Note: THANKS FOR THE COMMENTS :)! I got carried away and misnumbered one chapter. I didn't just make a huge update, I just pulled two chapters out of the original "Chapter 17." I write chapter headlines for myself. But then I ignore them >.>. This post is a flashback (a few hours back) from the previous one, like rewinding a tape.
Earlier that day, there had been a rally in the gym.
Whenever there was a rally in the gym, they closed down the classrooms and all rooms except for bathrooms in hopes of boosting attendance. No matter what the weather, this did not work on Zach. Not even today, when it was a frigid 56 degrees out and frost powdered the lawn. This was because Zach was a force of nature in and of himself, and even the weather could not make him do something he was not convinced of. Public high school had not only disenchanted him from day one, but left him philosophically pondering what the point was of cheering for an institution which tormented you. There was a word for that.
“At least when you sit in the cold, you don’t have to cheer for it,” Zach thought to himself, ducking into the open door. It was easy to be logical when he factored Gentry (and feelings!) out of the equation. Though somehow, he (and feelings) always snuck back in and messed things up.
Since the janitor had mistakenly left the cafeteria open (or perhaps he did it out of sympathy), rally refugees flooded the linoleum-tiled premises, crowding around the blue metal lunch tables. Soon Ms.Nasty would come by to tell them the cafeteria was closing and that they MUST attend the rally. She threatened them as if it were the holy word of God, waving around her clipboard with a crazed zeal. But all of the five people familiar with school rules knew that it was not mandatory at all.
But they also knew it was useless to argue, since a noisy gym was preferable to sitting outside in the cold.
Zach shoved his way through the crowd and trudged to a solitary lunch table, contemplating whether or pull a sit-in. His eyes raised in disbelief when Mikey pulled out a seat and joined him.
“You going to the Senior rally?” Zach asked promptly, to which Mikey replied,
“Fuck no. I’ve only attended one rally here. My first, and my last.”
Mikey chortled, “You’re such a rebel.”
“Did you know that they censor rallies? I think that’s stupid. They’re supposed to represent students and the school, but they’re really made for just the school and parents. The students organize the damn thing, but the school tells them what they can’t do until it’s basically just the school’s production, with students as the shift workers. That’s why we have such lame rally themes. You know what the theme is this time? Smurfs. They don’t let students pick out any themes because they’re so damn worried what the parents will think.”
“Well, the parents are paying the taxes.” Said Mikey, before curtly changing the subject, “What’s wrong with your lower lip? It looks swollen.”
Mikey cocked his head, “You might want to try taking out the piercing…”
Mikey raised both his eyebrows, then sighed and sat down opposite him, “I noticed you’ve been sitting alone lately.”
“You have amazing observational skills.”
“Yeah, well.” Mikey grinned, “I could watch your cute face all day. And have.”
Zach scoffed, “What are you, Santa?”
At this, Mikey pulled back.
“Well. I’m gonna go grab a seat at the rally. Bye, Zach.”
As he walked out Mrs.Nasty walked in. But before she could say anything, another man proceeded in front of her, ambling right past the aisles of tables. They exchanged a few words, after which she curtly said something into her walkie talkie and left. The man stayed behind with his hands dug into his black trench coat and clenched jaw extended forward past a leathery neck. His black eyes sparked up, and he yelled out,
“All right everyone! Listen up. There is a rally going on Right Now in the gym. Attendance is mandatory!”
Zach stayed in his seat. The new trend he’d observed was that school officials monitored the grounds during rallies. Clusters of them would be camped out in locations where students were known to linger, standing there with their sunglasses and walkie talkies, arms crossed and mouths drawn out in pensive frowns. Their presence alone forced students to relocate, or risk being badgered about how “rally attendance was mandatory” or WHY they didn’t attend the rally. Other areas of campus were marked as “off limits”, restricting movement to the bathroom areas.
Despite all this, Zach did not budge. He was from Haapsalu , Estonia , where the weather was colder and the people were tougher. Damn, and how he missed Estonia …
“Excuse me. But rally attendance is mandatory.” The clipped drawl catapulted him from his beloved motherland, and he found himself staring back into twin pools of black space.
For a while he could have sworn they were Gentry’s, but this was actually Mr.Lee Johnson. Zach gawked back at him, finding it tremendously creepy to know what he knew about him. Those eyes were as dark as the drawer where he kept that picture…
“No; it’s not.”
Johnson raised his eyebrows as if he was going to loudly reprimand him, yet instead said quietly,
“I’m not going to stand here and argue with you. Now please, go to the rally.”
“It’s not mandatory, so I’m not going. This school doesn’t go out of its way to support me, so I’m not supporting it.”
“You must be Zach.”
Zach grinned uneasily. Inside, his heart was pounding and the tiny hairs at the back of his neck were standing up. The way that man was looking at him, smugly knowing…
“Well, Zach. I’m not going to write you up. Though don’t you think you’re missing out?”
“Well, see you then.” He turned around and headed for the door, adding, “I’ll let you stay here… it’ll be our secret.”