Jim hated school. It wasn’t the kids who threatened to dismember you if you told a teacher they were smoking in the toilets (Although that could be a contributory factor, especially when they were in a gang of five and the toilet smelt of cannabis). It wasn’t the teachers’ inability to spot a projectile aimed at Jim from the back of the class. It wasn’t even the horrid school dinners, which were known to be fatal in cases (Imaginary ones), that made him hate school. He just did, and despite his reasonable intelligence, it would be an epic task for him to try to explain why.
It was a frosty morning, the kind of morning where you wanted to be in the house, laughing at the idiots who left their homes, by choice or otherwise. Jim was the one being laughed at. Not by anyone in particular, but he was sure he could hear faint laughing from the living room of next door. Why oh why do they not close the school on days like this, Jim thought, before remembering the wise words of a tutor he once had, ‘This school is just a glorified day-care centre; I’ve counted more brain cells on fish farms.’ Consequently, parents of the students did not want their kids hanging around the house all day. There is a distinct possibility that they may have thought that idiocy is contagious, or perhaps they were fed up of having to pay their neighbours for the car radios that continued to disappear whenever their kids were at home.
His heels scraped the pavement as he advanced ever closer to the school. It wasn’t very far from his house, so he didn’t need to ride the bus. This only caused him to be laughed at by the kids on the number 26 as it drove by. He sighed and kicked a rock into the road. This was an unwise action, as it ricocheted off the road, and, by bizarre circumstance or grand design, hit a ginger cat square on the head. It fell to the ground from the fence that it had been clinging to. After a few moments it twitched once, then nothing.
Jim walked away as if nothing had happened. He couldn’t be bothered getting in trouble again, after what happened to the poodle the week before. The poor thing had needed twelve stitches in its leg. He had nearly been grounded, but luckily wasn’t, due to his pleas for insanity (He pleaded that the poodle was insane, and was charging right at him). It was self defence.
To get to the school he had to cross a park, if it could be called a park. It was the sort of park that would show up in the Worst 10 of Everything book. The grass was lush and green, and would have been useable, if it wasn’t littered with all kinds of rubbish, namely empty syringes of drug addicts who had camped the night before, then moved on in search of money or perhaps a blanket. There was the smell of smoke and Jim could see a brown patch on the grass that was used as a fire. Cans of soft-drink were scattered along the side of the path. He came upon a bench that, he could have sworn, was further along the path the day before.
The park was essentially a field for playing sports (That involved fields) on. Jim had never liked sport. Sport was for people who were good at it. He wasn’t. Perhaps, he had broken the record for quickest get out time in dodge, but he would never know. Jim preferred reading, or sticking his head down the toilet in search of something interesting (He really hated sport). Sport was for people who weren’t like Jim.
He had reached the other side of the park now, and was making his way across the road when he heard a voice calling,
‘Hey Jim, you idiot! Hey man, behind you, oi!’
It was Bruce, the Australian. The kid had moved from Australia with his mum, to try to find a better life in Britain. Better off where he was, thought Jim as he turned around. Bruce jogged to catch up with him and patted him once on the shoulder when he reached him. He always seemed to pat people on the shoulder when he met them, but it only bothered Jim when Bruce patted him on the shoulder after going to the toilet. It was just unhygienic.
‘G’day Jim, how’s life n’ things?’
‘Good, I suppose’ Jim replied quietly. The smile Bruce carried had always scared him. It was a happy, yet slightly psychotic smile. Possibly the smile someone got from a Great White Shark before it bit their head of.
‘Yeah, that’s great to hear. Listen, did you get any info on that blonde chick I told you about?’
They were walking across a bridge over an unused railway line. It was unused because the tracks had rusted and all of the stations along that line were now patronised by drug dealers and the homeless as a place of refuge. One of the stations had been converted into a fast food restaurant, and was called the “Rusty Tracks”.
‘Well, I know her name, if that’s what you mean.’
‘Spit it out then, mate.’
The grin grew wider, and Jim nearly jumped back, and would have done if it wasn’t for the inconvenient set of railings on the bridge.
‘I don’t have a chewy.’
‘Ha, good one Jimmy. Just tell me her name, hey.’
‘Christine is her name, that’s all I know.’
‘No worries mate, I’ll do the rest’
Chasing girls was something Bruce liked to do, but he very rarely actually “scored” with any of them. He had only been at the school for three months and had already he had been rejected by more girls that Jim had in his entire life. Jim was lucky though, he had a girlfriend, although she was more just a friend (She was actually just a friend, but Jim sometimes got confused with what was real and what was fantasy, and he dreamt about her a lot), but they were close. Her name was Laura and he had known her since he was in primary school. He had never admitted his true feelings for her, but had always wanted to. Actually, he felt she talked too much, and was too obsessed with her hair. Most of their form class conversations would start with her saying ‘How’s my hair?’ He would often reply, ‘Umm, yeah, hey Bruce, do you thinks Laura’s hair is nice?’ Bruce would usually shrug and say, ‘you look beautiful, darlin’.’ Laura would then giggle and the bell would go. Oh the interesting life I lead, thought Jim as they approached the “runway”, a road from which you could see your doom, the school.
The school was built after the war, so the various objects (Desks, Chair, other useless school objects, etc) within it were not entirely ancient, although Jim had seen a few “objects” that could qualify for the historical monument exhibit in the museum. Often he would spy fossilised chewing gum underneath his desk, and Bruce would say, ‘Think of the history in that gum, mate. People were chewing that before you were born.’ Jim, being sarcastic as he was, would reply, ‘I wonder if they had bins before I was born.’
The school had two buildings, one called the “Old” building and the other called the “New” building. It also had a gym, a sports hall and two playing fields. From the outside, the school appeared reasonably modern, but once you entered it, its age showed like a gigantic needle in a ridiculously small haystack. Some of the walls still had on them a white substance that you could call paint, but you were never sure. Inside the classroom things seemed better, until you noticed the holes in the blackboard, a reminder that people had been scraping chalk along them for six decades. The desks and chairs were no different, and you were lucky if you managed to find a chair to sit on that didn’t rock back and forth on account of some legs being shorter than the others. The students who had no intrest whatsoever in learning took advantage of this fact by having little competitions to see who could rock the fastest without being told to shut up by the teacher.
They were now at the school gate, which towered above them, almost eight feet high. The entire school was surrounding by a cream coloured fence. Jim thought the fence emphasised the jail-like feel to the school, but it had been put there to stop students getting out of the school during break. A teacher once told Jim that a student had tried to climb the fence a year previously and had ripped his arm open. On top of the fence stood sinister looking spikes, and as Jim passed through the gate, he thought he could see a bit of red where the kid had nearly impaled himself. The fence had only been built three years ago, but no-one had tried to climb the fence since.
Bang. The wall had come up to quickly for his liking, and he had bumped into it, nose first. Bruce laughed,
‘You think too much, that’s yer problem. Anyway, we’re near class now so I’ll catch you later.’ Bruce patted Jim on the shoulder and walked away. He began rubbing his nose. It had gone a bright shade of red, and, due to the fact Jim was pale white, it was not a good thing.
‘Hiya, Rudolf!’ said a girl only a few metres in front of him. He focused, and realised that it was Laura. Even though he thought this every morning, he could not stop himself. She’s beautiful. Indeed, she was. Her long, brown hair was wavy and smooth; her face was perfect and soft. And her ar- smack!
Jim was rubbing both his nose and his cheek now.
‘Whadyadothafor,’ he mumbled, his voice muffled by all the rubbing going on in his facial region.
‘You seemed a bit dazed, lad. I thought I would slap you out of it.’
‘Thank you very much,’ said Jim as the pair made their way to the “New” building, in which, was their form classroom. Jim had now stopped rubbing his face and was instead trying to look directly ahead, so as to stop himself from walking into any other walls or whatever.
Tony, one of the school’s wannabe gangsters (But – as he always liked to point out – he had a more mafia-like name), had seen him walk into the wall and was planning now to tease Jim. As Tony had a brain smaller than a small ant’s, it took him right up until Jim and Laura were about to enter the “New” building before he shouted,
‘Rudolf and his reindeer bitch!’
Laura swerved around,
‘Shut up, Tony.’ And that was that. All of his brainpower had gone into that sentence and he had accomplished nothing. Still, he chuckled, and his gang who surrounded him like obedient hounds laughed as well.
The classroom had the smell of cigarette smoke when he entered it. Mr Dullmon cursed under his breath as he sat down at his chair. He had forgotten to lock his door again, and – as usual – some of his permanent markers had gone, but it didn’t matter because he had bought some new ones that very morning. His class slowly made their way through the door, yawning and groaning.
‘Come on,’ he said, ‘the bell is about to go.’ There was a grunt from one or two students. Judging by the noises the students were making, and the speed at which they were entering the classroom, an outsider would think that the entire class had turned into mindless zombies. Not that they weren’t anyway, just that today they were doing the actions. Then Jim and Laura entered, and Mr Dullmon brightened up. He was proud of them both, as they seemed to have a slightly higher mental capacity than the other students in his class. Then Bruce entered, and his face drooped.
‘Mornin’ sir!’ Bruce said. It was the smile that got to Mr Dullmon. It was almost as if he was too happy.
‘Yes yes, sit down.’ Bruce took a seat beside Jim and whispered hello.
Mr Dullmon then began to call out the register, and after receiving 29 unenthusiastic replies, he turned around and looked at his whiteboard. It was a brand new, and had only been bought for the school a few weeks before, and Mr Dullmon was the lucky teacher to get it. I must remember to lock the door though, he thought. Already, he had lost twelve permanent markers and on a teachers pay that was a lot of money gone. The class had begun to chatter amongst themselves.
‘I spoke to her then.’
‘Yeah,’ Jim sighed. He was too tired to listen to another one of Bruce’s rejection stories, but, then again, there was nothing else to do, ‘What did she say?’
‘She said maybe she would go out with me if I stop bugging her friend.’
This was the second rejection Jim had heard about this week, and it was only Wednesday. He wondered how Bruce managed to maintain the freaky smile and be so confident, ‘What did you say?’
‘I said “stuff it then” and walked off.’ He made a one “ha” laugh that sounded more like a cough, ‘Anyway,’ he said, lowering his voice so that Laura could not hear, she was about five desks away, ‘Have you asked her our yet?’
‘No, shh,’ Jim said. He did not want Laura to hear at any cost, or it could ruin his plan for her. Not that he actually had a plan, but he still didn’t want her to know.
‘But you do like her, right?’
‘Yeah, but, just, not yet, okay?’
‘Ask her out you sissy, you know each other well. What is the worst she could do?’
Jim thought for a moment, ‘Hit me.’
‘When has she ever done that?’
‘This morning, she slapped me.’
‘I think it was because I was staring at her, you know, short skirt a-’
‘Yeah, yeah, I get the picture, but she’ll only hit you if there is a reason, right, so go on then, or I will for you.’
‘No don’t,’ Bruce stood up. Jim tried to pull him back by the blazer but failed, ‘Please don’t.’
‘Yes,’ she said, smiling at Jim, who just realised he had gone red in the face, ‘Walked into another wall Jimmy?’
She laughed. Jim looked away and began praying. Please God, if you are out there, smite this prick before he does any damage.
He heard whispers and then turned around. Bruce was smiling. He patted Jim on the shoulder.
‘Ha,’ he said. The bell went.
Jim left the class almost in tears until he was at the stairs – they were on the second floor of the building – and Bruce patted him on the back and put an oval shaped white thing into his hand.
‘Just asked for some gum, mate, ha, had you shittin’ though.’
‘Uh, yeah,’ said Jim, who was now able to smile. He popped the gum into his mouth and started chewing as he made his was down the stairs. His next class was science, which was taken in the “Old” building. He was hoping Michael would be there, he hadn’t seen him all morning. Considering the morning, up until that point, had only been about twenty minutes, there was no cause for concern.