sleepy…”
“Dunno,” Pete said, shrugging, “This doesn’t look too bad…”
The announcer’s microphone squeaked, and words boomed out of the speakers. “Please move yourselves to rooms 3, 4, 6, 7 and 10 to meet the newcomers. There should be around 10 of you in each room.” The large crowd began to move and disperse to the different rooms.
“Our chance to escape?” Chris muttered, “Move into the bathroom?”
“Nah, I can see the 3 teachers staring at us – sucks, but we’ll have to go to the rooms.” Pete replied.
In fact, Pete couldn’t see the three teachers, but was rather curious about how the new students were like. He was looking forward to converting some of the newcomers into his own group of slackers and troublemakers. Pleased that Chris suspected nothing of this, the two walked towards the rooms allocated. The only room that was available was room 10, and to Pete’s dismay, it was full of very nerdy looking goodie goodies. This is going to be tough, Pete thought.
“Fuuck, we’re supposed to talk to these people?” Chris complained.
“Let’s take the register, to be Grade 11s,” the teacher in charge said, “Uh – Chia Zee Loh?”
A Chinese boy with thick round rimmed glasses, tucked in shirt and very smart shoes put his hand up. “It’s, uh Chia Xi Long,” he corrected.
Pete couldn’t help giggling at this absurdity. Chris got what Pete was laughing about and was rolling his eyes with a grin. “You can see who’s got a fashion crisis,” Pete commented. Chris snorted.
“Pete and Chris! Stop fooling around, please,” the teacher snapped.
Many of the new students shifted uncomfortably, feeling the superiority of position that Pete and Chris held over everyone else. The teacher went on with the register call. He was shortly interrupted by the opening of the door – a late student. She was new.
Whether it was the sunlight streaming through the doorway, or whether it the dramatic late entrance of this girl, it was very hard to describe Pete’s sudden lecherous urge for her. “Shit,” he had whispered to Chris, “She’s fucking hot.” Chris replied back, “Steaming…”
“Sorry! My taxi driver couldn’t find the entrance to this school…” she broke off.
“It’s alright…is this Katie Dorris? Well, take a seat, we were just calling the register.” the teacher said very kindly.
She sat at the front of the classroom, away from Pete and Chris. “Can’t believe our luck,” Pete said laughing. “Look at her!” “Sexy! Should I invite her to our party tomorrow?” Chris said. “Sure – what kind of question is that? Of course – everyone will like her. Oh, also invite a few of the other students. I wanna try converting them..” Pete said.
Chris laughed and snorted, “Fat chance they’ll convert. What chance do they have?”
“Pete and Chris! This is the last warning, please stop talking!” The teacher snapped loudly. More of the new students shifted uncomfortably. Katie Dorris turn around to see who was making trouble. Pete looked straight into her eyes and knew he was starting to feel his shallowness working into her. Need to know more about her, thought Pete. Katie Dorris turned back round to the front of the class, slightly embarrassed by Pete’s stare.
“Uh, Xi Long, Tom and Miho, could you sit here?” the teacher began allocating buddies. Pete and Chris were stuck with those three.
“Hello, I’m Pete, this is Chris.” Pete began, “So, you free tomorrow? Cus, we’re having a party and we want to invite some of the new students.”
Xi Long spoke in his Chinese accent, “I do not know, I need to ask mama. Baba isn’t too keen on par-ries.”
Chris smiled innocently and replied, “Well, ask him anyway, yar? It’s held on 51st Cornnut Street, house number 221. When you get there, just ask for Pete, okay?”
Tom spoke, with his American accent, “Well, I can’ be too sure either – the day after tomorrow is school, so…”
Miho simply nodded. Typical Jap, Pete thought. Aloud he said, “Well, just try to come, ya? It’s going to be fun. You’ll meet tons of new friends.” It was now time to switch buddies – another one of the teacher’s ingenious ideas to effectively allow the new students to ‘blend in’.
“Hello, I’m Pete…” the invites began again. All of them said pretty much the same thing – “I need to ask mom.” Chris rolled his eyes, but Pete kicked him. Converting was dangerous and very precarious business. There was nothing to lose, and Pete couldn’t afford a mistake from Chris.
Why did Pete want to convert? There were several reasons, but the one that Pete gave for himself was that he was bored with life, and wanted to interfere with other people’s lives. This usually ended up quite ruining their lives – a nice good, well mannered student became a druggie in a matter of days after Pete interfered. Pete was ruthless – and he could never find a good reason for it. However, the answer was very simple.
“It’s her!” Chris whispered excitedly, “You reckon somebody else has already stamped her?”
“Who cares?” Pete said, “We’ve always won whatever, whoever got in our way.”
Katie Dorris and two others sat in front of Pete and Chris.
“Hello, I’m Pete – “ he was interrupted by Katie, “Ya, I think we know.” Pete could not believe his ears. This girl was angry at him? What the hell did he do? He hadn’t even spoken her to yet.
“Well, whatever then,” Chris said quickly, to cover up Pete’s silence, “Well, we got a party on tomorrow, you wanna come?”
The other two newcomers stammered in the general gist of ‘I dunno, I need to ask mom.’ Katie said, “Sorry, I’m already going to another party. I got invited just before I came into the classroom.”
“What?” Pete could not believe this, who the hell was this? “Where? When?” He wasn’t aware of any other parties.
“Oh, he said like, Cornnut or somewhere.”
Pete was relieved. He laughed and said, “I guess it’s the same party. 51st Cornnut Street, house number 221. But who was this who asked you to come?” He didn’t recognize any of his group members when he arrived. “He’s called Hailus.”
“We don’t know anyone called Hailus anything,” Pete said, “What the hell. How did he look like?”
“Hmm, pale blonde, quite tall, skinny…he has a tattoo on his wrist of a lucky gecko.” Katie said.
“Huh?” Chris said, “No one we know has a tattoo on his wrist.”
Pete recognized him though. “Oh, we invited him just yesterday, don’t you remember, Chris? Met him down at the pub, was in a local rock band, and we liked some of his songs, so we asked him to bring his band over to play. We bought him drinks.”
Chris put on his thoughtful face. Pete doubted he remembered – Chris was quite far gone by that time. “Uh…no, I don’t remember…”
“How do you know him?” Pete asked Katie. “He’s my boyfriend,” Katie answered back flatly. Oh, thought Pete. Oh. Chris stopped putting on his act as well. “Well, that explains a few things…” Chris muttered uncertainly.
The teacher coughed and asked the ‘buddies’ to change tables now, to meet new students. Pete was in a bad mood now. With the next group of newcomers, he allowed Chris do all the talking. Deep and lost in thought, Pete began to feel very frustrated at the outcome of his fortunes. Letting out a sigh, Pete whispered to Chris, “Damned motherfucking day. Can’t believe somebody beat us to converting that girl.” Chris nodded in agreement, but failed to comment.
“I shall now divide you into pairs – one new student with an old, and each pair will go off touring the school. As you walk around school, you can also talk about the school system – how tough or easy it is. Well, Xi Loh – uh, Xi Long, I mean, can go with…” the teacher broke through the babble of to be tenth graders.
“You know, this is our chance to escape,” Pete said, “We’ll go round school and go through the broken fence around the corner of that hill.”
“And Pete can go with Katie,” the teacher concluded.
Uh, what? Pete’s heart thumped loudly. Chris laughed and said, “Good luck! I’ll see you at the hill, yar?” Pete closed his eyes and held his breath, before plunging into his thoughts again. Better not show my interest in her yet then, Pete thought.
“Well, hello again,” Pete said cheerfully. Katie gave a smile – and what a beautiful smile it seemed to Pete. He was afraid his legs might give way. “I’ll take you round the different places we hang out at break.”
“I hang out with my friends in this side of the canteen – it overlooks the football pitch, so the sporty people and we can mingle in and out easily. On the other side of the canteen, there’s this sort of half-way group, you know, neither here nor there, and it’s a nice place to sit and chat – but not much to do. People also hang round the basketball court – “ Pete’s mouth just babbled on as if he was talking to a normal, ordinary person. But Pete’s eyes were fascinated and awed by Katie. He hadn’t felt like this for years! The last girlfriend was a total waste of time – he had not even loved her; it was only because there had been some pressure on him to have a relationship, so he just asked one out. For obvious reasons, they had broken up pretty soon afterwards, and Pete often sat thinking about all that time and money he used…the things he did for fame was quite shameful. Lusts are not easy to control – but right now, he could control it fine. Katie seemed less angry now, and she responded with more interest and enthusiasm.
He was in the middle of describing the hierarchy system of the school, of how the grade 11s had a few fixed spots that would be taken over by grade 10s later on et cetera, when Katie stopped walking and said, “I don’t get you. You’re really nice and friendly right now, but how could you be so insensitive in the classroom? You treated us, the new students, as dirt.”
Pete had to think about this carefully before answering, but a moment too late, a chance gone. He had to speak. Now.
“Um,” Pete said (at the same time he thought, what a great start, ‘um’), “if that’s how you felt, I’m awfully sorry, so sorry. I just had some resentment because first, I had been forced into coming here, and second I’m really tired from last night.”
“Are you saying you don’t need to show any respect for new students?” Katie shot at Pete.
Christ, what the hell did I say? Pete thought, “No, no no, let me rephrase that. Well actually, before I rephrase it, I need to ask you one urgent question.”
“Do you want to stay in this school right now, or go out downtown for some drinks? I got a few friends coming round.”
Katie was flabbergasted at the way this boy’s mind worked. She had been in the middle of interrogating him about his insensitivity, and all he thought about was getting out this school for the day?
“Uh, what?” Katie responded, “Why did you ask that question now?”
“Are you going to answer my questions with questions?”
Pete shrugged and said, “Well, whatever, I gotta go now, see ya!” He flung himself over the ledge they were walking in, and with very familiar movements, he carefully walked through the hole in the fence, to meet Chris.
“Well, how did it go?” Chris asked cheekily, “Good or bad?”
“Don’t be cheeky,” Pete said, “Let’s call up some people and have a drink.”
“Well, if you need one, boss,” Chris said, even more cheekily.
Pete turned round as he heard Katie’s voice.
“Where do you think you’re going? Aren’t you going to show me around?” She had already walked through the fence, and was facing Pete and Chris. “Uh, actually, I should be going home now – promised my brother to help him fix his bike,” Chris said, “I’ll see you, Pete later!” Chris walked off briskly into the main road.
“I don’t feel like it,” Pete said, “A yes to some drinks?”
“You still haven’t answered my question, and you want me to answer yours?” Katie said.
“Oh, you’re witty,” Pete said, “So you want me to explain how I can act so insensitive and friendly at the same time?”
Katie opened her mouth as if to say the affirmative response, but closed it before any breathe passed her lips. She tilted her head sideways as if in thought, before answering, “What I wanted to say was, you weren’t being very nice to those poor kids who aren’t in your sort of group. It isn’t fair for them. And that is why I was angry at you in the classroom.”
Any previous negativity pertaining to the girl, Katie Dorris, all disappeared from Pete’s mind. This sudden turn from bitterness to sweetness melted all boundaries.
What was he thinking? Pete thought. I’m feeling better because this girl told me I was being insensitive in a more nice way? God, get a grip, Pete thought.
“Um…hello?” Katie said, “Awkward silence?”
Shaking his head, Pete managed to say, “A yes to some drinks?”
Katie was very surprised at how Pete managed not become bitter. Her womanly perception saw him as a good person – but twisted by the teenage society’s stereotypes. She moved a little closer towards him, just to make sure Pete’s expressions weren’t giving anything away. She said, “Alright then, which places are the best around here?”