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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
Recommendations: 6

The Nice Guy: Chapter Seven


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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

7.
April 15 2009 (Tom)


       Today was a wonderful day. Hugely wonderful. It was just great.


       First I must say that I’m sorry for the huge jump in time. See, I’ve been busy – Dan’s been busy too, no less – and I haven’t had much time or thought to continue this project that much in recent time. Last week was crazy, what with our novels in English (which I’ve just about finished), our summatives in Media (of which we have to create a slideshow about a particular commercial or ad we chose as well as an analysis) and our math tests. Believe me, I’ve been constantly distracted.


       Other than schoolwork, one good thing that happened was my lunch with Mr. Mark. We went to Harvey’s and it was nice. Mr. McPherson came with us like he usually does.


       But yesterday was great. During lunch the other day I got to talking to Mr. Henson, the English department head, and, despite what I expected, he knew what I was talking about when I mentioned Madness, that band I like. Then, to my shock, he told me he had some of their original vinyl records, and that he’d try to find one for me.


       But wait a minute here – I think I’m giving the illusion that all I talk about is that band. It sure isn’t. The subject came up when Henson mentioned that he liked the old ska bands of the eighties. I myself find the 1970s, 80s, and 90s great decades for music. Just not today’s music.


       So today I received Keep Moving from Mr. Henson, an album they recorded in 1984. It features a photo of the band running on a track, some of them (notably Mike Barson) with agonized looks on their faces. I had it with me in English class when Dan came in.


       “Hey,” he said without enthusiasm. Sometimes I think that guy should brighten up. But then, he’s partnered with me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why he didn’t come into the room walking tall with swagger and a grand ‘good afternoon, Thomas!’


       “Hi, Daniel,” I said genially. “So you’ve been writing then?”


       “Uh, writing what?”


       “Writing your part of the project.”


       “Oh. Yeah, I have. You?”


       “I’ll be doing that this afternoon.”


       He pointed to the album. “What’s that?”


       “Oh, this is just an album.”


       He looked at the title. “Keep Moving? Huh. Obviously it’s by Madness.” He turned it over. On the other side were the list of songs as well as photos and who played what instrument. To my surprise, he chuckled.


       My eyebrows raised, I asked, “what?”


       “Oh, that song there, ‘Samantha.’” He pointed at the little trivia underneath the title.


       “A heavy sleeper – my girlfriend, Samantha—“


       “Samantha Crockett?”


       “Yeah. She’s a heavy sleeper.”


       “How do you know that? You’ve slept with her?”


       “No. She fell asleep once in the hallway...”


       “How did she do that in a loud hallway?”


       “She just did. It was early morning, in winter, the sun hadn’t come up yet. And it took a lot of effort waking her up.”


       “Oh. Well, to my knowledge, there’s a funny story behind this song...”


       I don’t believe Dan listened to me while I spoke about the lyrical meaning behind the song because he seemed to be in deep thought. Maybe he had an idea. Maybe he was ignoring me, like most people my age tend to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had anything to do with his girlfriend, who happens to be in my math class. I’d known they were together for awhile, and I also knew they were both on student council, Dan as a special event rep and Samantha as a spirit rep. I don’t really know how Dan can have her as a girlfriend considering she spends all her time chewing gum and listening to music (when she’s in math class anyway) but it’s his taste, not mine.
--
       Later, I left English and almost ran into Sheila. Seeing me, she smiled.


       “Oh, uh—hi, Sheila.”


       Her smile grew like crazy, but before her face was completely crinkled up with the grin she’d gone by and I was left to feel awkward and very happy. I looked back to see her walking away, and quite slowly for some reason.


       “So how’s everything going in life,” I asked George, a friend of mine who takes the bus with me.


       “Alright, I guess,” he replied. He looked and sounded tired. Normally his friend Duncan is with him, and normally they’re both involved in some sort of big escapade or another.


       “Well, I guess I could say I’m fine,” I said. The thing was, I wasn’t perfectly sure how to continue the conversation when George seemed so out of it. And I normally have trouble keeping a conversation going with people my age or close, but that’s obvious now.


       “That’s good,” he said without much enthusiasm. Usually when he’s with Duncan he puts a lot of emphasis on his sentences.


       Umm, I thought to myself. “Where’s Duncan?”


       He didn’t look up. “He’s gone to see a shrink.”


       “You mean a psychiatrist?”


       “Yeah.”


       “Oh.”


       Thing about me and George was, we were your normal friends who talked on the bus and now and then during school. When George was in grade nine and started taking the bus he became interested in my conversations with Adam Hughes, another old friend who’d decided that I was too negative, and he’d take part sometimes. Then I saw him walking around a hallway not going anywhere, and we got to talking. One thing about us was that we mostly knew what we were talking about – I’d ask him about something and he’d know what I was talking about, which was not usual with other people I know. But again, usually I felt our conversations were one-sided, with me doing all the talking. This wasn’t always the case but it was now.


       “Well. Why are you so tired?”


       “Oh, I just had a long day, you know.”


       “Uh huh. Okay.”


       As you’d expect, most of the bus ride was just us sitting there. Most people around us enthusiastically chatted, and the bus was filled with all sorts of conversation and banter. Few people were absorbed in their work or their music or otherwise, and those few included me and George. Unless Duncan was there of course, whereas they would also be talking enthusiastically. Actually, what kind of bothered me was that as soon as Duncan got off the bus, George would put his head down and rarely talk to me – and only when I prompted him with something to say. Sometimes I got the impression that I was bothering him.
Actually, one time, a few minutes after Duncan had gotten off the bus, something came to mind that I wanted to say to George. Sitting in front of him, I said, “So, you know...”


       But then someone, Adam actually, interrupted.


       “Tom, here’s a little lesson: If someone is sitting there with his head down, maybe they don’t want to be talked to.”


       George didn’t raise his head nor say anything.


       “What?” I asked, surprised at his interruption.


       He said, “You’re being an asshole.”


       “What?”


       “You’re being an asshole.”


       I spent the rest of the bus ride glaring around and feeling really mad that day. And that’s where that thought originated, that thought that I was actually bothering him. George did nothing to support the situation, nor did he suggest that Adam shouldn’t get involved with something that had nothing to do with him.


       “What about Friday?” I asked. The day before, George, energetic and in what seemed to be a good mood, had suggested hanging out on Friday.


       “It’s all good. Don’t worry about it.”


       “Okay. I’m just worried that it won’t happen.”


       It ‘not happening’ was a usual occurrence where doing something with a friend was concerned with me.


       “Don’t worry. If you expect the worse, the worse will come.”


       “Uh huh.” I spent the rest of the bus ride staring toward the front.
--
       Tim stood at the front of the audience, with his camera at the ready. The big event that Lily had planned was in full swing, and it was a big deal. Most of the school was packed in the cafeteria, and Lily’s idea of having the staff shave their beards and imitate each other was priceless. He watched as his math teacher got turfed off his chair at the last second in the musical chairs competition. Tim never liked math. This was great. He raised his camera to his face.


       The only thing that bothered Tim was the fact that his lens, a 50mm, was the only reliable lens he could use at this event. It was fast, with the ability to get to apertures as large as f/1.8, allowing for faster exposures, but it was too close and he wanted to get some shots of the whole stage. His kit lens, an 18-55mm, would not work in the dim light nor focus that well. He had to work with what he could use best, and this was it.


       He caught sight of Lily, near the back of the stage holding a binder, and smiled. She caught his eye and smiled back. Everything was going great. Seeing something interesting, he quickly raised his camera again in time to catch the principal impersonating the drama teacher.


       “That was pretty awesome,” Tim proclaimed to Lily as they walked home.


       “Yeah, thanks,” she said shyly. Today’s big event was pretty successful, and she couldn’t help feeling a little bit flattered, especially by Tim’s awesome remarks. She could not stop smiling.


       “When I get home I’m uploading these immediately,” he said.


       “Oh, can I see them too?”


       “Sure, you want to come with me?”


       “Great,” she agreed.


       They continued on, talking about the event and how it went, what was funny and what was unforgettable. Soon they arrived at Tim’s place, a medium-sized house in Borden Farm.


       Tim uploaded the photos. They both sat at his computer, waiting for the transfer to finish. When they were done, Tim opened up the folder.


       They had a great time looking over what Tim had captured, including shots of the musical chairs, the principal’s pie-in-the-face incident, and the economics teacher dancing to a ridiculous song. Tim’s coverage was thorough, including shots taken from the stage as well as in front of the stage and at different angles. It was rare to find a blurry picture due to his fast lens, he thought, but the only thing missing was shots of the stage in its entirety, due to focal length being too close.


       After much laughing and snickering, the two finished looking at the photos.


       “Thanks very much for that, Tim. You were a big help today.”


       “No problem,” said Tim airily. “This event provided many great subjects for me, it was very exciting and I was glad to help. I’m always happy to support you, Lily.”


       “I mean it,” Lily pushed on. And then, to Tim’s subtle surprise, she leaned over and kissed him.


       He couldn’t believe the feeling of exhilaration he got right just then. He was almost awestruck with what he felt. He felt immeasurably happy, like the world was the most beautiful thing in existence, and that life was ultimately precious.


       “Wow,” he started quietly.


       “Yeah...” breathed Lily. She was filled with warmth. Like an eternal flame had been lit inside her. She didn’t really know what else to say.


       “Lily...did you ever realize that life is precious?”


       “Uh...not really.”


       “I think it is. That’s how I felt, anyway. Man. But it makes me think. All the stuff in the world that we consider trivial...it’s not. We just take it for granted.”


       “That’s true,” she noted.


       “I’ll never take what we have here for granted, Lily. I’m going to make sure of that.”


       She smiled. “Me neither.”


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Justin Campbell's website: http://justincottawa.blogspot.ca/

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