Project 313 – Post No. 067

This post is long (but less than 1,700 words) because it incorporates a short story. It’s fiction. Flash fiction. It’s the first fiction I’ve written in months. It’s kind of silly and not that well-written, but just ride the notion of it and don’t look at the vehicle too closely. 

Here goes nothing . . . 

New Kid in School

© 2018 E. J. D’Alise

Dean waved at his mother as, by agreement, she left him at the curb and drove off. First day at a new school was bad enough, but to be accompanied by his mother would make him an immediate target.

Other students were also being dropped off and most paired off or joined existing small groups heading toward the front door. Showing a confidence he didn’t have, Dean merged into the flow; the new kid in school heading into the high school already in the middle of the school year. He knew from experience it wouldn’t be easy. 

He’d learned the key was to keep a low profile, avoid long eye contact unless confronted and walk with a measure of confidence. He’d learned that looking too hesitant drew bullies like predators to a wounded prey. He’d also learned to keep to himself until he figured out the school hierarchy. Most of all, he needed to quickly identify the bullies so as to develop patterns of avoidance. Hopefully, he could delay confrontations at least until he made some friends.

“You’re new here.” It was a statement, not a question.

Dean looked around and felt the cold jolt of fear ripple down his spine. Tall, strong, confident, attractive . . . jocks. Instinctively, Dean held his backpack a little tighter and said nothing. The adrenaline rush erased the chill of fear only to replace it with the heat of anxiety. He didn’t look away as he stopped and turned to face them.

He became aware of a bead of sweat traveling down between his shoulder blades until it caught in his undershirt and joined others that were already making his clothes feel clammy. He forgot to breathe as he waited to see what they would do.

“We’ll see you at lunch,” one of them said as they walked by Dean without stopping.

Dean turned and watched them walk to the entrance, not once looking back at him. He let go of the breath he had been holding and fought off a small shudder from the excess adrenaline.

So much for keeping a low profile,” he thought.

His morning classes were a blur; he didn’t remember the names of his teachers and only mumbled responses to other students who tried speaking to him. He couldn’t help but focus on the clock and count down the hours until lunch.

He formulated and dismissed various plans to avoid lunch altogether but, in the end, decided it was best going ahead with it. Whatever happened, he’d at least know what was in store for him for the rest of the year. By the time he sat at an empty table in the cafeteria, he was past anger and past fear. This was his lot in life, at least until he could graduate. Perhaps as an adult, he would fare better, but he’d seen enough of the world to know one never entirely avoided bullies.

He put his tray down at an empty table and looked around as he sat. People around him were involved in their own world and their conversations formed a general din that seemed normal and calming . . . or would have seemed normal and calming. He didn’t see the jocks and for a few minutes, Dean hoped they’d forgotten all about him.

But no; they came in together and after grabbing their food, they scanned the place and made a beeline for his table. Dean looked down at his food and mumbled responses as they each said some sort of greeting. When nothing else happened, Dean risked looking up. Two were discussing something or other, but the one seated across the table was looking at him.

“What’s your name?” the jock asked.

“Dean.”

“Hi, Dean. I’m Brian. These guys are Frank and Ted.” As he spoke, the other two briefly focused on him and said “Hi, Dean” almost in unison and then returned to their discussion.

“I’ll make this quick because we got practice. We three,” Brian said as he pointed to himself and the other two, “and two others are part of the No Bullying Enforcement Squad. We —”

“You’re what?” Dean interrupted.

Brian looked at him for a few moments.

“You thought we were going to pick on you?”

“I . . . yeah. I’m used to jocks . . . athletes bullying everyone,” Dean answered as he broke eye contact. “Look, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean —”

“Don’t worry about it,” Ted answered. “Sorry we didn’t make it clear earlier.”

“Yeah,” Frank picked up. “We just assumed you knew. Anyway, if anyone bullies you or you see anyone bully someone else, let us know. We try and work things out before they get out of hand.”

“Also,” Brian continued, “we hold a once a week class on basic self-defense techniques, but only if you’re interested.”

Dean just looked at them, his mouth open.

The silence stretched a few seconds before Ted rested his hand on Dean’s shoulder and said “Welcome to our school,” after which they all resumed eating and making small talk until the three finished eating and left a few minutes later.

Dean sported a silly grin as he watched them go. His phone rang to snap him back to the present.

“Hello?”

“You were supposed to call me,” his mother said, her voice tinged with worry. “How are things?”

“Sorry, Mom,” Dean answered, still smiling. “Things are good. No. Things are great. I think I’ll like it here. A lot.”

The End

I made a comment on a previous post that people with power and privilege should be held to a higher standard . . . it got me thinking that — in an ideal world — they should hold themselves to a higher standard. 

People with true strength and power don’t need to oppress or victimize others to prove or assert their privileged positions. If they do, they’re just bullies.

The world would be a much better place if people who enjoy a place of privilege, influence, and power would step up and ensure abuse doesn’t take place. If they made it their goal to use their power and privilege to make things better for everyone and keep things in check. 

I like that simple story but it is, after all, nothing but fantasy. By far, the experience I’ve had with people who have even a bit of power over others is that they tend to be jerks. No, sorry; wrong word. They tend to be bullies. The same often goes for most people who — because they won the genetic lottery — are bigger and stronger than average. Again, not all . . . but way too many. 

Some say we’ve become more civilized . . . I’d agree when looking at a broad perspective. I strongly disagree when I look at today’s athletes, politicians, supervisors, bosses in general, and most people in a position to exert their will onto others. 

It shouldn’t be, and it’s not universal but I’ve either been extraordinarily unlucky in my life or I’m correct in my view for my experience strongly reinforces my opinion. Heck . . . you just have to listen to the news and you can see for yourself. 

It’s not that there are no decent people out there . . . it’s just that decent people tend to have little influence, power, and prestige. I also think we’re going to see it get worse because even if regular people get a little power, most turn into dicks. Again, that’s based on personal observation and why I tend to shy away from organizations and groups in general. 

I’d love to be proven wrong, but it’s been 60 years . . . I’m kind of losing hope. 

And now, the photo:

Project 313 067

There’s a Gelato place we like to go to. They have the best selection and best-tasting Gelato in the island (that we’ve tried). It’s Gypsea Gelato. I also like punny names.

I didn’t pay much attention to the steering wheel but snapped a photo because it looked nice . . . it also happens to be authentic. It bears the mark of John Hastie & Co Ltd, steering gear manufacturers, Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland. They made steam steering gears. Next time I’m there, I’ll ask them about that wheel. Perhaps they know the history of it and what ship it came from. 

Anyway, we’ve always had difficulty finding things we absolutely like. Sometimes you can get lucky . . . 

. . . but most of the time it’s hit-and-miss. The only way is to try places and when you find something you like, you latch on to it and hope they don’t change owners or go out of business. 

Of the two options, having them close is the best option because you’re at least left with good memories. The other way, where they change owners, or change the menu, or change cooks, is often the most disappointing because you’re left with — sometimes, literally — a bad taste in your mouth. 

I keep doing these doodles. Before posting any of the doodles, I always check what I’ve used before; they tend to blend into each other and sometimes I Can’t Tell Them Apart.

Can’t Tell Them Apart

And . . . that’s it

Some of these posts will likely be longer as the mood hits me, but most will be thus; short, uninteresting, bland, and relentless.

You can read about Project 313 HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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